King of Swords

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The King of Swords is the king of the element of air. He has the word in his power and oozes both authority and wisdom. He sets high standards, not least for himself.

As a personality, the King of Swords commands respect because of his vast intelligence, self discipline and razor-sharp perceptions.

When the King of Swords appears in a Tarot reading, he is usually a positive omen, spelling an end to doubt and confusion by introducing a healthy dose of clarity, honesty and logic into the equation.

What do the Swords stand for in Tarot?

The Tarot speaks in metaphors and symbols, and the sword is one its most pertinent images, appearing again and again throughout the Tarot’s Major and Minor Arcana.

The suit of swords is connected to the element of air and all it represents; mental prowess, communication, beliefs, thoughts and perceptions.

Our thought patterns and the words we use to express ourselves may be invisible, but they are by no means without gravity and influence. In fact, how we view the world and how we express ourselves very much determines our experience of life and how we are met by others. For example, what we believe about our own abilities determines what we reach for in life – if we don’t believe we can, we never try.

The Tarot is filled with examples of swords wielded well and wielded badly.

In the Judgement card, we see the Judge holding a large sword upright, perfectly balanced. Here, the character displays mastery over the sword and wields it with skill and care. The sword becomes a symbol of clear and impartial perception.

In the Five of Swords, on the other hand, we see the swords treated with careless abandon. Here, the character in the card is holding two swords clumsily while reaching for another on the ground. His carrels attitude is likely to result in him getting fatally wounded.

King of Swords Tarot card description and symbols

Depictions of the King of Swords vary between decks. However, most are based on the traditional Rider-Waite Tarot deck and contains much if not all of its symbols. Here, we will be looking at the most important ones.

The King

The King of Swords is seated on his throne, looking straight out of the card as if ready to face whatever lies ahead. His expression is calm but serious – it is clear that he is not here to play games.

The King appears to be a man in his prime, neither old or young. He is dressed rather humbly dressed in a long, flowing pale blue tunic, symbolic of the cool clarity of his mind, as well as of his intellectual and spiritual ambition. Over the robe he wears a dark purple cape, a sign of his compassion and high evolved spiritual perception. The purple colour is linked to the crown chakra, which governs our connection to higher realms of consciousness.

The Sword

In his right hand the King holds a very large, sharp sword. It is pointing upwards and slightly to the left, the direction of the left brain hemisphere.

The Sword itself represents the air, from which the King derives his power and authority. It shows that the King relies on his intellect and sense of logic in his decision making. The fact that the Sword is left leaning suggest that, although he is primarily governed by his rational mind, he also takes intuition and psychic promptings into account. His ability to combine intellect with intuition ensures that he is always judging fairly and making sound decisions.

The crown

On his head the King wears a golden crown with a winged cherub engraved on the front.

The angel hints at a strong connection to higher realms and underscores the fair-mindedness of the upright King of Swords.

The throne

The King of Swords is seated on an imposing throne decorated with butterflies and yet another cherub.

The butterflies symbolise transformation and magic, and the cherub peeking up just above the King’s left shoulder appears to be whispering in his ear. It is clear that the King of Swords is receiving guidance from high level of the ethereal realm. The angel also suggests that the King is guided by a sense of compassion and protectiveness over his acolytes and those who come seeking his council and support.

The landscape

In most of the Minor Arcana sword cards, the skies are stormy and turbulent.

In contrast, the landscape behind the King of Swords looks calm and peaceful, and the few clouds hanging in the sky behind him are friendly and calm.

The clear skies in the King of Swords Tarot card are symbolic of the King’s clear, calm an cool state of mind, of his authority and soothing presence. The upright King of Swords is a wise and compassionate leader, able to settle disputes and calm volatile emotions.

King of Swords Tarot card meanings

The King of Swords possesses a range of qualities and meanings. These are the most significant.

Mental clarity, intellectual power

The upright King of Swords is a sign of mental calm and clarity of perception.

When the King of Swords appears in a Tarot reading, he is a reassuring sign that you have got the right end of the stick and are seeing things as they are.

Acute perception

Another common interpretation of the King of Swords card is insight and acuity of perception.

Because of his rare ability to combine intellect with intuition, the King of Swords sees further than just about anyone else. Not only has the King of Swords amassed great knowledge and experience within his field, he is also open to inner prompting as well as guidance from above.

Authority

The King of Swords is an imposing figure, oozing authority and easy confidence. He knows who he is and what he is capable of – he cannot be tricked or impressed by anyone.

The King of Swords encourages you to walk in your own power and rely on your own perceptions. They will not mislead you.

Truth

The King of Swords sets high ethical standards and insists on truth.

The upright King of Swords Tarot card is incorruptible, unbendable. He does not let his emotions get the better of him, nor is he so power hungry that he looses his integrity. He represents a person who speaks the truth and does what is right for its own sake.

King of Swords reversed Tarot card meanings

When the King of Swords appears reversed in a Tarot reading, he poses a challenge as his positive air energy becomes clouded, warped or repressed. Here are the key meanings of the King of Swords reversed.

Misuse of power

The reversed King of Swords likes power. He amasses more than he needs and uses it as leverage over others in negative ways.

Because of his intelligence, charismatic personality and way with words, amassing power and control come naturally to the King of Swords. However, the reversed King does not carry his responsibilities well and the systems and functions he presides over become bent and corrupted.

Browbeating

The reversed King of Swords Tarot card can be a sign of a person who likes to lord it over those they consider to be inferior to themselves.

The reversed King of Swords seizes every opportunity to browbeat, to impress with big words, and to generally act like a big bully, kicking downwards at anyone with a lower IQ or less education than himself. In an attempt to make himself feel big and important, he makes others feel small.

Lack of clarity

The reversed King of Swords Tarot card is a sign of mental fog, of lack of course or clarity when it comes to your direction in life. The King of Swords reversed signifies indecision, and a lack of the fact and insights that would help you move on in the right direction.

What the King of Swords means in a Tarot reading about love and romance

Upright

In Tarot readings about love and romance, the King of Swords might represent either yourself or a romantic partner. The King of Swords suggests clear communication, mental compatibility and the possibility for a mind-expanding encounter. The King of Swords may not be the most romantic Tarot card, but he brings the wit and intellectual magnetism, qualities most people desire in relationships.

Reversed

The King of Swords reversed can be a sign of a controlling or manipulative partner – keep in mind, you might be the controlling, manipulative partner. The connection might be toxic and is certainly marked by a clear discrepancy in the power dynamic within the relationship, one using their greater experience or resources as leverage over the other.

What the King of Swords means in a Tarot reading about money and career

Upright

The King of Swords is great news when he appears in the context of money or career, signifying that you are in charge of your own destiny. Your skills and brains are highly prized, and you are ready for opportunities to grow and explore further.

Reversed

When the King of Swords Tarot card shows up reversed in a reading about money or career, it is not a good omen. You might find yourself dealing with a controlling superior, or an environment where the skills and experience you bring to the table are not appreciated.

Lucius Nothing

Lucius has been slinging tarot cards professionally since 2014. He’s taken the tarot to places most wouldn’t think of: His best-known patrons include Torture Garden, The Dark Circus Party, Handel & Hendrix, A Curious Invitation and The Candlelight Club, where he has been resident tarot reader for the past half-decade. His writing on divination, magic and creativity has been published in Sabbat Magazine and on Medium.

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