The 5 of Swords

The 5 of Swords - Tarot Card from the Rider-Waite Deck

Representing conflict; the 5 of Swords relates to the concepts of arrogance and condescension. Tolerance of different beliefs and thought processes deliver harmony and peace, intolerance inflames conflict and leads to disruption and disturbance.

In the upright state the 5 of Swords asks us to be mindful of perspective and to regard the truth that no-one believes themselves to be the villain and embraces this identity in conflict beyond depictions for entertainment value. In all other conflicts both sides believe themselves to be just and true; when attempting to resolve conflict be mindful that you are the protagonist in your own story, but you are the antagonist in that of your opponent.

In the inverted state the 5 of Swords emphasises the futility of war and the assertion that conflict never leads to victory but to mutual loss. This assertion prompts us to consider what we are willing to lose for the sake of our righteousness and whether that sacrifice is one we are willing to make.

In the Rider-Waite deck a single soldier is depicted collecting swords from the aftermath of a conflict, regarding his opponents with amusement two swords lay on the ground with two soldiers walking away. The two swords laying on the ground represent the 2 of Swords depicting trial and error once more, with the 2 upright swords in the hand of the soldier representing the mirrored perspective and the roles both sides have played as protagonist and antagonist in one another’s story. The single downward sword represents an inverted Ace of Swords and the lost opportunity forgone by the failure to resolve the conflict.

In self-reflection the 5 of Swords serves as a prompt to consider the negative elements that you may have failed to remove and revaluate your methods to negate those negative influences. As with Wands and Cups, once again, positive influences here do not need to be addressed - problems need to be solved, solutions do not.

The 5 of Swords and the 5 of Cups are almost identical, the description for the 5 of Cups can also apply here, however the 5 of Swords goes further and requires you to apply the same approach you would to your own emotions and think of those from the perspective of the source of conflict.

This conflict can either be defined as external or internal; in the case of external conflict, your thought processes and attempts to communicate are in conflict with those of an external source, this could be another person, or an entity, a concept, or even an idea that causes disruption to your internal state. Here you have to place yourself in the shoes of your opponent and consider their mental and emotional state and how they are responding to you as their stimulus. This is easier to do when the external source is a person, in all other cases you’re required to play Devil’s Advocate and consider how you would react if you were to accept this perspective as your own even if you are fundamentally opposed to it.

When we are dealing with internalised conflict with no outside opponent external to us then we have to divide our mental state in two, with one part embodying the person we are, and the other embodying the person we think we will become if we “lose” ourselves to this internal conflict.

In both cases we have to ask “How would I feel?” and apply that question to the situation and contemplate the mental and emotional state that would result, and then use that potential outcome to inform the choices we make as to how we communicate our mental state.

The key distinction between the Swords and Cups here is that whilst the Cups focus on the nature of the relationship that connects the two endpoints, the Swords focus on understanding the endpoint of the source of conflict instead recognising communication as an extension of thought, the objective is to understand the thoughts from which it extends.

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