As you probably know, the Tarot Aces are all about new beginnings. The Ace of Swords is no different: it also indicates a new beginning, but perhaps in a more abstract way than the other Aces.
Swords as a suit are associated with thoughts, intellect, mental processing, and the analytical mind. In a way, then, we could say that the Ace of Swords ushers in a “new mind.” When this Ace shows up, you know that:
a.) You need to cut, eliminate, release, or reduce some form of repetitive or unhelpful thought pattern,
b.) You’ve been successful in training your mind to focus with razor-sharp clarity on the most helpful, empowering thoughts you can think.
Here’s Benebell Wen’s concise, visual description of the card itself, from her fantastic book Holistic Tarot:
“From a cloud, a hand appears, presenting a sword, solid, straight, and erect. Encircling the tip of the sword is a gold crown, the promise of victory, and a smaller garland with red buds hanging from the left. Six golden leaves from the Tree of Life float near the sword’s hilt. The sky is light gray. The earth below is rocky.”*
Now, let’s break down each element in the Ace of Swords.
This idea of “razor-sharp” clarity is of course tied to the sword itself, since the swords in this suit often act as tools we can use to cut through limiting beliefs and illusions. Just look at the focused sharpness of that powerful sword on this card — it won’t let us get away with any self-deception or trying to convince ourselves of something we know isn’t true.
You can also notice that the sword has two sides, almost: one is white (on the right) and the other is light blue (on the left). This symbology reminds you that using a sword is precarious business, and you must proceed with a certain degree of caution. Yes, you want to cut through any illusions in your life, but you don’t want to go overboard and start overanalyzing every little detail.
Overthinking and overanalyzing — those are the dangers with this particular suit. Another potential problem that can arise if you have too much Swords energy is that you exist from the neck up, always thinking thinking thinking and never feeling. Try to drop down into your heart more.
The hand seemingly erupting from the ether (on the left) and holding onto that sword is the hand of your Spirit Guides, the hand of the Universe itself. The hand of God/dess, we could say. This benevolent hand is offering you the sword — “here, take it” — because it trusts in your ability to use it.
This hand reminds you that if you ask, you shall receive. Don’t wait for divine intervention to just pop up into your life suddenly. You must actively and intentionally connect with your Spirit Guides and ask them for help. This includes asking them for help with your repetitive or limiting thoughts.
The mountains in the background (or at the bottom) of the Ace of Swords have always baffled me a little bit. They seem so desolate, almost harsh. Bleak. But we could also look at them as symbolizing the challenges you have already overcome, and perhaps the challenges — or mountains — you have yet to scale.
I also like that the background here is unobtrusive, not very distracting (compare, say, to the frenetic background of the Knight of Swords). The Ace of Swords background has a sense of stillness. It doesn’t detract from the main image but it doesn’t add much either. It’s balanced. This represents the ideal state of mind you’re trying to achieve. A state of mind where you’re alert and aware, but you’re not over-fixating on things or getting distracted by your own thought process.
It’s also worth noting that the Ace of Swords sky is clear. Again, we can compare this to the frantic sky in the Knight of Swords, which symbolizes the Knight’s swift action. In the Ace’s case, the stillness and clarity of the sky represent that your mind has cleared. The clouds have literally parted.
However, despite the stillness of that background, we must remember that Swords are an active and masculine suit (like Wands). When this Ace shows up, it’s typically time to put your thoughts or ideas into action. To execute them in some way, but only after you’ve attained the necessary degree of mental clarity.
As Wen points out, the golden crown with laurels symbolizes victory and success. In a way, if the sword on the card is meant to represent a person, then that crown is on that person’s head. When this Ace shows up, it’s a good omen of future success, especially in the realm of career and ideas.
The crown indicates that your ideas will make you victorious and maybe even an influencer or leader in your field. But, this will only happen if you continue to train your mind to focus on uplifting, empowering thoughts — not on thoughts of limitation, scarcity, or unworthiness. All of those negative thoughts are illusions, anyway.
The “six golden leaves from the Tree of Life” are the final symbol on the Ace of Swords. They dance around the sword’s hilt as if predicting the sword’s future movements. The Tree of Life is of course a life-giving tree in many religious traditions, sometimes also thought to be the Tree of Knowledge.
To me, these dancing leaves represent your ideas themselves, which move and dance as you refine your thought processes and follow your natural intellectual curiosity. The number six is also significant in the Tarot, as every number is, and typically understood as a number of change or of a positive journey.
We could think of that old saying, “turning over a new leaf,” as another meaning contained within this card. When you shift your consciousness, you’re turning over a new leaf. You’re starting fresh. The freshness and vibrancy of the leaves highlight this idea.
The Linestrider Tarot deck adds an extra element to the Ace of Swords’ symbols: a massive eagle rests atop the sword’s hilt.
In spiritual language, the eagle represents freedom and wisdom, as well as man’s connection to the divine (since the eagle soars higher than any other bird).
In this representation, the eagle indicates power, success, sharpness, and the single-minded focus that’s required to achieve your goals. The message is that, if you continue training and refining your mind, you’ll be able to soar as high as this eagle.
A Word on the Ace of Swords, Reversed
When this Ace shows up reversed, the message is clear: your thinking is not clear right now. You need to clean up your thoughts, get more aligned, and cut down any thinking patterns that aren’t serving you.
A reversed Ace of Swords tells you that your thoughts are scattered, frenzied, repetitive, or confusing. Or you might be thinking through the lens of fear or worry. You won’t be able to make the most aligned choice right now. If you do make a choice from this state of mind, it will be harder to succeed.
So, don’t try to take any actions or put any plans into motion. Just focus on getting your thoughts clear and focused first.
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*From Wen, Benebell. Holistic Tarot: An Integrative Approach to Using Tarot for Personal Growth. Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 2015.
Illustrations from the Rider-Waite Tarot Deck, known also as the Rider Tarot and the Waite Tarot, reproduced by permission of U.S. Games Systems, Inc., Stamford, CT 06902. c. 1971 by U.S. Games Systems, Inc. All rights reserved. The Rider-Waite Tarot deck is a registered trademark of U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
All rights from the Linestrider Tarot Deck belong to the deck’s creator and publishers.