the Two of Wands
A figure akin to a tactician, the Two of Wands is concerned with always being several steps ahead of his opponents. He can look at a chess board and calculate where every piece will fall. Though patient and intelligent, this is not a particularly emotional or sensitive person, who can often be criticized by those around him as cold.
Planning, Strategy, Prudence
Indecision, Unreliability, Spontaneity
the Two of Swords
The two of swords is about sitting too long on a choice. This figure is trying to hold on to too much and must let go of one and settle on another or risk losing both. It could be being split between two conflicting sides, and despite being ambivalent to the conflict in of itself, being forced to choose one.
The Two of Swords can also be read as a nightmarish twin of the High Priestess. Considering the repeated symbolism of a central woman sitting and the presence of the moon, as well as the cards being the respective two’s of their suit, there is grounds for this link. If the High priestess is seen to be an omniscient figure, who knows and sees all, then the Two of Swords is a twisted opposite, she is blindfolded, seeing and knowing nothing. The Priestess is shown against a luxurious background indicating wealth and safety, pillars and tapestry, however, the two of swords is alone and presumably unsafe, a woman in the wilderness at night, alone and blind. Of course, the woman is armed, overly so in fact, and this is part of the problem as previously discussed, she cannot bear the weight of both swords at once, and though she may look intimidating she is weakening herself by the second.
It is also worthwhile considering the different moons, and the symbolism of the Moon in tarot as dreams, nightmares, imagination and psychosis. The Priestess has the moon tethered at her feet, she indulges in the realm of fantasy and madness, but ultimately she is the master of her own dreams and has a grip on her own mind. Contrasting against this we have the Two of Swords, where the moon is untethered and compositionally dominant in the frame. This implies that the woman here is the whim of her own deteriorating mind and the hallucinatory nightmare realm that she can no longer differentiate from reality, she cannot detect the fantastical or surreal as she is blindfolded, unaware of the domineering power of the moon behind her.
Between two sides, Pressing Choice, Blindness, Madness, Nightmares, Danger
Clear Sight, Playing sides against each other, Return from Limbo, Regained Consciousness
the Two of Pentacles
The Two of Pentacles is, at a surface level, connected to scenes of performance and revelry and often depicts an entertainer as its central figure. This figure could be understood as more of a court clown, wherein their role as a performer is more of a career than just a personality trait, as in this is not just someone confident and funny, but someone who makes a living off of comedy or performance art.
There are also connotations of balance, in that the figure is juggling the two pentacles, just as the Two of Swords is struggling to hold up the two swords, so too is that dilemma true of the juggler here. No matter how impressive this split attention is, at some point, a ball will get dropped, and hopefully the other can be caught in time.
Gaiety, Entertainment, Clowning, Juggling (metaphorically)
Forced Fun, Taking on too much, Losing control
the Two of Cups
In many ways a suggestion of the Lovers Card within the Minor Arcana. The two of Cups cover similar ideas of romance and union but without some of the more serious implications of marriage or other big decisions. If anything, this card suggests a more passionate, volatile love affair than the lovers, just a more fleeting one. There is also a slight warning of an overly exclusive pairing, of being so embroiled in a relationship that everyone else is pushed away.
Romantic Love, Sexual Attraction, Exclusivity
Lost Spark, Romantic Dissatisfaction, Prioritization of the Self
the Three of Wands
This card has a grounded focus on looking towards the future. The figure is looking out into an ocean of possibilities, entertaining the possibility of getting on a ship and going on a voyage. This is a symbol of positive change and making active choices to chase a better life. This choice is also a great risk, but ultimately a rejection of mundanity.
Travel, Adventure, Looking Forward
Setbacks, Toil, Stunted Progress, Mundanity
the Three of Swords
The Three of Swords is the broken heart of the deck. It symbolises a painful romantic split and is more likely to refer to a messy sprawling break up than an amicable divorce. This card is not about falling out of love, but more accurately the paradoxical coexistence of intense love and intense hate for another within a person, and how these incompatible emotions tend to cleave a heart into pieces. This may refer to an inconceivable and unforgivable act committed by an irreplaceable loved one, things done or said that cannot be undone or unsaid. It is a translation of romantic stalemate when you cannot let go and cannot forgive when you cannot stand to be around someone and yet cannot be without them, what then happens next? Often, it ends in a tumultuous trainwreck of conflicting emotions, a series of vicious arguments and passionate reconciliations that can never last.
Heartbreak, Volatile dispute, Coexistence of Love and Hate
Healing, Piecing together the Broken Heart, Love Rekindled, Something that must be said
the Three of Pentacles
The Three of Pentacles is a symbol of skilled labour, often a carpenter, stonemason, or sculptor. This figure is undoubtedly an artist, but what they create is not simply cosmetic but practical and unpretentious. As with most of the pentacles, there is a financial aspect, the skill referenced here is a marketable tool, not just a hobby. Also, there are connotations of a change from apprentice to journeyman with this card, where the artist has an opportunity to show their quality and newly learned talents to become ‘professional’.
Craft, Skill, Sculpture, Artistic Breakthrough
Mediocrity in work, cutting corners, lack of pride
the Three of Cups
The imagery paired to this card often depicts or is evocative of the Three Graces, or Charities, of classical myth. The Graces were said to be Minor Goddesses “created to fill the world with pleasant moments and goodwill”. The Three of Cups is subsequently linked to their respected and shared values. The Graces are linked to three different virtues, Aglaea Goddess of Splendor, Euphrosyne Goddess of Merriness, and Thalia Goddess of the Festival. When reading this card, one should consider not only the associations of the Graces but their bond with each other.
Revelry, Splendor, Merriness, Festival, Friendship
Toxic Festivity, Indulgence, Isolation
the Ten of Wands
This card is often interpreted as a person who is overcompensating for others around them who are not pulling their weight. Though selflessness is an admirable quality, it is insinuated here that it is either not necessary or not being appreciated. It can be a hard truth to admit, but sometimes the people who you would do anything for don’t deserve you.
Burden, Stress, Selflessness
Laziness, Manipulation, Taking Advantage
the Ten of Swords
The Ten of Swords refers to a premature or unsatisfactory ending. Something that has not been allowed to run its full course. As a person, this card is someone who has become weary of the tumultuous ups and downs experienced through the suit of swords and has now finally had enough and is putting a stop to it. This is the father who stops children mid-argument, nothing is resolved, but in the immediate future, nothing gets any worse.
There are also, because of the often grizzly artwork of a corpse impaled with ten swords, bleak connotations of crushing defeat and at worst, a death. There are some interpretations that this is the other side of the coin to the Five of Swords, wherein we see the traitor, now we see the betrayed. Instead of the action, here we are forced to face the consequences.
Dissatisfying or Sudden Ending, Desolation, Betrayal
False Ending, Unwanted Return, Unforgiven, Narrow Escape
the Ten of Pentacles
The Ten of Pentacles is an overall good omen associated with good fortune and abundance of wealth. It also suggests a groundedness despite good fortune and implies that money, in this case, has not become an obsession or corruptor. This card also pertains to inheritance, either in the sense that security is assured for future generations or that wealth is being passed down from past generations.
Lasting Success, Stability, Riches
Inheritance Exclusion, Loss of Wealth, Robbery
the Ten of Cups
The Ten of Cups is one of the most positive cards in the deck. It promises lasting true happiness. It suggests contentment within the family, marital, and general home life. It alludes to an Arcadian setting and the joys of rustic life. This image of the perfect idyll can be taken literally, and suggest an actual beautiful place or retreat that has been or will be encountered.
It can also be understood as an idea or concept, not everyone can live a simple rustic life among nature, but it suggests a tranquil home life nonetheless. Often this place is interpreted as the querents home, however to what end ideas of home are being conjured depends on other cards within the spread.
Familial harmony, Fulfilled Love, Pastoral Idyll, Home
Familial Split, Heartbreak, Raiding, Urban Dystopia
the Six of Wands
This is card is linked to basking in one’s own success. Specifically, a celebration or event in acknowledgement of one’s accomplishments. For example, some manner of graduation or coming of age ceremony. There is a slight chance this could exceed into the grounds of indulgence or arrogance, but the card is mostly positive.
Rising Status, Praise, Popularity
Disgrace, Notoriety, Shame
the Six of Swords
The Six of Swords is about leaving something behind, often something toxic, and usually this departure is overdue, nevertheless, it is still a difficult and painful decision. In many ways it is a ‘last straw’ card, where the options have run out and every attempt to fix something has been unsuccessful, it has now become apparent not everything can be fixed.
In relationships, this exit also has connotations of permanence and physical distance, whatever has been left behind, is most likely gone for good or at least long enough to change lives forever. Though the split can often be the best course of action, it does not necessarily mean that it was a bad relationship or friendship, but that it has come to a premature end, and the only option moving forward is acceptance.
This is also a card of quiet heroism. An acknowledgement of more understated but nonetheless commendable heroic acts, such as removing a child from a dangerous environment, as suggested in smiths artwork.
Painful Separation, Escape, Permanent Leaving, Lost Love, Understated Heroism
Unsatisfactory Ending, Unpredicted Return, Near Escape, Bystander Effect
the Six of Pentacles
The Six of Pentacles offers deliverance from the dire conditions of poverty and need previously seen in the Five of Pentacles. The figure here is a champion of Charity, and patron of those in need. There are implications of great financial success but not greed, as can be seen with the Four of Cups for example. This person does not want to accumulate wealth beyond simply what they need to get by, anything extra is a bonus that can be happily given away. There is also thematic mirroring of the Justice Card, specifically the connotations of the scales as a tool of judgement, however while Justice is generally more concerned with weighing up punishment, the Six of Pentacles is more concerned with weighing up rewards.
Charity, Gifts, Just Rewards
Charity with Ulterior Motive, Hidden Costs, Money Lending
the Six of Cups
The Six of Cups is associated with nostalgic regard for one’s past. Although it also warns of an unrealistic belief in ‘better times’, bolstered by exaggerated or ‘rose-tinted’ memories. There are also connotations of unconditional, uncomplicated, childlike love, which though realistically seems unattainable or naïve, is nonetheless a good sign applicable to romantic readings.
This card can also herald the return of someone from your past, who you had thought wholly lost. For better or worse, it could be an old friend, estranged family member, or ex-lover. This reappearance of a character in your life will often carry with it an opportunity for an apology or a choice for forgiveness and second chance, or rebuttal and grudge.
Nostalgia, Memory, Childhood, Innocent Love
Disconnect with the Past, Reopened Wounds, Old Enemies
the Seven of Wands
We take the Seven of Wands to mean that, though you are enduring a somewhat tumultuous period, you are handling it in the best manner possible. There will always be hard times, but if you do not let yourself be overcome, and keep rising to the challenges, hard times will pass. This card is symbolic of strength of character in the face of adversary.
Defence, Hardiness, Perseverance
Defeatism, Being Outmatched, Overwhelmed or Outnumbered
the Seven of Swords
The Seven of Swords is sometimes renamed the Thief Card. Considering this, an interpretation is relatively straightforward. The Thief refers to dishonest or illegal acts and charming yet roguish characters. There are also implications of infiltration and disguise, if someone being somewhere they shouldn’t be for ulterior motives.
The Card is not wholly negative and may refer to someone resorting to underhand methods after playing by the rules for long enough to know that the rules do not work, and the odds are stacked against them. Often what is legal is not what is right, and what is law is not always fair. Some readings take into account ideas of imposter syndrome, of feeling like you don’t deserve to be somewhere, or that you are in some way unworthy.
Thievery, disguise, stealth, Imposter Syndrome
Unsuccessful Heist, Being Discovered or Outed, Planting or Secretly Leaving a Material Possession or Object Behind
the Seven of Pentacles
The Seven of Pentacles regards reaping what has been sown and cultivated. Those who have the patience to simply wait will be gifted ripe fruits, yet there is a slight sense that the figure here is somewhat tired of waiting. Perhaps time constraints are wearing patience thin, and the rustic idyll of harvest is now forced to confront the realities of gruelling agricultural toil.
Cultivation, Toil, Thin Patience
Pestilence, rotten, soiled or soured prospects
the Seven of Cups
This card, referred to by Arthur E. Waite as “Strange Chalices of Vision”, often depicts a shadowy figure contemplating seven cups filled with metaphors for different futures. There is some debate whether this card is an allegory for boundless choice and opportunity, or a warning about lofty, unrealistic goals and the indulgence of playing out fantasy narratives.
The first reading essentially mimics the sentiment that the world is your oyster, wherein whatever can be imagined can be achieved, but a person must actively choose one goal, likely at the sacrifice of others.
The second reading deducts that the multiple paths the querent sees as options are self-indulgent and arrogant. Not only does the figure see themselves as the rightful inheritor of infinite spoils, but they waste their lives running out these scenarios where they are piled with treasures, instead of doing anything to get any closer to achieving these goals. When the figure is forced to return to reality and acknowledge that these dreams will never be realized, it will be bitter to swallow.
Choice, Sacrifice, Indulgent Fantasies, Disconnect from Reality
Loss of Imagination, Running Out of Options, OR Clarity, Pragmatism, Sobering Up
the Queen of Wands
The Queen of Wands embodies one of the decks more modern female mentor figures. Unlike the religious stereotypes of gentle, nurturing mothers and pure passive, virgins, the Queen of Wands embodies confidence, power, enterprise, passion, sexuality, authority, etc. This figure possibly already exists in your life or is soon to appear, and should help to dispel any sexist myths among other sage advice.
Feminine Role Model, Humor, Extroversion, Luck
Lack of Confidence, Unsavory Mentorship, Bad Luck
the Queen of Swords
The Hollow Queen, a card of strange and unpredictable sadness. This figure is decked out with all the robes and jewels, presented with all the pageantry and yet possess no true power. The Queen of Swords gives off connotations of putting on a happy face; of repressed sorrow and the performance of gaiety. This may simply be perceived impotency, similarly to the seven of swords and its connotations of imposter syndrome. It may be fully self-criticism that has deemed this queen unworthy or unfit to rule.
As a mother, this card again suggests a sadness, and a degree of abandonment, not necessarily in a sinister sense but it evokes the widow who has lost a partner and now whose children have grown and left home. She finds herself, for the first time in years, suddenly and completely alone, and cannot help but contemplate what has become of so many selfless years. How does one confront the self after prioritising others for decades? What does one say? What do they do next?
As a female mentor, the Queen of Swords is someone who would never know that they are thought of as a mentor, or even looked up to and admired at all. This Queen shares a lot of the nurturing kindness as the Empress, though they would never admit to it, but performs this persona with a lot more dry humour and sharp wit.
She proves herself in actions, and though she may not think of herself as a teacher, those who pay close enough attention will learn a lot in compassion, cultivation, brilliance and love.
Hidden Sorrow, Widowhood, Loneliness, Wit, Compassion, Humour, Absence
Malice, Bigotry, Maternal Abandonment, Forgetting
the Queen of Pentacles
The Queen of Pentacles could be understood as the Nine of Pentacles fully matured, an admirer of natural and material beauty, but also someone who can balance these interests amongst a wide array of other interests and commitments. The Queen of Pentacles is a woman that is dependent on no man and will be accepted as an equal even if that means working ten times as hard. There is also connotations that this woman is a mother but is not necessarily motherly, she does not and will not let her children or even her ability to have children define her. As a maternal figure, this Queen possesses a wealth of intelligence and material bounty but is somewhat more want to emotional distance than many of the other female mentors of the deck. This is a Mother who is sometimes more appreciated in retrospect, who raises polite intelligent and independent children, but errs on the side of overly strict.
Feminine Power, Equality, Admiration for Material and Natural Beauty, Strict Parenting
Lack of Empathy, Overt Materialism, Snobbishness, Pretentiousness
the Queen of Cups
In a rare meta turn for Tarot, this Queen is something of a fortune teller herself. It could be imagined that in the cup she contemplates are tea leaves that she interprets meaning in. She is also a symbol of pure heart, a true believer and advocate of goodness. Though often depicted as beautiful, this is more a translation of her inner beauty, as the Queen of cups ambivalent to physical attractiveness. Like the other Queens, the Queen of Cups is a maternal character, specifically, she is the vision of maternal advice and wisdom. The other Queens somewhat accentuate and reinforce the divisionary power relationship of mother and child, teacher and student. The Queen of Cups is unique in being a sort of maternal equal, where mutual respect allows for a healthier environment where the child can test their curiosity on a non-judgmental and open-minded mentor. This maternal figure also admits fallibility, offering advice from her own experiences and mistakes, fully rejecting an attitude of ‘follow the rules because I am in charge’.
Sage Advice, Maternal Respect, Inner Beauty, Goodwill
Disgrace, Female Perversion, Depravity OR Self Love, Overdue Prioritization of the Self, Personal Time
the Page of Wands
The Page of Wands often refers to receiving some positive information or message. Often this message will take shape in a physical form, as in it is likely to be an actual letter or note. Alternate readings interpret this card as a symbol of male youth.
Communication, Written Word, Good News, Youth
Bad news, Undelivered or mislaid messages, Stunted Development
the Page of Swords
The Page of Swords represents a person who is able to wheedle information out of anyone without revealing anything about themselves. They are a master of secrets and whispers, seemingly all-knowing while remaining themselves wholly unknowable. This figure is often associated with spying and ulterior motives, likely appearing as a warning of a false friend. In terms of the Pages connotations of messages and news, the Page of Swords is an indicator of gossip, lies, and false news, and advises the careful consideration of the legitimacy of spoken and written word.
Spying, Manipulation, Gossip, Secrets
Brutal honesty, Hard truths, Coming Clean
the Page of Pentacles
Like the other pages, the Page of Pentacles is a messenger, in this case, they herald of good news within the sphere of education, knowledge, or learning. There is also recurring page connotations of youth and beginnings, we could take this as someone on the first step to success, inspired and willing to make something of themselves. This Page is an acknowledgement of aspirational dreams, but not a promise of fulfilment and should not be read as such, however, it does suggest a solid and encouraging start.
Study, Pursuit of Knowledge, Prospects, Plans, and Good News on Material Matters
Selfish Enterprise, Lack of Goals, Prodigality, News of Material Loss
the Page of Cups
The Page of Cups refers to a passionate and yet somewhat introverted young person. This figure is creative, curious and sincere but not the best at expressing this to others. If the querent sees themselves in this card it reassures that confidence will grow with every small step, but it will not happen without a conscious effort. If it becomes apparent that this person is someone else within the querent’s life it advises patience and support. In a more general sense, the card connotes spoken or written messages of love and is a very positive and exciting card to be dealt.
Poetry, Declarations of Love, Gentleness, Anxiety
Secrets in a Relationship, Declarations of Heartbreak, Going Over Unfulfilled Declarations of Love
the Nine of Wands
The Nine of Wands is a card that teaches the importance of learning one's limits. In a way, it is a card of defeat, but to be taken in a positive sense. To lose is to learn and to be humbled. Without making mistakes we would never know our boundaries or how to push them. Failure can leave us humiliated and sometimes wounded, but these aspects are not only humanizing but essential life experiences.
Knowledge in Failure, Humility, Experience
Bitterness, Stubbornness, Inability to accept defeat
the Nine of Swords
Quite possibly the worst card in the whole deck sometimes renamed the Nightmare. Unfortunately, a bad omen in any spread. The Nine of Swords is firstly an indicator of sleep in any negative context, from night terrors to sleep paralysis to insomnia. It is an unfortunate herald of sleepless nights regardless of context.
The Nine of Swords also carries heavy connotations of irrevocable loss, and overwhelming, crushing grief. Whatever has been lost can never be replaced, fixed, or made right again. This grief is claustrophobic and all-consuming and will feel endless. Some interpret this as the loss of a child or miscarriage, as derived from the Smith and Waite respective artwork and descriptions respectively.
Of course, it is important to state that no matter how terrible feelings of loss and grief may feel, every day passed will get a little easier, and eventually hope will wash in and the broken heart will begin to mend.
Nightmares, Sleep Paralysis, Insomnia, Overwhelming Loss, Inconsolable Grief
End of a nightmare, End of Sorrow, Waking up, Clarity, Moving On
the Nine of Pentacles
This figure could be understood as an heiress, relishing in the delights the fruitful garden of her decadent estate. She is a connoisseur of high art, fine food, and all other pleasurable things. While not fully hedonistic, this figure is indulgent when it comes to material joys. This figure is also a patron of the natural world and is an advocate for art in nature.
There are slight connotations that this figure has not earned this money and subsequently does not appreciate the value of it. Often this person is a feminine and aristocratic figure, who in a historical context would have been born or married into money, most likely both. Following this, it can, therefore, be assumed that this person does not have full access to their money either and is in some way dependent on another.
Luxury, Bounty, Aristocracy, Materialism, Dependency
Dissatisfaction with Wealth and Marriage, Money can’t buy happiness, Disinterest in the Natural AND material worlds
the Nine of Cups
The Nine of Cups signifies victory with a slight tinge of smugness, and celebration slightly tainted by gloating. It echoes similar ideas of sensory pleasure found in the ace of cups, though with slightly less purity.
This card predicts a singular success and the promise of celebration after but warns the querent to stay grounded, reminding them that haughtiness is an ugly quality, and being a sore winner is just as bad, if not worse, than being a sore loser.
Victory, Gloating, Arrogance
Humbleness, modesty, Humility, Sportsmanship
the Knight of Wands
The Knight of Wands is often understood as someone leaving someone else’s life quite suddenly. This movement is generally not something that can be adjusted to but something that will bring a relationship to a permanent or at the very least semi-permanent end. For example, it is not someone moving to another town or city, but to the other side of the world with no intention of coming back. The loss of a relationship is not the cause of the move, but a consequence of it. Whether you are leaving someone behind, or someone is leaving you, the relationship is an unfortunate casualty, but acceptance is the only real action.
Emigration, Parting, Physical Distance
Agoraphobia, Staying, Choosing a Person Over an Opportunity
the Knight of Swords
This is a card is a harbinger of substantial change, specifically a change that is taken to with great enthusiasm and positivity. However, there is a slight warning of over over-eagerness, of rushing into something without preparing.
In many ways, the Knight of Swords is the archetypal hero, brave, capable and charming. This figure is also tinged with violent and hotheaded traits, and though they are greatly skilled, they are arrogantly self-aware and vain because of it. This person is also a masterful linguist and relishes in any opportunity to debate, argue and perform speeches.
Bravery, Over-Eagerness, Heroism, Violence
Reconsideration of Path, Tentativeness, Cowardice
the Knight of Pentacles
The Knight of Pentacles is a figure that, no matter how long it takes and no matter the cost, will always get what they want. This person is methodical, meticulous and relentless. They are a tracker and a hunter. Patient beyond expectations and dedicated beyond reason. Essentially, this card is about not quitting until the goal is achieved, never cutting corners, wavering in loyalty, or doubting the legitimacy of the cause.
Loyalty, Dedication, Relentlessness
Conservatism, Bias, Ignorance
the Knight of Cups
The Knight of Cups is a roving romantic, often a beautiful young person (by no means necessarily a man, despite the gender implications of "knight"). If the knights are taken as literal knights, then the Knight of Cups is more of a figure of pageantry, unlike the other knights who are militaristic and warlike. This knights armour and sword are ceremonial instead of being battle-ready.
This person is a talented musician, poet, or artist, and like the other knights embarks on quests, but of much less violent or domineering nature. This knight is less conquistador and more missionary, he does not want to conquer peoples but help and teach them.
However, sometimes there is a degree of superficiality to the talents of the Knight. There is a slight concern here that this figure is a dangerously charming or overly promiscuous person, a corrupting male or seductress.
An alternate reading is a combination of the element association of water to cups and travel to knights, simply alluding to some manner of travel on, over, or through a body of water.
Pageantry, Beauty, Seduction, Journey Over Water
Trickery, Concealment of True Self, Masquerade, Inability to Distinguish Truth and Lies
the King of Wands
The King of Wands is seen as a bold leader, who is warm, charming and well-liked. He is a champion of truth and symbol of incorruptibility. Unquestionable righteousness can sometimes waver into the realm of a tedious self-righteousness, however generally his heart is in the right place. This figure is also a skilled orator who has the power to inspire those around him.
Decisiveness, Honesty, Charisma
Doubt, Deceit, Social Awkwardness
the King of Swords
The King of Swords is passionate and fierce, a warrior king who inspires these qualities in others. This figure is strong, passionate, and fiercely protective. He is the head of the pride, and to be on the wrong side of his family is desolation. Admired and liked by many, this figure is known intimately by very few. This king would rather lead a battle charge than be confronted with their own emotions.
The King of Swords could be understood as a split between the qualities of the Emperor and Justice. He is perhaps the most powerful of the kings, but also the most terrifying, unlikely to forgive and impatient when it comes to negotiations. His unbreakable ideals make him incorruptible and difficult to manipulate, but they also make him unsympathetic and near impossible to reach a compromise with. As a mentor, he may not always be understanding and this paramount idealism can often drive others away. To this person what has been broken cannot be fixed, and no matter how apologetic or ashamed his wife or children may be about doing him wrong, to this king the deed is done, and nothing can undo it.
It can also be read that the King of Swords is a symbol of adopting new philosophies that will subsequently change one’s own worldview. It could reference a particular even or observation that completely changes a person's perception of themselves, others, or the world around them.
Valour, Authority, Idealism, New Theories and Ideas
Abuse of Power, Tyrant, Warlord, Sinister Ideals, Suppression of Ideas (in self or others)
the King of Pentacles
The King of Pentacles regards the achievement of success and power and the acceptance of these mantles with grace. This figure is a symbol of wealth but also philanthropy, having earned his wealth through hard work.
This King, like the others, is a father figure, however, unlike the others, his protection and provision comes at a price. There is a sort of contractual obligation to being in the care of the King of Pentacles, those who earn their keep will be rewarded tenfold, those who show respect shall receive it back, and those who adhere to his law will benefit from it. However, this king will not stand to be dishonoured or embarrassed and will cast out unworthy and ungrateful children.
Grace, Betterment, Stern but Fair Parenting
Vice, Exploitation, Perversion
the King of Cups
The gentlest of all the kings in tarot, the King of Cups is sensitive, emotionally mature and perceptive. While still undoubtedly a paternal authority figure, this king is the first to listen to his children and easiest to sway. Above all, he is a champion of compassion and forgiveness. This figure has very close relationships with all his family and believes that fatherhood is a lifetime commitment, not to be taken lightly. This person also struggles with the application of discipline and may have problems juggling respect for his children and the necessity of punishment.
He is also most likely of the kings to fill the role of an adoptive or surrogate father as he is less focused on strict importance of kin and blood ties.
In terms of fatherly duties, this figure will emphasize the importance of artistic skill and appreciation over traditional physical masculine values of competitive sport or marketable labour. In a sense, the King of Cups is the kind of father who has nurtured the traits of the Page and Knight of Cups. Essentially this person is the perfect tutor for creatives, and probably has a catalogue of experiences and contacts within artistic spheres.
On the downside, this father figure is by far the most likely to spoil his children and be taken advantage of. Being so focused on being the ultimate provider, this king runs the risk of raising children that find themselves under-equipped or unenthusiastic when faced with independence. Though the King of Cups is extremely protective over his family, he is slightly less equipped to defend them than the King of Swords for example. Despite being more distant to his Children, if they were crossed, the King of Swords would go out for blood, the King of Cups doesn’t have this option no matter how much he might want to.
Sensitive Leader, Patron of the Arts, Emotional rock, Overly Soft Father Figure
Volatile Leader, Emotional Manipulation, Fatherly Indifference
the Four of Wands
This card, and often the depictions on the card, are associated with celebrations. More often than not it is taken to insinuate marriage but can be more generally applicable to traditions of carnival and feasts. Particularly in a historical context, these traditions involve elements of subverting social order, where (for a set period) peasants unseat nobles. In some cases, this went as far as anointing a ‘Lord of Misrule’ or ‘Master of Revelries’ to preside over the festival as a Bacchanal figure. As a person, this card could embody this figure.
Marriage, Revelry, Carnival, Subversion
Disappointing celebration, A funeral, Rebellion
the Four of Swords
After the Volatility and Excitement of the Three of Swords, now in the clear light of day the aftermath and fallout are considered in the Four of Swords. After the emotional spikes comes a period of emotional emptiness
The Four of Swords is sometimes read as a cloud of depression descending on a person, in that it is not an abundance of negative emotion, but an absence of emotion, feelings of apathy and nothingness. All of this is very reminiscent of the Four of Cups, in terms of emotional vacancy, however perhaps less of a long term state of mind, and more a short term reaction to a specific event.
This is a time to withdraw, contemplate, and reconsider recent events with a cool and clear head. It may be that after such a drawn-out break up where both parties ended up hating each other, now that they find themselves alone they begin to miss the other again. No matter how venomously a relationship ends, it is nearly inevitable that good memories will begin to creep out of the woodwork when a partner is gone.
Solitude, Reflection, Regrets, Depression, Happy Memories Unfulfilled
Inability to move on, discord between emotional separation and necessity of physical proximity
the Four of Pentacles
A Strange lesser king within the deck. A miser and who holds on tightly to their meagre wealth with a fierce grip. Though he is seen crowned he is unworthy of the title of king, kept separate from the ‘true’ kings of each suit. There is a slight warning of sitting on money, which is of no use if neither spent nor invested. This figure is unwilling to work for more income or part with a single coin, therefore they find themselves at a stalemate, technically wealthy but with nothing to use. The social consequences of the selfish hoarding of wealth is realised in the poverty and vagrancy of the following card, the Five of Pentacles.
Hoarding, Misery, Delusions of Grandeur
Wanton Generosity, Boundless Charity, Sacrifice, Saving Nothing for Yourself
the Four of Cups
The Four of Cups is a card indicating dangerous listlessness. No matter what is offered it is never enough and never satisfactory. This card is a relatively apt summary of depression, in that in concerns not necessarily an excess negative emotion, but the perceived absence of emotion. In a nightmare opposite of the ace of cups, all senses are rendered useless, the figure sees as if through a murk, all food tastes like ash, every smell has become rancid, all music becomes shapeless noise, human touch becomes corpselike.
Discontent, Depression, Apathy, Disillusionment, Insatiability
Rehabilitation, Recovery, Psychological Return, Nourishment
the Five of Wands
This card is associated with conflict and often carries imagery of physical dispute. However, this conflict is generally frivolous in nature. It is by no means depicting scenes of war or serious violence, but youthful competitive scuffles.
Strife, quarrel, Physical Aggression
Agreement, Reason, truce
the Five of Swords
The Five of Swords is first and foremost a card of Betrayal. It signifies victory but victory deficient in grace, glory and mercy. This figure wins a battle by switching sides at the last moment, they gloat over defeating an army a tenth their size, refuse to honour surrender. This figure could be understood as a sore winner, a pirate and a reaver, infamous and without honour.
Betrayal, Infamy, Gloating, A Loathsome Arrogance
Reconciliation, False Victory, Fleeting Glory
the Five of Pentacles
Generally a bleak omen, the Five of Pentacles is often linked to a lack of security and at worse homelessness. This card refers to not the act of charity but to those in need of it. It is also somewhat cynical of charitable organisations and religious morality in action. In many decks, including the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot, the card depicts two injured mendicants struggling in a cold night outside the lights of a church window. While it might be expected that the church would care for these people down on their luck, here we see it is apparently not the case. Following this line of thought, it may be a signal to remember the core values at the heart of one's beliefs and to consider if they have been strayed from.
Hard Times, Vagrancy, Begging
Return of Hope, Romanticised Images of Vagrancy, Saddle Tramp
the Five of Cups
The Five of Cups implores the querent to refocus their attention on not what has been lost, but what remains. It denotes some manner of consuming loss that is distracting or stealing the light from more important commitments. The most recognizable example is being so affected by grief after losing a loved one, that a person forgets their responsibilities to other loved ones. It could also be understood as great shame prohibiting further progress when someone is unable to bounce back from a mistake.
Consuming Loss, Misplaced Responsibility, Regret, Shame, Second Chances
Newfound hope, Second Chance, Adjustment
the Eight of Wands
The Eight of Wands can be understood as an allegory for snowballing progress. Though the message is essentially positive, the reality can be intimidating and overwhelming. With higher achievement comes higher pressure, rising status demands rising levels of responsibility. It advises caution that spiralling success does not spiral out of control.
Change of Pace, Runaway Success, Movement
Lost Momentum, Crashing Breakdown, Patience
the Eight of Swords
The Eight of Swords is about having no easy options but still having to make a choice. Even if every path is less than ideal, refusing to move is not an option, and there is an admirable quality to moving through something despite how painful it may be.
This figure is sometimes referred to as the prisoner, and this can be taken literally and refer to some manner of actual imprisonment, or it can be taken in a more metaphorical sense, regarding feelings of being trapped or acts of entrapment. It could be read that the figure is only a prisoner of their own design, and though they cannot see it, the only thing holding them back is themselves.
Undesirable choices, Feeling Trapped, Blocking Self Interest, Arrest or Imprisonment
Freezing Under Pressure, Choking, Shutting down
the Eight of Pentacles
The Eight of Pentacles has similar connotations of craft and trade as the Three of Pentacles but differs in how these connotations are interpreted. While the Three of Pentacles is understood as the first breakthrough of a young and upcoming artist, this is more concerned with a return to quality for an established master. An undeniable skill that has for whatever reason faded in quality or gone out of fashion is now thrust again into the spotlight. This is then a revival or second chance for those fallen from grace, to once more prove their quality.
Another difference is that the Three of Pentacles is producing work for recognition or reward, looking forward to something, but the Eight of Pentacles is looking back. There is a sense that his labour is to make up for something, a kind of penance.
Mastery, Penance, Revival, Renaissance
Wasted Talent, Usury, Outdated Skills
the Eight of Cups
This Card is often interpreted as a figure who after investing in something or someone for a long time, has finally accepted it is time to quit trying and move on. The connotations are not as negative as the may first appear, and it is important to learn to let go. Not everything can be fixed, and throwing more energy, money, or time into fixing something unfixable can be heartbreaking. There is no shame in cutting your losses and going out in search of something new.
Abandonment, Cutting Losses, Starting anew
Return, Compromise, Second Chances
the Ace of Wands
This card is often linked to fresh drive in the face of a new conquest. Something new is being tackled with the utmost vigour. There are also recurrent views that this card is a symbol of male libido and sexuality, most probably because of its obvious phallic imagery.
Vitality, New Opportunities, Male sexuality
Procrastination, lethargy, Impotence
the Ace of Swords
The Ace of Swords is a symbol of clear sight, about being immune to deception. This Sword has the power to cleave through lies, confusion and ambiguity. It is the champion of truth and righteousness. It also suggests a firm groundedness in reality, which can sometimes verge on bluntness but is generally positive. As with all the aces it is ascribed to new beginnings, projects, and ventures, so coupled with its general meaning it can be read as a sign for realistic and well thought through plans.
Seeing Clearly, Realistic Plans, Inability to Fool
To be Hoodwinked, Lofty Plans, Murk
the Ace of Pentacles
The Ace of Pentacles is a celebration of contentment and humble accomplishment.
This Ace is not about possessing great wealth or coming into great wealth in any way, it is simply about being happy with what you have. It certainly implies a degree of stability, implying any seemingly pressing financial troubles may not be as serious as they seem or at least are in the process of being dealt with.
Financial contentment, Humility, Gratitude
Scraping by, Struggling to make ends meet, being unable to afford the bare essentials
the Ace of Cups
This is a card of contentment and inner peace and alludes to one who seeks out and can find happiness in all things and every corner of existence. In one reading, the Ace of Cups relates to the sensory realm, what can be touched, smelt, seen, heard, and tasted in this world. This could be understood as a focus on beauty, art, food, music, physical intimacy. It advocates appreciating the world, in Hemmingway’s phrasing, as ‘a Moveable Feast’.
Enthusiasm, Joy, Optimism, Sensory experience
Cynicism, Insatiability, Carnal/Base Greed
the The World
The World is simultaneously the end of the journey and the herald of a new beginning. A chapter of life is coming to a close in a natural and fulfilling way. Whatever is lost or left behind, though indisputably final, will offer great closure. If The fool departs in search of knowledge; The World returns to bestow knowledge.
Balance, Wholeness, Satisfactory/ Happy Endings and Fresh starts
Refusal to Let Go, Fragmentation, Inability to Start Over and Unsatisfactory/ Sad Endings
Before coming to the end of the Fool’s Journey through the majors, his deeds must be weighed. It is a time to ask any questions raised along the way. The card calls for honesty and sincerity, in the face of fair judgement. It connotes a final chance to admit guilt and repent, in the hopes of forgiveness.
Resurrection, Redemption and self-evaluation
Evasiveness, Burden and Self-doubt
the The Sun
Perhaps the most positive card in the deck, The Sun foretells unchecked joy and success in all forms. This suggests a lasting period of peace and happiness, where without threat one can bask in sunlight, setting down all cares. The Sun is the master of its own destiny, confident in its abilities and moral rightness.
Happiness, Light, Marriage and Victory
Sorrow, Lack of Clarity, Discontent and Failure
the The Moon
The Moon concerns the affairs of the imagination and the power of the mind to see past the material world. Most often read negatively, this denotes a loss of grip on reality, hallucinations, fear and paranoia. However, taken positively, this card suggests creativity, passionate love and dreams.
Mental confusion, Fear, Dreams and Wild Romance
Nightmares, Insomnia, Psychological deterioration, Invasive or Unpleasant Thoughts and Fantasies
the The Star
The Star is the beginning of the healing process. The rekindling of hope, and the second chance. To those that had nearly lost hope, the star appears as inspiration and guide.
Newfound Hope, Guidance, Revelation and Healing
False Hope, Disorientation, trauma and disillusionment
the The Tower
The Tower signifies an earth shattering event. It predicts utter desolation or otherwise irrevocable change. However, it must be acknowledged that hardship is inevitable and no one passes through life unscathed. A smooth sea never made a skilful sailor, and this will be the roughest sea yet.
Destruction, Chaos and Ruin
Averting or Delaying Disaster, Fallout and Rebuilding
the The Devil
The Devil card represents the seduction and entrapment of carnal pleasures and living to excess. It concerns itself with addiction, temptation, lust and power - and the strangely alluring dangers of following any of these materialistic pursuits to excess.
Sexuality, Obsession, Restriction and Fear
Freedom from Bondage, Overcoming Addictions, Release, Restoring Balance and Control
Temperance, in line with the cardinal virtue that is its namesake, is a symbol of measuredness, moderation and Mercy. In contrast to the justice card, Temperance is concerned not with what is fair, but what is right. It is an unfailing advocate of staying the executioner’s sword in favour of forgiveness. The card is also linked to Alchemy.
Moderation, Restraint, Mercy and Alchemy
Decadence, Division and Poison
After a period of contemplation with The Hanged Man, Death follows to allow you to let go of previous traumas and anxieties that may be holding you back. It is symbolic of purging, rebirth, and a complete severing of our past mistakes to allow for significant and permanent change. While this severance can be painful, it should also be viewed as a strengthening of character.
Transformation, transition and rebirth
Stagnation, reluctance, inner turmoil and indecision
the The Hanged Man
The Hanged Man symbolises perspective and intellect. It is about allowing yourself to pause and reflect on previous decisions and experiences whilst also allowing yourself to grow and mature materially and spiritually. This card recommends the consideration of events past, present, and future. At the halfway point of the Major Arcana, it also connotes an inherent change from the challenges previously faced to those that will follow.
Acceptance, new perspective, reflection and insight
Denial, selfishness and indecision
The Justice card is largely self explanatory, it refers to people getting what is deserved. Evil is weighed and suitably punished, good recognised and rewarded. However, the sword of justice can often be ruthless, and what is fair is not always the most compassionate.
Justice, Unbiased Evaluation and Punishment
Injustice, Abuse of Power, Imbalance OR Mercy
the Wheel of Fortune
This card depicts a world in constant flux, where luck and destiny can change at any moment. To those graced with happiness and stability this card predicts a hard fall, but to those down on their luck it predicts great fortune. However, nothing is permanent, and the wheel will always come back around.
Change of Luck, Karma and Equilibrium
Stagnation, Personal Autonomy and irrevocable change
the The Hermit
The Hermit is essentially a searcher, often depicted as a wise old man making his way through the darkness with a lantern. He is illuminating the dark areas of the physical and intellectual realms. This focus often comes at the cost of camaraderie and companionship. However admirable or important, the Hermit is at its core a signifier of solitude, and loneliness.
Illumination, Solitude and Knowledge
Withdrawal, Lack of knowledge, Corruption and secrets
The Strength card is the ultimate symbol of Female empowerment in everything from success to sexuality. It asserts the importance of facing one’s fears and signifies the completion of a goal. It also advocates bravery and integrity over physical strength.
Bravery, Feminine power and Feminine sexuality
Subservient Femininity, Cowardice, Abuse of Power and Fear
the The Chariot
The Chariot is the champion of hard work and resilience. This is a figure who will not stop for anything and never stays down for long. This card denotes setting sights on a goal, and seeing it through no matter the cost; personal, physical or otherwise.
Resilience, Determination and Self-Obsession
Giving up, lack of direction and cowardice
the The Lovers
The Lovers concern all spheres of romantic love; from love at first sight to marriage. Generally, this card implies that the future is bright for romantic relationships old and new. The Card is also heavily linked to the importance of a romantic choice that needs to be made, for better or worse, that will seriously affect the relationship.
New Love, Romantic Love, Sex and Choice
Separation, Stagnation and Regret
the The Hierophant
The Hierophant, or ‘Pope’ card is primarily a figure of religious power and a symbol of law and order. At best the Hierophant is a wise, thoughtful and spiritual leader. At worst he is a bloodthirsty tyrant hiding under a shield of religious justification and legal technicalities.
Power, Faith, Law and Order
Servitude, loss of faith and Godlessness
the The Emperor
This card suggests the end of an ascent, and success realised. After much struggle; recognition, respect, and power is achieved. However, the Emperor is a ruler that prioritises stability and strength over personal liberties and democracy.
Leadership, Control and Force
Childishness, Tyranny and Deposition
the The Empress
The Empress signifies rebirth in all interpretations. The card connotes motherhood, pregnancy and maternal influence. She is someone who makes music or art, or generally engages in the pursuit of beauty in just about any way.
Motherhood, harvest and sexuality
Barrenness, violence and letting go
the The High Priestess
The High Priestess is thoughtful, secretive, and introspective. A passive witness and advisor on the universe. She is Associated with Paradoxes, possessing great knowledge but keeping many secrets, often overlooking moral or emotional problems in favor of greater symmetry of the universe.
Equilibrium, Wisdom, Reason and Mystery
Lost spirituality, lost harmony, uncertainty and determinism
the The Magician
The Magician is someone who always has ‘the right tools for the job’, whether these tools are physical or intellectual, there is no task too great or puzzle too difficult to solve. The card is also connected to leadership, in particular a figure of notable rhetorical talent.
Skill, Leadership, Manipulation, Dexterity and Shaping reality
Failure to plan, Inadequacy, deceit and pessimism
the The Fool
The Fool represents new beginnings, new challenges, and the ability to adapt to them. The fool is innocent and inexperienced but has has a thirst for knowledge, and an anticipation of an unknown future.
Beginnings, Freedom, Spontaneity and Naivety
Impotency, Regret, Mundanity and Maturity