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Court Cards: The Knight of Swords

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I'm a professional tarot reader with 23 years of experience. For me, tarot is a fascinating system that reflects all human life.

The King of Swords from the Rider-Waite tarot deck

The King of Swords from the Rider-Waite tarot deck

Tarot Knights

The four Knights in the tarot court cards take their place below the Queens. While the Kings are the culmination of their suit and the outward expression of the suit qualities, Knights are focused in a different direction: action.

Each Knight represents action within the confines of his particular boundaries, namely love and feelings (Cups), work and practicalities (Pentacles), inspiration and action (Wands), and communication and thinking (Swords).

As with all 16 court cards, the appearance of a Knight in your reading can indicate a certain situation, a concept, or he might represent a real person. Surrounding cards and context will help you decide which it is.

I'm going to take a close-up look at the dashing Knight of Swords; he's someone you might like to have fighting in your corner.


The Knight of Swords, as depicted in the classic Rider-Waite deck, rides pell-mell on a gray horse. His sword is raised high in his right hand; his expression shows him wholly intent on the direction he is headed. His poor horse looks somewhat distressed at the treatment he is receiving. The horse's breastplate is decorated with butterflies, and the bridle is embellished with birds. Look closely to see a telling red heart where the browband meets the headband. The Knight wears blue armor and a red cloak. His helmet is decorated with a red feather. Ragged clouds are streaming in the wind, and birds on high are buffeted by the air currents.

Don't forget that court cards can represent the opposite gender too; female knights are very common.


SymbolMeaning Correspondences


Truth, justice


Element: Air




Season: Spring


Thought, revelation


Signs: Gemini, Libra, Aquarius


Strength, movement


Direction: East






Transience, swiftness,



Blue Sky




In a Reading

The appearance of the Knight of Swords in a reading may indicate the influence of a single-minded, focused individual. It might represent the seeker themselves or someone else who is playing a large part in the situation in question. Depending on the card's position, it could also mean that the seeker needs to adopt some of the energy or characteristics of this knight to help them.

The Knight of Swords can also point to a situation—usually connected with a cause, legal case, or similar—that is moving very quickly towards a conclusion.

Should this knight be reversed, i.e., upside down, it could indicate someone who is over-critical, a verbal bully, or someone who lacks vital cognitive skills. In a situation, it means that matters have become horribly entangled or are rapidly degenerating.


The Knight of Swords is someone you want on your side. He is highly intelligent, capable of intense concentration, and, once he sets his sights on the desired conclusion, will work all-out to reach it. His sense of purpose is unflagging. Like the other sword courts, he is witty, charming, and has a built-in BS meter.

He is also adept at side-stepping questions he doesn't want to answer; he's the ultimate spin doctor, twisting and weaving his story. He can turn your own words back against you. He has a brilliant memory and excellent study skills. Never give snippets of information or gossip to the Knight of Swords unless you are very sure that you want him to know. He files everything away for later use, and they could come back to bite you on the backside.

He likes to be challenged, so focusing on a good cause or fighting for the underdog is just the sort of thing that he is good at. He can galvanize others to action, engender enthusiasm, and keep the momentum going while at the same time sweeping aside all objections.

The Reversed Knight of Swords

The negative traits of the Knight of Swords are sometimes very destructive. Although he has the capability of connecting with his emotions in the right circumstances, he will put that aside when in certain situations and go all-out to decimate any opposition. He is scathing of people whom he views as less intelligent than himself. He is brutal in his dismissal of anyone who has the temerity to question him or his methods. He can be critical, judgmental, and verbally aggressive. This doesn't mean that every Knight of Swords character is like this, but they certainly have the capability. Worse than that, he is very clever at sugar-coating his words, lying and hiding his ultimate agenda—making him a dangerous enemy.

Knight of Swords from the Robin Wood tarot deck.

Knight of Swords from the Robin Wood tarot deck.

Love & Relationships

The Knight of Swords is a very complex character. He falls in love once he has decided it is a good thing. He is adept at controlling his emotions, so when he does show them, you know they are for real. He is not the romantic type, but he is loyal, truthful, and will defend you to the end. He can be critical, but if you can live with this side of his personality, then you may be able to ignore his persnickety-ness or train him out of it.

If you have your sights set on a Knight of Swords, then you need to attract him with guile and intelligence. Never simper or flirt. He needs a challenge, so you must be his intellectual equal, or you will have your heart broken. He is quite capable of using you, dumping you, and moving on. Only a partner who can keep him mentally stimulated is going to go the distance. You do not want a Knight of Swords as an ex, I promise you. Having said that, he is good husband material, often maturing into a King of Swords type—this one definitely improves with age.

Babies either leave him cold or completely softened—no half measures; he'll either be besotted or scared silly by their total dependence. He is a good father but will have high expectations for his children. He is more concerned about their intellectual development and achievements than about their day-to-day care.

As a son, he will love and respect his parents but is not tied to his mother's apron strings. He tends to become independent quite young, and the sensible parent will let him go.

Career and Money

He must have work that challenges and stimulates; otherwise, he will create situations that will do just that. He is innovative, far-thinking, and creative. He likes to manipulate people and circumstances to reach his goals. Once reached, he is ready to move on to the next challenge. Ideal career paths are law, middle and senior management, banking, negotiation, languages, and politics.

In lesser roles, his talents are soon very obvious, and it is a rare Knight of Swords who doesn't progress rapidly.

He is not so interested in money for its own sake, other than being aware that it gets him what he wants and where he wants to be. He uses money well, being shrewd and a canny investor. He recognises that money often equates to power—and, like most of the Swords characters, it is power and achievement that drive him.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2012 Bev G