Truce: Temporary Relief, Contemplation, and Rest
The Four of Swords. Truce. Temporary Relief. Appeasement. Reassessment. Contemplation. Withdrawal. Rest. Cessation of Hostilities. The Four of Swords corresponds to the Sefirot of Chesed – stability, condensation, and the appearance of matter. The Four of Swords represents the energy of swords becoming stable after the dissatisfaction of the Three, the the calming of the initial heartbreak associated with the realization that the world is not perfect. This is achieved through contemplation and withdrawal; meditation that allows you to accept calmly the fact that the world is not perfect, and lets you move on with your life. However, this card does not represent a permanent and lasting arrangement; it is instead a Temporary Relief from the sorrow of the Three of Swords, and indeed, the next card in the suit is Defeat. The energy of the Suit of Swords has become stable, if only for a little while (emphasizing the transient nature of Chesed; as it is quickly upset by Geburah). This card is a return to the Peace of Binah for a short period of time, and allows one to withdraw from open conflict and contemplate on the causes of said conflict. This card represent’s the philosopher’s pondering and self-analysis, where he comes to terms with his own emotions (analyzing them logically), and may even take some time to Rest. This card can also signify a break from active fighting, in terms of appeasement and ceasefire. For example, the pre-WWII satisfying of Hitler’s demands is represented in part by this card, as granting those appeasement provided temporary relief, but did nothing to solve the real cause of conflict in the end.
The Rider-Waite illustration shows a man either sleeping or being dead, lying in a Church – which is a santuary – with the weapons of war hanging unused above and below him. He is clearly a warrior, but for the moment he is resting peacefully in either sleep or death, his conflict not troubling him. The Thoth art shows four swords all pointing at each other, above the flower of peace, which is blooming. The fact that the flower is blooming indicates that the process of peace has not finished, and is in progress; a Truce can be the first step to it. The swords are also not crossed like in Peace, but are not bent as in Sorrow; there is now force bending the blades. The swords are at rest, but have not laid themselves down completely – they were ready to move again the instant they need to, and are still pointed at each other.
In a reading, this card asks you to consider the effects that a period of withdrawal and contemplation may have on you. It encourages a cessation of hostilities, a short break, or a re-assessment of yourself. Reversed, this card’s energies are hidden or twisted; it could indicate that you are weighed down by something that does not allow you to take a break, or are so caught up in your conflicts that you cannot bring yourself to end them.