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6 of Swords: Passage From Pain

six of swords in tarot
Swords and water: the past lives in our psyche

As Tarot depicts all of the realms of human experience, this element in the minor arcana is the about the passage through pain and to the new experience. It's a period of transition. Momma Jane has a saying, "When God closes a door, he opens a window, but the hallways are a real bitch." This is the energy of the Six of Swords.

How does this part of the story apply to us? I'll speak to a few symbolic elements. First, because the card is within the suit of swords, we can understand that this journey occurs primarily in our minds. Swords are symbols of truth and ideas. They are the burden of wisdom gained and the painful battles that occurred that still impact us. They indicate that we are still wounded and point to where we need healing.

Traditionally, the card depicts the feminine and masculine counterparts rowing toward calmer waters. Their backs are turned to us, their shoulders heavy and the swords are firmly rooted in their life raft. The message here is we take our pain wherever we go. There is no geographical cure. However, think of what would happen if you pulled the swords from the wood and tossed them overboard? The water comes, fills the boat and you drown. So the pain is necessary.

The presence of water speaks to our emotions, so the wisdom acquired here has deeply affected us. This movement allows us to know that we are on the other side of this, the worst is over. But we're not quite at the new experience yet. Damn them hallways.

Modern imagery has focused on the feminine character and offers a new perspective of power within this transition. Again, backs are turned to signal a dramatic shift from our previous reality. We see she is armed with her wisdom, fortified and protected. This is the feeling of packing up, moving out and getting on with it. It signals our permission to say no and mean it. The new world is in her sight lines, this signals the promise of success after the turmoil.


For your character, this is a moment of truth. A call to action to bring forth the collective experience, pack your bags and start a new story. Time to put down the pain and move forward - there's nothing new to learn here. Keep your eyes on the light at the end of the hall and keep going. 

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