Grab the blades – Seven of Swords

Here’s an intriguing card.

The Seven of Swords looks like trickery or deceit, and that’s how it’s normally described. In the card’s illustration, there’s often someone hiding something, or stealing – sneaking off in the night with an armful of stolen swords, or, like this fox, covering something up.

seven-of-swords-wild-unknown-tarot

From The Wild Unknown Tarot by Kim Krans

So in a simple sense, this card could mean that someone has a secret.

You’re encouraged to think about ways you’re not being completely honest…and why. Is this about self-protection, or fear? Are you trying to protect someone else from the truth? (I was talking to a friend the other day who described a time when this card came up to prod a querent who wanted to end their relationship, but had been putting it off.)

Or are you – or is someone close to you – just being downright devious? The Seven of Swords can definitely be about questioning your motives. Who is this secrecy serving? Who is it hurting? What are you hiding from?

seven-of-swords-dreaming-way-tarot

From The Dreaming Way Tarot, by Rome Choi and Kwon Shina

Another interpretation focuses on context

In The Fountain Tarot guidebook the card’s subtitle is ‘A questionable risk’:

In tense moments like these, be conscious of your values, and which ones you employ. There are times when you may have to grab the blades to succeed, but knowing your objectives and your motives will minimise the damage.

From The Fountain Tarot, by Jonathan Saiz, Jason Gruhl and Andi Todaro

seven-of-swords-fountain-tarot

When I interviewed Leah Lakshmi last year she touched on how the Seven of Swords can sometimes represent the only resource you have available in a movement towards self-empowerment. In the context of marginalised and/or persecuted communities, Leah described that underhand tactics or holding back parts of the truth may be the only route forwards available to you – so take it! It’s not necessarily ‘wrong’ to use what you have to raise yourself up.

So whilst the Seven of Swords often asks you to check in with yourself and acknowledge the tactics you’re employing right now, it doesn’t have to mean secrecy or shame – this doesn’t have be a judgemental card. In many ways it’s about making conscious decisions. Keeping secrets, taking risks – these things aren’t ‘bad’ in themselves. The Seven of Swords simply asks if you are acting consciously.

 

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17 comments

  1. Ellen says:

    Sometimes for me this card also urges me to take care and fend for myself; take what I need and leave the rest. I have to ask myself:what is truth and what is mere hearsay and I will stick to my core values

  2. Shonna says:

    I totally agree with Ellen about fending for oneself.

    I’ve always liked this card and I chalk it up to being a perpetual “black sheep” — not so much in my family, but in some of the academic and work environments I’ve been in. I’ve had to take care of myself — choosing time alone, speaking out, or mental health days over conformity and pleasing others.

    The Seven of Swords is me saying, “Um, no I won’t work a 14 hour day without overtime pay because that’s what the sous chef expects and I want to please him”, or “No, actually, I won’t pretend I’m happy when this job is extremely stressful and my employers completely disregard the need for self-care”. This is calling in sick when I’m not physically sick and feeling no guilt or shame about it because I pride myself on putting my well-being first.

  3. Celia says:

    I definitely agree with Ellen about fending for oneself as well– most recently it’s been coming up in sticky romantic/relationship situations for me…. Most most recently in the position of “advice to yourself”!

    In the Lo Scarabeo deck, which is the physical deck I’m using right now, I normally read it as getting away with something– so it is a secret, and there is deception, but it’s the getting away with something that’s the important read. It’s perseverance when you’re in a situation you can’t get out of. Because sometimes it’s not safe to outright reject people or situations, so you need to ‘sneak off.’

    I’m really in love with the seven of swords from the Wild Unknown, on another note x)

  4. Elisabeth says:

    This is such an interesting card. There’s the meaning you wrote about, which it definitely has, but then I get it in a reading and it will surprise me with something else. It’s a card that keeps me on my toes (specifically the when using The Dreaming Way). I agree with what others have said. This card has most appeared for me when I was in a bad relationship–as advice. I was using the Dreaming Way, and felt it was literally telling me to take the things I need and run for my life.

  5. Beth
    Beth says:

    I’m really enjoying how many people lean towards this ‘fend for yourself’ interpretation – I’ve never really come across it before but it feels really good.

    Thanks everyone for sharing these ideas – this is actually the first time I’ve written about this card on here, and I’ve learned so much!

  6. Haley says:

    This was my least favourite card for a long time, and it stalked me until I made the effort to explore why. I have come to love it- I see it as being about strategising- leaving behind what doesn’t serve you and unapologetically taking what you need for yourself. Keeping things to yourself because you don’t necessarily owe full disclosure. Sometimes I even see it as simply being about life on the fringe, or taking an unconventional approach to the situation at hand.

  7. Bronwyn says:

    I really love your interpretation of this card, and Leah Lakshimi’s as well. I felt a bit uneasy when I pulled it this morning, and felt like it was a very dark card. Was the fox hiding the sword for me, or planning on stabbing me with it? But after reading your interpretation I feel infinitely better about it, and know it is more than just keeping a secret (or a secret being kept from me).

    There absolutely are parts of myself that I keep secret, and I have concluded after thinking about it that my secrets are more for self-preservation than anything else. Not out of being malicious, or hurtful.

  8. angharadlois says:

    I drew this card this morning while preparing for a job interview this afternoon. I’ve taken a day’s leave to attend it, so there is some necessary secrecy involved – and in my current work situation, a definite need to fend for myself as well…
    This card feels strikingly different in the Druidcraft Tarot deck, which is the physical deck I’m using at the moment. It shows a figure writing by candlelight, with 7 swords on the table in front of him, and the crescent moon shining through the window. My interview involves a written test, so I immediately identified with the figure writing, but the candle and the crescent moon were what caught my attention – it’s as if they’re telling me that knowledge and study alone won’t be enough to get me through, that I need to listed to my intuition too, and find a balance between them. These details don’t show up in any of the other decks I’ve seen.
    After checking in with a few other decks online, though, I’ve concluded that: hell yeah, I’m taking my swords of skill and knowledge off to a place where I can make better use of them!

  9. Diana says:

    Thank you so much, Beth + commenters, for these really insightful reinterpretations. Like others have said, this card has come up in relationship readings for me (using the Wild Unknown physical deck), especially at the beginning of the relationship I’m currently in. Looking back and adding the nuance I’ve just read through here, the “fend for oneself” reading is SO on point.

    Keeping a sword for oneself… just. Yes.

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