Four of Swords
A knight rests in his tomb, with a sword alongside the tomb. It’s not the knight we see but his tomb, a perfect replica of him in yellow, at peace and resting, with his hands folded in prayer. Above him is a stained glass window of a woman and child at peace together. The tomb is yellow, the color of intellect, or gold, the color of victory and virtue. The knight isn’t restless in death.
Three identical swords point down at him; it’s as if they could harm him if he got up. They’re not a threat, but they do look that way. It’s best to remain at rest and not tempt fate, even if the knight could arise. The sword at his side is the only one he should really be worrying about now. However, he isn’t worried so much as he’s in a state of restful contemplation.
The stained glass window represents the spiritual side of this rest. The fact that there’s a woman and a child in the window represents the happier times that one remembers and never loses. The knight was once a boy with a mother. He was once vulnerable and carefree. Even if this is a time of retreat, there was once a time when the world was bright and happy. This is one of many memories that the knight takes into this peaceful rest.
The Four of Swords is about contemplation and retreat. It’s not retreat in defeat but a temporary removal of one’s self from the hustle and bustle in order to become centered and focus. Life had gotten pretty intense, and it got so intense that the only choice was to get away, symbolized here as death. This rest is needed in order to get perspective on what’s important and what isn’t. One doesn’t know where they’re going if they don’t stop and take a long look at the map.
One sometimes just needs to take a break to listen to their own thoughts, figure out what they think about things, and what they know and understand apart from others. The isolation can feel a bit overwhelming, perhaps like death, but it‘s not agony; it’s not dying. It’s just time away to regain perspective and strength.
When the four of swords is Reversed:
When the Four of Swords is reversed, the querent is unable to retreat from everything. Either they have an unquiet, restless mind, or circumstances are getting in the way. It’s also possible that other people are keeping the querent from being alone because they’re afraid of the querent having time to think about things and figure out what they think and feel.
This card reversed can also indicate a querent who is afraid to contemplate and figure out what they think about something. They’re more likely to accept the chatter from other people and the chatter in their own heads than the still serenity of silence. Practicing meditation and being mindful would help them become unafraid and accepting of their thoughts and ideas.
In a three-card reading, this card means…
Past: In the past, the querent took time away to contemplate and recover from injury or upset, which has brought them to the present moment.
Present: Currently, the querent is taking time off from the world, or wants to, in order to recharge their batteries and get in touch with themselves.
Future: In the future, the querent is going to retreat and focus on recovering or getting in touch with their own thoughts and feelings after an upset.