7 of Swords – Anti-Social
The 7 of Swords can represent deception, betrayal, cheating, lying, withholding information and taking the easy way out by avoiding confrontation or commitment. It is the attitude and behaviour of those put themselves before others.
This message is revealed by showing a man sneaking away from a group of tents with five swords in his hands. As he leaves, he looks back at the community he is leaving behind with a look of confidence and determination. Two additional swords are planted into the ground, standing between him and the tents, as though to separate him from the community.
An onlooker would think that the man is stealing the swords. From the perspective of the man himself, however, he may believe that he is entitled to these swords and that he is taking only what is his. But regardless of the perspective, the fact remains that this man is behaving dishonestly. Instead of addressing the people in the tents, he chooses the path of a thief.
Even if the thief does have a legitimate claim to these swords, his actions render him in the wrong. Civil society has rules set in place to address grievances and disputes. People cannot opt out of rules, laws and customs whenever it benefits them to do so. Communities flourish only when everyone within it willing participates. If everyone bends the rules for themselves, there would be no order and trust.
But perhaps this man believes that he has already done everything possible before taking this route. Perhaps he believes that leaving this community and becoming independent is the only way he can remain true to himself. In this sense, this card can also mean inserting one’s independence. Even if this is the case, however, the consequences of his actions are still hurtful and likely damaging to others.
Yet, the tarot makes no judgement. It merely presents a situation for one to ponder. The purpose of portraying a thief in this card is not to condemn or administer punishment. Instead, it asks us to consider our actions and ask ourselves if we’ve behaved honourably. At the end of the day, will we be able to account for our actions and answer to our conscience?
Hexagram 10 – Treading
This hexagram is composed of Heaven, which symbolizes the father, and Lake, which symbolizes the youngest daughter. Just as the image of heaven is reflected on the smooth surface of a lake, the father imparts his knowledge to his daughter and shows her the way of the world.
He teaches her to distinguish between high and low and right from wrong. He also shows the young girl that the world can be a dangerous place and that the only way to navigate through its dangers unscathed is through care and decorum. We must submit to rules and authority, especially when we are weak. At the same time, however, we must not allow ourselves to be so weak that we yield unquestioningly and lose our sense of self. This is how we cultivate our character as well as our place in the world and, thereby, become strong.
Once we learn how to behave honourably in every situation, when to move forward and when to retreat, and when to apply strength and when to submit, we can tread the most dangerous path. We can even walk on a tiger’s tail and not be bitten.
Nine on line 1:
In the beginning, when we are small and helpless, the best course of action is the course of simplicity. To be simple is to act without grand ambition and progressing at one’s own pace. It is to focus on what we know and perfect what we do. Just as we learn to walk before we can run, we must learn how to walk our own path before making our way out in the world.
Nine on line 2:
The second line teaches us that the path of a hermit is another way to tread properly in this world. The hermit is one who withdraws from the world. In doing so, he asks nothing from society and isn’t burdened by the desires and passions of the world. To know our own path, we must eliminate indulgent cravings and distractions. We should not act for wealth or glory, but aspire towards our own truth.
Six on line 3:
Those with one eye can see, but not well. Those who limp can walk, but not swiftly. It is enough to get by but not enough to lead an army. It is foolish to overestimate our own strength and take on more responsibility than what we are capable of. To do so would only lead to humiliation and possibly even danger. No matter how badly we want to move forward, we must always proceed with caution.
Nine on line 4:
Contrasting the third line, this line shows the success of one who acts with caution. If we are careful and surefooted, we will not be bitten even if we are treading on a tiger’s tail. To be confident internally but still move cautiously will bring success during difficult endeavors.
Nine on line 5:
Innocence in children is the result of ignorance but purity in adults can only be achieved through knowledge and awareness of dangers and evils. Although there is danger in familiarizing ourselves with vices, we must do so in order to distinguish right from wrong. Then, once we have determined what is right, we must resolutely follow the path that leads to it.
Nine on line 6:
To know whether good fortune awaits us, we need only to look back at our lives and examine the choices we’ve made and the actions we’ve taken. What have we produced and nurtured? If we have not strayed from truth and integrity, then success is sure to follow.
Honest, dignified, and respectful behaviour is the duty of every citizen of this world. It matters not whether we are rich or poor, strong or weak, young or old, male or female. When we act with regard to civility, we better ourselves and the communities we are a part of. Conversely, selfish and petty behaviour weakens both ourselves and society. Although cutting corners and cheating others can seem beneficial at first, it will only harm us in the long run by causing mistrust and ill will. During difficult times, those without social support are the first to fall.