5 of Swords Tarot Card

5 of swords one person sad one person triumphant

The 5 of swords tarot card is a card that can have 2 different meanings, depending on where you feel you fit in the card. Overall, it represents wins and losses. A winner and a loser after a battle.

I suggest, while looking at this card description, you have your tarot deck in front of you and decide for yourself if you agree with the feelings on this page or if the card represents something entirely different to you.

*The image at the top of the page does not depict all of the feelings represented by a specific tarot deck! You can find other tarot card meanings here!

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5 of swords tarot card

A few words to describe the card:

winning, losing, win at a cost, fight is over

5 of Swords

The 5 of swords has two alternate meanings in the imagery, depending on which character you are drawn to. This is one of a handful of cards in the tarot decks that has 2 characters in the imagery.

A battle has occurred and there is a clear winner and clear loser in the imagery. There is the winner holding the swords, and losers walking away from the battle with their heads hung low.


If you feel drawn to the winner of this tarot card, there are a few things to consider. What we have to remember is that with this type of fight, every win comes at a cost. You may have won the battle, but what have you lost by taking place in this battle?

There may initially be a feeling of success over this win. Over the rush of feeling of being successful. But this may not have been a fair fight, or something seems lilted from this win. Take this win, and think about it. What does it really mean? What did this cost you?

How do you feel after this successful mission? You may feel as though you are missing something.


If you relate to the character in the background that has clearly lost the battle, think about how it feels. There may be a great sorrow initially from having lost this battle.

You may have lost this battle, but have gained something instead.

This is actually the better character in the card, as they are now free. Something happened during the battle that freed them and now you can move forward in life towards something so much better.

Take a moment to mourn this loss, and then look forward. This is the right path for you to be on.

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Card Imagery

The imagery often seen on the 5 of swords tarot card is a person holding 2 or 3 swords in the foreground, looking pleased they have won a battle. There are a few swords on the ground, separating this winner from the two people in the background who have clearly lost the battle.

These people in the background seem distraught and upset that they have lost. In some tarot decks (including Light Seers and Healing Light), these people are actually heading towards the light, where they will be able to live better, and move forward with their life.

5 of swords tarot card with definition

Other Thoughts

This is one of my favorite tarot cards, because of the two alternate storylines going on. And how the loser is actually the winner, and the winner actually the one who loses the most.

One of my favorite tarot decks that depicts this is Healing Light Tarot, where the people who have lost the battle are heading towards the mandorla, towards healing light and forward in their journey. They are actually leaving the winner behind.

Still Confused?

Still confused about the meanings of the cards? A few tools that have been really helpful for me have been: practice, taking the time to look at each card, read books like Tarot: Learn How to Read and Interpret the Cards by Kim Arnold. Or try out tarot spreads! Try doing a simple reading every day. The Labyrinthos app is really helpful too. Or try some that I’ve created by looking here: Tarot Spreads.

Want other comparisons of tarot cards? Find those here! It might help you better understand how tarot decks are different.