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The King of Swords in Tarot and How to Read It

Andrea has a background in Myers-Briggs and Western astrology. She mostly writes about relationships.

The King of Swords from the Cary-Yale Visconti tarot deck. Created in the 15th century. The King of Swords represents a strong leader who is intelligent and respected.

The King of Swords from the Cary-Yale Visconti tarot deck. Created in the 15th century. The King of Swords represents a strong leader who is intelligent and respected.

The Esteemed Ruler of the Minor Arcana

The King of Swords is considered the King of Kings. He is a scrupulous leader known for his wisdom, and he rules with an abundance of air and logic When the King of Swords is in power, people live long and happy lives.

All of the kings in the upright position make for strong leaders, but the King of Swords is a brilliant leader who can outsmart the other kings. The only king who could potentially pose a challenge would be the King of Wands.

It's important to note that kings don't always represent men—they can represent women and people of other genders. The kings have the highest powers of the Minor Arcana.

King Arthur

This card represents the legendary king of Camelot. As a youth, Arthur pulled the sword from the stone. He surrounded himself with intelligent knights and excellent counselors and brought England into a mythical golden age.

Card Alignments


Intelligence, power, mental clarity, wisdom, reasonability, logic, prosperity, life, longevity, happiness, knowledge, understanding, long-term vision, maturity, and finesse.


Misuse of power, inner truth or wisdom, manipulation, quiet power, cruelty, shrillness, despondent, treachery, dictator, tyranny, injustice, lack of balance, rich getting richer and poor getting poorer.

The King of Swords has not only mastered intelligence and air, he has mastered all the elements. He promotes compassion and a long-term vision for his people. He is a proper king who takes his position seriously.

The King of Swords has not only mastered intelligence and air, he has mastered all the elements. He promotes compassion and a long-term vision for his people. He is a proper king who takes his position seriously.

Card Description

In the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, the King of Swords rules on a stone throne that's engraved with an elaborate design. The back of the throne is decorated with butterflies, crescent moons, and an angel, which suggests he balances his mind and emotions with guidance from above.

The King wears a long light blue cloak, indicating a blend of thoughts and emotions. He wears a cape that's dark brown, black, or purple. His undercoat is red, which means his fire and urges are in check. He has mastered his free will. The purple color suggests royalty and compassion.

His sleeves are red, and he may be wearing red accessories on his arms. He has a red ring on his left hand. In his right hand, he wields a long sword that's been crafted by an expert swordsmith. The right hand is the hand of the conscious, rational mind. He points the sword upright and to the left, the side of the subconscious, intuitive mind.

The King of Swords wears a red headdress and a crown of gold, showing his will and mind work in conjunction. He is the master of combinations and has worked hard to get all of his elements into the upright position.

The sky is blue with some birds flying across it, representing prosperity and life. There are a couple of gray clouds representing sorrows or unfinished business.

The ground is fertile with various kinds of vegetation and trees. The card overall shows harmony among the elements.

Since the King of Swords has focused on intelligence, all of the other elements have come into alignment. He is grounded on the earth and sits with the clouds rather than sitting above them, like the Queen of Swords. He has humbled himself to be with people rather than lead from atop a peak.

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Read More From Exemplore

The King of Swords faces forward, which symbolizes that he is ready for any challenges that come his way. This card has less wind than previous Swords cards, suggesting peace and stability rather than change or urgency.

Tarot Suits













Free will

Physical Manifestation (The Body)









Land Mammals





1, 5, 9

2, 6, 10

3, 7, 11

4, 8, 12











Ruling Planets

Mars, Sun, Jupiter

Mercury, Venus, Saturn

Mercury, Venus, Uranus

Moon, Pluto, Neptune

Body Representations

Head, Heart, Thighs

Throat/Neck, Chest, Legs/Shins

Arms & Shoulders, Belly, Ankles

Hands, Root Chakra (Spine Base), Feet

Four Humors

Yellow Bile

Black Bile



Western Astrology

Aries, Leo, Sagittarius

Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn

Gemini, Libra, Aquarius

Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces

Chinese Zodiac

Dragon, Monkey, Rat

Snake, Rooster, Ox

Horse, Dog, Tiger

Sheep, Pig, Rabbit

Yin and Yang





Court Cards





Poker Equivalents





The King of Swords card in the Visconti Sforza deck. Created in the 15th century.

The King of Swords card in the Visconti Sforza deck. Created in the 15th century.

Upright King of Swords

The King of Swords represents a mature person who has excellent reasoning. They have experience with the world, and they have a long-term vision for it. The King of Swords is decisive, strong-hearted, and prizes sagacity.

The King of Swords represents the highest caliber of leadership. When the card represents the querent, it means they have come into their power, they've reached maturity, and they have the courage to take on their goals. The card suggests you stand firm in your truth and express yourself with deep conviction. People will pay attention to what you have to say because they find it valid.

You have the power to see the truth. You have a strong mind that can put various pieces together and see how it all fits and where it is ultimately headed. You need to speak up about the things you see for the greater good—not necessarily on social media threads or on the Internet, but in real-life situations that demand perspective.

Excellent Handle on Emotions

You are masterful at regulating your emotions. You know how to stay calm under pressure. People respect you because of your calm demeanor and your accuracy. People come to you for advice, so they can become as amazing as you. People want to follow in your footsteps because they see you as a wise, purposeful, and honest person. You are a true king who doesn't abuse your power. You are in tune with people's needs, and you're in tune with your own needs.

Some might see you as detached and distant. This card represents a mature and composed Aquarius, someone who is open-minded, creative, courageous, and full of words. You're excellent at communication, you deliver people out of crises, and you're not easily fooled. You can easily spot deficiencies.

Rely on Intelligence

This card encourages people to use their logic and intellect. You want to center your life around intelligence in order to bring prosperity. Many of the Suit of Swords cards are eerie and terrifying, including encounters with death, but the real end game is this card. Intelligence and knowledge are the ways forward. It's not always an easy path. You'll need empathy and charisma alongside intelligence to evolve into a well-respected and well-adjusted leader.

People will be jealous of those who have an intellectual advantage, but there comes a turning point when they respect you, love you, and will lean on your knowledge. You have to be careful that you're not haughty, too into yourself, or uncaring. You need to listen to people, understand their concerns, and bridge gaps for them. Intelligence just for yourself or to show off isn't conscientious. Intelligence is meant to help guide people.

Seek Your Higher Self

Great leaders put sound systems into place. Mediocre leaders can't get the job done and can't move the needle. Bad leaders cause society to go backward or, worse, turn into hell.

The King of Swords is about future progression. They're seeking utopia. They love new technologies, intellectual breakthroughs, and everything that makes life easier and more peaceful. If only more people like this would come into power, we'd be in a better place globally.

Seek Professional Advice

The King of Swords can also represent a professional advisor, such as an attorney, financial advisor, therapist, and diplomat. The card represents someone with a high reputation who has a respectable job. He won't get fussy about your personal circumstances unless it is necessary for his skillset. He focuses on what is relevant guidance.

It takes a great deal of time to pass certain qualifications and certifications. People who spend the time to obtain these degrees are proud of their accomplishments. They may charge a high fee for their services. They're highly specialized people, but their services are priceless.

If you're in a pickle, you might need to contact someone who is like the King of Swords. The card in a tarot reading could suggest that you need to seek expert advice on something, and this will be your way to move forward. You don't have to rely only on your understanding.

It's a great idea to align yourself with professional advisors and mentors. Go toward people like this, not away from them. You want the best counsel for your life. Would you rather surround yourself with accountants, therapists, attorneys, and doctors or scumbags and criminals?

The King of Swords in the Minchiate card deck. It was created sometime between 1860-1890. The King of Swords is considered the High King of all kings.

The King of Swords in the Minchiate card deck. It was created sometime between 1860-1890. The King of Swords is considered the High King of all kings.

Reversed King of Swords

In the reversed position, this card depicts a person who is cruel, ruthless, and excessively judgmental. His balance between his mind and heart is out of whack.

Quiet Power

The card doesn't always depict someone who is tyrannical; it can also represent quiet power. You're not the loudest person in the room or the most visible, but you have a knowledge base that's prized. Your power is priceless because you have outstanding convictions, unwavering beliefs, and a strong ethos. You do not steer off course and get attracted by trouble.

You're not deceptive, and this makes you invaluable. Your energy is connected to your Higher Self, and because of this, you are one with the king's counsel. You're just not the loudest person on the cabinet.

Abusing or Obstructing Power

On the dark side, the card could indicate misuse of power. Perhaps you see yourself as above the law and think you can do whatever you want. The card indicates someone who has a big ego, breaks the law, finds ways to wiggle themselves out of trouble, and manipulates the system. These people are demagogues. They promise things to people that aren't real or reasonable. They're professional grifters, and they're the most dangerous people to society besides, well, mass murderers.

The King of Swords reversed indicates someone who is chaotic. They're taking power into their own hands, and they refuse sound counsel.

Really smart people put good counsel around them. Idiots put fools around them. If you refuse counsel and only listen to yourself, you will dig yourself into a hole.

An Egotistical Maniac

The card could also indicate someone who is very full of themselves. Perhaps they like to show off their vocabulary and knowledge or are sticklers for perfect grammar.

The King of Swords reversed is alluring, but he is also dangerous. His motives are bad. He is probably motivated by pride, greed, or lust. He is a shadow of himself and has no problem taking advantage of you for his own enterprise.

Can't Make a Decision

The Kings of Swords reversed may also reveal a person who is indecisive and reluctant to take opportunities. They're too into themselves to make a concrete choice. They'd rather scatter their energies than focus. You might be a highly rational person, but it causes you to refuse all the options. Maybe your brain is muddled, causing you to delay necessary decisions rather than go toward them.

This card could be a sign that something is holding you back—perhaps fear or past troubles. If so, you need to adjust your perspective so that you can make a distinct decision. Try meditation and other relaxation techniques. You might be too stressed to think properly. It's important to lower your baseline stress to a manageable horizon.

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.

© 2022 Andrea Lawrence

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