Placement: The Minor Arcana


A thief tiptoes away with seven swords from an encampment. He drops one or two of these swords point-down in the golden sand. In Pixie Coleman Smith’s illustration for the Rider-Waite deck, the thief wears a fez hat and a tunic. In the Sola-Busca deck (featured above) the thief wears only a laurel wreath and nothing else. He attempts to wear the swords as clothing. A sharp dresser, to be sure.


Right side up:

Seven of Swords represents shady-doings, crime or a manipulative approach to confrontation.

Alternatively, haste leads to thoughtlessness, cutting corners and poor fashion choices. Haste is how we steal time, and is thus a form of greed. If the Seven of Swords were a squirrel, your birdfeeder would leap beyond the Reptilian Occupation* and land in downtown Post-Apocalopolis. Sunflower seeds will prove valuable there.

It is important to remember that the seventh card in a suit represents the middle of a journey, not the end result. If the sevens were a scene in a movie, it would be the important mid-point turn. If you pay attention to the scene in the dead centre of a movie, you may predict the tale’s conclusion. For example, the superhero first confronts their greatest foe and loses, surviving only by the skin of their superhuman teeth. That loss in the middle means a win at the very end, confronting the very same villain with the skills and wisdom that they learned throughout the second half.

Keeping this in mind, remember that the suit of Swords is the most brutal of all the Minor Arcana. There is nothing bloodless about being alone and clad in ill-gotten blades. Returning to the movie metaphor, imagine an inspirational tale of a child living with cancer. If there is to be a happy ending at all, the midpoint must contain very worst kind of suffering. If the middle involves even the briefest remission, brace yourself for the inevitable blubbering salt water puddle you will soon become. As seventeenth century poet Robert Herrick once said, “Gobble ye popcorn while ye may.”


Upside Down:

Seven of Swords reversed may indicate overthinking a problem, or tiptoeing away from a necessary conflict. In a naively positive interpretation, it may represent freedom. Freedom is, according to the philosopher Joplin, “another word for nothing left to lose.” In the Sola-Busca version, you are therefore naked and unarmed, without even the burden of a twig to protect your decidedly non-larcenous head.


*See Lizards

Classic Seven of Swords deaths:

  • Caught red-handed
  • Annoying the Roman army
  • Being a kind and quirky risk-taker in literary fiction
  • Squirrel-infested time machine