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Ace of Swords


RosieBlack
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RosieBlack

It seems every website I look at has a different meaning for this card. My guide book matches some of them, but it's really difficult to know what the right definition is. Obviously it also depends on the subject (love, health, career) but my guide book gives a general meaning of truth, mental clarity. Some websites match this, others say it's about conflict, quick and forceful action or new beginnings and communication. So I don't know which definition is accurate and why people have so many different interpretations of it. May people also say that the suit of swords is generally bad when any of them show up in readings, so I would have thought it would have a mostly negative meaning. What are your thoughts?

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I've moved this thread into individual card meanings @rosieblack1 because we are discussing one exact card rather than a general tarot topic 🙂

 

Learning tarot it's really tricky to know which meaning to use, it's so confusing! Don't worry every learner has this 🙂 As you get more experienced you get more precise and can work this out more. Different websites and books are just different opinions on the cards, you have to decide what you agree with and what you don't and work out your own ideas to learn with each card.

 

The truth is (which is ironic because this is what this card is about!) there is a general meaning about each card, an idea. When you have worked it out, you can apply the card in many situations. Depending on how intuitive you are, you can read the image as well, it all comes together.

 

So this card is the Ace, the beginning of the suit of Swords, Aces are seeds or a spark to start things off. It's the suit of swords about truth, intelligence, logic, justice. In the card image in RWS and many cards, we can see a white hand coming out of a cloud and it holds a sword pointing upwards with a sharp point. This sword symbolism is in other tarot cards and also in art and other areas of our lives. Justice the statue is outside many important court rooms around the world and is often shown blindfolded with the weighing scales in one hand and sword in the other. In Central London, there is a Justice statue outside the Old Bailey, she doesn't wear a blindfold like others but does hold her sword up in the air and stands on a globe (the world). The Sword represents truth and morality. In this Ace, there is a laurel wreath often at the top of the sword, this represents victory (also seen in the 6 of Wands). There is a crown above that which represents clarity, maybe representing the crown chakra.

 

I don't believe suits are good or bad in such a simple way. In my own readings I find the Swords suit the most difficult to relate to personally because I am highly Cups as a person. The Swords suit is good if you are having surgery, playing chess, getting your degree or want to win a court case. It's great for decision making. So different suits can be good or bad depending on your reading.

 

This can represents truth, clarity and a breakthrough, suddenly you can understand something mentally as this sword comes through the clouds of confusion. If you think about someone with a Sword in Game of Thrones or those historic dramas, they have a power holding it. They can proceed forwards in a battle with a weapon. But this card is really about the mental side rather than the action side. It might represent you now think differently. In a career reading it's a new job or a change of the existing one with inspiration and thinking. In love, it's a relationship with potential and will be stimulating, in old relationships it's finding out the truth and going in a new direction. It's the beginning of something new in the swords suit, so it's different to the end of a circle or completing something, it's a little mental seed spouting! I like to think about it as someone who has had injustice. this is the first stage of their search for the truth. A newspaper article or interview about their story, that makes us all pay attention and the person has used their intelligence to begin this journey of their situation.

 

Getting clarity is a good thing but sometimes we don't want to know. We don't want to hear it! But knowing the truth is vital moving ahead. You will know where you stand when you get this card.

 

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euripides
5 hours ago, rosieblack1 said:

It seems every website I look at has a different meaning for this card. My guide book matches some of them, but it's really difficult to know what the right definition is.

 

I think some of the variation comes from people really looking to create a point of difference in their resources, as well as building shades of meaning or application to different questions. 

 

The RWS LWB, which might be considered the original authority, has the following:

 

Ace: A hand issues from a cloud, grasping a sword, the point of which is encircled by a crown. Divinatory meanings: Triumph, the excessive degree in everything, conquest, triumph of force. It is a card of great force, in love as well as in hatred. Reversed: The same, but the results are disastrous: another account says - conception, childbirth, augmentation, multiplicity.

 

All of the above is really quite different from the way I would generally interpret the card nowadays!!!  The same is true for many of the meanings in that guide, actually. I often find them quite hard to connect with the image. Are we bound by them? No. I think most modern readers apply one or various combinations of response to the suit and correspondence (so, air/thought, intellect, communication - if that's the preferred correspondence, that is) - and some number symbolism (one - beginning/seed, two - balance/pairing, three - augmentation/trinity, four - stability, five - conflict, imbalance - and so on.) I think it's useful to try to be consistent - journal the meanings that make most sense to you. 

 

I tend to use this approach, and also look for meanings or stories in the images in the deck. What does the picture convey? How does it relate to the situation at hand? I know many will differ with me on this and may feel strongly that there are very specific meanings; for me, there's no single right answer.

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12 hours ago, rosieblack1 said:

It seems every website I look at has a different meaning for this card. My guide book matches some of them, but it's really difficult to know what the right definition is. Obviously it also depends on the subject (love, health, career) but my guide book gives a general meaning of truth, mental clarity. Some websites match this, others say it's about conflict, quick and forceful action or new beginnings and communication. So I don't know which definition is accurate and why people have so many different interpretations of it. May people also say that the suit of swords is generally bad when any of them show up in readings, so I would have thought it would have a mostly negative meaning. What are your thoughts?

Hi Rosie!  I used to really struggle with this card when I first started reading Tarot too.

 

I just wanted to add that it may also depend on what deck you are using.  I don't know what deck you are using but I have a few decks where the author has intentionally chosen something different for the meanings to fit better with the theme of the deck.

As you said Swords are often portrayed as more negative cards (although personally I think that every card has it's nuances both positive and negative depending on the context of the reading) so the very positive decks tend to put a much more positive meaning to it!

 

It's all about context in the reading - and that will come with practise!  This forum is a great place to learn!

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RosieBlack
9 hours ago, DanielJUK said:

I've moved this thread into individual card meanings @rosieblack1 because we are discussing one exact card rather than a general tarot topic 🙂

 

Learning tarot it's really tricky to know which meaning to use, it's so confusing! Don't worry every learner has this 🙂 As you get more experienced you get more precise and can work this out more. Different websites and books are just different opinions on the cards, you have to decide what you agree with and what you don't and work out your own ideas to learn with each card.

 

The truth is (which is ironic because this is what this card is about!) there is a general meaning about each card, an idea. When you have worked it out, you can apply the card in many situations. Depending on how intuitive you are, you can read the image as well, it all comes together.

 

So this card is the Ace, the beginning of the suit of Swords, Aces are seeds or a spark to start things off. It's the suit of swords about truth, intelligence, logic, justice. In the card image in RWS and many cards, we can see a white hand coming out of a cloud and it holds a sword pointing upwards with a sharp point. This sword symbolism is in other tarot cards and also in art and other areas of our lives. Justice the statue is outside many important court rooms around the world and is often shown blindfolded with the weighing scales in one hand and sword in the other. In Central London, there is a Justice statue outside the Old Bailey, she doesn't wear a blindfold like others but does hold her sword up in the air and stands on a globe (the world). The Sword represents truth and morality. In this Ace, there is a laurel wreath often at the top of the sword, this represents victory (also seen in the 6 of Wands). There is a crown above that which represents clarity, maybe representing the crown chakra.

 

I don't believe suits are good or bad in such a simple way. In my own readings I find the Swords suit the most difficult to relate to personally because I am highly Cups as a person. The Swords suit is good if you are having surgery, playing chess, getting your degree or want to win a court case. It's great for decision making. So different suits can be good or bad depending on your reading.

 

This can represents truth, clarity and a breakthrough, suddenly you can understand something mentally as this sword comes through the clouds of confusion. If you think about someone with a Sword in Game of Thrones or those historic dramas, they have a power holding it. They can proceed forwards in a battle with a weapon. But this card is really about the mental side rather than the action side. It might represent you now think differently. In a career reading it's a new job or a change of the existing one with inspiration and thinking. In love, it's a relationship with potential and will be stimulating, in old relationships it's finding out the truth and going in a new direction. It's the beginning of something new in the swords suit, so it's different to the end of a circle or completing something, it's a little mental seed spouting! I like to think about it as someone who has had injustice. this is the first stage of their search for the truth. A newspaper article or interview about their story, that makes us all pay attention and the person has used their intelligence to begin this journey of their situation.

 

Getting clarity is a good thing but sometimes we don't want to know. We don't want to hear it! But knowing the truth is vital moving ahead. You will know where you stand when you get this card.

 

 

Thank you, that's really detailed and insightful. The only frustrating thing is that when there are so many meanings and you're saying I have to work out what it means to me, but then I could make up my own definition based on what I want it to be and not really know what the cards are trying to tell me so that's a little confusing. For example, if I asked about the future of a relationship and I got that card, I could decide it meant there it would mean things will work out but does it actually mean that? Is that really what the cards are telling me? In that instance would you suggest pulling clarifier cards? I actually never know how many cards to pull. For some reason I pull 3 cards mostly so I can see if there's a common theme. Not a past, present or future spread, just a clear message mainly. Often though, I do find that the individual cards do seem to apply to past, present and future even if that's not the question I've asked! 

 

The deck I'm using doesn't have the same imagery, but I have bought the RW deck too as I thought maybe when I get better I can do bigger spreads and see if any of the same cards come out for better clarity or emphasis in one area. My deck just has the sword enveloped in some sort of figure of 8 (not sure what it is) and some lightning coming towards it. Not sure how to interpret that!

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RosieBlack
9 hours ago, euripides said:

 

I think some of the variation comes from people really looking to create a point of difference in their resources, as well as building shades of meaning or application to different questions. 

 

The RWS LWB, which might be considered the original authority, has the following:

 

Ace: A hand issues from a cloud, grasping a sword, the point of which is encircled by a crown. Divinatory meanings: Triumph, the excessive degree in everything, conquest, triumph of force. It is a card of great force, in love as well as in hatred. Reversed: The same, but the results are disastrous: another account says - conception, childbirth, augmentation, multiplicity.

 

All of the above is really quite different from the way I would generally interpret the card nowadays!!!  The same is true for many of the meanings in that guide, actually. I often find them quite hard to connect with the image. Are we bound by them? No. I think most modern readers apply one or various combinations of response to the suit and correspondence (so, air/thought, intellect, communication - if that's the preferred correspondence, that is) - and some number symbolism (one - beginning/seed, two - balance/pairing, three - augmentation/trinity, four - stability, five - conflict, imbalance - and so on.) I think it's useful to try to be consistent - journal the meanings that make most sense to you. 

 

I tend to use this approach, and also look for meanings or stories in the images in the deck. What does the picture convey? How does it relate to the situation at hand? I know many will differ with me on this and may feel strongly that there are very specific meanings; for me, there's no single right answer.

 

So if we aren't bound by certain definitions, how would you know what message the cards are trying to send you? Or would you do this using the surrounding cards? I've pulled it on its own before and found it hard to know which definition to go with.

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RosieBlack
2 hours ago, stephanelli said:

Hi Rosie!  I used to really struggle with this card when I first started reading Tarot too.

 

I just wanted to add that it may also depend on what deck you are using.  I don't know what deck you are using but I have a few decks where the author has intentionally chosen something different for the meanings to fit better with the theme of the deck.

As you said Swords are often portrayed as more negative cards (although personally I think that every card has it's nuances both positive and negative depending on the context of the reading) so the very positive decks tend to put a much more positive meaning to it!

 

It's all about context in the reading - and that will come with practise!  This forum is a great place to learn!

 

Glad to hear it's not just me! 😄 I'm using the Wild Unknown deck by Kim Krans. The guide book says it's about mental clarity and I can't really connect the image to the meaning, there's lightning going towards the sword to strike it. But I suppose the way she describes it does in a way explain the image - she says it's about the world lighting up for a second and you can see everything. And I suppose that is what happens when lightning strikes a steel/metal object - the whole sky lights up because steel/metal is a conductor of lightning or something right? I seem to need someone to spell it out for me at times but also find it hard to know which definition to go with. I can't apply every definition in that book to the questions I'm asking though. For instance, if I ask a question about the situation and I get the page of cups the book refers to a person so I have to look it up online to see what the general answer would be. There's also some strange illustrations that don't seem to apply to the meaning, like The Hanged Man has a bat hanging upside down, but that's how bats sleep naturally - they're not trapped, which is what the meaning implies. Then there's The Empress which is just a picture of a tree and The High Priestess which is a tiger or The Knight of Pentacles which is a deer and I thought it relates to someone slow moving, but deers are fast. Strange for me!

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14 minutes ago, rosieblack1 said:

 

Glad to hear it's not just me! 😄 I'm using the Wild Unknown deck by Kim Krans. The guide book says it's about mental clarity and I can't really connect the image to the meaning, there's lightning going towards the sword to strike it. But I suppose the way she describes it does in a way explain the image - she says it's about the world lighting up for a second and you can see everything. And I suppose that is what happens when lightning strikes a steel/metal object - the whole sky lights up because steel/metal is a conductor of lightning or something right? I seem to need someone to spell it out for me at times but also find it hard to know which definition to go with. I can't apply every definition in that book to the questions I'm asking though.

I use the Wild Unknown deck a fair amount.  When I read with decks like that I use the meanings the author has given them and any other intuitive feelings I get from the cards picture.

The Ace of Swords in the Wild Unknown for me is a "flash of inspiration" hence the lightning strike.  The flash gives you a clear idea of what is going on, but if you don't act on that thought, then it'll fade quickly into the blackness.  Have you ever had a sudden brilliant idea?  Only you were busy so you didn't write it down or act on it right away and then forgot about it only for it to nag you hours later?  That's part of this card in the Wild Unknown deck for me.

 

I think I'm correct in thinking you're a fairly new reader?  It'll take time to get used to understanding the nuances and knowing what meaning is right.

14 minutes ago, rosieblack1 said:

For instance, if I ask a question about the situation and I get the page of cups the book refers to a person so I have to look it up online to see what the general answer would be. There's also some strange illustrations that don't seem to apply to the meaning, like The Hanged Man has a bat hanging upside down, but that's how bats sleep naturally - they're not trapped, which is what the meaning implies. Then there's The Empress which is just a picture of a tree and The High Priestess which is a tiger or The Knight of Pentacles which is a deer and I thought it relates to someone slow moving, but deers are fast. Strange for me!

Personally I would never use general meanings for this deck because they very rarely work for it in my own readings.

I always use the authors because they give me accurate readings - more accurate than when I attempt to fit general meanings to it.  The Guidebook is quite vague in my opinion and I find if I use the essence of each card and think about it logically and not let my emotions get in the way I can usually get a good reading out of it.

 

As I say, the deck you use can be everything.  The general meanings online usually relate to the RWS and clone/heavily based on it decks.  I have a lot of decks the general meanings simply don't 100% fit with so I just learn each deck individually.  It takes more time but my readings are better because of it.

 

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RosieBlack

@stephanelli Actually having said what I said about the imagery of a bat on The Hanged Man card, it appears that the bat is actually bound up by something so he can't free himself! So I guess that does match up with the description.

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I don't

1 minute ago, rosieblack1 said:

@stephanelli Actually having said what I said about the imagery of a bat on The Hanged Man card, it appears that the bat is actually bound up by something so he can't free himself! So I guess that does match up with the description.

I don't think he's caught up in something?  I think its just his wings?

The main thing I take away from the Hanged Man in this deck is a New Perspective.  Bat sees the world upside down.  What would happen if we were to take the same perspective he does?

 

Anyway, we're wandering a little off topic from the Ace of Swords here...

I'll open a thread where we can discuss more of the imagery in this deck, because it would be interesting to discuss I think!

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RosieBlack
1 hour ago, stephanelli said:

I don't

I don't think he's caught up in something?  I think its just his wings?

The main thing I take away from the Hanged Man in this deck is a New Perspective.  Bat sees the world upside down.  What would happen if we were to take the same perspective he does?

 

Anyway, we're wandering a little off topic from the Ace of Swords here...

I'll open a thread where we can discuss more of the imagery in this deck, because it would be interesting to discuss I think!

 

It might be his wings, but it looks more like a cocoon of some sort....but yes, back to the Ace of Swords! Sorry don't know how to quote 2 posts in one so I'll do a separate post in response to your other one.

 

 

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RosieBlack
2 hours ago, stephanelli said:

I use the Wild Unknown deck a fair amount.  When I read with decks like that I use the meanings the author has given them and any other intuitive feelings I get from the cards picture.

The Ace of Swords in the Wild Unknown for me is a "flash of inspiration" hence the lightning strike.  The flash gives you a clear idea of what is going on, but if you don't act on that thought, then it'll fade quickly into the blackness.  Have you ever had a sudden brilliant idea?  Only you were busy so you didn't write it down or act on it right away and then forgot about it only for it to nag you hours later?  That's part of this card in the Wild Unknown deck for me.

 

I think I'm correct in thinking you're a fairly new reader?  It'll take time to get used to understanding the nuances and knowing what meaning is right.

Personally I would never use general meanings for this deck because they very rarely work for it in my own readings.

I always use the authors because they give me accurate readings - more accurate than when I attempt to fit general meanings to it.  The Guidebook is quite vague in my opinion and I find if I use the essence of each card and think about it logically and not let my emotions get in the way I can usually get a good reading out of it.

 

As I say, the deck you use can be everything.  The general meanings online usually relate to the RWS and clone/heavily based on it decks.  I have a lot of decks the general meanings simply don't 100% fit with so I just learn each deck individually.  It takes more time but my readings are better because of it.

 

 

I've tried using the meanings in this guide book, but it doesn't always apply to the question I'm being asked. I'll save that for another thread though. But the Ace of Swords doesn't always give me a clear answer in relation to a question. Like if I ask what I should do in regards to my career, it doesn't seem to give a clear answer. This is why I refer to websites to get a better idea. I am a new reader for sure and it definitely helps to get a variety of sources for the definitions but it certainly is confusing if everyone is deciding on a different meaning and then I don't really know what the cards are trying to tell me. As I said above to Daniel, surely I could just apply any meaning to the cards and decide on the answers I want to hear...? I have also bought the RW deck to use so I don't know what to do there if I use both decks as I'm sure they'll both have different meanings. Maybe when I get better I'll get a better idea of what the answers mean in relation to the imagery. You guys have certainly given me something to go on with the ace of swords.

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euripides
9 hours ago, RosieBlack said:

 

I've tried using the meanings in this guide book, but it doesn't always apply to the question I'm being asked... But the Ace of Swords doesn't always give me a clear answer in relation to a question. Like if I ask what I should do in regards to my career, it doesn't seem to give a clear answer.  ....  it certainly is confusing if everyone is deciding on a different meaning and then I don't really know what the cards are trying to tell me. As I said above to Daniel, surely I could just apply any meaning to the cards and decide on the answers I want to hear...? I have also bought the RW deck to use so I don't know what to do there if I use both decks as I'm sure they'll both have different meanings.

It's not that you just make up a meaning. There is space for interpretation around its meaning,  depending on which system you use. You sound like a person who preferd things fairly unambiguous, so you nay need to stick with 'book meanings' for a while. Choose one book or resource and just use that, not multiple.

 

If you can't relate the answer to your problem,  you might need to use a different spread and/or ask a different question.

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TheStarOfCups

The ace of swords is always a positive card to me. All of the aces are positive in my opinion, but I generally think of it as "slicing through all the BS" to get to the root cause of a problem. The card itself makes me think "Eureka!" 

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RosieBlack
12 hours ago, euripides said:

It's not that you just make up a meaning. There is space for interpretation around its meaning,  depending on which system you use. You sound like a person who preferd things fairly unambiguous, so you nay need to stick with 'book meanings' for a while. Choose one book or resource and just use that, not multiple.

 

If you can't relate the answer to your problem,  you might need to use a different spread and/or ask a different question.

 

I get what you're saying. The problem is that my guidebook often relates to the cards as people and so in response to a question just doesn't give me a clear answer. For example, if I say, what action should I take in this situation and I get the page of pentacles (described as female in my book), it says it means responsible, kind supportive. I wouldn't know how to apply that as an answer to a question, especially if the question related to a career choice or something. The best way I seem to be able to come up with an answer is to refer to various websites to get a clearer picture.

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RosieBlack
7 hours ago, TheStarOfCups said:

The ace of swords is always a positive card to me. All of the aces are positive in my opinion, but I generally think of it as "slicing through all the BS" to get to the root cause of a problem. The card itself makes me think "Eureka!" 

 

That's a really interesting take on it. I did think Aces might be positive cards and my guidebook does suggest something similar to your interpretation.

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On 8/30/2021 at 1:36 PM, RosieBlack said:

It seems every website I look at has a different meaning for this card. My guide book matches some of them, but it's really difficult to know what the right definition is. Obviously it also depends on the subject (love, health, career) but my guide book gives a general meaning of truth, mental clarity.

 

Aces are beginnings, like seeds or eggs. So you can look at the Ace of Swords as the seed of thought,or sometimes, as you say, the seed of conflict:
 

On 8/30/2021 at 1:36 PM, RosieBlack said:

Some websites match this, others say it's about conflict, quick and forceful action or new beginnings and communication.

 

On 8/30/2021 at 1:36 PM, RosieBlack said:

So I don't know which definition is accurate and why people have so many different interpretations of it. May people also say that the suit of swords is generally bad when any of them show up in readings, so I would have thought it would have a mostly negative meaning. What are your thoughts?

 

That would depend on context: the neighboring cards, and the question itself.
Are the nearby cards conflictive, or are they more conducive to reflection and calm?

Interpretations for a single card are near endless, as they should be. Looking them up will get you exactly the kind of vagaries you're experiencing. Better to reduce the card to a single core essence that can be unpacked and applied to various situations.

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RosieBlack
15 minutes ago, katrinka said:

 

Aces are beginnings, like seeds or eggs. So you can look at the Ace of Swords as the seed of thought,or sometimes, as you say, the seed of conflict:
 

 

 

That would depend on context: the neighboring cards, and the question itself.
Are the nearby cards conflictive, or are they more conducive to reflection and calm?

Interpretations for a single card are near endless, as they should be. Looking them up will get you exactly the kind of vagaries you're experiencing. Better to reduce the card to a single core essence that can be unpacked and applied to various situations.

 

This totally makes sense, thank you. One card pulls I think are probably not a good way to answer a question as it's do hard to determine the answer and you're right that the other cards help to make sense of it. Light bulb moment! 😄 Perhaps only the major arcanas work as single card pull? They seem to have definitions that match across the board and are about major situations while the minors are about every day life...? So if asking questions about a major life event and only pulling one card then a major arcana would work better? Such as what the outcome of a relationship would be...the ace of swords could mean multiple things, whereas if you pulled Strength or Judgement the answer would be much clearer. Am I on the right track? 😁

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I stay away from single card pulls in general, since it can be so difficult to narrow them down. It reminds me of that old game show where people said "I can name that tune in ONE NOTE!" They never succeeded at that. But you may be correct that Majors would be easier. They can also have multiple interpretations, but their focus is tighter, IMHO.

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On 8/31/2021 at 4:36 AM, RosieBlack said:

It seems every website I look at has a different meaning for this card. My guide book matches some of them, but it's really difficult to know what the right definition is. Obviously it also depends on the subject (love, health, career) but my guide book gives a general meaning of truth, mental clarity. Some websites match this, others say it's about conflict, quick and forceful action or new beginnings and communication. So I don't know which definition is accurate and why people have so many different interpretations of it. May people also say that the suit of swords is generally bad when any of them show up in readings, so I would have thought it would have a mostly negative meaning. What are your thoughts?

People who say Swords are negative cards are entirely missing the point.  The different suits deal with different areas of your life.

 

Pentacles deal with the physical: the body, and physical possessions. Cups deal with the emotions. Wands deal with energy and actions. And Swords deal with the intellect.

 

IF (and it's a big if) you have a lot of negative thinking going on, as someone who's writing about the meanings of cards, you may feel that Swords are about negativity, because that is your experience of the mental/intellectual side of life. Arthur Waite and Aleister Crowley were both terribly sour individuals in their different ways, so it's unsurprising that they may have placed unnecessary negativity in their own interpretations of cards that are simply dealing with thoughts, simply because in so many ways both their minds were toxic cesspools, poor guys. Prior to them, too, pip-cards were unillustrated - they even put their general aura of negativity into how they instructed that the Swords should be illustrated. 

 

My advice? Play with some decks with unscenic pips for a while. Come up with a one word code for each number between one and ten, and relate that to thoughts and thought-processes. Instantly, few of the cards are negative. Than regard the Page as Inexperience (in thought), the Knight as bravado (in thought), the Queen as assimilation (of ideas) and the King as mastery (of thought), as their individual words. Suddenly, not so negative!

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