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The Meaning of
the "King of Swords" Tarot Card

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

The Meaning of the "King of Swords"
Tarot Card

The Symbolism of the King of Swords

The King of Swords sits on a slender throne, made of stone — rising behind him like an obelisk.

Carved into the throne are crescent moons and butterflies — symbolizing dreams and transformation. Near his left shoulder, an angel engraving gives us the impression the divine may whisper directly into the King's ear.

The King wears pale blue, symbolizing the relationship between the Suit of Swords and the element of Air.

Unlike the other court cards in the Suit of Swords which have blowing trees, the trees around the King are motionless ...

Unlike the windswept trees of the other court cards in the Suit of Swords, the trees around the King are motionless — suggesting stillness and order in the King's presence.

In contrast to the Queen, whose sword pommel rests on the arm of her throne, the King lifts his sword up, suspending it in the air, signifying readiness and strength. His left hand holds nothing; Unlike the King of Cups and the King of Pentacles, the King of Sword's left hand rests calmly on his lap.

The perspective of the card gives the King a larger-than-life appearance, as if he towers over the landscape around him.

How to Interpret the King of Swords

As with all of the court cards in every suit of the Tarot, the appearance of the King of Swords in a reading may reference a specific person.

The King of Swords' power comes from his intellect, and his courage to stand by his insight ...

The King of Swords' power comes from his intellect, and his courage to stand by his insight against intellectual opposition. He is a symbol of expert status and may represent any type of knowledgable professional or industry expert in a reading.

Common references include doctors, financial advisors, consultants or any other expert-level knowledge worker.

The King is not swayed by the opinions of others or by political expedience. His ideas are selected because he sees them as logically valid and proven by experience — even if they are at times unpopular.

He is a seeker of the truth.

When the King of Swords does not represent an actual peron in a tarot reading, the card typically represents a fair decision or an equitable resolution.

The card may also suggest that emotion and personal feelings have no place in the issue at hand. Logic and sound reasoning are what's needed.

The appearance of the King of Swords may also carry a warning in some readings: Ambition and logic can sometimes leave behind a trail of tears if special efforts aren't made to consider the feelings of others.

Generally speaking the King of Swords is a very positive card, although the card's emphasis on cold logic may be somewhat neutral or even negative in some relationship reaings, depending on the positioning.

NOTE: Observant students of Tarot may notice that the King of Swords is very similar to the Justice card — and even sits in a similar posture, minus the scales in the left hand of Justice. The Justice card represents the grand concepts of equity, balance and universal truth, whlie the King of Swords is more likely to represent a real-world person in pursuit of rational truth. The two cards make an excellent example of the differences between Major and Minor Arcana. One is grand, and philosophical in scale, while one is more down to earth.

The King of Swords Inverted

The reversed King of Swords, as with all court cards in the Tarot, may represent an actual person who is known to the querent.

The card represents an intelligent and extremely capable person who has achieved a certain level of authority. Instead of using that authority to pursue truth and shared benefit, this person uses authority for themselves.

Someone who allows favoritism, bias or personal interests to interfere with their personal lives or their work

The inverted King of Swords represents someone who allows favoritism, bias or personal interests to interfere with their personal or professional life.

While abusing authority may sound serious — and in some cases it might be — the reversed King of Swords could also reference the shirking of a minor responsibility.

Any abuse of power may be represented here; large or small. That abuse could be something major like financial fraud, or something relatively minor like leaving work earlier than one should

In a relationship reading, the appearance of the inverted King of Swords may also suggest a type of power imbalance where one partner begins to take advantage of the other in some way.

The King of Swords reversed is in most cases, a negative card. It carries overtones of injustice, inefficiency and failures to meet deadlines or budgets.

Common Symbols Found On the King of Swords Card

Tarot cards often use a symbolic or iconographic language to communicate additional hints about how the card should be interpreted. The King of Swords makes use of at least three common, repeating Tarot symbols. Each of these common symbols can add additional dimensions of meaning to the card.

The symbols which appear on the King of Swords card are:

  • Butterflies

    Butterflies symbolism appears on the King of Swords card:

    Butterflies in the language of Tarot, represent a powerful transfiguration to a higher state of consciousness or being. Just as butterflies in nature begin life as humble caterpillars, and are transformed later in their lives as colorful butterflies emerging from cocoons, the appareance of butterflies on a Tarot card reminds us of the power of rebirth and the infinite human capacity for personal metamorphosis.

    Read more about the symbolism of "Butterflies" in Tarot  

  • Trees

    Trees symbolism appears on the King of Swords card:

    In a general sense, trees highlight a connection to nature and the natural world. Trees are some of the most widely used symbols in the classic Rider-Waite tarot deck. The exact meaning of any one tree varies depending on the specific Tarot card on which it appears.

    Read more about the symbolism of "Trees" in Tarot  

  • Birds

    Birds symbolism appears on the King of Swords card:

    Birds depicted in Tarot cards typically fall into one of two distinct categories: Birds that are identifiable (like eagles, falcons, etc.) and flocks of small, unidentifiable birds which are shown flying far away in the distance. All the court cards from the Suit of Swords depict the latter. These small birds remind us that the Suit of Swords is bound to the primary element of Air. While each of the identifiable birds, has its own specific interpretation, birds in a general sense all represent freedom — both a psychological freedom, and freedom from physical restraint.

    Read more about the symbolism of "Birds" in Tarot  

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