Credits for the decks and books mentioned in this post can be found HERE.
For Crowley and the Order of the Golden Dawn, the Seven of Swords is linked with the Moon (emotions, subconscious, deception) and the sign Aquarius (a Fixed Air sign known for being innovative, idealistic, humanitarian, and intellectual).
Crowley titles the card "Futility" and notes "The intellectual wreckage of the card is not so vehement as in the Five. There is vacillation, a wish to compromise, a certain toleration. But, in certain circumstances, the results may be more disastrous than ever . . . This card, like the Four, suggests the policy of appeasement.”
Hajo Banzhaf and Brigitte Theler (in Keywords for the Crowley Tarot) describe the energy of the card as: "Changeable, moody (Moon) theories and concepts (Aquarius).”
Liz Hazel's astrological associations for the Seven of Swords align with those of Crowley and the Golden Dawn: Moon/Aquarius. Hazel's DMs for this card include: "uncertain motives or strategies. Sneaking, lying, or evading. Secrets, information withheld, possibly to avoid hurting another or because one is uncertain of what response will be evoked by the truth." Ill-dignified DMs include: "An unsavory character with bad motives. Theft. Secret legal problems that are not divulged. A quiet battle or struggle for power. Lost or missing items or papers.”
Crystal Love associates the Seven of Swords with the third subdivision of Libra (natural ruler Venus; subruler Jupiter). She writes: "The harmonious nature of Libra coupled with the expansive and beneficent Jupiter promises a happy and successful outcome to ventures, a generous, well-balanced, and creative mind, a happy and successful marriage. . .” She notes the following "Traditional Interpretations": "Hope. Confidence. Intelligence. Powerful opposition. Confrontation that requires subtle ingenuity. Courage and perseverance. . . Reversed: Limited success. Over-confidence. Loss. Dishonor. Wasted opportunity.”
Mann associates the Seven of Swords with the energy of Venus (planet of love, beauty, art) in Aquarius and the third decan of Aquarius. Mann calls Swords Five, Six, and Seven "The Clouds of Aquarius," and links the Seven of Swords with the period between February 9-18. Green is the color associated with Venus and violet is associated with Aquarius on the King Scale of Color.
Mann's divinatory meanings for the Seven of Swords: "Unconventional and individual ideas about relationships bring enjoyment of social life but a continual need for independence. Partnerships are unstable, tending to begin and also end suddenly and without notice." Reversed: "Promiscuous and eccentric sexuality creates a joyful life fraught with uncertainty and emotional chaos."
(illustrated in this blog by the Universal Waite tarot deck)
David Thornton associates the Seven of Swords with the placement of the planet Venus in the Eleventh House (House of Friends, Hopes, and Wishes). The Eleventh House in astrology is associated with the sign Aquarius.
Thornton's description of the energy of the Seven of Swords is: "Progressive views on marriage, peculiar plans or ideas, the enjoyment of social contacts and love of independence.”
Tarot Dynamics System by Anna Burroughs Cook
(illustrated in this blog by the Universal Waite tarot deck)
Like Mann, Anna Cook associates the Seven of Swords with the third decan of Aquarius. In Cook's TD system, Subject Card Seven signifies "Relationships." The key word for the suit of Swords in this system is Challenging, which gives us Challenging/Relationships for the Seven of Swords. In astrology the Seventh House, ruled by Venus, is commonly known as the House of Partnerships and Open Enemies. The sign associated with the Seventh House is Libra. Cook notes: “Although the Seven of Swords can sometimes imply minor deception, it can occasionally warn you against outright thievery of an object, or from a source that you didn’t expect. More often, however, it warns you against stealing from yourself by wasting your time, effort, talents and emotion on non-productive endeavors.”
A.E. Thierens, PhD. (Astrology & the Tarot)
Thierens associates the Seven of Swords with "The element Earth on the Seventh house,” the house of Libra. He notes: “Owing to the diplomatic and fox-like qualities of the house of Libra, the querent may, by this card, attempt to steal the weapons of the opponent, as the figure rightly suggests: using the arguments and fighting with the weapons of the enemy.”
His keywords for this card include: "Meeting the opponent, perhaps some fighting, but more probably the strategy than the fighting itself is indicated. Using the weapons of the enemy. Practical ability. Tricks. A person of technical ability. Success by means of capability, combined with diplomacy. Scheme, design." He also writes: “Since the seventh house represents ‘the opponent’ as well, there may be something like quarrelling in this card, attempts to reach agreement with an opponent; this will be done in a practical, business-like way.”
(Note: If you are interested in learning more about this system put forth by Thierens, I recommend the book referenced above.)
In summary, for the Seven of Swords we have:
- Crowley and Hazel with a Moon/Aquarius association
- Mann with Venus/Aquarius
- Love with Libra /Venus/ Jupiter
- Thornton with Venus/11th House (ruled by Aquarius)
- Cook with the third decan of Aquarius (subruled by Venus)
- Thierens with Earth/7th House (ruled by Libra/Venus)
The Rider-Waite-Smith card shows “a man in the act of carrying away five swords rapidly; the two others of the card remain stuck in the ground. A camp is close at hand.” (Waite) Some of Liz Hazel’s DMs for this card (“uncertain motives or strategies. Sneaking, lying, or evading”) certainly go with this image, and Anna Cook’s statement -- “it warns you against stealing from yourself”— fits perfectly.
From an astrology standpoint, I see the Moon as the most likely connection, as it is known for deception and illusion, a thief’s stock in trade. I like the idea of linking to the Seventh House – house of open enemies – as well. After all, the man on the Waite/Smith card is out in the open, even though he seems to be trying to avoid detection.
I struggle a bit more with the Aquarius/11th House association for this card. Perhaps after more thought it will come to me. Crystal Love’s interpretation *feels* to me like it’s out in left field (sorry, Crystal), and I have trouble with the whole Earth/Swords connection made by Thierens.
Pairing Crowley’s interpretation of the card with the Waite/Smith image, I kind of like the implication of “wish to compromise, a certain toleration.” Is the thief on the card compromising by leaving two swords behind instead of taking them all? Will his behavior be tolerated for that reason?
Too much fun!
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