The Seven of Swords gets a bad rap. Just look at its traditional meanings: deceit, deception, betrayal. You know, all the light stuff. Sounds like fun, right? Yet despite its negative reputation, I've always had a soft spot for this card, and I've found that it also has a softer meaning, too.
I remember reading for myself years ago. I was fresh out of a committed relationship and just dipping my toes into the dating pool. Tinder was new on the scene and I was swiping with wild abandon, finding myself across tables and bars from lovely people who were looking for something serious. And I just... wasn't. It was a heady time.
When the Seven of Swords appeared, I couldn't help but chuckle. Here was this upstanding looking, wholesome person, easily wooing people on their first dates when all they wanted to do was have a good, decadent, and spicy time. In this case, the Seven of Swords represented a delightfully naughty departure from the conventional structures of relationships. I was running away from the encampment, swords in arms, because I didn't want to settle down.
In this case, the deception at work was self-deception. I was unintentionally advertising myself as more stable and desiring of committed romance when internally, I just wanted to kick back and have a good time, no strings attached. I was ignoring the naughtier impulses at work below the surface.
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When we look at the Seven of Swords in this way, the intensity of words like deception, deceit, and betrayal lessens. I find that the more "negative" cards could use a little de-escalation, especially during our initial tarot interpretations. Otherwise The Tower is instant catastrophe or, in this case, the Seven of Swords is a heart-wrenching betrayal.
In this time of my life I was simply feeling much more zesty than I was able to admit to myself. Freeing this impulse from the shadows allowed me to appear as I was: newly single and ready to mingle.
That's why I love this card. It shows us the moments when our thoughts are going one way and our actions another. Just look at the body language: Our protagonist is running in one direction (or maybe even skipping? gallivanting? frolicking?) while looking over their shoulder in the opposite direction. Mind is separated from body, actions from intentions.
And what about those fabulous red boots? Red is the color of passion and its place on the Seven of Swords' shows us that it's the motivating force behind the actions at work. We can look at this card as describing moments where our passion is directing our actions without our complete awareness. This can be energizing, disruptive, and, ultimately unsustainable.
It also shows us how we like to shake things up. We get mischievous and crafty when something's not feeling right. Acting out and seeking newness can feel good, especially when we're able to recognize these behaviors as signs that we need to change something in our lives. And then make those changes, proceeding in-sync and full of vigor.