The time for war is over. In case you didn’t get it before it’s pretty clear now that no one truly wins in a battle. There are always consequences for both sides–the victor and the defeated. The defeated have lain down their swords and turn away. The victor looks over to them, holding two swords upright in one hand and one sword for support as a kind of staff in the other. The sky is dark and foreboding with sharp clouds zig-zagging in an uneasy motion. In its upright position this card points to the hollow nature of victories when won by the harsh violence of actual swords or words (swords being the suit of thoughts and communication). We feel that the reversal here enhances the message, as in a strong directive to turn away from battles and come around towards forgiveness and peaceful conflict resolution.
To me this is the card of hollow victories. The fellow holds three swords and the other two turn their backs in defeat having laid down their swords. Ok. But the storm clouds still fly in the sky and there is a feeling of ambivalence. Swords in tarot are double-edged–their power can be used constructively or destructively. That’s where choice comes into play. And swords referring to the element of air in tarot we know we are not only speaking literally here; we are dealing with the instruments of communication. Words can pierce or they can soothe. We can fight our battles and win our skirmishes but at what cost? What comes after the battle? Will there be reparations, a pardon, some reconciliation? How will you handle your power once you have won? These are important questions and the answers will establish your moral code of responsibility.