The Suit of Swords | CULT Tarot Card Meanings

The Suit of Swords Card Meanings

 Ghosts and the undead rule in the most depressing of the suits.


Ghosts and the undead rule in the most depressing of the suits.

Ace of Swords

Element: Air; Ghosts, possession, and the undead

+ A death; something wicked on the horizon

– Negotiating a relationship

Ghosts are a symbol of lasting trauma or the  troubles we struggle to carry. Tales of poltergeist or possession explore themes of oppression and rage. The Swords address these burdens and also explores different reactions to grief, struggle, and loss.

The sky  holds a message: “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning.

The Ace of Swords is the most direct within the deck. Live by the sword and you are likely to get your eye poked out—or worse. The air element associated with this suit dovetails with this theme, adding a layer of anxiety and fear to each card going forward. The graveyard in this card is a promise. We all die, it’s just how we get there that differs.


Two of Swords

Pronouns: None

+ Tepid truce

– A grudge

The Ghost of the Two of Swords is divided between the urge to fight or flee. The Two cards are always about options and in this case none of them are particularly fantastic which leaves the ghost in a state of suspension between two blades. Where the vampires of the Two of Cups were all about rapport, the Ghost is navigating tension and strain. One eye is focused on an answer while the other is blind, leaving the Ghost with no depth perception. This card is usually bad news so if it shows up, let the other cards around it determine how negative the mindset is. It could be a wake up call that while you might not think it, you are way more pissed than you are letting on.


Three of Swords

+ Literal heartbreak

– Pressure from the crowd

This is an iconic card and is always a blast to draw. This anatomical heart is not only being ripped apart by the swords but squeezed by swollen, yellow, rotted hands. The muscly heart has bit of sinew being pulled apart. It’s an omen of some gnarly shit. The upside: at least this card is balancing on that center sword! A fight has broken out and regardless of the outcome it will be intense on both sides. In a reading this card could reference an imbalance of power in a relationship—romantic or otherwise. 


Four of Swords

Pronouns: None

+ Tired of hurting

– Depression as a ghost 

While fours are stable cards symbolically, in the case of the Four of Swords it means the trains are still running on time but the mood is a heavy one. Removing genitalia and any gendered features shifts centers the focus of the card on the pose—one of anguish, isolation, and discomfort. Nothing lasts forever and neither will this current state. What does the next card in the story have to say? Hopefully this is just a dump in the road. Without the bad, we can never have the good to compare it to. Things will eventually change.


Five of Swords

Pronouns: She, her (Regan) He, him (Pazuzu)

+ Clash of wills; someone who enjoys other people’s misery

– Cold and bitter standoff; meaningless sacrifice 

This illustrator could not in good conscious make a guide with horror references and not feature her favorite possession film. Pazuzu here has made a home in young Regan in the film The Exorcist (1973). Possession stories stem from the horror of corrupted youth or innocence; the loss . When this film was created in the 1970s, America was going through it at the time both abroad in Vietnam and at home. This anxiety played out in horror at the time 

It doesn’t get more conflict heavy than the five of swords. It makes sense that a battle for the soul should illustrate such a card. This card is the road rage fueled car crash of the tarot. It is selfish, unkind, and generally super duper bad news. When rage becomes contagious, like a demon that we can be possessed by, it creates something more dangerous than just one bad attitude—a horde.


Six of Swords

Pronouns: He, him

+ Attempting a geographic cure or transition in order to distance oneself from the problem; turning away from the fight; leaving a frustrating situation

– Division; fracturing; PTSD

Our knight looks over his shoulder at his pursuer. Even though he is in rough shape, his spirit continues forward in an attempt to flee. His dark red hair flows into the profuse amount of blood and organs falling out of his body­. His own sword has been lost but the six swords responsible for his wounds are still wreaking havoc on his eviscerated body. This ghost has been through it and is attempting to flee. He confidence and strength are gone—now it’s about protecting what is left. This card signals a turn for the worse and a desire to distance oneself from the situation. When we can’t trust someone or be authentically ourselves it’s time to get out.


Seven of Swords

+ Transition from bad to worse; immediate danger; fleeing

– A new and unimaginable hell awaits!

While touched upon in other parts of this deck, The Seven of Swords is the card that directly addresses body image issues. The appendages of several different bodies have been removed and pinned together with swords to create a sliced up flesh beast with no head. The hands are grasping while the feet begin to dissolve into the spreading puddle of blood and viscera. Unwanted and negative thoughts about our bodies are imposed on us by outside forces. Impossible standards are called that for a reason but there is some kind of sick idea that maybe somehow we are different and can achieve the very impossible dream. These awful thoughts are tricksters and thieves that run away with our dignity and sanity.


Eight of Swords

Pronouns: They, them, we, us

+ Wrapped up in something dark and confusing

– Unable to see an escape

The forms were once independent bodies but have been pressed together into a new combined being. Without the energy or ability to attempt a decoupling they have become an unhappy “we”. They are forever and regrettably dependent on each other, in a fleshy trap.  

The face that we can see is not focused on any particular object. Where as the Devil card is about being in a rut and making a choice to walk a different path, the Eight of Swords looks out on nothing. They have lost the willingness to focus on a new goal or next step.  


Nine of Swords

Pronouns: She, her

+ Anxiety and grief

– Fear hanging over (or through) your head

Grief, fear, and anxiety rule this Nine of Swords. Instead of letting these Swords hang over her head, they go straight through, removing her ability to think and act. From the outside though, she’s keeping it cute and carrying on. 

This is the burden of anxiety. It flourishes on the inside, feeding on the tiniest morsel of odd thought. When the pot boils over, it can’t be stopped. 

Anxiety, grief, and depression have very unpleasant symptoms that tend to worsen the relationships needed for a healthy social life. It’s a wicked and vicious cycle that can require a combination of medication and therapy to work through. Don’t use this deck or any deck to solve a mental health issue. This illustrator is not a doctor. Seek out the experts and get the help you deserve.  


Ten of Swords

Pronouns: Unknown

+ Death

– Morning a loss; the underworld; far gone

The Ten of Swords signals a death or a persistent grief. Many cards cover this aspect of life but it felt important to acknowledge the loss of love for our own bodies. 

In a world where we are trained to fear a scale and are forced to believe that only one body shape is the standard for us all we learn to hate the skin we are in and lack appreciation for the functional and beautiful being we are.  Whether it is fatphobia or fat shaming, it all becomes blatant character assassination wrapped in psychological abuse. 

I wonder if we can be too far gone to recover a sense of self love. Can our brains get too twisted or is there such thing as relief from the toxic standard?


Page of Swords 

Pronouns: She, her

+ Crippling, anxious fear; fear of being new or change

– Working yourself up; over-hyped

Starting something can be terrifying. In the suit of Wands a symbolic fire is lit under our asses and we burn with excitement and enthusiasm. The more pensive air sign of Swords is a changing wind invoking storm clouds. Fear has pulled this Page apart—similar to the face peeling scene in Poltergeist or Evil Dead. Her anxiety about this life change is playing out literally on her face. The truth is, we are all terrified of change. Everyone around you is far more worried about their own bullshit to be concerned with yours. The worst part of a new thing can be taking the first step. You might fail but you will learn. The caveat is when this life change could put you at greater risk. As this is being written, violence against transgender and non-gender conforming people is on the rise. This is a real fear faced by many in the community. It’s everyone’s responsibility to protect and advocate for our siblings and their safety, attempting to alleviate their burden. 

August 30, 2022 — Genevieve Barbee-Turner

The Suit of Coins | CULT Tarot Card Meanings

The Suit of Coins Card Meanings

 The suit of witches and earth.

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Ace of Coins

Element: Earth; witches

+ Riches and happiness, good fortune

– Wealth that corrupts

Growing up the term “witch” was applied to a female presenting villain. Personally, I gravitated to how powerful a witch seemed and wasn’t too hung up about their moral standing. Besides, if those kids hadn’t been gnawing on her house then maybe they wouldn’t have wound up in the oven?! The lessons of fairy tales came down to, “be an asshole, get treated like and asshole.” 

In adulthood, it became clear that the label of “witch” along with “devil worshiper” was applied to certain people as a method of social isolation. It has always been clear to me, whether I had the words to explain it or not, that this practice of casting people out is a fear-based decision and symptom an inability to control other people—an exercise of scared tyrants. 

Those are the thoughts I took into this suit and my reason behind its witches. It is the least horrific suit in this horror deck. These witches are people who get by on their intuition, connection to the earth, and knowledge of the bounty Nature provides.

My witches are practical and grounded folk who trust their craft and uses the world around them to do right by others (who aren’t assholes). There is not much discussion about ritual or tradition found here. Instead, I strove to create portraits of powerful people who would be classified as “evil” based on presentation or the knowledge they possess. 

In the Rider Waite deck, the suit of pentacles makes the connection between Earth and gardens with money or financial success. I continue this association as an ode to Pamela Coleman-Smith’s illustrations but I parted ways with Arthur Waite on the somewhat singular focus on material wealth, job prospects, and business success within my version of this suit. Just as the journey for each witch varies in their practice, so does our path to success. Our destinations cannot be compared.

What really matters in this life is, do you have enough? Enough support, love, and room to grow into the person you are capable of being. The person with these things is the true millionaire. 

Ace cards are the pinnacle of the suit. They are the potent example of everything that is to come.  If this card winds up in a reading, depending on what else is around it could be a beginning of a new path or opportunity. Maybe it’s a warning to look at the forest for the trees.


Two of Coins

Pronouns: They, them

+ Balancing good news and managing success; the “self-care” card; what it means to “live your best and most authentic life”; A return on an investment

– Upsetting the apple cart; denial; financial imbalance (too spendy or too thrifty)

This was one of the first cards I created for this deck. When beginning this project I couldn’t decide which card to draw so I grabbed a tarot deck from my own collection and it was the first card I pulled. 

Being faced with a card about balance before starting a large project like this one felt prescient. 

Growing up I liked “boy” things and “girl” thing but learned to hide whatever seemed shameful. I couldn’t be too girly because that’s weak. I couldn’t be too “boyish” because it was too butch. The girls turned their nose up to video games and the boys didn’t believe that I was any good at them. Even into adulthood people question who I am and what column to place me in. When I had a shaved head and road my bike everywhere, I was a “hot dyke”. When I got my nails done and ordered a pumpkin spice latte, I transformed into a “basic bitch”.

“Oh, this is the closest I’ve been to a straight girl!” A woman says to me while helping me adjust a bike helmet. “How you do know I’m straight?” I respond.

Looking back I wish I would have just taken the shop class I wanted to take or openly enjoyed a boy band—but the pressure was real and I wasn’t ready to deal with it. I treated youth as a test. Once I passed through I could leave and never have to deal with it. Unfortunately, that’s not how life works. Running from the past is futile because it is what shapes you without permission.

This card is a self-embrace and a promise. At the end of the day, you’re the one who suffers when you don’t accept who you really are. Just don’t be an asshole about it and you’ll be fine. 

The Saturn on their choker is a symbol of death. Death is a transformation, allowing something new to begin.


Three of Coins

+ Cooperation; a reminder to think inclusively and work the empathy muscle (and maybe not assume things of others); a mindset reset; teamwork makes the dream work; social relationships

– Discord or infighting; cliquishness; choking

This white hydrangea is flowering at the top but wilting underneath. When a plant dies, it’s because it’s basic needs are not being met. Lack of water, sunlight, and nutrients from the soil deprive the plant and it withers away. People are a like plants. We want to think we can go it alone but in truth, we need one another to survive. People we will never meet help us get through each day, something that has become more apparent during the time of COVID-19.   

These delicate flowers survive through cooperation. Together we can be beautiful but apart we die. A bit of empathy and sharing of resources can go a long way. When we hoard it doesn’t really work...


Four of Coins

Pronouns: He, him

+ Grounded; material stability

– Broadcasting wealth; assuming your influence is greater than it actually is; a reminder to fix the table before it topples over. 

Four is a number about stability—whether emotional or material. This witch is also a member of the Furry community and is confidently broadcasting their POV to the world (check out that selfie stick!). This card is an ode to people who share their stories so we can see the world from a different perspective. There is an entire genre within YouTube devoted to people breaking down their profession, lifestyle, culture, religion, or other life journey in hopes to better educate the rest of us. It’s a gift of modern technology but requires a bit of financial resources to do so.

Things are good for this guy. He’s confident and camera ready. Maybe that’s not you at the moment but it could be. Is this a call to map out a plan for your next steps. Start the project you’ve wanted to dig into.


Five of Coins

Pronouns: She, her

+ Money trouble; an injustice

– Find the window when the door slams shut

The five of coins has traditionally been about financial ruin. However, for practical witches, when the chips are down they get crafty. The witch here is huddled in her cloak, nose bloody from the last fight. Do not count her out though! The fight is only over when she says it is over. You can trust she is plotting the next step with her raven buddies at her side.

If this is the end of the line for a project, relationship, or other life event, that does not mean everything is over. No matter what, there the next day will come and you can take the next step. Sometimes focusing on the tiniest to do list (wake up, brush teeth) is the way to go until the next option materializes. Just don’t give up! 

It is this mindset that has kept me going during 2020. Some days, all I can manage is to check my email before going back to bed—but I still did something! The slump doesn’t last.


Six of Coins

Pronouns: She, her

+ “I can do anything while simultaneously crying”; slow perseverance 

– Not seeing your strengths or having hidden assets; a rebuilding

On more than one occasion, I have been humiliated or confronted with a failure that tore my confidence to shreds. After licking my wounds, I get back up and keep plugging away. This is quite literally the story of my entire art career. In art school I attended a silent critique after a bike accident and got the note that “Due to my recent head trauma, it was understandable that this painting was unsuccessful.” I have been rejected and made countless stupid mistakes (a poorly designed postcard that was sent back to the people trying to contact their local representatives for example). I take the note and work harder. (I grabbed the postcards, putting them in an envelope and addressed it correctly.) 

This figure is cut in half with a brain throbbing with anxiety but strikes a pose of resilience.  Things will not always go as planned. Take a breath and work it out—even when your heart is in a vice.


Seven of Coins

Pronouns: She, her

+ Casting a spell; make a play; testing your assumptions; building up to something magical and amazing

– Giving up before getting to the miracle; half-assing it

Sevens are always cards about transformation and change. This one in particular is about the joy of taking a chance. 

In the fantasy series, The Magicians, Julia Wicker is a “hedge witch”, meaning she has no formal training in magic but through her own persistence becomes  extremely proficient. Her storyline (and well, that whole series), is quite dark—it’s also not representative of working as a solo witch—but it was my first exposure to the self-study concept. 

This card serves as an ode to lone magic practitioner or tarot card reader. Instead of focusing on the hard parts though, this card illustrates a chance taken and ultimately rewarded. This spell caster is surrounded by abundance.


Eight of Coins

Pronouns: She, her or They, them

+ The apprentice; the diligent student; get to work, learn as you go

– Comparing your first draft to other people’s final draft; being in love with the reward and not the journey to get there

While I might be one of the few people who didn’t care for The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina credit must be given to the incredible art direction and over all witchy aesthetic of that show. The witch here references our love of watching witches learn. Whether that is Sabrina, Hermione, or even little Akko Kagari—we love to go to class with a witch. (This is likely due to the excellent world building potential in and academic story.

Regardless of where you are at however, this card reminds us to remain teachable and that effort is rewarded.


Nine of Coins

Pronouns: They, them

+ Diligent; Appreciation for hard work; known for trying

– Learning through failure; if you don’t succeed, come back from the grave and try again gal!

Michael Myers is not a witch per se but holds some kind of magic. He is a doer. That character has risen from the dead countless times to fulfill his destiny as a bringer of doom. Regardless of how you feel about

August 30, 2022 — Genevieve Barbee-Turner