Knight of Swords Tarot Card Meaning & Interpretations
“Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” - Isaac Asimov, Foundation
Tarot's Knights, like the Knight of Swords, are related to The Chariot. They can be thought of as the Captains of their element, in this case Air, led by their leader The Charioteer who is warlord of all the elements. As The Chariot is card number 7 of the Major Arcana we can assign any Knight a numerological attribute of 7 by proxy. The positive numerological traits of the number 7 are rest, inaction, planning, analysing and waiting. A Knight, just like The Chariot, should represent defence when it is expressing these positive traits. Knights wear simple, practical, armour without ceremonial, or rank defining, decoration. Helmets, not crowns. Their display is one of defending their element.
The attacking Knight of Swords is, as is often the case with the Suit of Swords, opposite to the defending Chariot and other Knights. Comparing the Knights further one should note that only the Knight of Swords is armed with a weapon. In the Marseilles decks the other three Knights do not wear armour nor are they armed with a weapon. Armour was added to these knights in the Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) deck, probably to high-lighten their defensive nature, but they remain weaponless.
A commonly suggested theme for the Knight of Swords is one of rapid movement due to the RWS version depicting the knight driving his horse at full speed in what appears to be a battle charge. Speed of movement alone does not fully acknowledge what this card is telling us since it is not the only card in this deck that symbolises rapid movement. The 8 Of Wands, with it's flying sticks, makes a strong claim to this attribute.
The direction of travel is, as always, an important detail with both horse and rider heading left/east (into the past) or backwards. The direction would tend to indicate that this is a negative, wrong course of, action. Compare the action and direction of this card to the 5 Of Swords or the 7 Of Swords.
Combining all of these observations together it's difficult to see this as a positive card. Violence, or aggression, is never the answer. Keeping in mind that this is the element of Air, it doesn't necessarily mean physical aggression. It could be a verbal attack or a damaging letter, email or other communication.
"Before you speak, ask yourself: is it kind, is it necessary, is it true, does it improve on the silence?" - Sai Baba
The Knight of Swords could be a young* man who has not reached maturity** yet. His vocation in life could be related to the element of air (pilot, air steward, meteorologist, etc), intellectual challenges (teacher, academic, scientist, lawyer, etc), surgical professions (dentist, doctor, nurse etc) or defence (soldier, policeman etc). The Swords offer a great range of possibilities of vocation in their symbolism. The symbolic relationship to this card may not be vocational, it could be a description of his personality. In which case this youth could be aggressive, argumentative, arrogant, authoritative, assertive, career minded or ambitious. His positive traits can be that he is brave and courageous or highly intelligent. He could even be someone who has spent time in prison or lives outside of the law.
*the age of this man could be relative to the person the reading is for. He maybe a mature man but a younger man.
**maturity happens between ages 28 to 37, when a man enter's his 2nd numerological life cycle.
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THE PICTORIAL KEY TO THE TAROT
By Arthur Edward Waite (1911)
He is riding in full course, as if scattering his enemies. In the design he is really a prototypical hero of romantic chivalry. He might almost be Galahad, whose sword is swift and sure because he is clean of heart. Divinatory Meanings: Skill, bravery, capacity, defence, address, enmity, wrath, war, destruction, opposition, resistance, ruin. There is therefore a sense in which the card signifies death, but it carries this meaning only in its proximity to other cards of fatality. Reversed: Imprudence, incapacity, extravagance.
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