ILLUSTRATED KEY TO THE TAROT.
THE SUIT OF SWORDS
THE SUIT OF SWORDS. KING.
He sits in judgment, holding the unsheathed sign of his suit.
He recalls, of course, the conventional Symbol of Justice in the Trumps Major, and he may
represent this virtue, but he is rather the power of life and death, in virtue of his office.
Divinatory Meanings: Whatsoever arises out of the idea of judgment and all its connections
—power, command, authority, mihtant intelligence, law, offices of the crown, and so forth.
Reversed: Cruelty, perversity, barbarity, perfidy, evil intention.
Her right hand raises the weapon vertically and the hilt rests on an arm of her royal chair; the
left hand is extended, the arm raised; her countenance is severe but chastened; it suggests
famiharity with sorrow. It does not represent mercy, and, her sword notwithstanding, she is
scarcely a symbol of power.
Divinatory Meanings: Widowhood, female sadness and embarrassment, absence, sterility,
mourning, privation, separation.
Reversed: Malice, bigotry, artifice, prudery, bale, deceit.
He is riding in full course, as if scattering his enemies. In the design he is really a proto-typical
hero of romantic chivalry. He might almost be Galahad, whose sword is swift and sure because
he is clean of heart.
Divinatory Meanings: Skill, bravery, capacity, defense, address, enmity, wrath, war, destruction,
opposition, resistance, ruin. There is therefore a sense in which "the card signifies death, but it
carries this meaning only in its proximity to other cards of fatality.
Reversed: Imprudence, incapacity, extravagance.
A lithe, active figure holds a sword upright in both hands, while in the act of swift walking. He is
passing over rugged land, and about his way the clouds are collocated wildly. He is alert and
lithe, looking this way and that, as if an expected enemy might appear at any moment.
Divinatory Meanings: Authority, overseeing, secret service, vigilance, spying, examination, and
the qualities thereto belonging.
Reversed: More evil side of these qualities; what is unforeseen, unprepared state ; sickness is
A prostrate figure, pierced by all the swords belonging to the card.
Divinatory Meanings: Whatsoever is intimated by the design; also pain, affliction, tears,
sadness, desolation. It is not especially a card of violent death.
Reversed: Advantage, profit, success, favor, but none of these are permanent ; also power and
One seated on her couch in lamentation, with the swords over her. She is as one who knows no
sorrow which is like unto hers. It is a card of utter desolation.
Divinatory Meanings: Death, failure, miscarriage, delay, deception, disappointment, despair.
Reversed: Imprisonment, suspicion, doubt, reasonable fear, shame.
A woman, bound and hoodwinked, wuth the swords of the card about her. Yet it is rather a card
of temporary durance than of irretrievable bondage.
Divinatory Meanings: Bad news, violent chagrin, crisis, censure, power in trammels, conflict,
calumny; also sickness.
Reversed: Disquiet, difficulty, opposition, accident, treachery; what is unforeseen ; fatality.
A man in the act of carrying away five swords rapidly ; the two others of the card remain
stuck in the ground. A camp is close at hand.
Divinatory Meanings: Design, attempt, wish, hope, confidence; also quarrelling, a plan that
may fail, annoyance.
The design is uncertain in its import, because the significations are widely at variance with
Reversed: Good advice, counsel, instruction, slander, babbling.
A ferryman carrying passengers in his punt to the further shore.
The course is smooth, and seeing that the freight is Hght, it may be noted that the work is not
beyond his strength.
Divinatory Meanings: Journey by water, route, way, envoy, commissionary, expedient.
Reversed: Declaration, confession, publicity; one account says that it is a proposal of love.
A disdainful man looks after two retreating and dejected figures. Their swords lie upon the
ground. He carries two others on his left shoulder, and a third sword is in his right hand, point
to earth. He is the master in possession of the field.
Divinatory Meanings: Degradation, destruction, revocation, infamy, dishonor, loss, with the
variants and analogues of these.
Reversed: The same; burial and obsequies.
The effigy of a knight in the attitude of prayer, ,at full length upon his tomb.
Divinatory Meanings: Vigilance, retreat, solitude, hermit's repose, exile,"tomb and coffin.
It is these last that have suggested the design.
Reversed: Wise administration, circumspection, economy, avarice, precaution, testament.
Three swords piercing a heart; cloud and rain behind.
Divinatory Meanings: Removal, absence, delay, division, rupture, dispersion, and all that
the design signifies naturally, being too simple and obvious to call for specific enumeration.
Reversed: Mental alienation, error, loss, distraction, disorder, confusion.
A hoodwinked female figure balances two swords upon her shoulders.
Divinatory Meanings: Conformity and the equipoise which it suggests, courage, friendship,
concord in a state of arms; another reading gives tenderness, affection, intimacy. The
suggestion of harmony and other favorable readings must be considered in a qualified
manner, as Swords generally are not symbolical of beneficent forces in human affairs.
Reversed: Imposture, falsehood, duplicity, disloyalty. .
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
It is a card of great force, in love as well as in hatred. The crown may carry a much higher
significance than comes usually within the sphere of fortune-telling.
Reversed: The same, but the results are disastrous ; another account says—conception
—childbirth, augmentation, multiplicity.