I've been pulling this card a lot lately and yes, today I woke up with swollen glands, a stuffy nose and an achy body. I did not heed it's warnings.. When pulling the Four of Swords, best to drink a lot of water, eat your veggies and get plenty of rest.
My new favorite deck it the Tarot of Trees deck. Beautiful drawings by Dana Driscoll depict the swords in autumn landscapes. It makes sense that the Four of Swords is in this season. The Four of Swords is about withdraw for the purposes of healing. We tend to withdraw in the fall, it's time to get quiet and snuggle under the blankets. Summer was the time to be social, loud and experimental. Now it's time to hunker down into a routine and practice being quiet, grateful and healthy.
The Smith-Waite image looks a tad cryptic, but this is actually not a bad card to get at all, no matter what the illustration suggests. It's just a blatant warning to take care of your physical and emotional health. It appears after the three of swords which is a the card of sorrow and heart-ache. After break-ups, it's important to take care of your health and retreat inside to gain perspective. Sometimes our body needs time to heal. Perhaps it's time to call out sick and sit on the couch all day and watch romantic comedies. Maybe your housemate will buy you Indian food and she'll let you watch all the Sex And the City you want, (especially the season before Burger, when Carrie is alone and Mr. Big has moved to Wine Country). With the Four of Swords, you're allowed a small pity party. Take a day, actually take a week. But don't even think about Ben and Jerry's, it will just make things worse. Try a healthy pumpkin soup and herbal teas instead. Take naps, lots of them. Fall asleep in a sunny spot, in the autumn afternoon warmth.
Watch for card pairings also. If alongside the a reversed Nine of Cups or The Devil card you've taken the rest too far. Be cautious of unhealthy addictions. You've created a narrative in your head that isn't true and now you're coping in unhealthy ways. Isolation at this point may not be the healthiest. Call your friends and ask them to get you out of bed. If they are good friends, they will help.
Still, there's a sadness to the Four of Swords. It illustrates a kind of foreboding rest. If paired with the Three of Swords, the Queen of Swords or the Death card, be prepared for a heavy, heavy grief. Sometimes grief can make us sick and sometimes grief can set us free. If you've been holding something for years and years, such as an unhealthy relationship, or an unhealthy work responsibility, you may have noticed you suffer from chronic illness. Finally, when we leave the bad job or the bad relationship, there can be a residual soreness and sickness from it, a sort of cleanse, and then finally, an emptiness. Sometimes there is simply just a lack of routine, but these pairing suggest a gaping hole. Sometimes we don't know what to do with that hole. Loneliness and extra time alone after our schedules have been stuffed can be overwhelming and, well, a bit sad. Treat your heart as if it has a cold. Make it soup, say kind words, and nap.