The Five of Swords

The Lord of Defeat

TWO Rayed Angelic Hands each holding two swords nearly upright, but falling apart of each other, right and left of the card. A third hand holds a sword upright in the centre as though it had disunited them. The petals of the rose, which in the four had been reinstated in the centre, are torn asunder and falling. Above and below are Venus and Aquarius for Decan.

Contest finished and decided against the person; failure, defeat, anxiety, trouble, poverty, avarice, grieving after gain, laborious, unresting; loss and vileness of nature; malicious, slanderous, lying, spiteful and tale-bearing. A busybody and separator of friends, hating to see peace and love between others. Cruel, yet cowardly, thankless and unreliable. Clever and quick in thought and speech. Feelings of pity easily roused, but unenduring.

Geburah of  ו (Defeat, loss, malice, spite, slander, evilspeaking).

Herein the Angels אניאל and חעמיה bear rule.

• • •

“Geburah, as always, produces disruption; but as Venus here rules Aquarius, weakness rather than excess of strength seems the cause of disaster. The intellect has been enfeebled by sentiment. The defeat is due to pacifism. Treachery also may be implied.

The hilts of the swords form the inverted pentagram, always a symbol of somewhat sinister tendency. Here matters are even worse; none of the hilts resembles any of the others, and their blades are crooked or broken. They give the impression of drooping; only the lowest of the swords points upwards, and this is the least effective of the weapons. The rose of the previous card has been altogether disintegrated.

The historian is happy to observe two perfect illustrations of the mode of this card and the last in the birth of the Aeon of (I) Osiris, (2) Horus. He will note the decay of such Virtue as char acterized Sparta and Rome, ending in the establishment of the Pax Romana. As Virtue declined, corruption disintegrated the Empire from within. Epicene cults, such as those of Dionysus (in its degraded form), of Attis, of Adonis, of Cybele, the false Demeter and the prostituted Isis, replaced the sterner rites of the true Solar- Phallic gods; until finally (the masters having lost the respect, and so the control, of the plebs, native and alien) the lowest of all the slave-cults, dressed up in the fables of the vilest of the parasitic races, swept over the known world, and drenched it in foul darkness for five hundred years. He will delight to draw close parallels with the cognate phenomena displayed before the present generation.”

— Crowley, The Book of Thoth