Inspiring Enchantment & Illumination with Tarot & Intuitive Guidance

Tarot Card of the Week – July 22-28, 2013: Five of Swords

People will forget what you said,
People will forget what you did,
But people will never forget how you made them feel.

~  Maya Angelou

On this momentous day that promises the birth of British royalty and that ushers in the Full Aquarius Moon as the Sun slips into the sign of Leo, we receive a card that is frankly less than cheery.  Say hello to the Five of Swords.

As I have said many times, there are no “good” or “bad” Tarot cards, really; just very instructive ones. And this card certainly has a lot to say.

As is the tendency with the Minor Arcana Fives, as well as most of the Swords suit, this card depicts conflict and strife.

The sky is stormy, with jagged, threatening clouds. The man in the foreground gloats as the other two figures retreat in defeat, perhaps even humiliation.

Arthur Waite wrote of it, “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.”

Waite assigned it an interpretation of, “Degradation, destruction, revocation, infamy, dishonour, loss, with the variants and analogues of these.”

Harsh terms for someone so happy to see themselves as now being in command.

What was the nature of this conflict? While the two had more manpower, the smirking winner was more heavily armed, perhaps due to some kind of trickery, almost certainly having some unfair advantage.

Although he is very sure of himself and he has disarmed the two in what Waite has called a dishonorable defeat, most interpretations do not assume that this situation is final.

For if there is any dominating theme to the Tarot, it is that justice must eventually out, and balance be restored. But as is so often the case, the road there may be fraught with setbacks and difficulty, as the two in the background are experiencing.

Like all Tarot cards that depict more than one figure, we must give some thought to who we are in the picture — the smug victor?  Or the despondent defeated?

My home state of North Carolina has become internationally infamous recently, thanks to the radical and often ignorant ultra-conservative power plays occurring in our state legislature.

From a ridiculous attempt to ignore the United States Constitution by declaring a “state religion,” to shredding the rights and protections previously settled by decades of law and precedent for minorities, women, the poor, and the unemployed, it appears my state government is being directed by mean-spirited, racially bigoted hubris.

And all of it is being executed, alas, with great glee and more than a whiff of underhanded tactics. Very much like the bully in the Five of Swords.

They are winning for now, having gutted our educational programs, the voting rights of thousands of citizens, the legal financial relief for people out of work, and setting up Draconian laws designed to outlaw legal abortion.

But for every person you see protesting on “Moral Mondays,” you can be sure there are twenty more who agree, and who are bitterly angry at the fundamental unfairness of what is happening.

It looks like defeat, and it is, for now. But these blatant injustices shall not stand.

In your own world, this week, be extra careful not to make enemies. Instead, approach any adversaries with candor and scrupulous honesty. Whenever possible, first stretch out the hand of peace and magnanimity.

Beware of the temptations of malicious gossip, half-truths with an agenda, and gloating over any advantage you may currently enjoy in a competitive situation.

On the other hand, have you been defeated or cheated out of something by a wily and cunning opponent? Do you feel you have suffered because of someone’s cowardliness, ego, or malice?

Perhaps now is the time to walk away while you can. A strategic retreat may be the wisest move.

Take extra care to protect what is valuable to you, and be careful about people who would wield their power in underhanded, dishonest ways, as well as any urge to do so on your part.

Winning at any price will not really vanquish a competitor. The payback always comes. Fairness and justice, eventually, must be served.

When they are, where will you be in this picture?

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  • July 22, 2013, 2:52 pm sharri gaines

    Beth, again, your contemporary, timely and wise interpretation of this card strikes home and I see it reflected in our local society and larger world. I’ve been experiencing personal encounters with the energy of this card and have had to both step forward boldly for what I believe and retreat in the face of brutal self-honesty in looking at my own shadow self. Like it or not, my birth path is 5 and this number plays a significant role in my evolution. Guess it’s time to befriend it and glean the wisdom. Love and gratitude to you.

  • July 22, 2013, 5:17 pm Beth

    Thank you, Sharri. I am honored for you to visit.

    One of the things about the fives (and the tens) in Tarot, is that they are always in motion, pointing to the next step. No complacency is offered, maybe, but also always implying the expectation of growth and change. ♥ ♥ ♥