Each tarot card is infused with symbols, philosophies and meanings – giving the cards a limitless intrigue. In the Life Lessons :: Tarot Card Meanings series, I will explore one card and some of the lessons it has to offer. Each card has a wide spectrum of meanings, so this post is not meant to be all inclusive!

Four of Swords Tarot Card Meanings Keywords:

  • Rest
  • Retreat
  • Inner Silence

A few days ago, I was floundering amidst the waves of Baja. I didn’t trust my ability to float, and so I was fervently flapping my arms and legs to ensure my head stayed above water. Before too long, the constant movement had me exhausted. And so I stopped.

I let myself drift onto my back, stilling the motion of my limbs. And effortlessly…I floated. I was supported by the water, bobbing without any exertion. A wave of stillness flowed over my mind, as well as my body. I hadn’t realized how much I was straining until I experienced the ease of floating. I felt like the figure on the Four of Swords.

I realized that I had been operating under the unchecked assumption that physical straining was the only way to keep myself afloat. We human beings tend to do the same thing with our thoughts: letting them flail about wildly without assessing their effectiveness. Sometimes our mental activity is necessary and productive, but other times it drains our energy without serving any real purpose.

If you insist on flailing, you’ll never experience the ease of floating.
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If I had continued to scramble about in the ocean, I might have caused myself to drown from exhaustion. The same is true of our mental energy. If we never allow the dust of our thoughts to settle, we’ll fall victim to restlessness, conflict and anxiety – things we see in other cards in the suit of Swords.

The Four of Swords serves as a reminder that rampant mental activity isn’t always the answer. Sometimes, we need to still our thoughts, and trust ourselves to stay afloat on the waves of inner silence. We need to let our minds rest from all of the activity they’ve been through.

Experiencing the retreat of the Four of Swords can allow us to move forward with a heightened state of awareness. Instead of latching onto thoughts that are potentially exhausting and unproductive, we are able to be strategic with our thoughts. Notice that the figure on the card is a warrior. He knows that this period of recuperation is necessary to prepare him for his inevitable next battle.

The three swords above the warrior show that his mental activity has not been eradicated, but rather it is momentarily suspended. This card offers you a fleeting reprieve, the rare experience of floating quietly on the waves of your mind. The aim is not to rid yourself of thoughts and mental strain, but to give you the chance to regroup & re-channel your mental energy.

Think before you speak. Pause before you act. Allow yourself to be unchained from the constant parade of thoughts and mental activity. Rest and recuperate so that you are prepared for all that you still must face. Just as I didn’t drown when I stopped floundering, you aren’t going to die when you detach from your thoughts. Your chatter-brain will be back soon enough. But for now…relax. If only for a brief moment, feel the calm, quiet expansiveness of floating.

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