The Four of Swords Tarot Card


Is it time for a nap? When you see the Four of Swords in your Tarot Reading you might ask this. The Four of Swords is the card of retreat, rest, re-energizing and escapism. If you have started a program of meditation recently, expect the Four of Swords to appear in your readings. While the card is not an indicator of either health or legal affairs, this card has been linked to hospital stays and incarceration. For such a quiet card, in fact, there sure is a lot going on around the Four of Swords.

The scene on the card is a well-lit basilica. Ordinarily the basement of a church that houses the deceased of noble birth or heroic accomplishments, these large chambers were traditionally lit by the lowest frames of large stained glass windows on the exterior of the cathedral. The tomb of a fallen warrior is memorialized on top of the casket with a life size marble replica laying in repose, hands folded in prayer. By his side, a horizontal sword is emblazoned across the tomb; on the wall next to his tomb are three swords hanging. One points to his head, the other to his heart, the third to his gut. To the left of the three swords is a stained glass window with a distant colorful domestic scene.

There are many open-ended interpretations in every Tarot Card. The gender of this honorable person is likely a man, but many Tarot decks illustrate the gender with nothing notable that would prevent it from being interpreted as a woman – hence the person in the card is most definitely the person who is receiving the Tarot reading. The color of the tomb is always different from that of the wall and the dominant colors of the stained glass, indicating isolation beyond just a peaceful rest; this is an internal isolation from the things closest to us.

Meaning in Past, Present and Future Positions

The location of the Four of Swords in a Tarot card spread does not necessarily change the meanings of this card, but it does indicate the relationship between you and a time period of rest. If the Four of Swords is in the past part of your reading, this indicates an idyllic childhood or a time of healing in your past that has been completed. It is good to understand when the healing has finished, as many Tarot readings are about knowing when to move on. In the present position, the card indicates that you are currently at repose. This could be an indication that you are escaping life or certain responsibilities, or simply that you are on a well-deserved vacation or are listening to your body and slowing down to avoid stress. When this card is in the future portion of a Tarot Spread, you are looking at a peaceful time coming up. You may get domesticated in a hurry. You may have children about to leave the nest. One business executive who got this card in this position soon had two new administrative assistants hired and found his workload was easier than ever even as sales were increasing.

Card Combinations

The Four of Swords may represent passive activity, but it is anything but a passive card. The Swords cut things in your life away that are getting in between you and your rest, relaxation and/or recuperation. If there are other cards from the suit of Swords in your reading, chances are arguments and sharp words will separate you into a period of retreat. A lot of Pentacles on other cards indicate that some money coming your way will bring you needed rest, isolation or a relaxing vacation. If you are experiencing some relationship trouble, a reading with this card and many others from the suit of Cups indicates a breakup, but if your love life is fine, this can mean a new level of peace and passion with the right partner. When the Four of Swords appears in a reading with many cards bearing the suit of Wands, you may go into a retreat to work on a creative project. If you have been thinking about building your own website or to learn about blogging, this is a combination that predicts success with the isolation that comes along with the creative period. It is said that Pablo Picasso painted his masterpiece Les Demoiselles D’Avignon with the Four of Swords affixed to his studio door.

Like all suited cards bearing the number 4, the Four of Swords is related to two of the Tarot Deck’s Major Arcana: The Emperor and Temperance. The Emperor is the ultimate card of self-control. The Four of Swords is a card that echoes this in its isolation from being bothered by what other people are doing. The affairs of others may as well just be a pleasant stained glass window. Temperance is the card of eschewing the pleasures of the world for a physical and spiritual peace. The Four of Swords represents an isolation that is often self-imposed as a step toward a saner lifestyle.

If the Four of Swords is paired with The Devil Tarot card, look for a domineering parent, boss or lover to make you long for loneliness. But if the Four of Swords is paired with The Lovers card, prepare for a sublime and satisfying season of the soul mate. When your Tarot reading includes The Star or The Moon and the Four of Swords, isolation is as inspiring as possible. Your intellectual or artistic development or other experiments may actually be transformed under the influence of such a reading. Justice and Judgment are two powerful cards that add finality and a sense of stress being gone when they pair up with the Four of Swords. If you are in litigation or a tense business negotiation and see a combination of these cards, look for a pleasant resolution to bring you the peace you so seek.

No matter the cards in your reading, the Four of Swords has a silver lining: The control over the situation, as represented by the Swords in the illustration, is all yours.

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