The Spiritual Meaning of the Four of Swords Tarot Card

The Spiritual Meaning of the Four of Swords Tarot Card

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The Four of Swords tarot card encourages us to rest after a long, hard battle. Learn more about the spiritual meaning of this tarot card.

The Four of Swords tarot card usually shows someone lying on a bed (or something that looks like a coffin) with three swords hanging above their head and another lying beneath them. In the traditional Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck, the person’s hands are pressed together in prayer, and a stained-glass window is depicted on the wall, representing a sort of spiritual sanctuary. The person looks as peaceful as can be, considering they are lying on a coffin with three swords hanging over their head.

Swords cards tend to be the most difficult cards the tarot to sit with. They often depict scenes of heartbreak, struggle, and loss. This is because Swords represent intellectual energy, which is truly like a double-edged sword: Clear thinking can help us discern between reality and illusion, while muddled thought can make us believe terrible untruths about ourselves and the world.

Thoughts Hanging Overhead

When pulled in a reading, the Four of Swords card indicates that there are heavy thoughts hanging over our heads, much like the three swords above the card’s subject. Rest is required of us. There has been a lot to think about, and our narratives about ourselves or the world have backed us into a corner. Our grief and trauma gently request that we slow down, rest, and process our circumstances, and if we do not heed those requests, they will force us to slow down, often through physical illness or exhaustion.

Some versions of this card depict a knight or a soldier resting, his sword laid down at his side. This rest may have been hard won after a difficult battle, and the battle may have been lost. The soldier must step away from the battlefield, put down his weapon, and process his losses. Even if we’re able to lay down our fighting swords, we still need to attend to the three hanging swords, which represent fears or preoccupations.

The Need for Rest

True rest after a difficult time in our lives can be generative, but if we're stuck lying in bed worrying, we may never feel we can get up again. We need rest that is gentle, safe, and restorative, giving us the energy to get up again and fight the good fight. However, if we are forced to rest and refuse to change anything about the way we battle, we may find ourselves stuck in this exhausted, still place for a long, long time.

Some warriors have a tendency to forget about rest. When we stay in the analytical realm of Swords, we can forget about the wisdom of the other suits of the tarot. We need to balance thought with intuition (Wands), emotion (Cups), and the wisdom of the body (Pentacles).

This is an important card to look at for the wintertime, a natural time for rest and reflection. If we listen to the wisdom of the seasons, we can witness the way the plants and trees freeze, move underground, and even play at death in order to be reborn when the sun returns in the spring. We all need this kind of rest in the darkest part of the year, but we may also need it in times of loss or major change.

Putting Your Weapon Down

If you’ve pulled the Four of Swords, the message is clear: Rest. Put your weapon down and stop fighting. Go back to your sanctuary, wherever it is that you find support and safety. Process the changes you’ve been going through so that, when you’re ready, you can pick up your sword again and fight in a whole new way.

Learn more about the spiritual meaning of the Death tarot card.

The Spiritual Meaning of the Four of Swords Tarot Card

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