Minor Arcana: The Fours

The fours are the cornerstone, the foundation of the situation at hand.  If the fours are not even and set concretely, the edifice will come crashing down.  The fours make us face that which we try to avoid, announce occasions for jubilation, speak volumes about our generosity or lack thereof, and tell us when it’s time to retreat or assert ourselves in the world.  The fours build from the ground up, and we must make sure they are even, balanced, and strongly rooted.


The character on this card is an individual, often a man, depending on the deck, clasping his money to his chest and holding it steadfastly beneath his feet.  The general meaning for the four of pentacles is miserliness, cheap behavior, and stinginess.  Not only might this card apply to money—the pentacles, of course—but also to miserliness of love, affection, time, effort, or energy expended.

The reversed card often means the opposite—an inability to hold onto money, someone who spends frivolously and makes poor financial decisions.

The card might also speak of someone who is lavish with generosity to others, whether in relationships, business, or life in general.

Watch the surrounding cards for more insight into the reasons for the type of behavior or patterns shown.  The reasons for miserliness or financial excess often lead to solutions or new paths, sometimes with astounding revelations into the human psyche.


In many decks, the picture on the front of this card appears alarming, at least at first.  It is usually a figure laid out upon a stone slab or a cot of some kind, one sword lying by his side and three more hovering ominously above him.

The most general meaning of this card is to draw back, retreat, rest and recuperate, time for regeneration.  Once in a while, the four of swords actually points to hospitalization or the need for surgery.

Reversed, the four of swords tells us that it’s time to jump back into the fray, into the midst of a busy life.  Time for meditation and introspection are over.  Whatever burdens or problems are represented by the three hovering swords, these issues need to be dealt with now and faced.  They can’t remain suspended above us indefinitely.  There’s one sword within reach, and even though the figure on this card is in repose, one hand rests near that sword, telling us this moment of peace and withdrawal is only temporary.

It’s time to buck up and step back into the hub of life.  You have the strength to face it now, really.


The four of wands speaks of cornerstones, celebrations, and ceremonies.  And indeed, this card has announced weddings, graduations, and other types of celebrations in some of my readings.  It is a card of joy, sometimes fertility, abundance and accomplishment.

Using the intuitive method of reading the cards, the four of wands has revealed totem animals, pregnancy, a weak link, imprisonment/confinement, blossoming spirituality, strength in the four elements, and an unexpected and much needed connection.

Reversed, this card may point to cancellations, bumps in the road that may delay us from reaching our goals.   Watch carefully the cards surrounding the reversed four of wands; they can point out future problems or present solutions to get everything moving again and back in balance.  Pay attention to court cards that surround the reversed four of wands, these cards may reveal exactly who it is causing the disruption and delays.


The four of cups tells us that we will soon have to face that which we have tried to avoid.  The cup is presented to us, and we, the forlorn hesitant looking figure on the card, must turn to face it, hold it, sometimes even sip from it, in order to learn what we must learn, overcome what we must conquer, and stare down that which we wish to avoid.  Instead of looking upon this card in dread, we can look upon it as a type of affirmation, a coming to terms with the skeletons in our closet, those secret fears, and the archetypical boogeyman.  These things never turn out to be as bad as we imagined.  Often we are extremely surprised to find out just how insignificant the boogeyman really is.

Reversed this card may be suggesting that the time may not be right.  We are not strong enough, sure enough, determined enough at this point to have the strength needed to face what’s coming.  The reversed four of cups tells us to prepare, suck it up, find the backbone needed.

In a few of my readings, oddly enough, the reversed four of cups has warned of a rat close by, someone who may undermine us, either openly, or in a sneaky ‘behind the back’ fashion.



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