The Four of Swords is the fourth tarot card in the Minor Arcana suit of Swords and represents the need for solitude and intentional time away from the demands of daily life in order to restore one’s inner equilibrium.

The Four of Swords corresponds to the element of air, the third decan of the astrological zodiac sign Libra (20-29 degrees), and is ruled by the planet Jupiter. Jupiter is associated with the search for meaning through spiritual seeking, wisdom traditions, faith, and philosophical learning. In the Four of Swords, this search is depicted as the ability to expand one’s ordinary consciousness through dreaming, meditating, praying, or visualizing.

Where the key tarot meanings of the Major Arcana focus on life’s overarching themes and events, Minor Arcana cards like the Four of Swords explore and reveal the more subtle changes impacting one’s day-to-day life and near future. The Four of Swords also bears similarities with its sibling cards the Four of Cups, Four of Pentacles, and Four of Wands, in that all four deal with matters of order and stability.

Four of Swords Keywords

Upright Keywords

Reversed Keywords

restoring equilibrium, preparation for re-entry into life, collecting thoughts, healing

exhaustion, burnout, ignoring need for rest, stagnation, re-entering the world

Description of the Four of Swords Tarot Card

The preceding card, the Three of Swords, illustrated a reckoning with pain and heartache and the need to process and feel one’s emotions in order to release them. After this emotional release, the Four of Swords emerges as a card of contemplation and of coming back into balance internally through rest, reflection, and contemplation.

In the classic Rider Waite Smith tarot deck, the stone-carved Knight which adorns the top of the tomb appears to be resting, praying, or sleeping. Three swords hang above his head while one rests below him, suggesting that the pain of the previous card (Three of Swords) can now be analyzed by an independent fourth sword, representing the self-awareness needed to assimilate and integrate the past.

The stained glass window in the corner depicts a supplicant kneeling before a saintly figure whose halo bears the Latin word PAX, meaning Peace. The window evokes the feeling of a portal to another dimension and suggests the Knight’s ability to transcend his ordinary consciousness by entering the realm of the imagination, dreams, prayer, or visualizations.

Four of Swords Upright Meaning

The Four of Swords upright invites you to prioritize the needs of the soul, which requires rest, contemplation, and quietude in order to come back into balance. You may be overly focused on the demands of everyday life, harried and stretched thin, unable to truly rest and recharge. Wherever possible, this card suggests taking time out to recuperate from the stresses and constant stimulation of everyday life. Journaling and self-care, especially, may help to lower chronic stress levels or avert a mental breakdown.

This card suggests the need to collect your thoughts and find your inner equilibrium before proceeding, responding, or making a decision. If you are processing a recent heartbreak or emotionally challenging situation, this time will be important as it will allow you to metabolize the pain and mentally process what’s happened.

The upright Four of Swords is an invitation to detach from the everyday world and travel to other realms, either mentally or physically. By allowing your mind to detach from everyday consciousness and enter the realm of inner or outer journeys, you will be reconnected with the quiet wisdom within, which will prepare you to re-enter life restored and with renewed clarity and mental strength.

Love and Relationships (Upright Meaning)

A love tarot reading with an upright Four of Swords suggests the need for the restoration of peace within your relationship. If you have been experiencing intense emotional stress or conflicts, this card appears as an encouragement to bring the relationship back into balance by finding ways to compromise and reach a mutual understanding. You may benefit from first taking time to process your thoughts and emotions alone so that you can approach the conversation with calm self-awareness and clarity.

The Four of Swords upright may also indicate the need for solitude, self-reflection, self-love, and self-care. If you have recently experienced a heartbreak or disappointment, this card encourages you to take time to process your thoughts and emotions rather than skipping over this process and into a new relationship. When you take time to heal, you will emerge with a renewed openness to life.

Love/relationships upright keywords

Career/finance upright keywords

restoring peace, processing thoughts and emotions, self-awareness and self-reflection, healing from heartbreak 

stretched thin by work, approaching burnout, prioritizing mental and emotional health over work

Career and Finance (Upright Meaning)

In a tarot spread, the Four of Swords upright indicates that you may be stretched thin by the demands of work or financial pressure, and are approaching the feeling of burnout. In order to protect your mental health and avoid exhaustion, it is important to take time whenever possible to focus on restoring and recharging yourself with rest, sleep, and time away from work.

The Four of Swords upright also indicates that you may benefit from prioritizing your mental and emotional health over your work at this moment. Perhaps you have recently faced a setback, or you desire to make a career shift and need time to reassess the path forward. No matter the situation, it is important to answer the call from within that urges you to take a pause.

Four of Swords Reversed Meaning

The Four of Swords reversed suggests a feeling of exhaustion, burnout, and stress which could be weighing heavily on your mental, emotional, or physical health. You may be pushing past your limits out of necessity, a fear of slowing down, or out of a discomfort with being alone with your thoughts. This card invites you to make time for self-reflection and rest in order to come back into balance.

The reversed Four of Swords may indicate that you are circumventing your ability to get in touch with the wisdom of your dreams or connect to your higher self and, instead, are focusing your attention on the everyday thoughts and concerns of the conscious mind. Your subconscious may be trying to get your attention, and creating a space of quiet and calm will facilitate this connection.

When the Four of Swords appears reversed, it can also represent emerging from a period of rest and recuperation. Perhaps you have recently taken time off of work to travel, healed from a heartache, or created solitude for self-reflection and rest. Now you can re-enter life and take action toward where you are headed next.

Love and Relationships (Reversed Meaning)

In a love reading, this card can indicate that you are not allowing yourself time to process, digest, and reflect on your thoughts and feelings, which is leading to emotional reactivity within your relationship. If you don’t allow time to regulate yourself before approaching a challenging conversation, you may be coming from a place of heightened emotionality and throw the balance off even further.

The reversed Four of Swords may also indicate that you are emerging from a period of solitude and are ready to re-enter the world of relationships. You may have taken time away from romance to focus on healing or connecting to your inner self. You can now approach relationships with a renewed connection to yourself and a feeling of open-heartedness.

Love/relationships reversed keywords

Career/finance reversed keywords

emotional reactivity, emerging from a period of solitude, connection to the inner self

depletion, stagnation, emerging from a period of rest, renewed vigor

Career and Finance (Reversed Meaning)

A Four of Swords in the reversed position suggests a feeling of depletion and burnout in regards to your work and career. You may be operating well beyond your emotional or physical capacity and are in dire need of rest. You may experience the feeling of stagnation around your work and allowing yourself time to collect your thoughts and regroup will support you in making necessary changes.

The reversed Four of Swords can also indicate that you are emerging from a period of rest, stagnation, or inactivity within your work and have assimilated the lessons and insights from this time period. Whether you were on a sabbatical, vacation, or simply carved out more time for yourself, you are now ready to approach your work with renewed vigor.