Five of Swords
Function: Intellect, the mind,truth, objectivity
A young man in green and red is very satisfied with himself as he holds three swords while two lay at his feet. Two other men walk away, their heads down, toward the water. Storm clouds are gathering, and a blowing wind indicates that a storm is yet to come.
The smug young man wears green and red, the colors of life and passion. His rivals wear yellow, the color of intellect and thought. The feistier one has defeated the other two with what may have been sheer, brute force: after all, this man has three swords, and his opponents have one. What is the point of fighting with three swords? Is it fair? Is it necessary? Is it overkill? Is it worth losing friends over?
Because in this card, the rivals aren’t running away, so whatever transpired wasn’t a matter of life and death. It was probably more of a case of hurt pride and social standing. But what of the man with three swords? He’s very proud of himself, but what has he won? Two extra swords? He can’t do anything with them. Smugness is its reward. He has all the swords and no friends now, even if he doesn’t realize that for momentary victory, he’s lost something greater.
And with the pending storm coming, who will care for and help him, now that he’s alone? His sense of satisfaction with himself will not keep him warm, safe, and dry. Thus, the Five of Swords symbolizes what happens when brings a gun to a verbal knife fight and wins. They may have proven that they’re smarter or snarkier, but they haven’t done anything but cause strife, so they’re alone. People don’t like people who go out of their way to make others feel small and weak, and they certainly won’t help them either. When the storm comes, the victor is on his own.
This is as much a warning to those who wish to use their superior intellect, or their supposed superior intellect against others: a war of words is worth nothing in the end. A person who lives like this has nothing. The world doesn’t value people who think they’re smart but produce relatively little in comparison to that intelligence. Of course, aside from smugness and self-interest, the willingness to cause disharmony could be from a resistance to change, suggestions, or other opinions.
When five of swords is Reversed:
When the Five of Swords is reversed, the querent has usually already experienced the consequences of winning the battle and losing the war with people, and self-satisfaction has given way to wanting to make amends, or at least, ending the disharmony with others. Of course, it may also mean that the querent can’t win with those whom they’re in close conflict.
The Five of Swords reversed can also mean that the querent is less interested in fighting and being alone. Whatever stance it was defending before doesn’t mean so much to them anymore, and now they’re open to other opinions and ideas.
In a three-card reading, this card means…
Past: In the past, the querent found themselves alone, thinking they were right, but without people to turn to in crisis.
Present: Currently, the querent is fighting everyone, thinking they’re right, but don’t yet realize that more powerful things will overcome them.
Future: In the future, the querent will become too big for their britches and as a consequence, will isolate themselves.