Upright: Clear thinking, intellectual power, authority, truth
Reversed: Manipulative, tyrannical, abusive

The King of Swords sits upon his throne of command, holding a large upward-pointing, double-edged sword in his right hand, while his left hand rests gently upon his lap. On his left Saturn finger is a ring, symbolic of power and taking his responsibilities seriously. The King wears a blue tunic, symbolic of a desire for spiritual understanding, and a purple cape, symbolic of compassion combined with intellect. The back of his throne is decorated with butterflies (transformation), crescent moons and an angel just near his left ear, positioned as if to give him subtle guidance. The sky is relatively clear with a few clouds, representing general mental clarity. The trees in the background appear motionless and reflect the stern judgement of the King.

The King of Swords is a symbol of intellectual power and authority, and has the courage and intellect to accomplish all that he desires. He represents judgement, command, and rulership. His character indicates the stern leadership of a judge, lawyer, or military commander whose emotions must be kept in check under the pressure of battle. Therefore, the King of Swords asks you to remain detached and objective in a specific situation, in order to ascertain the truth and seek out only the facts. You need to use your intellect to prove your point and succeed. Your education and experience are important but so are your day-to-day observations and thoughts. You can also solve problems by using history, rules, laws and diplomacy.
The King of Swords suggests that you need to adopt a very stern but fair role. You have clarity of mind and can perceive the truth right now, so you must take the lead with providing an objective point of view. You are well-positioned to judge your situation appropriately and identify the limiting behaviours that are getting the way. This is a time when you need to leave emotions out of it, and remain as objective and rational as possible. You may need to reason with others and be quite direct about what you are observing. You may be concerned that you are not being particularly caring or sympathetic but at this point in time, this detachment is what is needed most.
Similarly, the King of Swords encourages you to use your logic and intellect to navigate your path ahead. You will need to get to the heart of the matter, make firm and well-researched decisions, and ensure that you are firm but fair in your dealings with others. You need to be able to take any situation, look at it with total impartiality, and then come to a decision that is both fair and insightful.
Oftentimes, the King of Swords represents a professional advisor, such as a solicitor or attorney, financial adviser or taxation consultant. This advisor has a solid reputation and a vast amount of knowledge in his particular field, and will provide you with objective, well-researched advice about your own situation. He is completely impartial, and will draw upon his experience and his innate knowledge of the rules, systems and structures that are in place. He may come across as detached or disinterested in your personal circumstances, unless it relates specifically to the type of advice he is giving you. This is so that he can provide only the most relevant and objective advice to you. He prides himself in his expertise and qualifications, and is likely to charge a high fee for his services. Nonetheless, he offers the rigour and specialist knowledge that you need right now.
If you have not engaged the help of an expert, the appearance of the King of Swords suggests that it may be worthwhile getting some legal or financial advice. If you are expecting changes or particular circumstances to arise that will require expert advice, you can be on the front foot by seeking advice before they happen. That way, when they do roll through, you are ready to demand your rights and seek an outcome that benefits you. You may also benefit by finding an advocate or mentor who will look out for your needs and who can provide you with objective and smart advice about what to do.
This King is also a man of the highest ethical standards. It is impossible to corrupt him and as such he acts as a pillar of strength who gives sound advice to everyone, no matter who they are. What is more, he firmly expects others to operate by the rules of the law and will not tolerate others who break the law. As a father, for example, he will become very angry if his children do not follow the ‘house rules’.

The King of Swords reversed can suggest the misuse of one’s mental power, authority, and drive. The reversed King of Swords represents manipulation and persuasion in order to fulfil selfish needs. He is a very intelligent older male (or sometimes female) who likes to show off to others about how smart he is by using big words or talking about topics about which no-one else knows. He may also be very cutting in his words, critical of others, and stern in his manner. This card may represent a person in your life or even yourself. You need to be wary of this type of person because, although he/she may be charming and intelligent, they can do only harm. They have only their personal interests in mind and will do whatever they can to achieve these interests, even if it means stepping on others.
Similarly, the King of Swords reversed can be quite a tyrant and a ‘loose cannon’. He is prone to aggression and angry outbursts, particularly if you make him look bad or challenge his authority. He is not pleasant to be around and is likely to leave you feeling demoralised and put down.
The reversed King of Swords can also reflect a lack of decisiveness about where your best opportunities lie or in what direction you want to head. You are still making up your mind about what you really want to do and what is going to inspire you. This lack of decision means a lack of direction at this time, so it is essential that you drive energy towards making a decision and then acting upon it. The longer you wait around until everything is 100% clear, the longer you delay your fulfilment. You may also be lacking the mental clarity to work out what it is that you need to do in your situation. Your thoughts are scattered and may be starting to feel quite panicky and out of control when it comes to knowing exactly what to do and what choices to make. Upright, the King is typically a very rational man who uses his intelligence and clear understanding of a situation to make critical decisions but reversed, this card indicates that you are feeling very lost and uncertain about your options, let alone the decisions you need to make. As a result, you are delaying necessary decisions and generally not achieving anything because you are getting so worried.