Tarot readings can provide insights into our past and future, and the lessons we’re meant to learn in the present. Traditional tarot decks have 78 cards, and when it comes to expression and communication, the King of Swords is a name to know. Here’s what it means if you pull this telling card.
What does the King of Swords mean?
The King of Swords is a call to find your wisdom and voice and express your truth in a way that can help yourself and others, explains tarot reader and founder of Witchy Wellness Leah Vanderveldt.
It’s about “putting clarity and ideals into action; social justice; and doing the right and aligned thing, even when it’s hard,” she adds.
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In tarot, Swords represent the element of air, which relates to our truth, clarity, communication, thoughts, intellect, and mental activity, Vanderveldt notes. And Kings represent “our social responsibility and the highest expression of a certain element,” which, in this case, is air.
Thus, the King of Swords compels us to embody “leadership, expansion, and expression, by sharing our experiences, taking aligned action, and bringing others together,” she adds.
- Inner truth
A quote that sums up its energy:
Vanderveldt offers a quote from writer Janet Mock that reflects the King of Swords’ energy, which says, “I believe that telling our stories, first to ourselves and then to one another and the world, is a revolutionary act.”
What does it mean for love and relationships?
Since this card is all about expression, pulling the King of Swords in a reading about love means you’re being called to express what’s in your heart (and not what you think others want you to say or do), Vanderveldt explains.
“You can be honest and kind, which comes down to honoring your own experience, what you know to be true, and disentangling from blame,” she says, adding your best bet is to be direct and true to yourself. “No need to soften your message—which often leads to passive-aggressions anyway.”
If you pull this card in reverse, Vanderveldt says it’s a sign you might be too in your head, stressing about imagined scenarios.
“It’s time to parse out fact from fiction,” she notes, suggesting taking a moment to pause and breathe. “Ask your inner wisdom for the truth. Too much overthinking about our relationships seldom leads to better results.”
Rather than overthinking, remain open in your communication. (Just don’t let anyone gaslight you, she adds.) “Allow space for your intuition—rather than an overactive and nervous inner monologue—to come through.”
What does it mean for professional and financial matters?
What is your mission when it comes to your work? Pulling this card can offer new clarity on that front, according to Vanderveldt. “Kings are often indicators of success, but that doesn’t always mean material success,” she explains.
“In this case, it’s often about coming to a new level of clarity on your mission or message—which can help align your career and finances with your ideals,” she adds. Ask yourself how you can refine or clarify your mission and how you express it to yourself and others, she suggests.
If you pulled the King of Swords in reverse in a career reading, you could be feeling stifled on the communication front, or even doubtful of yourself.
In this case, Vanderveldt suggests asking yourself where you feel held back in your career and how you can shift your mindset to focus on your unique wisdom rather than what you lack.
What does it say about challenges that lie ahead?
Do you control your thoughts or do your thoughts control you? Vanderveldt says this card brings with it the opportunity to have a healthier relationship with your thoughts and recognize that they aren’t necessarily facts. This is what working with the air element is all about.
“Stopping your thoughts from running the show (what we practice in many seated meditation methods) creates an opening for the clarity, honesty, critical thinking, and integrity that the King of Swords commands,” she explains.
And if this card shows up in reverse in a reading related to challenges, Vanderveldt tells mbg it’s a call to focus inward rather than outward. Where do you discredit or invalidate yourself? Do you shut down your own ideas and insights?
“Sometimes the challenge just lies in seeing and realizing this as it’s happening,” she notes, adding this takes mindfulness and practice. She suggests allowing yourself to be curious and open, as well as recommitting to yourself.
“Make a space for thoughts and ideas to flow freely,” she adds, whether that be stream-of-consciousness writing or recording a voice memo to talk it out to yourself.
The King of Swords invites us to not only go within and examine our thoughts (and our relationship to said thoughts) but also to look at the ways we’re communicating and honoring our truth. As the King of the air element, this card gives us important messages around all things air, like intellect, expression, and what’s going on in our heads. Moral of the King of Swords’ story: Be honest with yourself and others, and you really can’t go wrong.