7 of Wands – Determination

A lone man stands defensively on top of a hill with a weapon in hand, prepared to fight against the six wands raised towards him. He is being challenged and he is prepared to defend himself, his possessions and his beliefs.

This card expands upon the lessons gained through the 6 of Wands. This previous card taught us that success should be tempered with humility and gratitude, which is how we should react inwardly. The 7 of Wands teaches us that, outwardly, we need to be aware that success introduces new obstacles and oppositions and we should respond to these external forces with determination. In order to protect what has been gained, we need to be firm about our position. When challenged, we need to stand our ground and stand up for what we believe.

When exercising determination, we must be careful not to confuse this quality with stubbornness. It is crucial to be adaptable. We need to know what it is that we are willing to compromise or forego in order to secure peace and maintain healthy relationships versus what is fundamentally important. In addition, we must know the difference between a goal and a path. Our goal should be unwavering but we should be willing to explore different methods of achieving these goals. The strategy we employ should be similar to a game of chess. While it is important to have a plan, the plan must be constantly evolving to react to our opponent’s moves. Remember that the goal is to win, not to capture the opponent’s bishop or queen.

Another thing we must always be mindful of is that determination is nothing without clarity of vision. Part of being prepared for a fight is to know what it is that we are fighting for and who we are fighting against. Examine ourselves and be sure that our sense of determination comes from our innate sense of right and wrong and we aren’t senselessly defending ideas and prejudices that have been passed down to us.

After critical examination, we may realize that our determination need not necessarily exhibit itself in the form of defensiveness. The people opposing us may not be enemies here to strip us of our crown and the difficult situation we face may provide opportunities for greater gain. While determination should prepare us to face challenges, we can choose to face these challenges with enthusiasm and open-mindedness or fear and mistrust.


Hexagram 43 – Decisiveness

Lake above Heaven forms the hexagram of Decisiveness. When water resides in heaven, it takes the form of clouds and, sooner or later, the clouds must fall in the form of rain. Thus, this hexagram speaks of a time when action and change is required.

The statement of this hexagram compares the situation to speaking in the king’s court because when one speaks before the king, one must be firm and resolute. Declaring the truth may be dangerous, but in spite of this, there comes a time when we must make our intentions known and openly align ourselves with good in order to expel evil. The bad needs to be identified so that it can to be discredited. The best way to do so is through communication and to resist the urge to utilize force. Focus on what you stand for and not what you are fighting against.

Nine on line 1:

The first thing that we must understand when we make a decision is that the decision must factor in external forces. We cannot act simply because we want to. We can be strong in our resources and firm in our stance, but if the situation isn’t in our favour, it will be foolish to act.

Nine on line 2:

Decision making requires us to be alert and cautious. Dangers can come from anywhere at any time. We must be aware of our circumstances in order to make the soundest decisions.

Nine on line 3:

Showing determination and showing aggression are two different things. If we make our intentions known too aggressively, we are only inviting trouble. However, if it comes down to risking hostility and alienation by others or the shame of not being true to ourselves, it is better to endure hardship alone than to dismiss our values.

Nine on line 4:

Decisiveness should not result in useless, unchecked advances. When in the midst of a difficult situation, it is crucial to be able to tell whether the hardship is due to obstacles that need to be overcome or errors that we’ve committed. Do not mistaken good advice for hateful slander due to arrogance.

Nine on line 5:

Evil isn’t just the awful things we read about in the news. In fact, the most common forms of evil are petty gossip and small acts of selfishness that we are all capable of. Being decisive about remaining upright and correct isn’t just the big decisions but the daily actions and constant mindful resolution about the mundane things in life. Weed out bad habits as they form because a handful of seemingly harmless bad qualities can lead to a deterioration of character.

Six on line 6:

Note that all the lines of this hexagram thus far are warnings against danger. This is because decisiveness is an incredibly hard balance to achieve. We need to be firm enough to remain true to our beliefs but flexible enough to consider that we may be wrong at times and to know when action isn’t appropriate. If we fail to heed the warnings of these lines, misfortune is bound to follow.



We must wholeheartedly believe in what we want to attain if we want to reach our goal. This requires firm resolution. However, we must take extreme caution when holding onto our resolve so that it does not go overboard into stubbornness or righteousness. Resolution needs to be balanced with constant re-evaluation of ourselves and our surroundings.

Remember that the world is a constantly changing place. The actions that led us to our early success may not be useful in the future. The people who oppose us now may become allies one day. As such, resolution must allow room for change and growth.