All right, take a deep breath. The Five of Swords is one of the most challenging cards in the Minor Arcana to interpret, because so much of its meaning depends on the situation it describes. On the surface, this is a card of empty victory: a young man stands in the foreground, holding multiple swords, with others scattered on the field of battle at his feet and, in the distance, his adversaries walk off, shoulders slumped, heads bowed. Our young man won, clearly…but at what cost?

When you draw the Five of Swords, consider your question—is this a situation in which you might win, but at a greater cost than you’re willing to pay? Is the win truly worth it to you? Or, alternatively, are you afraid of victory, afraid that owning your power will upset others? These are hard questions, and the Five of Swords urges you to consider them carefully.