Four of Swords Explained - Upright & Reversed Meanings
Last Updated: December 1, 2022
The Four of Swords is the fourth card in the suit of Swords (also known as the suit of blades) and one of the fifty-six suit cards from the minor arcana. In divinatory tarot, the Suit of Swords is associated with thought, intellect, mental strength, and integrity. They can also represent conflict, hardship, and misfortune.
Divination practices such as cartomancy can help us make decisions, offer guidance, and help us tune into our intuition when we are at a crossroads in our lives. Understanding the meanings of each tarot card can help you sharpen your interpretative skills so you can get the most out of your readings.
In this article, we will discuss the meanings of the Four of Swords in various tarot reading contexts as well as the different symbols and nuances that can be found within this court card.
Pictorial Symbolism in the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck
The artworks from the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck contain deeper esoteric meanings that tarotists love to decipher. The Four of Swords shows a carved man lying on top of a tomb. He has three swords hanging above him symbolising the earlier struggle and pain from the Three of Swords. There is another single sword lying beneath him demonstrating that the fight has finished; he needs to lay his weapon down and recover.
There is a stained glass window to the side of the man depicting a woman and a child, representing the calm and stability that’s been hard fought for. The bright colours of the stained glass and the tomb draw the reader’s attention showing that your focus should be on you and your loved ones, not the struggles of the past.
The Four of Swords key correspondences
Rest, healing, self-care, renewal
Burnout, stress, restlessness
|Yes or No|
Venus and Saturn
Libra and astrological timing is October 13th to October 22nd
What does the upright Four of Swords mean in the Tarot?
When this card appears in a reading it is showing that you are feeling overwhelmed and need to take a step back from all the pressures around you. The 4 of Swords is calling for you to rest; embrace your alone time and recharge. Reversed, this card means that you have ignored the warning signs and are reaching the stages of burnout. If you don’t listen to your instincts and rest, the choice will end up out of your hands.
Following a painful period of time, you are required to rest. Whether you have suffered a physical illness or emotional turbulence, this card signifies you taking the time to recover and assess your next move forward. You may find you need to retreat from others during this stage of reflection. This is a necessary step to gain clarity and strength for any new challenges that may arise further down the line. You may find that if you don’t relax now, you will quickly become overwhelmed and burnt out. You’ll need your energy for any changes ahead that may be preordained for you.
When pulled in the upright position, the Four of Swords is associated with rest, healing, self-care, and renewal.
What does the upright Four of Swords mean in a love reading
In a love reading, the Four of Swords means to prioritise your own rest and relaxation, and a slight separation from others whilst you reset. You need to take a break from pushing yourself, either in your relationship or whilst dating. It can also represent getting away from it all as a couple, to help recover and reconnect.
This card is all about taking time to get to know yourself better before making authentic connections with others.
What does the upright Four of Swords mean in a career reading?
When the Four of Swords is pulled in a career reading, it means you are taking a pause from your work, or even going on holiday, as overwhelmed and mental pressure comes to the forefront. Generally, you will be doing less than usual for your job, or even be without a job for a spell.
This card also shows up when you are re-evaluating your next career steps, or pausing in preparation for taking action, as introspection will be the biggest asset to you moving forward.
What does the upright Four of Swords mean in a health reading?
If the Four of Swords appears in a health reading, it is encouraging you to be mindful of your health, especially your mental health. You are juggling several balls in the air and eventually, one is bound to drop. Make yourself a priority and listen to what your body is telling you it needs right now.
Don’t find yourself chasing others, when it’s you who needs to ensure you have the energy, especially mentally. Promote a healthy mindset for yourself as a stable foundation.
The Four of Swords as feelings/emotions
If you are asking the tarot how someone feels about you, drawing the 4 of Swords means that person is pulling back to avoid feeling overwhelmed. They are not ready to acknowledge their true feelings and need the opportunity to process how they are feeling before moving forwards.
As for yourself, it may be articulating that you are looking for some sanctuary and need some space to reset before you take on any more challenges or projects.
The Four of Swords as a person
As a personality archetype, the 4 of Swords represents someone who is calm and not easily drawn to conflict. They are someone who examines all options available to them with a clear, rational mind and wants to have a good understanding of their situation before taking any action.
They are someone who will strive to achieve balance and try to find solutions that suit everyone. They may be someone who likes to go into “Hermit” mode to spend time in isolation that helps recharge their energy, by reading, meditation and by prioritising conserving energy.
The Four of Swords as advice
If you are asking the tarot for advice regarding a specific situation in your life, pulling the 4 of Swords means that you need to pause and look at your current situation, recognising your own responsibility towards the problem.
By taking time to examine your role in the situation, you will see that you always had the solution and will be able to move forward.
What is the zodiac or astrological sign associated with the Four of Swords?
As the Four of Swords is encouraging you to balance action with rest, it is associated with the zodiac sign of Libra – the scales. Libras appreciate harmony and peace, which matches this card’s restful energy. After the hard work of the Three of Swords, you are now required to recover and find your own inner peace.
The ruling planet of Libra is Venus, which focuses on desires, passions and values. All attributes that you need to reflect on in order to discover who you are and the energy you want to put out into the world. This matches the Four of Swords as this card encourages you to examine your own priorities and values during this period before taking any action.
Saturn in Libra is where the Four of Swords lies on the tarot decan wheel for astrological timing, and Saturn has themes of restriction, foundations and order.
Is the Four of Swords a yes or no card?
The Four of Swords is generally a No card, however, it can be dependent on the other cards pulled alongside it to help clarify the situation. As the Four of Swords tends to indicate the need for rest and re-examination, it is usually suggesting that now is not the time for any bold choices or brave actions. The right moment will come later.
Below are some of my interpretations, as an experienced tarot practitioner, based on different types of questions:
Question: Will I get the job?
Card interpretation: The universe is telling you that this is the time to reflect, not the time for action. Perhaps you will uncover more awareness of your career goals and recognise that this job was not a good fit for you after all.
Question: Is this new person in my life good for me?
Card interpretation: This card is asking you to stop and examine your own values before inviting someone else to match you. How can anyone else be good for you, if you don’t know what is good for you in the first place?
Question: Will I achieve my current goals?
Card interpretation: Your current goals are likely to be placed on pause while you care for yourself first. Sometimes we need to take some time to re-evaluate our goals, making sure there’s not too much pressure on ourselves to achieve.
Question: Should I start my own business?
Card interpretation: Starting a business while pulling this card would not be a good idea as this is the card for rest and recovery. If you embark on any new venture right now, you will be prone to overwhelming stress and burnout.
What does the reversed Four of Swords mean in the Tarot?
In the reversed position, the Four of Swords indicates that you have ignored the signs to rest and you are now approaching the stages of burnout. You are resisting a break and it will likely result in disaster.
Sometimes resting can allow us the chance to uncover new paths previously hidden to us, or a self-awareness that directs us to the right choices to make. If you keep refusing to recuperate, you will only worsen your situation.
When pulled in the reversed position, the Four of Swords is linked with burnout, stress, and restlessness
What does the reversed Four of Swords mean in a love reading?
In a love reading, pulling the Four of Swords reversed shows that you need to give your love interest space. Chasing them further or pushing for a decision will only result in them pulling away from you.
This card can also mean that you are ready to dip your toes back into the dating pool after a period of rest and reflection. Find the strength within you to support yourself during this time.
What does the inverted Four of Swords mean in a career reading?
The Four of Swords, reversed, indicates that you are continually working, despite all the warning signs of burnout. Make sure you are paying attention to your stress and frustration levels, that you’re listening to your body and rest when needed.
This card can also show that you have taken some space from focusing on your career to recover and rejuvenate. Now that you’re more mindful of your mindset, you feel more capable of attaining your career goals.
What does the upside-down Four of Swords mean in a health reading?
There are two main meanings when pulling the reverse Four of Swords in a health reading, depending on how you reacted to the warning signs. The first is when you have recognised the health issues creeping up on you and have taken the appropriate action to recover. Having taken all the right steps to care for yourself, your health is already improving.
Alternatively, if you have ignored the signs, you will be feeling increasing pressure to tackle your health situation before it becomes unmanageable and you will be given no choice but to take care of yourself.
Search for support if you need it and accept any help offered at this stage.
In conclusion, the Four of Swords tarot card is a powerful symbol of rest, healing, self-care, and renewal. When this card appears in your reading, it is often a sign that you need to take some time for yourself and recharge your batteries. This can be a physical, emotional, or mental health break. It is important to listen to your body and mind when they are telling you that you need some time off.
Don’t be afraid to take a break from work, or other obligations in order to focus on taking care of yourself. You deserve it!
Despite its association with mysticism and occultism, the tarot has grown to become much more than a simple “fortune-telling” tool. For many tarot practitioners, it is a complex system made of symbolic imagery and psychological considerations (Jungian archetypes for example) that can be used for self-exploration, meditation, and personal transformation.
The 56 lesser arcana cards relate to the day-to-day events of our lives, the more mundane aspects of our existence. Even though that part of the tarot is about the “smaller picture”, it symbolizes the constant choices we make that shape our lives, our characters, and ultimately our destinies.
Have you ever had a reading where the Four Of Swords appeared? What was the outcome? What does that card mean to you personally? How do you interpret this card in your own tarot practice?
Share your thoughts and experiences with me in the comments below.
Additionally, If you want to know more about the different tarot cards, feel free to check out my complete list of all 78 tarot cards and their meanings.
I have been reading Tarot for more than 15 years. I have always enjoyed using my intuition to provide clarity and insights to others. Tarot is one of my favorite forms of divination, and I love sharing that passion with like-minded folks.