The suit of swords in a tarot deck is related to the suit of spades in a regular deck of playing cards. Swords may also be known as blades, daggers, knives, or a related term depending on the tarot deck they are associated with. They correspond to the direction of east and the element of air. The zodiac signs that are related to swords are the air signs; Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius. Swords are considered masculine yang energy. It is the suit that represents our intellectual and rational faculties. This suit deals with our mental aspects as well as being communicative in our lives. Some symbols it deals with are eagles and sylphs.
Swords deal with action, physical, working stages, change, force, movement, oppression, ambition, courage, trouble, and strife. Their main focus is on our mental level of consciousness, both thinking and intellectually. They represent the intangible elements of the mind. The suit of swords represents the mind and truth. Truth can be sharp and penetrating like a double edged sword. When we learn the truth sometimes it cuts us like the deep penetrating wound of a knife.
Positive characteristics associated with the swords are strength, authority, courage, and ambition and a desire and opportunity to travel. Negative attributes include conflict, animosity, pain, anger, and aggression. Classic interpretations of swords can signal arguments, illness, and even death, especially if they dominate a spread. Swords mirror what is going on with a person's state of mind in the present. That includes present thoughts, attitudes and beliefs. A sword is a symbol of power. Based on a spread one can use one's intellect and power for good or for bad. Swords also show us if our spirit and feelings are in balance with our mind set.
In keeping with the duality of a double edged blade, swords also represent action whether constructive or destructive. If we look at the art on sword cards we see that the suit is steeped with imagery of states of misfortune, pain, and fighting. They also represent hatred, battle, and enemies. So with that in mind, the suit of swords is also considered a warrior suit. Of all the suits in the tarot deck, swords are considered the most powerful and dangerous. This is verified when you read the meanings of each card and its attributes. Swords are equated many times with worldly power and even violence.
If one sees a lot of swords in a spread it can indicate several things. It is a card of “thought” so it is safe to assume that the querent has a decision to make. Many times the suit of swords shows a decision that must be made is a painful one. It can also signal discord in a person's life. However, do not fear if you get a reading with many swords. It's telling you to open your eyes and mind to a situation so you can deal with it. It warns where to be careful and where to strike, if need be. It gives us the ammunition to defend ourselves.