6 of Swords

Alt names: Science, Passage
Keywords: Adaptation, adjustments, science, travel
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Range of meanings

Light: Making the best of a bad situation. Recovering from defeat. Resetting expectations. Making allowances for unexpected circumstances. Helping others who find themselves in dire circumstances. Changing the way you see the world. Broadening your perspective through study or travel.

Shadow: Refusing to accept that things have changed. Playing the victim. Rejecting the idea that your actions have consequences. Applying scientific criteria to matters of faith, or confusing faith with science. Believing the whole world should be like your small corner of it.

Questions to ask

  1. What are you leaving? Where are you going?
  2. In your situation, who needs help? To what extent are you positioned to supply that help?
  3. What assumptions govern my thinking?
  4. How willing am I to lend aid to others? To request it when I need it?
  5. How prepared am I to deal with change? With unexpected outcomes?


Personal Growth: Reaching out to others in need will rapidly advance your growth and maturity. Don’t make the mistake of thinking everyone wants what you want; ask people what they need, and find a way to supply it without strings attached. Know why you do what you do.

Work: Times change, and the wise businessperson changes with them. Reinvent yourself and your approach to work. Seeking inspiration, go places you don’t normally go. Find out what’s on the “cutting edge.” Now is a good time for business trips, seminars, and training sessions.

Relationships: Relationships involve give and take. Prepare for some compromises. Someone may have to adjust expectations in order to be happy. Look around; you may find better options elsewhere. How long since you sat down and discussed what works and what doesn’t?

Spirituality: Attend a workshop or seminar and learn new spiritual techniques. Consider taking a trip exclusively for the purpose of enhancing your spiritual perspective. If a discipline isn’t helping you, abandon it, but not without defining what worked, what didn’t work, and why.

Fortune-Telling: You’ll soon go on a long journey over water. Actions have unexpected consequences, so be prepared.


Astrological: Aquarius

Planet: Mercury

Fool's Journey: The main character comes up with a creative solution to handle an unforeseen complication.

The Number 6: The Adjustment: cooperation, collaboration, interaction.

Swords: One of the four suits of the tarot. Also sometimes called blades, knives or athames. Represents logic, objectivity, intellect, and choice. Along with the responsibility such talents bring. Swords suggest logic, clarity, and decision-making. Remember the story of wise King Solomon, who once offered to slice a baby in half in order to resolve a dispute over motherhood? Swords cut through confusion, revealing our agendas in the process.

Boatman: On RWS versions of the 6 of Swords, a boatman steers a craft bearing one or two huddled figures. What are they leaving? Where are they going?

Embedded Swords: Many versions of the 6 of Swords depict six swords embedded in the deck of the boat. Do they form a defensive barrier? Are they needed in case of attack? Or are they products, being ferried to market?

Content generously licensed from Mark McElroy via TarotTools.com.