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.
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?
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
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.