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The Knight 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 Knight of Swords in the Visconti Sforza tarot deck. It was hand-drawn in the 15th century by artist Bonifacio Bembo.

The Knight of Swords in the Visconti Sforza tarot deck. It was hand-drawn in the 15th century by artist Bonifacio Bembo.

Reading the Knight of Swords

The Knight of Swords is a worthy opponent. This is someone who will get the job done. They're strong-willed, powerful, and competitive. They accomplish whatever they set their minds to and are often successful. The Knight of Swords is excellent at strategy and games and excels at sports and competitive events.

The Knight of Swords is fueled by both air and fire because it is a court card and because of its membership in the Suit of Swords. The Swords cards are tied to the element of air and the court cards all have an element associated with them. This makes the court cards more powerful than the numbered cards because they get a dose of two elements rather than one.

The court cards have the following associations:

  • Pages = Earth
  • Knights = Fire
  • Queens = Water
  • Kings = Air

The Knight of Swords is kind of redundant. The Suit of Swords already deals with nobles and knights as the suit represents the Second Estate, a tier of the social hierarchy system of the Middle Ages and Early Modern Europe. The hierarchy differed by region, but for the most part, it went like this:

  • First Tier: Monarchy, Kings and Queens, High Clergy
  • Second Tier: Knights and Nobles
  • Third Tier: Peasants and Bourgeoise

In a way, the Knight of Swords is the quintessential knight. He is the Knight of Knights—the exemplary knight that people strive to be.

Card Alignments

Upright

Intuition, fast-thinking, speedy, hasty, urgency, action-oriented, successful, ambitious, charismatic, strong communicator, stealthy, lightning reflexes, worthy opponent, powerful.

Reversed

Unfocused, bumbling, burnout, impulsive, bad urges, connected to bad sources, restless, careless, poor planning, poor implementation, crazed, foolish, Don Quixote.

The Knight of Swords represents a powerful knight who is dedicated to their mission. The person is highly intelligent and wants to be in the thick of the action.

The Knight of Swords represents a powerful knight who is dedicated to their mission. The person is highly intelligent and wants to be in the thick of the action.

Card Description

In the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, the Knight of Swords is in full armor. His armor looks polished and expensive, and he wields a sword in his right hand. He wears red accessories, including a red cape, a red glove, and a helmet. He rides a white horse with a royal blue saddle. The Knight commands respect and attention. People know he is a powerful adversary and that he is likely close to the king.

The wind is strong in the card. Tree limbs are blowing in the wind, and the clouds look tumultuous. The horse and rider are charging across a landscape, which indicates urgency, haste, and efficiency. The knight is likely charging into battle—there is war and wrath to come. The card isn't about peace and love.

The Knight's sword is held high to indicate his dedication to his mission. The white horse is a symbol of purity and intellectual energy. The crown chakra is associated with the color white. People know this Knight by his brilliance; he is a mastermind.

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Tarot Suits

CategoryWandsPentaclesSwordsCups

Element

Fire

Earth

Air

Water

Elementals

Salamanders

Gnomes

Sylphs

Undines

Represents

Free will

Physical Manifestation (The Body)

Thoughts

Emotions

Color

Red

Green

Yellow

Blue

Animals

Land Mammals

Reptiles

Birds

Fish

Music

Percussion

Brass

Woodwinds

Strings

Numbers

1, 5, 9

2, 6, 10

3, 7, 11

4, 8, 12

Seasons

Summer

Spring

Winter

Fall

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

Blood

Phlegm

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

Yang

Yin

Yang

Yin

Court Cards

Knights

Pages

Kings

Queens

Poker Equivalents

Clubs

Diamonds

Spades

Hearts

Upright Knight of Swords

The Knight represents a confident and charismatic young man. He may jump to conclusions and act hastily because his intuition works lightning fast. He can leave people in the dust with his thoughts, and he often charges forward with his mission. He is very skilled at what he does and is the most powerful Knight. He wields the sword and is the most equipped one in the deck. The other Knights carry strange items. For example, one Knight picks up a stick (wand) and uses it to fight. Another is interested in a bag of coins, and another holds a golden cup.

The Knight of Swords understands that his mission and duty are on the battlefield. He was trained and hired to be a worthy opponent—not a barbarian, not a merchant, and not a lovesick lover. Even though the Knight of Wands might be more aggressive, he doesn't have the skills and resources that the Knight of Swords can use to overpower him. The Knight of Wands rises up in the ranks; he comes from a peasant family. The Knight of Swords is born into knighthood. He is raised to know the sword, and he is given the money and resources to develop into the role.

The Knight of Pentacles uses his position to gain money. The Knight of Cups uses his position to find love (he is more akin to Prince Charming).

The biggest problem with the Knight of Swords is when he rushes too fast and forgets important details (e.g., leaving behind parts of his armor or his helmet). Even if he is forgetting pieces and details, he is still a worthy opponent. He doesn't whimper away just because he is missing something.

Let's put it this way, if he was working on a puzzle without a reference image, he would quickly figure out what is the image. He has that kind of intuition. Once he has a good idea of what the picture is, then he doesn't need to waste his time on getting the rest of the puzzle pieces. He has enough direction to make a choice and move forward.

This is what makes him a worthy opponent. He can fill in the gaps with his mind and can work with a small amount of information to deliver perfect results. The Knight of Swords is a rare type of person. This is someone who is exceptionally smart and capable. Don't underestimate them.

It is nearly impossible to outsmart the Knight of Swords because he is abundantly gifted intellectually. He has an endless stream of thoughts and is highly productive. Not only does he constantly think, but he also puts his wild whims into action. This makes him formidable, to say the least.

A person like this isn't afraid and can't be easily shaken. They're driven to succeed because they have a high degree of faith in the outcome they desire. It would be smart to align yourself with someone like this if they have similar goals to yours, and if those goals are ethical and sound. (You want to be around a benevolent Knight of Swords, not a malevolent Knight of Swords.)

A Person Who Craves Activity

The Knight of Swords is driven by energy. They prefer to dive into the thick of action rather than lead by the perimeter or a throne. Knights go to where there is activity. They don't hide; they're out in the foreground. They love to be on display, especially when victorious.

This is a person who is assertive. They make the first move. They don't put themselves on the defense. They want to go forward with their plan. They're sharp like a sword, not round like a shield. A chess game with them is fast and instinctive, not slow and meticulous.

What the Card Suggests

Don't cut corners and leave too many details behind; this can come back to haunt you. If you relate to this card, try to be more thorough with your work. Look for things you might be missing. If you have more time to spare then you don't need to rush.

Someone who is gifted with a sword is a strong communicator. They know how to use words and make arguments. They've been gifted and cursed with the tongue. They can get themselves into trouble by sharing too many words, but also, they're programmed to be loquacious. Think of Shakespeare's Hamlet, the title character can't stop drawing conclusions, and he can't stop talking. He is right about what happened to his father, but he is blindsided by other events because he is so focused on his father's demise. Hamlet walked himself into his own death.

The Knight of Swords in the Minchiate tarot deck. The deck was created around 1860-1890.

The Knight of Swords in the Minchiate tarot deck. The deck was created around 1860-1890.

Reversed Knight of Swords

When this card appears in the reversed position, it means you should slow down and rethink your course of action. It could be a sign that you're about to make a terrible mistake. The reverse of a perfect knight is a lowly squire who bumbles things.

Reconsider your actions before you do something horrible. Actions are what define you. Your thoughts are your rough drafts of what you could do. What you put into action is what you publish, so slow down for a moment. Maybe take time to meditate in order to get a better feel for what you can and should do.

You may have a brilliant plan, but perhaps the correct events that need to take place haven't happened yet. This may make you feel frustrated or restless. Perhaps you're getting impatient with all the delays. You are needing something to activate the energy, and sometimes that doesn't come from within. It comes from external sources.

Waiting for the right timing can be annoying, but it's generally what you have to do with anything worthwhile. Things will happen at their proper time. In the meantime, you need to expend your energy in other ways. Don't lose hope, just shift gears and focus on other things until things are more ready for your primary goals.

If you sit with all that impatient energy you might become irritable and angry. You might freak out on people without any real trigger. You want to stay calm, cool, and collected, not hot-headed and hellish.

Recalibrate and Don't Wander Aimlessly

If you feel like the direction you're going in isn't working, you might start pulling in all directions: this will make you directionless. Stop and think before you shift gears. Let yourself recalibrate, so you can turn to proper north. Sometimes you might be going in the right direction but have to stop and wait for things to catch up to you.

Stick with tasks until they're complete. Multitasking is a legend; studies show multitasking looks more slipshod and distracted than actually purposeful. It's better to focus on a single task and get it to completion than try to do multiple things and get mixed results.

Multitasking is basically splitting your focus. This can backfire on you or make you a vulnerable target. Stop trying to do everything. You can't eat the whole elephant at once. Pace yourself. Focus a little here and there and break things up into manageable sections.

Focus on top priorities. You want to make sure the whole of your project is sound. Work on the big picture, don't get lost in tiny grammar mistakes. Grammar is like the last brush strokes for a painting. It's the finesse, but not the whole picture.

The Reversed Knight of Swords encourages you to spend time with yourself to develop maturity. Learn more about your inner voice and how you can cultivate it for something wholesome or worthwhile.

Don Quixote

The best example of a Knight of Swords reversed is Don Quixote. Alonso Quixano, from La Mancha, is a character created by Miguel de Cervantes. Don Quixote is considered the first modern novel written in two parts in 1605 and 1615.

Quixano was a voracious reader of chivalric romances. He either loses or pretends to lose his mind to become a knight-errant. He wants to revive chivalry and serve his nation. He recruits a farmer, Sancho Panza, who is grounded and represents realism in light of his master's idealism. Quixano takes on the name Don Quixote.

The most famous scene of Don Quixote's misadventures was when he attacked windmills believing them to be giants.

The Knight of Swords from the Aluette deck. Created around 1858 to 1890.

The Knight of Swords from the Aluette deck. Created around 1858 to 1890.

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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