The Seven of Swords is a card that can evoke tact, stealth and even manipulation in order to achieve a goal. These matters are often the domain of the mind as opposed to the heart so morality can fall by the wayside during the events of the Seven of Swords. Such is the case with our protagonist Ash Gravedust. Here, we find him giving in to the terror of his impending problems and deciding his best course of action is to protect himself from his spectral assailants by any means necessary. Thus, he chooses to repay Alexis’ trust and kindness by stealing her enchanted sword in the night, leaving her defenseless to the marauding forces of the Swords Kingdom.
The Path of Mental Manipulation
Of course, the Seven of Swords isn’t always about such obvious underhandedness. Sometimes, pacifistic measures and charm succeed where straight out guile fails. For example, Ash’s charm and charisma are solely responsible for so quickly gaining Alexis’ trust. Whether through deceit, glamour or diplomacy, the Seven of Swords will always find the subject choosing to use the mind to settle a problem instead of any type of physical action. Ash has never been so far from his heart as he is in this card but, as emotions fade, the cold, clinical powers of the mind amplify. There are no feelings of guilt or clouds of conscience to confuse Ash. He is singularly focused on his survival and his survival alone.
The Mind Fully Eclipses the Heart in the Seven of Swords
There’s a deep sense of moral ambiguity in the Seven of Swords which can be hard for some people to surmount but for Ash, deceit is a well-worn path. This situation is slightly different in that he is typically betraying fellow scoundrels and not heroic teenage girls who saved his life but, as mentioned before, his focus is undistracted by emotion at this point in his journey. Instead, he feels the looming presence of his worst nightmares and wants to be certain he’s armed and ready if they should find him. While we’ve been watching Ash’s journey unfold on a physical level, the truth is that his actions have not deviated from those of his past. He may have contemplated new paths and momentarily put his fate in the hands of others but he has done nothing selfless; nothing that deviates from his own focus of self-preservation. After considering alternate routes to a solution, it can be sad as a spectator to watch Ash so easily fall back into his system of selfish dishonor. But Ash feels none of this sadness. For people who often act with integrity, however, the Seven of Swords can be a troubling point of compromise. It is also often a point of flight from devious action and, sure enough, upon thieving Alexis’ sword, Ash retreats into the night. While Alexis is now alone, asleep and defenseless, he is staying ahead of his ghosts and he’s armed should they find him. In his mind, this is all that matters.
Spirits in the Material World
In my rendition of the Suit of Swords, I wanted to make sure to use the traditional Japanese symbol of the torii gate. It appears twice within my Suit of Swords; initially in the Seven of Swords and again in the Nine of Swords. The torii is often regarded as a symbolic entry point to a sacred area but can also mark the crossing point between the physical and spiritual world. Here we find a somewhat corrupted version of a torii comprised of a series of swords. On the one hand, it is representative of the sacred space that Alexis occupies and that Ash is so callously violating. On another level, it’s a focal point of Ash’s fears as his nightmares are coming into his physical reality through the spiritual (or even mental) world. The torii serves as a reminder that Ash’s ghosts are solid and can bring him pain on physical, mental and emotional levels. So, in the Seven of Swords, the torii illustrates the catalyst for Ash’s dishonorable actions as well as the depth of the dishonor itself.
The Creation and Destruction of the Swords
A series of familiar swords are used in the construction of the torii. We see the image of Ash’s sword before it was shattered by Zombie Red, the eye-of-the-hurricane sword, the symmetrical snowflake sword with icicle handle first witnessed in the Six of Swords, and Zombie Red’s sword of fear and doubt. However, we’re also introduced to a scimitar with a guard fashioned to look like the spread wings of a vulture and a handle alluding to a gust of wind. Not only are these echoes of the air element but also reinforce the symbols of death associated to the vulture. We also get our first look at another sword that’s been used to impale a defenseless snowman. This sword finds a blade fashioned to resemble a lightning bolt extending forth from a dark storm cloud guard and wind gust handle. There’s a bitterness to the lightning bolt blade rammed through the silent snowman in that quiet deception is being favored over illuminating honesty and truth, which lightning symbolizes. Lightning also symbolizes creative destruction which could be a symbol for those seeking creative power at the cost of a few bridges.
Snowmen of Deceit
The snowmen pictured here are symbols of deceit as well as foreshadowing to threats of future cards in the Suit of Swords. Unlike the vandalized snowmen of the Six of Swords, these snowmen are devoid of mouths to allude to silence, deception and hidden motives. Their arms have been chopped off, leaving them as defenseless as Alexis, who is sleeping in the cold, icy ground just before them, separated by thick clumps of thorny tendrils. These snowmen are victims of the Page of Swords who delights in sadistically playing with sharp objects at the expense of the soft powdery effigies.
In the foreboding, gathering clouds above a haunted manor in the distance, we see the ghastly faces of Zombie Red and the lesbian spectres that pursue Ash. This image was strongly inspired by the movie poster for the 1985 film Fright Night. While Ash is far from the days when his fear immobilized him, it is still a motivating factor in his base actions as the ghosts that cloud his mind terrorize him into the focused, clinical action of the Seven of Swords.
As a reminder of Ash’s most recent betrayal, the borders of the Seven of Swords feature weasels. In Native American mythology, weasels are regarded as providing the medicine of stealth which Ash employs to steal Alexis’ sword before silently fading away into the night. At the corners of the illustration, we find Ash’s previously destroyed sword clashing with Alexis’ sword as a symbol of his betrayal