I love the 4 of swords, it represents something I have very little of now; a moments peace.
Our lives are so busy now, it seems we work harder than ever before, and in our "down" time are distracting ourselves ever more too. This really is the age of distraction with the "bread and circuses" of you-tube and box sets.
And yet our busy lives leaves us, in my opinion, repeating old mistakes- because we never take the time to reflect, process, and learn from our mistakes.
When the 4 of swords crops up, it reminds me of the value of reflection, time spent with the body still and the mind active.
Lets look at some key symbols in the Rider-Waite card;
The 3 swords hanging above the person, with one sword laying beneath the person.
I find this the most important symbolism in the whole card;
The 3 of swords is sadness, grief & heartbreak. But it is so much more than this. It is expressing your sadness (after all swords are communication). It is feeling your pain, which is so much better than being in pain and not feeling it. Because when you live in an emotionally painful situation (for example an abusive relationship) and you don't acknowledge the pain, you make no changes. So I like the 3 of swords because it suggests you are feeling, and expressing that pain. (I have written a longer blog on the 3 of swords which you can find here)
But, the process of expressing deep emotional pain is exhausting, and often leads to massive transformation and change (think tower). What I see in the 4 of swords is some-one who has expressed this pain, possibly caused great chaos and disruption in their life. And now needs some peace.
Not only to recover, but to process what they have experienced. To learn from their experiences.
To put this card into my life, In my late 20's my life fell apart quite spectacularly. Divorce, ill health, losing a house, unable to keep my work due to the ill health.
I felt painfully alone and insecure.
My 3 of swords was my shaman training in Orkney. I felt the pain of my failure very deeply. My first training session involved telling the story of my life. Never had I been so honest. I felt as if I was clearing away, stripping back to the real me.
After my training I found a Nanny's job in Switzerland. This was my 4 of swords time. After my working hours I had no T.V. (and there was no internet access!), very few books, and lived in a remote spot- though I had a wonderful view of Mont Blanc from my room.
Evenings were spent thinking or writing. Weekends traveling up into the mountains, or down to the lakes. To think some more.
Looking back I realise this time, separate from all that I knew, was when I processed everything I had learnt in Orkney. I needed total peace to be able to absorb my learning, make it a part of me. To use it as the spring-board for the next part of my life.
This leads me on to the single sword, the Ace of swords.
After your time reflecting, absorbing, learning from your past emotional pain (and possibly mistakes) I think two things happen;
Your mind feels clearer. You have released feelings of guilt & inadequacy. As long as you have repressed your emotional pain, there is a shadow voice in your mind reminding you that things are not right.
You have a new plan, a new vision, a fresh start. You see the world with new eyes.
I believe wonderful things happen when you allow the crisis and pain of the 3 of swords to lead to the peaceful inner processing of the 4 of swords.
Towards the end of my job in Switzerland I was offered an amazing job in Germany as a governess. I would have my own flat, an excellent wage, lots of free time.
But my Ace of swords came through, I knew what I really wanted in my life. Very simple- I wanted to fall in love and have children. So I turned down the job, headed back to Orkney to come up with a plan.
The joy of the Ace of swords is you are so focused, so clear sighted, so determined. When your mind is no longer fogged by the past, looking only to the future; things often happen pretty quickly.
As for me, within two weeks I had moved into a small croft at the edge of the beach with a man I bumped into on the ferry. The next year I was expecting the first of our four children.
Obviously my personal experience was measured in months, and was life changing.
I think the 4 of swords is also a valuable lesson in smaller, less life changing ways;
When you feel emotional pain, frustrated that something hasn't gone too right- from cooking the dinner, to getting lost in the car, to having the same argument week in week out with your partner.
The four of swords reminds you to;
Express how you are feeling (frustrated, angry, sad..) 3 swords
Pause to consider the lessons you can learn from this experience. 4 swords
Learn from the lessons & don't repeat them! Ace of swords
My first Babe...walking at Woo