Exploring the Four of Swords

Welcome to Tarot Thursdays! This week we will be exploring the Four of Swords and how it can be used as a prompt or brainstorming in our writing.

Tarot is an interesting thing. It’s based upon symbolism and metaphors through imagery. With these images the subconscious mind is tapped into through the story provided. Not everyone gets the same thing from a piece of art. Each piece will influence each person in a slightly different way.


Introduction of the Card

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The Four of Swords is card number 53 in the deck and the fourth card of the Swords Suit in the Minor Arcana of the Tarot.

Let’s take a look at the following examples of this card below.


Card Examples

L-s4Notice the similarities between them and take note of their differences. Do any of these move you more than the others? Take your time and allow these cards to tell you their story.


My Analysis of These Cards

In terms of imagery, this is a very straightforward card. They all depict various forms of meditation and rest. None of them convey sleep to me really, even though the Universal Tarot and Tarot of Dreams might suggest that to some where they’re laying down and have a blanket over them.

I can certainly see that, but somehow the rest of the imagery that’s going with it implies an active sort of sleep. The kind of sleep you do with intent. Like in the Universal Tarot, it looks like a knight resting up before going somewhere or doing something important. In the Tarot of Dreams, it looks to me this person has gone to sleep for the sole purpose of dreaming. Maybe this person hopes to find an answer there, inspiration, or guidance of some kind. But both of them are definitely sleeping for reasons other than exhaustion or illness. They convey this sense of preparing themselves for something.


Themes of the Card

Each card has a set of keywords associated with it that serve as themes for its image. These keywords will vary somewhat depending on who you ask.

According to the Learning the Tarot website, the keywords associated with the card are:

  • REST
  • CONTEMPLATION
  • QUIET PREPARATION

You can learn more about what this site has to say about this card here.

According to the Biddy Tarot website, the keywords associated with the card are:

  • CONTEMPLATION
  • RECUPERATION
  • PASSIVITY
  • RELAXATION
  • REST

You can learn more about what this site has to say about this card here.


What this Card Means to Me

In today’s society, at least with the United States, there is a great deal of importance placed upon being an extrovert and social networking. We’re expected to be out and about all the time with others in some way. To just go, go, go, and not stop.

This card is the opposite of that. This card is about pulling back from all of that and just resting. It’s like hitting a reset button on ourselves in many ways. We need time to reflect upon what we’re doing, where we’re going, and what we want in life. We need to time to give ourselves a break and not feel guilty about it.

And this can be challenging. In today’s world, “Who has time for that?” Well, we have to make time. Otherwise the weight of the world is going to crush us.

In stories however, we can use these pauses to not only give the reader time to breathe and reflect, but also time for the characters to prepare for what’s coming ahead.

The key phrase I choose for this card is: MINDFULNESS.


Music Playlist

In this spirit of all this, these are the songs I have picked out for this card.


The Writing Exercise

This exercise is a free write. Permit yourself to write whatever comes to mind based upon the theme of this card. Choose a keyword or key phrase and run with it to see what you come up with.


I would love it if you linked or pinged back what you wrote so I could see where you went with this.

Happy writing!


Mythic Tarot by Liz Greene (Author), Juliet Sharman-Burke (Author), Tricia Newell (Illustrator) © 1989
Dragon Tarot by Terry Donaldson (Author), Peter Pracownik (Author) © 1996
Universal Tarot by Lo Scarabeo (Author), R. De Angelis (Illustrator), A. E. Waite (Designer) © 2001
Tarot of Dreams by Ciro Marchetti (Author), Lee Bursten (Author) © 2015

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