Sword is not just a weapon, in almost all cultures it has grown in its stature to represent more than just a weapon. Swords have taken on a variety of characteristics with deep emotional meaning and symbolic significance. Throughout time swords and daggers have been ingrained into the cultures and rituals of many historic traditions. There is no other weapon that influenced people’s life as much as the sword did.
In the everyday life
The Sword is a Symbol of Authority. Sword is used to represent the line of kingly power. Power to rule all the people is bestowed on the bearer of some special sword .
The line of continuation of power, The king was supposed to protect his people as warrior, to guaranty justice as judge, and often to see to the right ordering of worship as a kind of priest. The sword was passed on to the heir as a symbol of the transfer of authority, and the giving of a sword to the new king was (or still is) a widespread feature of coronation ceremonies
An instrument used by a king or queen to confer Knighthood. Knighthood elevates a person to a higher "station" in society by recognizing that persons achievements and qualities as being far above normal and thereby worthy of a higher status.
Rite of passage: The sword is the symbol of Knighthood or of being a 'warrior' in more primitive periods and when ceremonially presented for the first time, the recipient was confirmed to a higher social standing. To qualify for this opportunity, it often required proof of a specific bloodline and training, but in special situations these formalities were omitted
Symbol of honor and loyalty: Taking an oath of honor upon your sword (pledge, swear). This was done by either gripping the handle of your own sword (remaining in the scabbard), or by kissing the blade of the other persons sword (typically a person of royalty). If such an oath was broken, the individual was to be executed by his own sword.
Surrendering your sword: To yield your weapon to the requestor as part of submitting or being placed under arrest. Victors required the conquered to submit their sword which was then broken in a formal ceremony of degradation. This is especially true for internal military expulsions since a sword was the mark of an officer and a gentleman.
Blood Oath : Many cultures were known to use blood to confirm solemn oaths. The most common ceremony involved two people in an oath taking their own daggers, slicing open one of their own palms and then clasping the other person's cut palm allowing the blood of both people to mix together. With their blood being united, so were their souls - upon penalty of death (if the oath was broken)
Symbol of prestige and a class symbol. A high-quality sword produced by a well-known smith was then worth its weight in gold
Symbol of justice: Iustitia, the Roman goddess who was the equivalent of the Greek goddess Themis, most commonly portrayed as a blindfolded woman carrying a sword and a set of scales. Symbolizing the fair and equal administration of the law, without corruption, greed, prejudice, or favor.
Dueling weapon: Before introduction of the fire arms swords were main dueling weapon in Europe and even after pistols took over, swords remained in use. The last known duel was fought by swords in France in 1949.
Duality: The sword is the most obvious symbol of a warrior, but can be taken in two ways: Destructive - for purposes of killing and the like Positive - Defending justice, destroying injustice and the like This is often why a sword is often symbolically double-edged
In different religions sword has different meaning and significance:
In Buddhism the sword symbolism deals with discrimination of thought. In this light, swords cut away ignorance.
In Christianity the sword symbolism deals with protection, righteousness, and justice. We see archangel Michael depicted in Christian art holding a sword to reinforce the concept of truth, purity, equanimity, and the justness revealed in the light of Christ. Furthermore, we see the sword blocking the gates of Eden as a sign of protection from sin.
In Islam a sword symbolizes the holy war or quest against the infidels, and it is a symbol for the unending fight against your own wickedness. This kind of symbolism is still very much alive
In Hinduism sword is represented as wisdom cutting through ignorance. Hindu and Buddhist deities are often shown wielding or holding sword in religious art
In Daoism ritual swords are often wielded as symbolic weapons to subdue evil forces.
In different times and different areas swords had different roles:
Ancient Greece Greek swords went through three different ages, these were known as the Archaic age, the Classic age and the Hellenistic age. The Archaic age begins with the Greeks settling in Corinth, Thebes and Athens all around 8th century B.C. In the Archaic age Greek swords where made of copper and bronze, such swords of this time where Aor, Chalos and Phasganon. Aor was the bronze Sword or Apollo and was in use at the time of the Trojan war. Phasganon is a straight two edged sword used by foot soldiers and nobles. In the Classic age Greek swords took a sharp turn. It was during this time that Athens and Sparta allied to fight the Persians in 500 B.C. All citizens of the time were required to be drafted to the army. After one year of service they were presented with a sword and a shield. The Hellenistic age is best known for Alexander the great. There are several mythological swords such as the sword of death owned by Thantos the god of non violent death. It was used to take a cutting of a dying persons hair to send to the underworld. One of the most famous swords of Greek myths was the sword given to Perseus to kill Medusa.
The Roman Sword or Gladius is one of the most widely recognized swords of any culture.
These swords were in use between 4th century BC and 3rd Century AD. The Romans where highly skilled and disciplined and great weapons such as the sword were a must especially for cavalrymen and infantrymen. The skills of these men and the advances in sword making techniques made this sword a deadly weapon and was one the major factors behind a long and successful military reign. To identify a person’s sword the name was often etched into the blade.
In Japan the sword is a symbol of courage and strength. Here the sword is created by smiths in religious rituals. Their swords are highly valued and serve as symbols of the warrior archetype.
In China sword is regarded as the master of cold weapons. Swords have appeared in Chinese various arts, including calligraphy, dance, poems, novels, music, songs, movies, TV programs, and of course, martial arts. Not only a symbol of power sword in China represents knowledge and marks the social status of the individual, only scholars and military officers had a right to carry a sword.
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.
Mayans symbolism indicates the sword as the giver of life. The sword serves as a gateway into spiritual life as the physical body passes and the spirit lifts into celestial unfolding.
Slavic people used and respected swords since the beginning of the bronze age. Many Slavic gods were depicted with one or more swords. In old Slavic culture sword was not only a symbol of power and war but also a symbol of peace.
Swords didn’t influence just everyday life in every possible way but they also have great significance in supernatural world
Esoterically, The Sword Symbolizes The Mind. Just as The Sword can cut in both directions, so too can The Mind dissect both sides of an issue until the basic fact is revealed. We use the term "double-edged sword" as a metaphor when referring to the rewards and risks we must Weigh in our Decision making processes.
As an alchemical symbol the sword is a symbol of purification. Here we experience the metaphorical sword cleanly piercing the spiritual soul of man. This symbolic action sacrifices physical bondage to release a path to ethereal (enlightened) freedom
Sword as a symbol of light: Sword is also closely linked to light. Swords glitter, and the Crusaders used to call them “fragments of the Cross of Light.” The Japanese sword sacred to the Emperor originated in lightning, when the storm-god “Susa no O” kills an eight-headed snake, and pulls from its tail the sword called “Ame no murakomo no tsurugi.” This miraculous sword was given by the sun goddess Amaterasu to her grandson Ninigi when he descended to earth to become ruler of Japan, thus establishing the divine link between the imperial house and the sun. The Vedic sacrificial sword originated by Indra’s thunderbolt. Lightning is associated with water, and hence another link between the fire-swordwater that Wor. Conseil refers to. When God drove Adam and Eve from Paradise, he sends Cherubims carrying flaming swords. These swords threw off lightning bolts (Genesis 3:24)
Sword as symbol of Fire: In Alchemy, the fire in the furnace is called “The Philosopher’s sword.” The Anglo-Saxon word for sword was seax, meaning “the fire of the great fire”, the Italian word is spada, or sepada, meaning “the fire of the shining Father.”
In the symbolic language of the Tarot, swords represent the realm of the mind, specifically the navigation of thought. Just as the sword is wielded by its master, so too may thoughts be directed by conscious training of the mind. An untrained mind (one that is inexperienced in wielding the power of thought) will face many challenges.
Swords also hold great power in the realm of subconscious mind
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. Freud would have us believe the sword in our dreams is a phallic symbol. Visually, philosophically and energetically the sword shares many similarities to the male organ as well as masculinity and all its manifestations.