7 of Swords

Alt names: Futility, Guile
Keywords: Dishonesty, presumption, sneakiness, assumptions
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Range of meanings

Light: Refusing to do something dishonest, even when there’s no chance of ever being caught. Handling a difficult situation with finesse. Pointing out assumptions. Acting ethically in public and in private. Living a life that is beyond reproach.

Shadow: Stealing or lying. Doing whatever you can get away with, simply because you can. Looking for a way around consequences. Justifying wicked behavior by focusing on the wickedness of others. Failing to examine your own motives and prejudices.

Questions to ask

  1. Do you see opportunities for short-term gains that might have long term consequences? How do you weigh the urgent versus the important?
  2. What assumptions am I making?
  3. How well-defined is my sense of ethics?
  4. How should I respond when I know others are breaking the rules?


Personal Growth: You may fool others, but you cannot fool yourself. When you’re alone, how do you behave? Your answer will provide meaningful insights into your true character.

Work: Embody honesty in the workplace. The smallest dishonest indulgence numbs the conscience, opening the door to larger abuses. Reign in a tendency to do as little as you can. Rather than “get by,” do your best, even if it won’t always be appreciated.

Relationships: If you could cheat and get away with it, would you? Your answer says a lot about you…and your sense of commitment. Secrets are toxic to healthy relationships. Act with integrity, and demand integrity in those closest to you. If you’ve wronged someone, accept the consequences.

Spirituality: While you must not obsess on darkness, you must confront your own Shadow from time to time. To what extent do you live up to your own highest standards? In what situations is your dedication to Spirit challenged most? To gain strength, learn from your weaknesses.

Fortune-Telling: Don’t assume people around you are worthy of your trust. Ask for an accounting of where people have been, and what they’ve been doing.


Astrological: Aquarius

Planet: Moon

Fool's Journey: The main character has an opportunity to win using dishonest means.

The Number 6: The Adjustment: cooperation, collaboration, interaction.

Swords: One of the four suits of the tarot. Also sometimes called blades, knives or athames. Represents logic, objectivity, intellect, and choice. Along with the responsibility such talents bring. Swords suggest logic, clarity, and decision-making. Remember the story of wise King Solomon, who once offered to slice a baby in half in order to resolve a dispute over motherhood? Swords cut through confusion, revealing our agendas in the process.

Sneaky Figure: RWS-inspired illustrations of the 7 of Swords often depict a thief tip-toeing away with stolen goods. He carries five (the number of chaos) swords, but leaves behind two (the number of duality). When we are dishonest, you invite chaos into your life, and force others to question their high opinions of you.

Tents: In the background of many RWS-inspired 7 of Swords, we see a cluster of distant tents. Is the figure in the foreground an outsider, come to steal? Or an insider, taking advantage of his own people?

Content generously licensed from Mark McElroy via TarotTools.com.