Pearls of Wisdom - Five of Swords

Rede Seeker

Conquest/submission - take your pick, someone has won an important victory - but who - the one standing, brandishing his sword and raising his fist, or the one kneeling before him clasping a strand of pearls in one hand and dagger hidden behind his back in the other?

The men could be twins - only their attitudes separate them as individual beings. They are mature men, bearded with the long well-kept hair of free noble men. They wear white shirts and blue jeans, high riding boots and red vests.

The standing man is shown full-faced. He has no pearl earring, like the kneeling man. His face is a grimace. His sword is in his right hand and pointed to his kneeling twin's solar plexis. His left hand is held as eye-level, it is clenched. Lightening bolts from clouds in the night sky point towards it. The man's right foot rests on a sword laying in the grass in front of the kneeling man.

The kneeling man is seen from the left side and back. His attire is identical to the standing man - white shirt, jeans, riding boots, red vest. He wears a pearl earring. His eyes are open but not necessarily downcast in submission - more like keeping an eye on the sword, not it's wielder. In his right hand is a dagger held behind his back; in his left a strand of pearls held low close to the ground. The standing man probably doesn't see the pearls.

This scene is in an open meadow at night. The moon is full and bright, rays stream from it, but a thread of clouds run across it's face at the middle. The moon's light reflects off the clouds. Lightning bolds run from the cloud bank to the upraised fist. The meadow is verdent green with a narrow dirt path running from the horizon to the foreground. The standing man stands on the green meadow. The kneeling man kneels on the dirt path. There are pine trees on the right and left in the meadow. There are three swords imbedded point-first in the meadow on the right-hand side of the card. One sword is laying on the grass in front of the kneeling man. The standing man has his foot on it and holds a sword of his own in his right hand as already described.

The card border has pine boughs on the upper corners. They partially obscure the swords beneath them which seem to from an arch. Each sword here has a strand of pearls dangling from the hilt.

The lower border has one sword and one dagger on the left-hand side with a strand of pearls around the hilt of the dagger. The lower right corner had two swords behind a small pine tree.

The Rune Hagalaz marks the left-hand column; Sowilo is marked on the right. Hagalaz represents crisis; Sowilo represents success. Interesting choice of Runes because Hagalaz is the first Rune of the second Aettir; Sowilo is the eighth Rune of the second Aettir - we have Runic 'short-hand' for the entire second Rune row.

Hagalaz = Condensation of powers into a seed-form from which further developments, positive or negative become possible
Nauthiz = Rune of the power of the Ordeal in life
Isa = Rune of concentration of things in a static or frozen state
Jera = Rune of the results of actions
Eihwaz = The axis of the spiritual or intellectual process of becoming
Perthro = Rune of change and the evolutionary process
Elhaz = Rune of the essential link or connection with the patterns of divine or archetypal consciousness
Sowilo = Rune of the light of the inner sun, and its link with the outer sun -
both of which are signs of the goal of the process of Runework
(ref. 'The Nine Doors of Midgard' by Edred Thorsson)

Placed as they are, these Runes indicate that the men standing between them have access to all the Rune Might of the second Aettir.

I think we've talked about this card before - that the two men are possibly the same man but the two sides of his personality. He has to choose which side of himself is in control.

There is peace and vital growth in the earth but conflict in the night sky. The men are 'gounded' but influenced by what inspires them to action.


Here's an image of the card:


  • 5 of Swords.jpg
    5 of Swords.jpg
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Rede Seeker I love what you've said about this card, you've described it so well.

To me this is often a card about communication difficulties, someone isn't being listened to or someone doesn't feel as if they are being listened to.

The man who is standing seems to think he's won but has he? Not if the other guy has anything to do with it, he certainly looks as if he has some fight left in him. In fact he looks as if he's biding his time and waiting until the time is right to strike just when the other guy is least expecting it.

I like the way that many things could be read into this card depending on the context.
It could be an internal conflict, it could be between two people.
It could even show a moment of revelation, a time when we say enough is enough and start to fight back - a little like a mini Tower experience. That fit's in well with my view of the fives... It comes half way through the suit of swords and is about a change, maybe a change in the way we think (since Swords represent the mind), a time when we decide to stop being a victim and start to look at ourselves in a new light....