The King of Swords should be a welcome card, but the reversed version should make you wary. This is an intensely personal message and one that needs immediate attention because letting the circumstances remain as is could lead to a fatal error – not a physically fatal one, but one that leads to the end of a job, relationship, opportunity, or other situation. Like single-edge swords, the King of Swords reversed has a blunt side and a dangerous side, and you need to navigate carefully to ensure no one gets hurt.
The Suit of Swords
Each suit in the tarot represents an aspect or element that describes the overall energy of the suit. Wands are action and fire, Cups are emotions and water, Pentacles are effort and earth, and Swords are thought and air. The Swords represent logic, editing and review, thoughts, fairness, and clarity. They don’t represent a lack of emotion but rather the ability to remove emotions from the decision-making process.
The Kings are the leaders of each suit, inspiring and powerful people who are usually older males but who can be female if the situation calls for it. Think of the CEO of a company who is female, or the matriarch of a family who guides its overall interactions and decisions. Those two women could easily be represented as kings and not queens.
So, the King of Swords is a logical leader who puts thought into decisions and who relies on knowledge to guide those decisions. The King of Swords is not an unemotional person, and other Kings in the tarot use logic, too. But thoughts and impartial logic are the keys for this King.
When This King Is Reversed
The King of Swords reversed gets kind of nasty. At its most basic interpretation, it can be someone using too much logic or not enough. Someone who is too logical and who sticks to the rules too closely – and who doesn’t take extenuating circumstances into account – can do some real damage. They can deliberate for too long and miss an opportunity.
This is also true of someone who doesn’t think things through enough and who is too reckless. They could make biased decisions or create a lot of problems for other people.
If you want a good example of the King of Swords and the King of Swords reversed in this aspect, turn on your TV. The King of Swords upright is best represented by – this shouldn’t be a surprise – Mr. Spock from Star Trek: The Original Series. Fair, overtly logical, but also aware that sometimes logic doesn’t apply. He’s willing to look at non-logical answers if needed.
The King of Swords reversed, however, is best represented by both Chidi and Jason from The Good Place. Think of Chidi’s devotion to ethics and and his absolute inability to make a decision, to the point of creating a little pocket of hell for everyone around him. He’s the King of Swords reversed who uses too much logic and deliberates without end. Jason is the King of Swords reversed who doesn’t think at all and who recklessly follows his impulses without control or caution.
The King of Swords reversed can also be less about logic and more about tyranny. The King of Swords is a fair person. He knows the law is there to keep order and also that each case has to be looked at in its own light. But reversed, this tarot card is about arrogance, unfairness, and disastrous treatment. This is a manipulative person who is calculating and who is either a know-it-all or someone who can gaslight you with just a couple of sentences.
The direct imagery of weaponry in this suit means the Swords often represent the military. That brings up the idea of a dictator or someone who acts that way, even if they don’t actually lead anyone.
On a less dangerous note, a reversed King can always indicate someone who either isn’t leading well or who isn’t getting the respect he or she deserves. That’s a bit of a relief after all the dictator-talk, but it’s still not a desirable situation.
It’s Possibly You
You can see that this is not a card to ignore. But the question now is, who or what does the card represent? It could be you. Are you being indecisive or insisting you have everything go your way, to the point of hurting someone or excluding people who shouldn’t be excluded? Are you determined to make other people do what you want?
Another possibility is that the King of Swords reversed represents an organization that you’re involved in, such as your employer. Maybe the company is good to you, but does the company have policies that hurt the public?
If the card shows up in an other-person position, like the second card from the bottom of the staff in the Celtic Cross, that’s a pretty good indication that someone else is involved. The interpretation becomes cloudier if the card is in an outcome spot, however; you don’t know who or what is leading the situation to that end, so you need to do some serious investigation.
And be aware of one more frustrating possibility. Maybe your situation will go swimmingly, but there will be an unintended consequence that isn’t fair to someone else.
It’s always helpful to have a professional reading after getting a card like this, especially if you’re having trouble figuring out who’s who. Many professional readers don’t want to know the question before they see the spread, so don’t be surprised if your reader tells you not to say anything yet. But once the cards are out and you’ve gotten that initial reading, then you might be able to figure out who is messing up the logic and fairness of the situation.
Panic won’t help, by the way. Don’t let the thought of unintended consequences or a manipulative person make you act recklessly yourself. But do start looking at the situation, your behavior, and the behavior of others around you to get a better sense of what’s happening.