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The King of Swords - Making Thoughtful Decisions in the Tarot

Hit play below to listen to an audio lesson, or scroll down to read the lesson in text form.

The King of Swords is a card about solving problems from an intellectual point of view


To give you a bit of context whilst you reflect on your own relationship to the card, here are a few key things to know about the King of Swords:


In the Tarot, Kings symbolize an external mastery of the key themes within the suit - which means that the King can tell you a lot about how your behaviour and identity are perceived by others. Since the Swords are the suit of the intellect, this card can represent the unique wisdom and intellectual point of view you bring to the table, and the ways in which others look to you to help solve problems and make decisions.


In the Rider Waite Smith version of the card, the King of Swords is illustrated like this: A King sits upright on a throne - they are dressed in robes the same fresh blue as the sky behind them, plus a grey cloak, but the lining on the inside of the cloak, as well as the King’s hood and sleeves, are a bright contrasting orange. Engraved in the stone material of the throne are butterflies and crescent moons. In the King’s left hand, they hold a sword.


There are several parallels one could draw between this card and the Major Arcana card, Justice. In that card, a figure sits in a similar posture to the King of Swords, also with a sword in their left hand, aiming toward the sky. The correlation between this card and Justice makes sense - both nod at the role of intellect and wisdom in decision-making - the importance of balanced and measured thinking. But while there’s a cosmic grandness to the archetype of Justice, I like to think there’s something a little more human in the King of Swords.


Unlike Justice, the sword in the King of Swords’ left hand doesn’t point straight up, it rises from the King’s fist at a slight angle - there’s an imperfection to his judgement, even if on balance it’s well-thought out and comes from a place of wisdom and intelligence. The butterflies and crescent moods on the throne underscore this, suggesting that good decision-making calls for evolution and transformation over time… that there are many phases to the journey towards wisdom.


All in all, this is a card that respects the effort to be fair - the value in being a person known for endeavouring to be thoughtful and cool-headed in a crisis. But it makes room for human error, for human expression, and there’s something beautiful about that.

In your tarot journal, you’re asked to reflect on what this card means to you, now, in this moment, and what actions and thoughts it inspires in you. As you journal, pay attention to what you’re personally picking up in the card, but also consider what the key themes and symbols in the card might be telling you. In what areas of your life are you seen as the cool-headed decision-maker? Are there areas of your life where you’d like to cultivate this reputation? How does the card help you forgive yourself for having human reactions to big problems?


This mini-tarot lesson was brought to you by me, Chelsey Pippin Mizzi, founder of Pip Cards Tarot. I hope you gained a little context to help you continue reflecting on the card in your own way, and I’ll see you tomorrow for another mini-lesson.

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