Most tarot readers think of Kings as ᛗ (Mannaz), the leader of the suit. I think of kings as telling the story of the Aesir Vanir war.
King of Wands
The King of Wands represents the Vair Gods. The Vanir were fertility gods first and foremost, and The King of Wands is holding a wand that is blooming into a flower. Wands are always phallic symbols, and The King of Wands enthroned reminds me of the famous statue of Ingvi Frey in which he is seated, stroking his beard over his erect phallus.
When he represents a person, The King of Wands is the kind of no-nonsense person who sees what needs to be done and does it. This is the sort of king who isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty.
When it represents a situation, The King of Wands represents a well-led endeavor. Things are under control, and when something comes up the leader will deal with it quickly, fairly, and successfully. The project will be fruitful.
King of Swords
The King of Swords represents the Aesir gods. They are forceful in their approach, especially Thor, but most of their problems are solved by cunning rather than hammers or swords.
When he represents a person, think of ᚨ (Ansuz) and Odin throwing up a whetstone to trick the farmers into killing each other. Think of ᛏ (Tiwaz/Tyr) and the binding of Fenris Wolf. Even think of ᛖ (Ehwaz), and how Loki deceived the giant into building the walls of Asgard for free. The King of Swords is the kind of out-of-the-box thinker who solves problems like that.
When this card represents a situation, reach for your wisdom and cunning. This isn’t a situation you can win by brute force. How many times did they burn Gullveig and she kept getting back up? Thor was mad that the war was over because he loved pounding the Vanir into the ground, knowing they would get back up for him to kill again. Don’t be like Thor. Use your head.
King of Pentacles
The Aesir-Vanir War started with the Vanir goddess Gullveig teaching mankind to love gold. (Some scholars have argued that Gullveig and Freya are the same goddess.)
The King of Pentacles doesn’t belong in Asgard, which is why I chose a card depicting a jotun, an enemy of Asgard. The Aesir Vanir War started with the killing of the Vanir goddess Gulveig (literally: goldgreed), and he is definitely associated with ᚠ (Fehu), but the Aesir consider a love of gold to be a weakness. The business savvy of The King of Pentacles doesn’t belong in Asgard. If you drew a bindrune of ᚠ and ᛗ (Fehu and Mannaz), you would get this card. He is secure and disciplined and able to do all the things with money.
You know who also doesn’t belong in Asgard, but is considered one of the highest gods? Freyr. He is also a god associated with gold, through his gold-bristled boar. And if we’re talking about Freyr, that brings up the rune ᛝ/ᛜ (Ingwaz), which is the rune of Ingvi Frey. Frey is Njord’s son, who gave up his magic sword that fights on its own for love. This card is about a Frey who was smart enough to keep his sword and still get the girl. Okay, I guess this isn’t much of a ᛜ card after all.
King of Cups
The King of Cups is a diplomat, even more ᛗ-ish. He is holding out his hand, making a point with gentle hand motions, and also holding a bowl, probably containing a peace offering. This is how the war ended: with the negotiated exchange of hostages.
When he represents a person, the King of Cups is a person tries to make peace. He listens to what is being said, and responds with compassion and care. He is able to keep his emotions under control with a loose hand, and wants to help others do the same.
When this card represents a situation, think of the story of how Njord brought his children Freya and Frey to live in Asgard. They were the offering from Vanaheim, to end the Aesir-Vanir War. The offering from Asgard to Vanaheim was Hoenir and Mimir. We don’t know much about Hoenir, but we do know that both Mimir and Njord were associated with the water: Mimir with his well (ᛈ) and Njord with the sea (ᛚ). This card is that situation, minus Thor throwing a tantrum that the war was over.