The 7 of Swords: The ‘Lone Wolf’ Complex

The 7 of Swords is one of the more deeply-textured of the Minor Arcana cards that both novices and experts alike struggle to interpret. My own personal quest to understand the 7 of Swords has been fraught with frustration, apathy, and enlightenment in turn as the various meanings attached to this card have become clearer to me over time. The numerological suit of the 7’s speak of detachment, choice, spirituality, the analytical mind, and the scholarly aspects of metaphysics, the occult and religion. This number features prominently in the numerological makeup of philosophers, theologists, scientists and those with a decidedly left-brained slant to life. In the 7 of Swords, the cool, analytical detachment of the 7 is married with the element of Air (Swords), bringing an intensely intellectual feel to the card. Here, the mind and its cognitive faculties are given prominence, with thoughts, attitudes and beliefs playing a core role in the interpretation of this card in the context of its surrounding brethren.

7 of Swords from the 'Tarot of Dreams'.

Most decks following the Rider-Waite tradition show a man in the act of sneaking or escape, clutching seven swords to his chest. He sometimes casts a furtive glance over his shoulder to ensure his movements have not been detected. In some depictions, he clasps only a few swords to him, leaving the others behind while he flees the scene. We are left to wonder if this was a calculated move on his part or simply an incapacity to carry more than he is able to. Β This is the card of the lone wolf, the person who prefers to go about things in his own way, and someone who is independent to the point of isolating himself from all interactions that have the potential to benefit him. There is a certain stubbornness to this desire for autonomous action, one borne more out of an egotistic impulse than any real need to prove self-worth. It is tempting for people just beginning to learn about tarot to interpret this card in the context of ‘thievery’ given the card’s obvious connotations with ‘sneaking’ and ‘running away’ but in truth, the 7 of Swords has far more layers than is immediately apparent.

7 of Swords from the 'Thoth Tarot'

Astrological Association: Moon in Aquarius.

In the Thoth deck, the 7 of Swords is titled Futility, and is astrologically correlated with the Moon in Aquarius. Lunar Aquarians are known for the eccentricities and loner-like tendencies, and the natural emotional effusiveness of the moon is tempered with cool logic and rational detachment. Those with this position of the moon tend to hold onto their independence regardless of marital status; marriage or a long-term committed relationship have no influence whatsoever on their ability to compromise. If a lunar Aquarian feels strongly enough about something, he or she will continue to pursue their path regardless of what their partner, family or culture tells them to do. Independence, willfulness, and a certain degree of stubbornness are all associated with this position of the moon as Aquarius is the sign of Fixed Air. Planets in Aquarius are focused on the mind, with the beliefs, attitudes and values assuming cognitive rather than emotional or spiritual significance, and once set, are strongly resistant to change.

There is a curious tendency for those with the moon in Aquarius to self-sabotage, especially when it comes to personal relationships and matters of the heart. Here, attachments are formed in the mind, and love is given definition in mental rather than emotional terms. Frequently, this position produces a ‘yes-but’ frame of reference in which helplessness or a sense of futility becomes prominent. It is important to remember that first and foremost, the 7 of Swords is a card of the mind, with the central sword in the Thoth deck representing the main aim/ goal to be achieved. The other six remaining swords are indicative of diverging viewpoints or ‘what-ifs’, thereby dispersing energy and making the individual less-focused on achieving said goal.

7 of Swords from the 'Shadowscapes Tarot'

In the context of love and relationships, I’ve found the 7 of Swords to point more to an act of self-deception rather than actual deception. Look to the surrounding cards for more information. Adultery/ betrayal is more likely if the 7 of Swords is present with the 5 of Wands or 3 of Swords (and sometimes the 3 of Cups), but in the absence of these cards, it is best to explore the querent’s concerns in light of their own motivations for being in a partnership. While it is true that the ‘thief’ element introduces a certain level of negativity and is associated with ‘sneaking around’ or ‘cheating’, it becomes important to understand how trust is established in the client’s partnership. This card can point to unnecessary secrecy in a relationship that undermines the intimacy between two people. While boundaries are vital to any healthy relationship, excessive independence can lead to self-imposed isolation, leading both parties to detach from each other. Sometimes, this card can indicate a wish to get to know someone better but a lack of trust in both that person and yourself can keep you from making a move. Because of the 7 of Swords’ association with escape, evasive behavior in a partnership is possible. There can be a tendency to sweep issues under the carpet and pretend they don’t exist, or avoid communicating honestly about important problems in the relationship in the hope that they will magically disappear.

With regards to career, it is important to ask yourself if you’re shirking your responsibilities. In which case, this card could crop up as aΒ warning that your recalcitrance might land you in hot water. Sometimes, this could also point to a career in research as depicted by the act of gathering up the swords (Air: ideas, mental concepts), or work in which written and spoken communication figure prominently. There is the possibility of sabotage through communication as well as a warning to not get embroiled in office politics, given this card’s association with deception and skulduggery.

7 of Swords from the 'Legacy of the Divine Tarot'

In the context of a finance-related question, the 7 of Swords advises that ample research must be undertaken before committing to a major purchase or investment. For the time being, finances can be in a state of flux and will continue to remain so until an opportunity arrives. However, exercise caution when said opportunity does present itself as all may not be as it seems. Remember to be shrewd and discerning, and to maintain integrity at all times.

As a final word, the 7 of Swords is one of those cards that will remain ambiguous at the best of times so look to the surrounding cards for more information and don’t allow yourself to get trapped into interpreting a card based on its obvious characteristics. When I first started studying the tarot, I frequently felt frustrated by the appearance of the 7 of Swords and anticipated getting mugged/ burgled each time it cropped up as my ‘card of the day’. Β What I didn’t realize at the time was that because I was writing my Honours thesis, the card symbolized the act of gathering ideas….in essence, doing research! Have fun with the tarot, and think outside the box at all times! Associations may form the tapestry for the most basic of understandings but it is the deeper symbolic meanings that bring richness and colour to any given reading.

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18 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: The Vile Mouth of Rush Limbaugh | Anthony Louis – Astrology & Tarot Blog
  2. Marco
    Jun 04, 2012 @ 22:55:58

    Thank you for your wonderful explanation! I really needed light on this subject/ card. Your right, it isn’t a easy card to interpreted. In fact it is really complex, but that makes it even better!

    Reply

  3. Asli
    Jul 29, 2012 @ 21:21:38

    Thank you, good post! I was wondering about the deeper meanings of this card and your comment of “act of gathering ideas” while doing your honours thesis was very helpful. This card reminds me Hermes, the God of thieves and communication. I asked about the financial outcome of my new project which requires a lot of research and writing and I drew the Three of Swords and 7 of swords:( Not good cards to receive, when you’ve started to work on a new project, now I feel confused since I worried about the outcome. I don’t want to cancel the project but the possibility of betrayal in future scared me a lot, I don’t know how to proceed. Any advice?

    Reply

    • Rohini Pathmanathan
      Jul 30, 2012 @ 09:39:01

      Hi Asli, thank you for your kind words πŸ™‚
      The 7 of Swords is definitely an enigmatic card to interpret on its own. I never thought about it before, but now that you mention its likeness to Hermes, I think it a very apt description indeed!
      The 7 of Swords in conjunction with its sister 3 does not bode too well unfortunately. I’d be on the look-out for professional sabotage, the ‘stealing’ of your ideas, plagiarism of your research and other such workplace hanky-panky. While there’s absolutely no need to suspend your project, it might be helpful to keep your ideas to yourself. I suppose this might be challenging if what you’re working on is a team-based collaboration but assume the stance of the lone wolf and practice constant vigilance (am I channeling a Harry Potter character here?).
      Alternatively, you could cast an Advice spread for a more detailed look at how you can approach the situation. I’d pay close attention to the card in the ‘Environment’ slot.
      Good luck! πŸ™‚

      Reply

      • Asli
        Jul 30, 2012 @ 22:05:15

        Thank you very much for your good advice, it was really helpful. Luckily, I’m working as a “lone wolf”, not in a team-based project, but I was thinking about including more people, I guess I should do all work alone and try to keep a low profile. The beta version, which had only the crumbs of my research has already been copied, so I have to be extra careful and take extra measures before I launch the project. The environment slot is another swords card: the 8 of swords, I guess their hands and eyes are tied, but still have their feet to kick:)

      • Rohini Pathmanathan
        Sep 18, 2012 @ 16:14:55

        Hi Asli, I do apologise for the late reply. I wish you the very best with your project. The 8 of Swords suggests a bit of a stilted environment…where people are either unwilling or unable to become involved. If the nature of your work calls for a solo effort and allows you to dictate the direction and flow of your vision, then so much the better πŸ™‚
        It all boils down to how comfortable you are playing the role of the lone wolf in the end.

  4. Sonja
    Aug 25, 2012 @ 10:05:23

    Thank you for your interpretations. I receive the 7 of swords for an outcome card finding a job. I was told to do the unexpected and figure out how I could make my self stand out when applying and submitting my materials.

    Reply

    • Rohini Pathmanathan
      Sep 18, 2012 @ 16:12:23

      You’re welcome, Sonja. I do apologise for the late reply. Because of the 7 of Swords’ association with Aquarius, thinking outside the box is always favoured. A certain amount of radicalism is expected, and a slight controversial slant to your conversation and carriage can pay off unexpectedly.
      What other cards are present? If the Celtic Cross spread was used, I’d pay close attention to the cards that cropped up in the ‘Crowning’ and ‘Self’ positions.

      Reply

  5. Geri
    Sep 16, 2012 @ 03:33:02

    What about the 7 of swords in final position with the 5 of swords always showing up? And today they BOTH jumped out of my deck!

    Reply

    • Rohini Pathmanathan
      Sep 18, 2012 @ 16:09:43

      I’d be concerned about people in my immediate environment trying to sabotage me. Depending on the position of the 5 of Swords, it could also point to reckless, impulsive behaviour on your part. For instance, have you dotted all your i’s and crossed all your t’s?
      The outcome is also dependent on the context of your question. But I’d watch out for unholy motives…both yours and other people’s!

      Reply

  6. apple
    Sep 17, 2012 @ 20:00:21

    thank you so much!!!
    you are such a big help! πŸ™‚

    Reply

  7. Kate
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 05:28:05

    Dear Rohini – I find your interpretation of the cards most illuminating. Wanted to say thank you.

    Reply

  8. Kate
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 05:32:31

    I asked a question about a man that keeps coming and leaving my life – someone that I ‘sense’ on a deeper level yet, I’m having trouble understanding – the cards I pulled were Five of Wands, Seven of Swords, and Strength. From you analysis I gather this man is not around me with the best intentions.

    Reply

    • Rohini Pathmanathan
      Mar 24, 2015 @ 09:16:57

      Dear Kate, thanks so much for the kind words πŸ™‚ I’m glad you found the interpretation helpful, and I must apologise that I’m only responding to you two years after the fact!

      He certainly doesn’t seem like he has the best of intentions. In fact, he seems like he’s battling a lot of inner discord and has trouble separating his baser desires from his deeper spiritual motivations.

      Reply

  9. Danielle
    Dec 09, 2013 @ 11:03:29

    This was very helpful. love your other interpretations as well. please write more for other cards! πŸ™‚ You should market your website with ads. im sure if you write more people looking for your interpretations will come back πŸ˜€

    Reply

    • Rohini Pathmanathan
      Mar 24, 2015 @ 09:14:02

      Thanks for the lovely comment, Danielle πŸ™‚ It’s been close to three years since I logged on to my WordPress blog. Perhaps this is the year I revive my motivation to share my interpretations of the tarot with others πŸ™‚

      Reply

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