Of the 4 suits of the Minor Arcana, the swords are certainly the most challenging. The images in the Rider-Waite-Smith deck (and most of its derivations) are particularly bleak: hearts pierced with swords, getting stabbed in the back, thievery, insomnia. This suit, ruled by air, is largely interpreted as having to do with communication, thoughts, mental processes. Lindsay Mack (@wildsoulhealing) teaches it as our relationship with our brain chemistry. In my classes, I often call it the suit of interaction with our inner narrator (as in-how do you talk to yourself?).
From an Enneagram perspective, exploring the swords as the suit of type structure is incredibly helpful. The swords can be literally interpreted as our type’s patterns, and each card shows us working with them in some way.
The captions for each card pictured here are tongue in check, but only just. Enneagram work can be as brutal as the images of the swords suit look. As we learn about our type we realize just how much it’s been in the drivers seat for our entire lives. It’s a confrontational process that requires a lot of humility and it exacts a toll, which the swords illustrate beautifully.
The Tarot is infinitely nuanced, and I’ve always felt that the more interpretations you are open to, the more potential meanings will show up. Expanding your vocabulary in this way is vitally important to a deep working relationship with the cards. So if you are willing to consider that the swords can showcase the workings of your type, and the way you work *with* your type, then they absolutely will. Setting an intention to read with a focus on your Enneagram type is key to opening up entirely new facets of the sword suit.
The Ace can become a symbol for the inherent structure of your type, and highlight the significance of Enneagram work.
2 of Swords can showcase a blindness to how your type is at play in your life, or a willful ignorance to it.
3 of swords becomes the pain of realization at what operating from your type structure has cost you.
The 4 is an invitation into a practice built around your type: meditation and movement, breath, journaling—designed to work with your type’s specific needs.
5 of swords showcases how relentless our personalities can be, subtly sabotaging our growth with the aim of keeping us in familiar patterns.
6 of swords is the onset of transformation as we begin the long journey of engagement with this work.
The 7, always a tricky card, reveals the struggle between what our higher self wants and what our personalities are designed to do.
The 8 of swords is a real moment of liberation as we acknowledge that we both are and are not our personalities or our patterns, and we have the power to choose differently.
9 of swords shows us the dawning of consciousness, as we awaken to the realities of what it means to actively pursue personal growth and transformation in this system.
And the 10 represents, as all 10s do, both the close of a cycle and a new one beginning. Here we have exhausted the story our type tells us about how and why we must move through life the way we do, and are ready (or almost just!) to try a different approach.