The Etteilla Tarot: Sword Meanings

Of all the card interpretations in the Etteilla system, the Swords are most like modern interpretation. You will notice one or two difference but these are much more subtle than they are in the other suits. Because of their similarities with modern interpretations, the Swords suit is the easiest to learn so it is a good idea start here if you are a newbie.

Ace of Swords

This card warns against setting goals which you cannot achieve. This card also represents strong emotions which can be used for good or evil. Extremes are always prevalent with this Ace.

Reversed pregnancy and fertility are indicated. If pregnancy is not possible, then this card indicates rewards and increased influence for the seeker.

2 of Swords

The seeker will give assistance and kindness to a person who needs it. They will find themselves supporting other people. The seeker will need to remain active during this time.

Reversed is a warning of the existence of a friend who is stabbing the seeker in the back. The seeker should be careful and distrust those around them.

3 of Swords

As in the RWS tradition, the 3 of Swords speaks of heartache and, in general, painful situations. The seeker can expect failures in many things which are close to their heart.

Reversed spells loss because of the seekerโ€™s thoughtless actions. It will be an unlucky time which will take mush effort to overcome.

4 of Swords

The 4 of Swords marks a period of loneliness. Often this can indicate a time of grieving which is a standard interpretation. Surrounding cards can give clues to the origin of the seekerโ€™s solitude.

Reversed predicts financial burdens. The seeker should hold onto their money and relationships tightly if they want to protect them.

5 of Swords

The 5 of Swords signals a significant adverse event in the Etteilla method and possibly even death. Bankruptcy and divorce are also possible. One of the worst cards in the pack.

Misfortune is inevitable; the fate of the seeker is said to be worst if the card is reversed. All hope for the future will be dashed. Major depression is indicated; the future of the situation looks bleak.

6 of Swords

As in other forms of Tarot, the 6 of Swords represents travel. It is possible that this movement can be figurative in the sense the seeker will move towards a goal. In general, they will see progress.

When reversed, important discussions will take place. A conversation the seeker will have may not seem significant at the time, but will indeed play a significant role in the future. This card reversed encourages discussions in general.

7 of Swords

The 7 of Swords suggests there will be help available to the seeker if they can forget their pride and ask for it. This help may be emotional; the seeker will go through a dilemma. They will be unsure if they should do what is in their hearts or their heads and a friend may give them solutions.

Reversed this card is also about taking the advice of others but in this position, there is less resistance to do so. The seeker will work as a team as opposed to trying to sort things out themselves.

8 of Swords

The seeker will find themselves in conflicts of character. They can expect to be heavily criticized by other people. Arguments will be had out in public.

Reversed, the seeker should be mindful of dangerous circumstances. A serious accident is a traditional prediction for this card in the Etteilla method.

9 of Swords

The 9 of Swords is considered a very unlucky card and an evil omen. With the 9 of Swords, the seeker can expect solitude and time spent alone. Priests, nuns and religion, will be encountered.

Reversed there will be trouble caused by a close friend and unexpected conflict. The seeker should be mindful of what they say and do to others; entrapment is possible.

10 of Swords

Bad news is foretold in the 10 of Swords. The seeker will experience emotional trauma and depression. There will be an end to something which was once loved by the seeker (a job, relationship, etc.).

Reversed, the seeker can expect success which is greater than anticipated. Past commitments and efforts will pay off. Also, the seeker can be assured that, in the end, good will triumph over evil.

Page of Swords

In the Etteilla method of reading courts, the Page of Swords always represents a spy or a secret enemy. The seeker should remain vigilant and trust no one.

Reversed the seeker will receive news from the page or about a the page. Shocks, surprises and gossip are coming.

Knight of Swords

This card typically represents people of the military. There is also risks and conflicts associated with military people.

Reversed, this card represents someone with an inability to commit. Time and resources will be lost and mismanaged.

Queen of Swords

The Queen of Swords typically represents a widow or single woman older woman. The Queen will be hypocritical and judgmental. The seeker should be mindful that the Queen is not being deceptive towards them.

Reversed, the Queen will have all of the traits of the Queen upright, but less likely to hide the fact; upright she is cunning, reversed she is in your face. When reversed the Queen is more openly aggressive towards the seeker.

King of Swords

In the Etteilla method, the King of Sword represents a man of the law or police. If not, he holds considerable authority in general. Surrounding cards can give an indication of his influence is positive or negative.

Reversed is the same as upright but he will have bad intentions towards the seeker. The King is Swords reversed can represent he is abusing his power.

If you have enjoyed this post, you can sign up below for Etteilla cheat sheets, a free PDF which will show you the similarities and differences between Etteilla and regular Tarot! (it's free and available on phone, computer and tablet!)



Lisa Boswell - Etteilla Swords

Lisa Boswell is an award-winning psychic reading teacher who currently resides in Scotland. Through her website DivinationAndFortuneTelling.com she teaches both experienced and would be diviners how they can predict the future. 

Born into a Romany Gypsy family of fortune tellers, Lisa has had an active interest in the occult from a young age. She specialises in teaching predictive divination, easy mediumship and fortune-telling. Learn more here.


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    This post explains how to read the Grand Etteilla Tarot Swords, one of the most ancient and vintage types of Tarot deck in the world. The cards have minimal style illustrations compared to other Tarot art. Here, you can learn the meanings for these cards, which differ from the modern Raider Waite Smith style of reading. This article explains.  

This post explains how to read the Grand Etteilla Tarot Swords, one of the most ancient and vintage types of Tarot deck in the world. The cards have minimal style illustrations compared to other Tarot art. Here, you can learn the meanings for these cards, which differ from the modern Raider Waite Smith style of reading. This article explains.  

 Illustration: This post explains how to read the Grand Etteilla Tarot Swords, one of the most ancient and vintage types of Tarot deck in the world. The cards have minimal style illustrations compared to other Tarot art. Here, you can learn the meanings for these cards, which differ from the modern Raider Waite Smith style of reading. This article explains.

Illustration: This post explains how to read the Grand Etteilla Tarot Swords, one of the most ancient and vintage types of Tarot deck in the world. The cards have minimal style illustrations compared to other Tarot art. Here, you can learn the meanings for these cards, which differ from the modern Raider Waite Smith style of reading. This article explains.