Part I The Minor Arcana
The Pips (Ace through 10)
[Note: Images describe the standard Rider Waite Tarot and descriptions are taken from Butler’s Dictionary of Tarot (1975). Meanings however are applicable to all decks. Spectrum's are taken from the lexicons in TAROT AND PSYCHOLOGY: SPECTRUM'S OF POSSIBILITY, Arthur Rosengarten, Ph.D., 2000, (Paragon)] All Rights Reserved.
SWORDS (Air, Clarity, Thinking)
Ace of Swords:
Phrase: "The sword of Wisdom (Prajna); cuts through confusion and emotional attachments; clarity, seeing things as they are; (reversed) confusion or inner clarity.”
Image: A heavenly hand holding forth a sword upright, the tip of which is crowned. The crown is garlanded with two branches, one of which has red berries. Solar 'Yods' are also in the card.
Traditional: Force, triumph, conquest, pure intellect.
Spectrum: (Intelligence) idea/intellect, illusion/confusion, discovery/lucidity.
2 of Swords:
Phrase: "Closeness without merging; friendship and respect; opposites; mutuality, and respect for difference; (reversed) broken trust, abandonment, betrayal, or self-trust.”
Image: A blindfolded figure seated beside the sea, its hands crossed and holding two upright swords. Above, a waxing moon.
Traditional: Conformity, friendship, concordance, opposition, balance, equilibrium.
Spectrum: (Trust) friendship/loyalty, doubt/betray, affinity/respect.
3 of Swords:
Phrase: "Heartbreak and sorrow; the mind penetrating the heart; painful insight; (reversed) denial, or boddhicitta.”
Image: Three swords piercing the same heart.
Traditional: Sorrow, disappointment, tears, struggle, removal, division, delay.
Spectrum: (Sorrow) melancholy/heartbreak, shame/blame, suffering/introspection.
4 of Swords:
Phrase: "Rest and recuperation after long illness; withdrawal, renewal, (reversed) denial of illness or meditation, inner healing.”
Image: The effigy of a knight praying displayed upon a tomb. On the wall three swords hang, point downward. Below him, on the side of the tomb, is another sword.
Traditional: Retreat, solitude, hermit's repose, rest, convalescence, meditation.
Spectrum: (Retreat) rest/withdrawal, stress/isolation, mental cleansing/refueling.
5 of Swords:
Phrase: "Conflict between loyalty to self vs. friends; sadness over loss of two people or things; carrying forward after the change has been made; (reversed) dissociation, or consciously dividing attention.”
Image: A man holding two swords over his left shoulder; a third points downward in his right hand. On the ground near him are two other swords. Two figures walk away in dejection. An expression of malicious triumph is upon his face.
Traditional: Defeat, loss, failure, slander, degradation and destruction, sadness, mourning.
Spectrum: (Despair) strife/defeat, pessimism/disdain, division/dissonance.
6 of Swords:
Phrase: "Life journey and transition; crossing perilous deep waters seeking the other side; need to keep your wits (awareness) in the boat or risk capsizing into deep waters below (unconscious); the boatsman is your inner guide, the woman and child are important sub-personalities on the journey (the ‘nurturer’ and the ‘vulnerable’ within]; (reversed) failure to act, recklessness, or inner journey.”
Image: Two hooded figures seated in a boat which also contains six swords, point downward. The boat is poled by a man.
Traditional: Success after anxiety, journey by sea, travel, journey of flesh or spirit.
Spectrum: (Transition) passage/flight, escape/paralysis, journey/change.
7 of Swords:
Phrase: "Carrying a conflict at the expense of a friendship or relationship; martyrdom and betrayal; scheming while in confusion; (reversed) dazed and confused.”
Image: A man stealing away from a crusader's camp with five swords. Two others remain, point downward, in the ground behind him.
Traditional: Design, attempt, new schemes, vacillation, uncertainty.
Spectrum: (Defense) futility/resignation, evasion/avoidance, stealth/deceit.
8 of Swords:
Phrase: "Self-imposed ego; cognitive distortions; to be bound and blinded by one's own negative thoughts; (reversed) clinical depression, immobilization.
Image: A blindfolded figure standing bound, three swords stand on its right, five on its left.
Traditional: Conflict, criticism, blame, obstacles, danger, indecision, imprisonment.
Spectrum: (Interference) oppression/paralysis, guilt/entrapment, powerlessness/helplessness.
9 of Swords:
Phrase: "Depression, worry, mental anguish, distortion, (reversed) self doubt, rumination, suicidality.
Image: A figure sits up on a bed, covers its eyes, weeping. Behind it nine horizontal swords. The bedcover is decorated with a design of squares which contain, alternating red roses with the planetary signs and those for the houses.
Traditional: Worry, suffering, despair, cruelty, desolation, death.
Spectrum: (Distortion) hopelessness/agony, depression/doom, shadow/demons.
10 of Swords:
Phrase: "End of your rope; paralysis leading to surrender; no more struggle; Hell Realm; ego death; return to the source; (reversed) fear of annihilation, fragmentation, or ‘turning it over’ to a higher source.”
Image: A man laying face downward. His back is pierced with ten standing swords.
Traditional: Ruin, pain, desolation, karmic results, the beginning of harmony.
Spectrum: (Surrender) ruin/rebirth, denial/repression, turning it over/release.