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The Four of Swords in Tarot and How to Read It

Andrea has a background in Myers-Briggs and Western astrology. She mostly writes about relationships.

The Four of Swords indicates you're burnt out or about to be. You need to prioritize rest more, or else risk compromising your energy for the long term.

The Four of Swords indicates you're burnt out or about to be. You need to prioritize rest more, or else risk compromising your energy for the long term.

Interpreting the Four of Swords

The Four of Swords indicates your energy level is low because you've tried to do too much lately. The card in both the upright and reversed positions encourages you to seek more rest. The card is also associated with sorrows and finding peace.

The card is somber. A knight has died; his body rests on a tomb. This is a card that signals the end of a chapter and a new beginning. It's time to walk away from all the hustle and bustle of life and seek heavy contemplation. Meditation and finding your own voice will be the answer to your healing.

The card suggests that you cut out your bad habits. Don't depend on drugs, junk food, sex, or gambling to keep you satisfied. These things are tricking you and making you feel a high that's unsustainable. Don't let material things rule over you. Scruples should be in moderation.

Card Alignments

Upright

Relaxation, meditation, recuperation, rest, contemplation, peace, separation, isolation, purification, endings and beginnings, solemn service, equanimity, silence, hope.

Reversed

Exhaustion, burnout, stressed, anxious, turbulence, insomnia, disturbed, no rest, sleep-deprived, undead, prevented, slowed, stagnation, lacking something, delays.

The Four of Swords is a somber card. A knight has died and he leaves behind his wife and child. The knight took on too much, and the consequences were big. It's important to pace yourself and know when to stop fighting.

The Four of Swords is a somber card. A knight has died and he leaves behind his wife and child. The knight took on too much, and the consequences were big. It's important to pace yourself and know when to stop fighting.

Card Description

In the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, the Four of Knights shows a knight on a tomb. He is in armor, his hands rest in a prayer position, and a sword lies beneath him. There are three swords that hang above him and point down toward him.

The three swords on the wall are a callback to the Three of Swords card. In that card, three swords pierce through a heart. The knight's death is the end result of the attack on the heart. The knight, for the most part, is monochromatic.

Above the knight, there is a stained-glass window showing a woman and child; they're the people the knight has left behind.

The scene is taking place inside a church. This should be taken as a sign that you need to get in touch with your own personal beliefs. What can you do to reconnect with your spirit?

Now might be a good time to seek counsel from someone in the clergy or a secular therapist.

The Suit of Swords and the Second Estate

The Suit of Swords represents nobles and knights. It is the suit of people who have been initiated. The Second Estate was the second tier of the ruling hierarchy of Christian Europe from the Medieval Era to the early modern times.

  • The First Estate included the monarchy and high clergy.
  • The Second Estate included knights and nobles.
  • The Third Estate included the peasants and bourgeoise.

The Four of Swords is quite literally about a knight and his family. There are concerns that since the knight died his family won't be supported. His wife and child will have to make adjustments. Things will never be the same.

A knight's funeral is profound with much pomp and circumstance. Consider ceremonies that would be done if a celebrated veteran died, that's what it would be like if a knight died in the Medieval Era.

Tarot Suits

CategoryWandsPentaclesSwordsCups

Represents

Free will

Physical Manifestation (The Body)

Thoughts

Emotions

Element

Fire

Earth

Air

Water

Elementals

Salamanders

Gnomes

Sylphs

Undines

Color

Red

Green

Yellow

Blue

Numbers

1, 5, 9

2, 6, 10

3, 7, 11

4, 8, 12

Animals

Land Mammals

Reptiles

Birds

Fish

Music

Percussion

Brass

Woodwinds

Strings

Seasons

Summer

Spring

Winter

Fall

Ruling Planets

Mars, Sun, Jupiter

Mercury, Venus, Saturn

Mercury, Venus, Uranus

Moon, Pluto, Neptune

Body Manifestations

Head, Heart, Thighs

Neck/Throat, Chest, Legs/Shins

Arms & Shoulders, Belly, Ankles

Hands, Root Chakra (Spine Base), Feet

Four Humors

Yellow Bile

Black Bile

Blood

Phlegm

Western Astrology

Aries, Leo, Sagittarius

Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn

Gemini, Libra, Aquarius

Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces

Chinese Zodiac

Dragon, Monkey, Rat

Snake, Rooster, Ox

Horse, Dog, Tiger

Sheep, Pig, Rabbit

Yin and Yang

Yang

Yin

Yang

Yin

Court Cards

Knights

Pages

Kings

Queens

Poker Equivalents

Clubs

Diamonds

Spades

Hearts

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The Four of Swords isn't grim. However, if you ignore its warning to get some rest things will get worse. You'll start to become paranoid; you'll start putting serious strain on all your friendships. You can't stay awake forever. Go to sleep.

The Four of Swords isn't grim. However, if you ignore its warning to get some rest things will get worse. You'll start to become paranoid; you'll start putting serious strain on all your friendships. You can't stay awake forever. Go to sleep.

Upright Four of Swords

The card suggests before you take on another challenge to get some rest. In music, there are integral parts where you have to rest; otherwise, everything will become disjointed and noisy. Rests give the proper punctuation to music. Different instruments get to take the lead at different times. If everyone played all at once, it would be cacophony.

Give Your Body a Chance to Heal

You need rest to recover from the burdens of your day. Your conscious mind needs a break. If you've just spent a lot of time and dedication on a project, now it might be wise to separate yourself from it and decompress. Lock your doors, turn off your lights, drink some water, and go to bed early. Tell your kids if they bother you, they'll be sent to grandma's.

Constant stress and tension will eventually break a person down. It can be hard to build yourself back up. It may take years to feel confident and strong again. Take things at a healthy pace, so you don't run the risk of exhaustion.

Rest refreshes your body. Getting enough sleep helps your concentration. You want your mind to be free of stress, so you can focus properly. You must practice lifelong mindfulness so that you're ready for the next challenges. There will always be incoming challenges. Rest is one of your best offensive and defensive strategies.

Hit the Pause Button

If you've been struggling through a difficult time, the Four of Swords encourages you to step back to regain perspective. Take a day off work, travel to a beloved location, or pamper yourself with a spa retreat. You need to unwind, so you can be healed. When you're constantly on the go, you're depleting yourself of precious energy.

Instead of action, stay silent. Be inactive and observant. Blank your mind rather than fill it 24/7 with content. If you're not processing all the things you do and interact with you are guaranteed to burn out. I say this as a former journalist who had to review hours and hours of content and didn't have enough time to think about what it was doing to my brain. Eventually, I had to walkway from the job.

Suggestions for Better Rest

Spend time in a place that creates peace for you. Avoid places that leave you uneasy or frustrated, especially if trips to those places are unnecessary. Reward yourself with peace, not more stimulation.

The Four of Swords appears when you need to take a break. You've been working too hard, and you know it. You're not feeling yourself because you haven't been able to sleep.

The Four of Swords appears when you need to take a break. You've been working too hard, and you know it. You're not feeling yourself because you haven't been able to sleep.

Reversed Four of Swords

The message of the Reversed Four of Swords is pretty similar to the upright one: you need to rest because you're exhausted.

The card shows you don't have much energy left in you, and if you don't get rest soon you may fall asleep randomly. Your body isn't functioning right because it is dangerously depleted. You've run yourself to the max, and you're hoping you have some magical, mystical stamina.

This is really scary. You could fall asleep behind the wheel.

Seek out a Balanced Routine

Pushing yourself beyond your limits may sound like a fun experiment, but it will render you ineffective. You can't fight nonstop. You can't constantly do things that tax your brain. You need to live a more balanced life of rest and alertness. You need to give your subconscious a chance to stretch its legs, but when you constantly avoid engaging with it, your conscious mind goes into overdrive.

It's really quite simple what you need to do, at least in theory. You need to go to bed. Turn off the lights, throw your phone in a ditch, and pile blankets on top of you. The Reversed Four of Swords is related to heavy exhaustion, the kind you feel after a long week of college exams.

Postpartum

This card is also associated with the feelings and confusion after giving birth. It's exciting to finally meet your child, but your body is exhausted. You need sleep, but your body is also demanding that you take care of your newborn. Hopefully, you have a support system so that your spouse or another caregiver can look after the child while you go to bed.

Your body is also trying to process the trauma it just went through. It can take weeks or even months to start feeling normal again; meanwhile, you have a crying baby.

Know Your Limits

Don't overload yourself when you've already got a full plate. Take care of what you can, and remember there are only so many hours in the day. Prepare yourself for bed and rest earlier in the day. You shouldn't keep energizing yourself throughout the day and night.

Don't cram too many things into your day. You don't need to write a novel in a day. You can stretch out the work over months and years. You're running into burnout because you're compressing too much.

When I was in high school, I felt a lot of demand and pressure to get things done. I was guilty of compressing too many things into my schedule. I wish that someone had told me that I had more time. I didn't need to do everything at once. I could wait to take some classes or learn certain things in college or later. I was fighting so hard to grow up when honestly, I just needed to let things unfold naturally and gracefully.

Be patient and steady with yourself. It's easy to run into burnout if you're constantly in the air element. Air wants to go really fast hopping from one thought to the next. One of the best ways to ground yourself is to think more like an earth element. Be grounded, practical, and steady. Air is the fastest moving element, and earth is the slowest. It's a good idea to merge these two elements together to bring yourself into a healthy rhythm.

Balance Rest and Activity

You don't want to be too passive with your life and let everything pass you by, but you also don't want to be too aggressive and rush through things to the point that nothing is actually getting done. Focus on balancing your schedule, activities, and rest. Prioritize rest more and you'll minimize frustrations.

Refresh your daily routines so that you have a better flow. The best way to manage stress is to take a hard look at what you do every day and reroute it to something more reasonable.

The Four of Swords in a Love Reading

In a love reading, the card indicates that someone isn't a good match. This person is boring and doesn't really spark anything for you. The person wouldn't even really be considered a suitor. Think of it as someone you knew from ten years ago, and you can't remember their name.

The card indicates that you should take a break from trying to find a partner. Instead, you should focus on yourself and get yourself into a better routine. Take a much needed break from dating and socializing. You're not going to find a suitable romantic partner at this time.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2022 Andrea Lawrence

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