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The Meaning of
the "Four of Swords" Tarot Card

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What is the inverted meaning of
the "Four of Swords"?

The Meaning of the "Four of Swords"
Tarot Card

The Symbolism of the Four of Swords

The Four of Swords card depicts the tomb of an honored and noble knight.

On top of the tomb is a sculpted effigy of the knight dressed in his armor, hands raised in a position of peaceful meditation and prayer for all eternity.

On the wall above the tomb are 3 mounted swords, pointing downwards towards the knight, signifying his death in battle.

A fourth blade rests on the side of the tomb in the traditional orientation, representing the knight's own sword — and an honorable warrior's burial.

Next to the hanging swords, a beautiful stained-glass window overlooks the tomb. The image in the stained-glass depicts the knight as a young child, learning at his mothers knee in a pastoral family setting..

NOTE: The customary interpretation of the three hanging swords above the knight is that they signify 'death in battle'. But another, perhaps more interesting interpretation, is that the artist, communicating using the language of tarot, literally drew a simple Three of Swords card onto the wall above the tomb — representing sadness, mourning and loss.

How to Interpret the Four of Swords

In the simplest sense, the Four of Swords indicates a rest after a challenge, ordeal or a long stretch of work.

... a strategic pause to regroup, reassess and recharge — before re-entering the fight ...

The more subtle interpretation though is that the Four of Swords represents a strategic pause to regroup, reassess and recharge — before re-entering the fight. In other words, the card does not represent rest after completion, but rather a short hiatus before resuming.

The suggestion here is that some larger challenge has not gone particularly well. Losses have been incurred and injuries sustained — but the greater fight continues. Some time may be needed to consolidate one's energy, financial position or personal conviction before re-engaging.

This 'necessary pause' may also suggest a time to reconsider one's approach or strategy. Consider resuming from a different angle of attack. Is there something that can be changed to improve one's performance? Now is the time to change or pivot.

In a relationship reading this may indicate some distance between you, either physical or emotional, for a short period of time. It does not indicate a break-up or the end of a relationship — just personal time.

The Four of Swords is neither a positive card nor a negative card. It represents a short time of reassessment, stillness and meditation.

The Four of Swords Inverted

As with the upright position of the Four of Swords, the reversed Four of Swords indicates the need for a temporary retreat. Work and stress are taking their toll on someone and a brief respite to get thoughts in order and tweak the game-plan a little is not only recommended, it's essential.

...finding time to retreat and regroup is going to be nearly impossible.

The inversed position of the Four of Swords isn't good news in that regard; It means finding time to retreat and regroup is going to be nearly impossible. You may need that break, but that doesn't mean the break is coming.

A hard slog is indicated. The road from this point forwards isn't easy or forgiving and every minute counts.

But even if one can't afford a few days time to reconsolidate, there are always 5 minute gaps to think about the big picture. Use those minutes wisely.

The inverted Four of Swords is a somewhat negative card. It doesn't imply a loss or a defeat, but it does imply a difficult period of one's life with little time to rest or regroup.

Common Symbols Found On the Four of Swords Card

Tarot cards often use a a common symbology to communicate information about how the card should be interpreted. The Four of Swords includes one common, repeating Tarot symbol. This symbols which repeats throughout the deck can add an greater level of interpretation to the card.

A common symbol which appears on the Four of Swords card is:

  • Children

    Children symbolism appears on the Four of Swords card:

    On Minor Arcana cards children convey the idea of the positive ideas of innocence and purity of intent. When appearing together with their mother and father, children typically convey the concepts of family, wealth and happiness.

    NOTE: The child pictured in the Four of Swords card is hard to spot. In the stained-glass window on the top-left, there's a representation of a young child together with his mother. In this case, we must assume this depiction is a childhood memory of the knight laid to rest in the foreground. The message here reminds us to consider the entirety of something into account. The knight is remembered not just as a warrior, but rather as the entirety of his life's actions — childhood included.

    Read more about the symbolism of "Children" in Tarot  

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