Because swords represent the mind, thoughts and conflict, we can see that this card shows the negative consequences which can result when we become embroiled in power struggles and hostility with others. For me, the phrase which immediately springs to mind is that we may have ‘won the battle but lost the war’. This card can depict a situation where we may want to win at all costs, but end up being the loser because we have alienated and angered others leading to isolation and ostracism. It is vital that we pick our battles and don’t become involved in conflicts simply to get our own way, prove we’re right or because we feel challenged or threatened by another person.
This card symbolises a complete breakdown in communication leading to the severing of ties and relationships. We can also see that the earth worm has been torn asunder; this is not a clean cut but a jagged and messy wound which will take a long time to heal. This is a deep betrayal driven by spite and pettiness leading to loss and defeat. It seems that in our need to win or be right we have become our own worst enemy and quite literally ‘cut off our nose to spite our face’.
The Five of Swords can also point to self destructive behaviour and thoughts. Instead of cutting and aggressive language and communication being directed at another, perhaps we have turned this on ourselves in a self sabotaging, critical diatribe which leaves us cowed and bludgeoned into submission. Examine your self-talk and choices to see if you are indeed betraying yourself and being your own worst enemy.