4 of Swords

Meditation, contemplation, perspective, mindset

Range of meanings

Light: Thinking over your plans before putting them into action. Pausing to meditate or clear your mind. Taking time to understand someone or something before criticizing it. Resting. Occupying your thoughts with a healthy distraction.

Shadow: Failing to think things through. Mistaking procrastination for thoughtfulness. Adopting a point of view and refusing to reconsider your conclusions, even when presented with refuting evidence. Allowing chaos and whimsy to dominate your thoughts.

Questions to ask

  1. What opportunities might open for you if you made a conscious decision to integrate relaxation into your strategy?
  2. How long has it been since you deliberately took a “time out?”
  3. What might present itself from stillness, if you allowed it to unfold?
  4. What would happen if you simply refused to make a decision today?


Personal Growth: A mature person knows the value of stillness. Before taking action, set aside time to simply be. Associate calmness and focus with specific postures or breathing patterns, and you’ll be able to summon a clear state of mind on demand.

Work: Running at top speed all the time wears down the most capable individuals. Insist on time to recharge your creative batteries. On even the most hectic days, steal ten minutes to be still and disconnect. See time off as an investment in maintaining your sharp edge.

Relationships: Taking a break from each other might restore some perspective. Rather than over-analyze everything, clear your mind and take things at face value for once. If you can’t achieve peace together, there’s no shame in saying you need a rest.

Spirituality: Withdrawal from the world can help you achieve remarkable perspective. Schedule time for quiet contemplation. Rather than ponder solutions, just breathe—and let Spirit sort things out.

Fortune-Telling: Don’t make any decision now. Wait, and you’ll be glad you did.


Astrological: Libra

Planet: Jupiter

Fool's Journey: The main character withdraws and spends time in quiet contemplation before taking action.

The Number 4: The Status Quo: stability, equality, persistence.

Swords: One of the four suits of the tarot. Also sometimes called blades, knives or athames. Represents logic, objectivity, intellect, and choice. Along with the responsibility such talents bring. Swords suggest logic, clarity, and decision-making. Remember the story of wise King Solomon, who once offered to slice a baby in half in order to resolve a dispute over motherhood? Swords cut through confusion, revealing our agendas in the process.

Reclined Figure: On the original RWS cards, the figure of the sleeping knight from the 4 of Swords is easily mistaken for a decorative touch on a stone sarcophagus. Or, perhaps, he’s asleep — but with one Sword at the ready, just in case. Even in rest, be prepared for action.

Mounted Swords: The three Swords mounted on the wall of the 4 of Swords suggest the knight’s rest is a deliberate one -- a course of action deliberately chosen. The single Sword in hand suggests opportunity. Sometimes resting and creating some space for quiet reflection is the wisest form of action. Quiet time can be used for research and personal growth, enhancing the work you do when more physically active.