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UPRIGHT: Transition, change, rite of passage, releasing baggage.
REVERSED: Personal transition, resistance to change, unfinished business
The Six of Swords shows a woman and a young child being rowed across a body of water towards a nearby land. Her head is covered, suggesting sadness or loss as she moves away from something in her past. Her child nestles in close to her body, looking for safety and comfort as they make this journey together. In the boat stand six swords, suggesting that the woman and child are still carrying memories or baggage from their past into their future.
While the water on the right of the boat is turbulent, the sea ahead is tranquil. This imagery suggests that they are leaving behind a tumultuous situation, bound for a more peaceful and supportive environment.
NOTE: The Tarot card meaning description is based on the Rider Waite cards.
The Six of Swords shows that you are in a state of transition, leaving behind what was familiar and moving towards the unknown. You might be moving house, leaving a relationship, changing jobs, going through a rite of passage or a mental shift. This change may be your own doing or forced upon you, and you may feel sad to leave behind what is so familiar to you. However, you know this move is essential for your growth and personal development. The sadness over what you have lost (or released) will soon be replaced by greater mental clarity and a renewed acceptance of change. You will become a better person as a result.
The Six of Swords invites you to let go of whatever is holding you back, be it from your past or your present circumstances. Instead gaze ahead to your future and choose the way most in alignment with your Highest Good and long-term potential. You will need to make tough decisions and compromises along the way; see it as a rite of passage. You are headed towards a much better position in life, so long as you are willing to evolve and shed whatever you no longer need. Do not dwell on what gets left behind. Instead, use this as an opportunity for changing your beliefs about yourself, moving away from whom you used to be and towards whom you want to be.
Similarly, the Six of Swords asks you to reflect on any emotional or mental baggage you may carry as you move from one phase to the next. In the boat stand six upstanding swords – a sign you are still carrying a heavy weight from your past as you move forward, which might slow your personal growth. These 'swords' may be memories, relationships, habits, behaviours, thought patterns and beliefs that are no longer serving you. Decide what you need to take with you and what you can leave behind.
When the reversed Six of Swords shows up in a Tarot reading, you may be going through a personal or spiritual transition or rite of passage so you can leave behind a relationship, belief, or behavioural pattern that is no longer serving you. This is an intensely personal and private journey, and you are working in isolation to make it happen. You have identified what you must release to embrace a new way of thinking and are now bringing it to fruition in your personal life.
At times, the Six of Swords reversed indicates that you know you need to make a change or transition in your life but are reluctant to do so. You may hope that the issue will go away on its own and you won’t need to wrangle with this difficult decision. Or you may try to fool yourself into thinking you can put up with it, even when you know deep in your heart it is time to move on. It is natural to want to avoid discomfort, but sometimes you must push beyond your comfort zone so you can evolve as a person. That discomfort can be a positive sign that growth is happening, so feel into that energy and let it encourage you to keep moving forward and expanding yourself.
In some cases, the reversed Six of Swords suggests that you are resisting change and transition because you believe that it has been forced upon you or you were not included in the decision. For example, your partner may have to relocate for work, and you must go along with him or her. What is important is that you focus on the benefits of the transition rather than the drawbacks. Where can you look forward to something and get personal value out of it? Reaffirm to yourself why you need to make this transition and how it aligns with your own values.
If you are trying to move on from the past but struggle to do so, the Six of Swords reversed suggests that there may be unfinished business, unresolved conflict, or lessons which you need to understand before you can wholeheartedly move forward in your life. What is holding you back from making this crucial transition? Seek to resolve those issues. There may be moments when you doubt whether you are making the right decision in leaving behind your past, but this card gently encourages you forward, reminding you that you are heading towards a better future.