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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

5 of Swords: Astrological Associations

Astrological associations for the Minor Arcana cards typically involve a planet, a zodiac sign, and/or a house. The attributions established by the Order of the Golden Dawn (OGD) are by far the most commonly used. However, there are other associations out there. As a professional astrologer, I find it interesting to compare and contrast these associations. (The use of astrological associations with Tarot is completely up to the reader. This is intended to be interesting and fun!)

Credits for the decks and books mentioned in this post can be found HERE.


Thoth Tarot by Aleister Crowley

For Crowley and the Order of the Golden Dawn, the Five of Swords is linked with the placement of Venus (love, affection, art, beauty, esthetics, pleasure) in Aquarius (a Fixed Air sign known for being innovative, idealistic, humanitarian, and intellectual).

Crowley titles the card "Defeat" and notes "The intellect has been enfeebled by sentiment. The defeat is due to pacifism. Treachery may also be implied."

Hajo Banzhaf and Brigitte Theler (in Keywords for the Crowley Tarot) describe the energy of the card as: "Willful, unpredictable, frosty (Aquarius) conduct in relationship (Venus)."

The Whispering Tarot by Liz Hazel

Liz Hazel's astrological associations for the Five of Swords align with those of Crowley and the Golden Dawn: Venus/Aquarius. Hazel's DMs for this card include: "calamity, danger, explosion, damage, accidents and injuries." And those are assigned to the well-dignified Five of Swords. Ill-dignified: "catastrophes on a large scale. . . death and destruction. Loss of reputation because of a critical mistake in judgment. . . Mental or physical breakdown."

One World Tarot by Crystal Love

Crystal Love associates the Five of Swords with the first subdivision of Libra (natural ruler Venus; subruler Moon). She writes: "The rapidly changing face of the Moon gives a restless and weak nature, easily influenced emotionally in this first subdivision of Libra." We may see "extravagance and unreliable habits, with a characteristic indecisiveness."

The Mandala Astrological Tarot by A.T. Mann

Mann associates the Five of Swords with the energy of Uranus (planet of change, originality, upheaval) in Aquarius. Many astrologers view Uranus as the ruler of Aquarius or as a co-ruler with Saturn. Mann calls Swords Five, Six, and Seven "The Clouds of Aquarius," and links the Five of Swords with the period between January 20-29. Pale yellow is the color associated with Uranus and violet is associated with Aquarius on the King Scale of Color.

Mann's divinatory meanings for the Five of Swords: "Original thoughts combined with eccentric actions begin and end relationships suddenly. Progressive attitudes attract indirect help from others." Reversed: "Unreliable and unpredictable. Irrational feelings and rebellious behaviour are exaggerated and magnified."

The Tarot and Astrology by David Thornton
(illustrated in this blog by the Universal Waite tarot deck)

_David Thornton_ associates the Five of Swords with the placement of the planet Uranus in the Eleventh House (House of Friends, Hopes, and Wishes). The Eleventh House in astrology is associated with the sign Aquarius.

David Thornton's description of the energy of the Five of Swords is: "An innate knowledge of human nature which supports collective and cooperative work, a trouble maker, rebellious behavior, the tendency to exaggerate or magnify everything."

Tarot Dynamics System by Anna Burroughs Cook
(illustrated in this blog by the Universal Waite tarot deck)

In Anna Cook's TD system, Subject Card Five signifies Conflict (Tarot Dynamics) or "Conflict and Speculation" (Tarot Dynamics Unleashed). The key word for the suit of Swords in this system is Challenging, which gives us Challenging/Conflict (or Conflict and Speculation) for the Five of Swords. In astrology the Fifth House, ruled by the Sun, is commonly known as the House of Pleasure, Creativity, and Sex (among other things). The Sun represents the ego and conscious will. The sign associated with the Fifth House is Leo. However, Cook uses the first decan of Aquarius for the Five of Swords.

A.E. Thierens, PhD. (Astrology & the Tarot)

Just when we think we are safe with an "Air" association for the Five of Swords, we read that Thierens associates it with "The element Earth with its influence of Mars and Saturn on the Fifth house." His keywords for this card include: "affliction, crisis, morose disposition, bitterness, impotence, lack of self-respect." He writes: "Enterprise or expansion is impossible or not advisable. Things indicated by this card may indeed be bad-looking or unpromising. There will be a question of a loss in most cases."

(Note: If you are interested in learning more about this system put forth by Thierens, I recommend the book referenced above.)

In summary, for the Five of Swords we have:
  • Crowley and Hazel with a Venus/Aquarius association
  • Love with Libra /Venus/ Moon
  • Mann with Uranus/Aquarius
  • Thornton with Uranus/11th House (ruled by Aquarius)
  • Cook with Aquarius
  • Thierens with Earth/5th House (ruled by Leo/Sun)

With the exception of Thierens, the common factor in all of these is the element Air, whether represented by Aquarius or Libra. Planet-wise we have our choice of Venus, Moon, Uranus, Sun.

It is difficult for me to go along with the association of Venus with the Five of Swords. Venus is known in astrology as "the lesser benefic" which tells us its energy or influence is generally good-natured, beneficial, and pleasant. The Five of Swords is none of those things.

I have an easier time with Uranus as the planetary association for this card, simply because the card certainly has a feeling of upheaval and rebellion. When you put Uranus in the 11th House, you can easily have a falling out or conflict with friends, associates, or society at large, as we see clearly depicted in the traditional RWS Five of Swords. However, if you give Uranus rulership over Aquarius, then that same upsetting energy would have an impact on the normally pleasant, sociable nature of Venus.


  1. Now that I've began studying the Thoth I'm amazed at how many decks are clearly Thoth-y!
    Thanks for sharing your knowledge


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~ Zanna