Sword Symbolism: Symbolic Meaning of Swords

Written by avenefica on May 25th, 2008

symbolism of sword (image from Morgan Greer Tarot used with permission)My friend Göran was curious about the sword symbolism as he begins pondering his next creative sculpted jewelry piece (click here to see his amazing sculpted jewelry art).

He’s done a lot of his own contemplation on the symbolic meaning of swords for his art work, and I thought I’d add to his thoughts by making this post.

Sword symbolism speaks of:

  • Solidarity
  • Defense
  • Clarity
  • Power
  • Honor
  • Force

Most perceptible is the symbolism of protection, honor and justice embodied in the blade of the sword. 

Metaphysically speaking the sword is symbolic of the penetrating power of the mind, and encourages the wielding of trained intellect to bring about the results we seek. 

The making of a sword incorporates all the elements: Earth, Fire, Air, Water.  This is a powerful point as it confirms the energetic pattern of the sword presents wholeness, balance, totality, and the unification of all resource to form a tightly focused beam of force (energy).

As an alchemical symbol aspects of the sword are representative of purification through the process of life and death.

Furthermore, Buddhism recognizes the sword as a metaphor in that the sword cuts through ignorance to reach to the truth in all things….“cutting through” wrong thought.

In Japan the sword is a symbol of courage and strength.  Here the sword is created by smithys in religious rituals.  Their swords are highly valued and serve as symbols of the warrior archetype.

As a Celtic symbol, the sword is connected to gain, wealth, honor, and establishment of hierarchy.  Often swords we be consider markers of familial ties, and indicate victories won for the purpose of insuring the survival of blood lineage.  Interestingly, swords were thought to be given as offerings by releasing them into the depths of the oceans.  I’ve written more about this and the sword’s connection with Nuada, here.

Mayans symbolism indicates the sword as the giver of life.  These people were intimate with the thin veil between physical life and spiritual life.  The sword serves as a gateway (when slain in battle or sacrifice) into spiritual life as the physical body passes and the spirit lifts into celestial unfolding.

As dream symbols, the sword is considered to hold meanings of intellect, seeking power, aggression, decision and action.  When we dream of swords our psyche is surfacing a message that it may be time for us to gain clarity about our position in life circumstances, take a stand and take action in a clear, discriminatory fashion. 

It may also hearken to our chivalrous archetypal nature.  Meaning, we may have an inclination to rescue someone (or ourselves).  Swords in dreams may also confirm our internal strength, that we are not prisoners of our circumstance, but we may cut away these limiting ties that bind us.

The symbolic meaning of the sword plays a large role in the language of the Tarot.  In  this esoteric light, a whole new realm of meaning about swords opens up to us.  I have written about the symbolic sword of the Tarot in depth here.

I’ve also written more in-depth thoughts on sword symbolism (including cultural perspectives) here.

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3 Comments so far ↓

  1. Liara Covert says:

    These are wonderful insights. When it comes to tattoos, the sword also refers to virtue and even the word of God. When we think of a “two-edged sword,” this idiomatic expression reminds us that at least 2 sides exist to every situation. Some people focus on positive and negative. You can also imagine it representing power and finality if you use it to sever invisible ties. Thus, you can make a clean break from the emotional baggage that may tie you to a past relationship. Who you were is not the same as who you are.

  2. reddragon says:

    I REALLY enjoyed this post. I had always thought the symbol of the sword being strength and power, but to see the other symbolisms brought forth here are very eye opening.

    Thank you

  3. Liara Covert says:

    I recently read of an intriguing gesture that was incorporated into a wedding ceremony. The bride and groom used swords as props to demonstrate enduring feelings. The memorable description reminded me of something out of romantic Camelot.