6 of Swords: Tarot Card Meaning

By Lauren Williams
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6 of Swords Keywords


  • Transition
  • Journey
  • Personal growth
  • Movement
  • Going forward
  • Healing process
  • Safe passage
  • Silent retreat


  • Stagnation
  • Staying stuck
  • Running away
  • Unresolved issues
  • Resistance to change
  • Unwanted travel
  • Inner turmoil
  • Inability to move on

6 of Swords Essential Meanings Snapshot


The upright 6 of Swords signals a time of transition and change. It suggests moving on from a difficult situation towards a more peaceful or positive state. Relocation or traveling could be implied, symbolizing not just a physical journey but also a mental or emotional one. This card is typically associated with healing and recovery. It indicates accepting the past, letting go, and navigating towards a new beginning. As it represents a journey, it indirectly suggests you should be open towards learning from experiences and carrying the wisdom forward.


Reversed, the 6 of Swords suggests resistance towards change or an inability to move forward. There may be a reluctance to leave the past behind or to face the reality of a situation. It can also represent a journey or transition that is forced upon you, or one that is fraught with troubles and obstacles. Emotional baggage might be hindering your progress. This card in reversed positions stresses upon the need to confront existing issues head-on instead of avoiding them.

6 of Swords Description

Upon observing the 6 of Swords, you’d notice a sober, tranquil scene. A small boat is depicted, heading towards unknown territories. In the stern of the boat, we see a hunched figure, often interpreted as a woman who’s shrouded, suggesting sorrow or introspection. There’s also a child near her, symbolizing innocence or the latent potential of future growth.

A man steering a boat with two figures onboard and 6 swords standing as the six of swords tarot card.

At the helm, we witness a figure, typically a man, who’s rowing the boat, giving implications of being guided or taken towards a safer place. Within the boat, six swords are lodged, indicating the past thoughts, conflicts, or troubles that our figures are carrying along on their journey.

In the backdrop, we view a wide expanse of water, which could be seen as an immediate past full of emotional turbulence or uncertainty. On the other hand, the distant horizon showcases an arrival land, symbolizing promise or the sought-after destination. The sky overhead is usually clear, reinforcing the theme of transition from a troubled past to a calmer future.

The 6 of Swords paints a picture not just of physical movement or migration, but a metaphorical journey. It’s a solemn scene of leaving behind the familiar and moving forward with the baggage of past experiences, to an unknown but hopeful future.

Beyond the Surface: Symbolic Meanings

When exploring the 6 of Swords Tarot card, a myriad of symbolic messages emerge. Here are some key elements outlined:

  • The Swords: Represent thoughts, ideas, and intellectual processes. The number 6 symbolizes harmony, peace, and balance, suggesting these traits are involved in intellectual debates or negotiations.
  • The Boat: Signifies our emotional selves. The action of moving across water represents a journey or transition from one emotional state to another, usually towards tranquility.
  • The Figure at the Helm: Signifies guidance and protection during a journey. This figure embodies wisdom and experience, guiding us through the turbulent emotions to a calm mind.
  • Shrouded Figures: Represent our past, including memories and experiences that may weigh us down. Their presence suggests that we carry our past with us, but the transition promises a new perspective.
  • The Far Shore: This is the destination, symbolizing the future or new beginning that awaits after the journey. It’s often tied to enlightenment or a better state of mental peace.
  • The Calm Waters: Represent the state of mind, indicating an escape from chaos and moving toward serenity. They promise relief from turmoil and the attainment of peace.

Extraction of these symbolisms from the 6 of Swords provides a deeper understanding of its essence. It’s a card of transition, carrying insight, reflection, and hope for peace.

Dual Perspectives: Upright & Reversed

Upright 6 of Swords

When the 6 of Swords shows up upright in a tarot reading, it symbolizes moving on from hard times, a journey towards better days inspired by increased clarity and understanding. It’s the metaphorical light after a period of darkness. This card represents a transitional phase, where you concede to your circumstances and choose to recover and heal. Though the path may be fraught with reminders of past pain, it promises a more peaceful, stable future.

Reversed 6 of Swords

In the reversed position, the 6 of Swords carries a different weight. It indicates resistance to change and quarreling with moving on from past hardships. You might be stuck in a tumultuous cycle, unable to release the grip of past traumas or experiences. Simply put, you’re finding it hard to escape the storm. This card, in contrast to the upright position, calls for self-reflection and the need to challenge mental patterns or behaviors keeping you anchored in stormy seas.

In both positions, the 6 of Swords calls for transition. One shows the acceptance and progression toward recovery, while the latter shows a resistance to that very necessary change. Both acknowledgments in the face of adversity can lead to growth.

6 of Swords in Life Scenarios

The 6 of Swords tarot card is a symbol of transition, change, and moving forward. This card often appears in readings when the individual is going through a transformative phase in their life. Here, we will delve into how this card may be interpreted in various life scenarios.

Growth & Self-Discovery

When the 6 of Swords appears in the context of personal growth and self-discovery, it often signifies that the individual is in the midst of moving away from a past filled with pain or difficulties, and transitioning to calmer, more peaceful times. It suggests a phase of recovery, learning from one’s past experiences, and making an active effort to improve oneself. Recognize this as a period of healing, a time to seek peace and balance after stormy periods.

Career and Creativity

In matters related to career or creative pursuits, the 6 of Swords may symbolize a shift in your work environment or professional direction. It may indicate leaving a stressful job for a more fulfilling one, or evolving your creative practices to achieve professional growth. It could also suggest that you may need to distance yourself from negative influences at work, embrace new opportunities, and progress towards a more balanced and sustainable professional life.

Relationships & Bonds

When the 6 of Swords shows up in the context of relationships, it signifies moving away from past hurt and embracing the journey towards healing and peace. This could mean the end of a challenging relationship, or a transition towards a healthier and more positive relationship. It can also signal the need for forgiveness and reconciliation, allowing for harmony and emotional stability.

To read more about the 6 of Swords in the context of feelings, read our 6 of Swords as Feelings article.

Choices & Life Decisions

In the context of choices and life decisions, drawing the 6 of Swords suggests that a personal transition is necessary. It represents a difficult but necessary decision to leave behind the tumultuous past and steer towards a more tranquil future. The card encourages you to trust in life’s flow, approach changes courageously, and to understand that difficult choices often lead to personal growth and transformation.

In each of these scenarios, the 6 of Swords underscores the importance of embracing change, welcoming transitions, and persisting through difficult times. While it symbolizes profound shifts, it also provides reassurance that the upheaval one may be experiencing is temporary, and that calmer waters lie ahead, promoting personal growth and self-discovery.

To read more about the 6 of Swords when making decisions, read our 6 of Swords: Yes or No article.

6 of Swords from Past to Present

The 6 of Swords Tarot card has evolved visually and symbolically over time. It captures the essence of transition and change as per traditional tarot interpretations.

Origins and Artistry

Historically, the earliest known depiction of 6 of Swords comes from the 15th-century Italian tarot, where it showed six swords piercing a boat. The boat symbolized a journey, literal or metaphorical, emphasizing the idea of transitions and movement. This early design affirmed the core theme of passage, emphasizing the transition from a painful or challenging past towards a more promising future.

Evolution of the Card

Over the centuries, the depiction of the 6 of Swords has remained reasonably consistent. Design elements such as the landscape, the boat, the figure, and the swords have been constant across different decks, despite variations in artistic style. The Rider-Waite deck, for example, features a man rowing a woman and a child across rough waters, towards calmer shores.

Symbolical Progression

The 6 of Swords has maintained its symbolic significance— moving from a troubled time towards clarity and resolution, despite the difficulties involved in the transition. Historically, the turbulent waters that the boat sails through stands for present troubles, while the calm waters on the other side symbolize future tranquility.

Today, in all its forms, the 6 of Swords still embodies the idea of a challenging but necessary journey towards healing and hope.

Synergistic Card Combinations

6 of Swords and The Fool

Experience a spiritual awakening or life-altering realization when the 6 of Swords arrives in a reading with The Fool. This powerful combination compels us to break away from routine and start anew. Embracing the unknown becomes an encouraged theme, inspiring a journey towards self-discovery and personal fulfillment.

6 of Swords and The Sun

When combined with The Sun, 6 of Swords promotes a positive transition. It suggests an escape from hardship towards a sunny disposition and more optimistic world-view. This complementing duo signifies recovery, healing, and the birth of a refreshing and energizing phase in life.

6 of Swords and The Empress

In a reading with The Empress, the 6 of Swords heralds a nurturing environment after a period of unrest. It’s a comforting reassurance of recovery and hope, reinforcing maternal instincts, self-care, and tender compassion.

6 of Swords and The Lovers

Love and relationship realms gain prominence when The Lovers and 6 of Swords cross paths in a spread. This combination may hint at a need for communication and understanding to find balance in relationships. It symbolizes transition, perhaps a move or significant change, that could strengthen the bond or bring important realizations to light.

6 of Swords and The Magician

6 of Swords combined with The Magician suggests a beneficial transition resulting from one’s skill, intelligence, and ingenuity. This pair encourages self-reliance and resourcefulness, subtly reminding us of our innate potential for transformation and problem-solving.

6 of Swords and Wheel of Fortune

The confluence of 6 of Swords with Wheel of Fortune paints a picture of an inevitable shift like a wheel turning, signifying acceptance and adaptation. Change is imminent, but it’s neither to dread nor resist, for it’s a natural part of life’s cycle—bringing balance, progression, and new possibilities.

Introspection & Meditation

The 6 of Swords is the tarot card synonymous with transition and emotional healing. It signifies the inner voyage towards self-discovery and emotional tranquility, making it a powerful tool for introspection and meditation.

Meditative Practice with 6 of Swords

Incorporating the 6 of Swords into your meditative routines can guide your consciousness towards facing personal challenges and promoting inner growth. During your meditation session, visualize the image depicted on the card, with the six swords symbolizing obstacles you’ve overcome or are currently facing. The boat in the imagery represents your mental state, moving from turbulent waters into calmer ones, implying a soothing transition from distress to tranquility.

Personal Reflections

Reflecting upon the 6 of Swords can bring sensibility in the midst of dense emotional fog. The card’s imagery of sailing away from a tumultuous past towards a peaceful horizon serves as a reminder that past struggles are stepping stones towards inner peace and growth. A personal reflection on this card highlights this transition, encouraging acceptance of past struggles, letting go of emotional baggage, and moving towards personal growth and emotional stability.

Pulling the 6 of Swords during a tarot reading calls for personal reflection and intuition to guide one through the journey of healing and personal evolution. Connect with its energy to channel serenity within chaos and find a clear path towards resolution.


The upright 6 of Swords symbolizes transition, healing, and moving on from a difficult past towards a peaceful state. Conversely, when reversed, it suggests resistance towards change or struggles with moving forward.

The card’s design—a boat carrying six swords, a shrouded figure, and looking towards a promising future—highlights the theme of transition from a troubled past to a calmer future.

The 6 of Swords is often understood as a symbol of change, recovery, and emotional transition, teaching lessons about embracing change, learning through experiences, and carrying the wisdom forward.

What Next?

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Lauren Williams
Lauren merges ancient wisdom with modern insights, offering a fresh perspective on life's mysteries. She's passionate about guiding individuals through the world of astrology, lunar cycles, numerology, and tarot. When she's not charting the stars or reading tarot, she enjoys getting out in nature, hikes and yoga.