Stained glass window Four of Swords


I was doing a reading for myself and drew the Four of Swords. The one thing about the card that caught my eye right away is the figures in the stained glass window. I am assuming that because that is what really jumped out at me when I drew the card, my message is contained within the stained glass window. Does anyone know what the symbolism is of the figures in the stained glass window? I had never noticed this before.


It's a woman and a child, mother and child perhaps?


There is also what looks like a man reaching his arm out. Any idea what it's supposed to mean?


I found in the "SEventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom" by Pollack

...notice the knight lies in a church, and that the window show Christ giving a healing blessing to a supplicant...

Other readings from:

Waite version "The stained-glass window shows Christ blessing a penitent." (The Complete Illustrated Guide to the Tarot) .

Let us know if you find anything.


Robert Place says, "On the window, a man kneels praying to the Madonna or another saint." I too thought the figure on the left looks female, but it could be male. The consensus seems to be that it is religious in nature.


I read "PAX" at the head of the left figure. It's "peace" in Latin, isn't it?


You are right Roppo it says 'Peace/Pax'.
I guess one has to decide if this depicts Peace forever (as in this is a tomb) (Waite), or respite from war (Golden Dawn).
If you go for the Golden Dawn attributes, then it might well be a blessing on the window- indicating the blessing of a warrior. If Waite and a tomb it would most likely be The Virgin Mary, maybe as Queen of Peace.

The swords suit in RWS is thought to be a depiction of the Arthurian Grail Quest. The Arthurian quest for the Holy Grail has important symbolic meaning in the western Hermetic tradition. Waite was interested in the Grail Quest, Kabbalah, the tree of life, Hermetics etc.


How about a side view of the Hierophant with one of the acolytes?

For interpretation purposes I usually take it as someone asking for advice or help from a knowledgeable person. If the querent were ill or had withdrawn from a stressful situation then it might suggest asking for a dream message or going to a doctor, etc. The idea is that communications from this person (or "higher self") could be a source of PAX - peace.


roppo said:
I read "PAX" at the head of the left figure. It's "peace" in Latin, isn't it?

FORK YOU!!!! How the hell did you notice that?! O__O you've got optical zoom installed in your eyes or what?

Kudos for your sharp sight, I don't know if I'd ver have noticed that... I was just checking the stained glass and DIDN'T SEE IT, but now it's obvious! And yeah, means peace.

Additionally, I've always thought of this card as that knightly ritual in which IIRC, the soon-to-be knight had to stay awake for a night next to his arms... which is a nice metaphor of the "calm right before the storm" meaning. Don't really know where I got this meaning from, prolly read it off somewhere.


After reading amitjain123's new thread on the subject of stained glass, I went hunting in the RWS Forum Index and found this thread. Besides the neatly hidden word PAX in glass of the Four of Swords, I had a couple of other thoughts.

Until the invention of the Gothic arch, churches and cathedrals were dark, dismal places and were lighted by candles. Their large, heavy size made windows impossible and what windows there were amounted to small slits. It was the Gothic arch that made large expansive windows possible. When the windows were filled with stained glass it must have been a magical experience, almost like being in heaven. The secret to making stained glass was carefully guarded. It was made by adding metals to the glass which produced the color. But it couldn't be just any metal, you had to know which ones and in what combination to produce the desired color. So symbolically there could be an alchemical connection.

Waite comments on the Four of Swords, "Divinatory Meanings: Vigilance, retreat, solitude, hermit's repose, exile, tomb and coffin. It is these last that have suggested the design." "Tomb" and "coffin" could point to Rosicrucian symbolism.

I think the light streaming through the windows is highly symbolic. The secret orders are all about finding it. It seems to me there could be Masonic and Templar symbolism woven in.

Two simple cards rich with symbolism. :)