The King of Swords – Master of Strategy

The King of Swords is a clever, worldly-wise, just, and logical character. As a leader, he is calm, thoughtful, intelligent, and well-respected for his opinions, authority, and sense of justice. 

He represents mental clarity, intellect, truth, and wisdom. He can also represent legalities, justice, or specialist knowledge in a certain area. He is wise and thoughtful, usually known for displaying sound logic and reason. 

Key themes for the King of Swords are thought, decisions, planning, analysis, communication, knowledge, and doing the right thing. As a powerful King, he represents empowerment, expertise, mastery, guidance, and leadership. 

He is the last card in the Suite of Swords, representing the masculine element of Air. 

If the King of Swords appears in your reading, you may have an important decision to make or a key role to play in a situation. This may require planning, expertise, and the use of a strategic approach, as well as the ability to use logic over emotion. 

Make sure you utilize your critical thinking and intelligence to move forward. This will help you to make firm and well-rounded decisions and ensure you are being fair to others. Take a step back, and look at your situation with an impartial eye before deciding what to do next. 

The King of Swords Keywords and General Associations

Keywords: Intellectual power, reason, discipline, integrity, authority, knowledge, truth, structure, systems, routine, judiciary system, professional person or organization. 

Element: Air

Planet: Venus

Zodiac Sign: Libra (can also be Aquarius or Gemini)

Detailed Description of the King of Swords Card

In the Rider-Waite-Colman deck, the King of Swords card depicts a stern-faced King, seated on his throne, facing forward. He holds his double-edged sword of truth upwards and tilted slightly to the left (subconscious mind) and in his right hand (conscious mind). He wears a blue tunic, symbolizing his connection to the throat chakra, and a purple cape, showing his keen intuition. 

King of Swords
Pamela Colman Smith, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

His throne back is decorated with butterflies, indicating transformation, with crescent Moons, and an angel on his right shoulder, which signifies the divine guidance he receives. In the distance behind him, the trees are calm, peaceful, and serene, representing his outlook on life. 

The King of Swords radiates intellectual authority, deep thinking, reason, and logic. He understands that with power comes great responsibility and he is sharp, observant, and always ready to take action to uncover the truth. 

Meaning of the King of Swords

The King of Swords speaks of the courage to be authentic, to stand your ground, and speak your truth with conviction. 

In readings, it represents intellect, reason, and devising a strategy based on the evidence in front of you. It signifies taking a head-over-heart approach and making well-thought-out decisions that will stand you in good stead. 

This card can also indicate a legal matter, or one requiring some form of expert or specialist knowledge. It can mean a complex process where you will be required to keep your wits about you, or possibly seek professional help or opinions. 

If the King of Swords is another person in your reading, he may be a boss or authority figure or a legal practitioner such as a judge or lawyer. In a love reading, he represents a thoughtful but restrained suitor, who might prefer to take things slow and get to know each other first. 

As an outcome, the King of Swords is likely to have different meanings depending on the question asked. In a nutshell, it means expert knowledge, thinking hard, high standards, and expressing yourself with courage and conviction. 

Interpretation of the King of Swords

Tarot Reading

In the upright, the King of Swords is an older, wiser masculine with laser-sharp intellect and strongly developed skills of reasoning, negotiation, planning, and foresight. 

Upright King of Swords


The King of Swords commands respect every time he walks in the room. He has mastery over his emotions and is fair and just, striving for honesty, truth, and an informed viewpoint.  

He represents the ability to remain objective in a situation, by sticking to the facts and using your intellect to make rational decisions. If you get this card, it is a good omen for any corporate or professional matters, or for getting to the truth of a tricky situation. 

You may even be dealing with legal matters, like wills, inheritances, court, or the legal system, and it may require you to prepare a case carefully, paying attention to the details and considering all the implications of your plans. You will have the precision and focus to achieve great success in your endeavors, so have confidence and courage. 

Love and Relationships

In love readings, the King of Swords is cool, restrained, and dignified as a suitor. He uses logic and reason to make decisions and he isn’t given to emotional displays of affection. 

What he can offer is truthfulness and authenticity and a slow, steady burn toward loyalty and partnership. He is not for you if you are the gushy, romantic type, but he is ideal for those who value their independence and autonomy. 

He also suggests you may need to use logic and deep thinking in your relationship, or that there may be serious or legal matters taking precedence in your lives. See both sides of situations and be honest and forthright with others for the best outcome. 

Career and Creativity

The King of Swords is a high-achiever, so he is a positive indication of reward and respect in your career. Others may be recognizing your achievements, and you could be moving up the ladder to higher-level positions or a leadership role. 

As a leader, the King of Swords is fair and just, and he encourages others to do well by challenging them to reach their highest potential. He has high standards of integrity and morality and is acknowledged for his wisdom and intellect. 

Personal Growth

It may be time to demonstrate your integrity, uphold your position, or fight your case in some matter when the KIng of Swords appears. Take time to consider all the facts and get expert help if you need it. Be fair and just and everything will work out. 

Reversed King of Swords

The reversed King of Swords keeps his power and authority to himself. He is restrained, perhaps even holding back his potential, and he may struggle to articulate his thoughts. 


In reverse, the King of Swords is more introspect and quiet. He has a strong belief in himself however he can come off as bragging or arrogant. There can even be a misuse of power attached to this character, and he can be confusing, calculating, or harsh to deal with. 

He can represent a lack of thought or planning, discernment, or issues with authority. There could be legal wrangles, misuse of power, or someone around who is overbearing and controlling. 

The reverse King of Swords can even have his ego running the show, with a strong belief that he is always right and a refusal to consider others’ opinions. This can make him hard to deal with, especially as he can also be cold, cruel, and overly critical. 

Love and Relationships

In love, the reversed King of Swords might be a challenge, as he might be manipulative and rigid in his way of thinking. He can present as a ‘know-it-all’ and have difficulties listening or respecting your point of view. 

If this is your partner, they may feel blocked in expressing themselves, or they may be dealing with lots of issues that don’t concern you. They may be worried or burdened. 

What you can do;

  • If this is your partner, offer them support and care as they may have a lot going on
  • Take time to communicate by taking turns speaking and listening carefully
  • If this is you, be honest and forthright and let your partner know what you are dealing with. 

Career and Creativity

In career readings, the reversed King of Swords can be tyrannical, domineering, and ruthless. He has a reputation for being pig-headed, stubborn, and prone to angry outbursts. As a boss or leader, he may be hard to please or cruel, and he may withhold vital information to gain power and control. 

If you get this card in a reverse position showing your career, you may feel thwarted or held back, or that you are dealing with too much red tape or technicalities. Your workplace may be tense, and you could be dealing with power-hungry vultures who seem to oppose your ideas. 

What you can do;

  • Don’t lose your cool and give yourself space to respond to any provocation
  • Work on your communication style and keep good records or notes
  •  Show a good example in your dealings with others 

Comparing and Contrasting the King of Swords with two different court cards.

Different court cards can give us another level of information on situations, especially when paired with the King of Swords. They can uncover delicate nuances and provide better insight into who is who. Together, they uncover new information that helps put the pieces together. 

Compared with the King of Wands

King of Wands
Pamela Colman Smith, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

King of Wands is a very different character from the King of Swords. While they are of equal rank and status, their approach and unique outlook are a million miles apart. 

The King of Wands is fiery and passionate, and the King of Swords is restrained and cool. He does not act without careful consideration and planning, and he makes decisions following a careful process of analysis of the pros and cons. 

The King of Wands can supply the passion and drive the King of Swords may be lacking. He can encourage him to lighten up, feel his desires in his gut, and go after what he wants. The King of Swords can help the King of Wands be more reasoned, and to consider what consequences his actions may have later. 

Compared with the Queen of Pentacles 

Queen of Pentacles
Pamela Colman Smith, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Queen of Pentacles is a feminine, nurturing Earth energy and she usually represents material comfort and abundance. She is glowing with health and surrounded by the fruits of her labor. She is kind and giving, tending to others with care and devotion. 

The King of Swords is male Air energy, representing thoughts, ideas, strategy, and decisions. He is logical and restrained, considering things from an intellectual point of view. He is not concerned with material acquisitions but with truth and clarity. 

The Queen of Pentacles in a reading with the King of Swords can help him to be softer, kinder, and more generous. He can help her to be more strategic, and forthright, and learn to say ‘no’ occasionally. They support each other well. 

The King of Swords in Specific Readings

As with all tarot cards, the King of Swords can have different meanings depending on its position in the spread and the question asked. 

Yes-no readings

The King of Swords will often represent a ‘Yes’ because he represents truth, clarity, logic, and firm decisions. He asks you to consider your options carefully and take time to work through the details. Careful consideration, clear communication, and integrity will get you what you want. 

Love readings

In love readings, the King of Swords can suggest that you are dating someone who exemplifies the traits of calm, clever authority. You could also be displaying those traits yourself. Your connection may bring out high standards in both of you and a desire to be honest and straightforward. You may be at the beginning of a courtship, where talking is important. 

If you are single, the King of Swords might suggest you will meet someone who is no-nonsense, direct, and business-like. You may be seeking someone you can connect intellectually with, for long conversations and stimulating encounters. You might have high standards, and be quick to cut suitors off if there are any red flags in the first few dates. 

Work readings

The King of Swords in a career Tarot reading can represent a male in the workplace who is older, wiser, and more experienced. He will help you by pushing you to achieve by holding you to high standards of integrity and precision. His advice will be good, and he will watch your performance with a keen eye, providing helpful feedback and guidance. 

Remain composed and confident at work, and demonstrate your knowledge. Make sure you have all the information you need and take time to cross your t’s and dot your i’s. You could also perhaps benefit from a strict routine, or by following procedures to the letter. Don’t take shortcuts. You may be well respected for your knowledge and experience. 

Key Card Combinations

Often we can obtain more insight on the nuances of a situation by combining cards with another for more depth and understanding. As with all combinations, the King of Swords with Five of Wands and Six of Swords work together to uncover different layers of insight. 

Combined with the 5 of Wands

In this combination, it appears the King of Swords has shown up to bring the voice of authority and reason to a situation that has gotten out of hand. There could be petty arguing, competing, childish behavior, and people working against the greater good of all. 

The King of Swords will be able to help people calm down and consider the implications of their behavior. His calm and measured approach and wisdom can cool heated tempers and help everyone get back on the same page. 

Combined with the 6 of Swords

The six of Swords together with the King of Swords suggest a difficult situation is closing out. It may have been tense, or trying, but a way forward has been identified and this lets people move on in greater harmony. 

He may be helping resolve things with his steely insight and intelligence, and he can advise what the best outcome might be. He is calm and insightful and can stand up for the underdog in a situation to ensure they are treated fairly. He can help people move past lingering tension and take responsibility for what they want to do next. 

Frequently Asked Questions about the King of Swords

Is The King of Swords a Positive Card in a Love Reading?

Yes, the King of Swords is a very positive card in a love reading, as he is loyal, dependable, and honest. As a suitor, he can be relied upon to be just, fair, and manly, albeit with a somewhat austere persona, slow pace, and rigid routines.

Can the King of Swords Help Me Get Ahead in My Career?

Yes, the King of Swords encourages you to speak your truth with courage and conviction, whether that’s to express your ideas or take your leadership skills to the next level. In a career reading, this King is suave, sophisticated, and accomplished and he is the type of guy everyone goes to for expert knowledge on specialist topics.

Is the King of Swords Reversed a Warning?

The King of Swords reversed could be a warning against brashness, coldness, cutting people out of your life recklessly, or being too harsh in your criticism of others. Remember, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar if you get this card. 

What Special Message Might King of Swords Have for Me?

The King of Swords might want you to know that you are more knowledgeable than you think. He urges you to have confidence in yourself and to know that you are respected and admired by others for your sharp wisdom, skill, and intelligence.

Conclusion on the King of Swords

The King of Swords isn’t the kindest or sweetest of the Kings in Tarot, but he means business and can be relied upon to get the job done. He represents intellect, mastery of a subject, truth, integrity, and inner knowing. 

He is helpful rather than kind, providing guidance, expert advice, shrewd planning, and a voice of reason. He often shows up when there is a decision to be made, an issue to be dealt with, or a mess to clean up. 

He can even mean legal troubles on the horizon or complex matters that require focus and precision. He could represent a lawyer, taxman, judge, or official, and he asks that you put emotion aside and focus on the matter at hand. He cares about justice, doing the right thing, and upholding standards, so he encourages you to have transparency and integrity in all you do. 

As the highest authority in the Swords suit, he commands respect and displays genuine authority and wisdom that can help you make the decisions that are right for you. His message is to take your time, think, and trust yourself, and all will be well.

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Tracey Copeland

Tracey Copeland is a writer and astrologer who has been deeply spiritual from a young age. Like many people, Tracey transformed following a life review in 2020, where she finally decided to follow her lifelong passion for astrology, tarot, and writing. She is also passionate about Greek mythology, numerology, crystals, dreams, and helping others attain spiritual enlightenment. Tracey has a spiritual consultancy, Galactic Gem, which she began in 2021. She lives in the UK and enjoys reading, films, spending time with family, and all things spiritual.