Five of Swords

A battle for no gain

Sometimes, we get so lost in the details of the battle, we lose track of what we’re actually fighting for. The ins and outs, the he-said-she-said, the petty (or not-so-petty) grievances become the thing itself, rather than difficult moments.

The Five of Swords shows us this scenario. It’s about a battle in which there are no winners – by the time someone had triumphed, it was over anyway. There may ‘officially’ be winner and a loser… but from over here it kinda looks like everyone lost.

When we feel insecure or defensive, it’s easy to get hung up on the wrong things, fight the wrong people, play it small and petty when there’s something bigger going on. This can be a defence mechanism protecting us from accepting what’s really going on, or it can be a distraction, put in place by a power that wants to keep you small. Divide and conquer is a time-honoured battle tactic, in which leaders and warmongers set communities against each other, to distract them from their own power-hungry actions. This dynamic may be as huge as a civil war, but it also plays out in our everyday lives in multiple ways.

In a reading…

Think about the areas of conflict in your life. Is the fight still worth it? Was it ever worth it at all? Consider the way that old grudges eat up your energy, take up brain space and cause you pain and harm. Might it be time to just walk away – even if that means admitting defeat? Remember that you don’t always have to have the last word. It is probably more loving – to yourself and anyone else involved – to admit defeat and turn your attention to something more positive or productive.

It can be a helpful card to see when you’ve lost out in ‘battle’. Maybe you came off worst in a difficult breakup, or got fired. This card suggests that no-one really won at all, and that you’re no more a ‘loser’ than anyone else.

Still, much may have been lost in this process. If apologies are due, consider it time. If you need to let go and forgive, again, do that work. Don’t hang on to old guilt or grievances for the sake of it, and don’t scratch at open wounds. Acknowledge that this battle isn’t worth fighting any more, and be ready to lay down your sword. Healing may not happen right away – things are a little raw – but at least the stage will be set when the time is right.