A thief believes everybody steals.
E. W. Howe
Is it just me? I sometimes feel like we are constantly getting this card. But when I checked, we actually hadn’t seen it since shortly after the 2016 election. So yes, it’s been a while.
But alas, in this magical time-out-of-time week that features both the Full Moon and Solstice, it is with some disappointment that I must report we are again being visited by the Seven of Swords.
Remember that Swords are ruled by the element of Air, so they represent communication, perception, thought, opinions, and the mind. And although Sevens are often lucky, they are also focused on the individual experience of the moment.
This card features a young man sneaking away from a military camp. He is rather delighted with himself, whether for better or worse. Most importantly (and Seven-ishly), he is acting alone, counter to the group that is gathered in the background, which is why this is sometimes called “The Lone Wolf” card.
He carries five swords in the most unlikely way, for it seems that he must inevitably slice his fingers. Behind, he leaves two stuck in the ground.
He is smiling — some would say smirking — and the way that he looks over his shoulder, it appears that he is acting in haste and stealth. Mid-stride, he does not look to see what lies before him.
Here we have another of artist Pamela Colman Smith’s “stage” cards, meaning that there is a double horizontal line going across the width of the card like a theater stage, instead of the uneven ground of a meadow or road. This is a hint that whatever is playing out before us is some kind of act, or that there is more going on than we (the audience) may know.
As mentioned, in the far left background, the soldiers of the camp are encircled around a fire. Who are they? What are they planning and who are they fighting? Although the man in the foreground is clearly tiptoeing away with most of their weapons, we do not know who he is, how he got inside, or why he is stealing from them. And why do you suppose he is leaving two swords behind?
Perhaps he is a spy or a deserter. Maybe he is a pacifist trying to prevent bloodshed.
Even Arthur Waite’s commentary is contradictory. “Design, attempt, wish, hope, confidence; also quarreling, a plan that may fail, annoyance. The design is uncertain in its import, because the significations are widely at variance with each other.”
Hmmm.. a bit ambiguous, even for Mr. Waite, wouldn’t you say?
Whether the man’s intentions are noble or not, it appears he is about to get away with the loot. Perhaps that is why, unlike all the other more gloomily colored Swords, the Seven is dominated by yellows.
Despite its disturbing premise, the scenario is definitely hopeful and optimistic in some way, at least for someone. The thief? Or perhaps this is where the thief is about to get his comeuppance.
The Thief of Time
Theft is something that everyone experiences sooner or later. From the adamant “MINE!” of a four year-old caught red-handed, to pilfering from the office supply closet, to the widespread plagiarism and unlawful use of copyrighted material on the Internet, stealing is increasingly tolerated in our culture.
But remember that Swords are not material, physical objects. They represent thoughts, perceptions, and the intellect.
So this theft is most likely to do with words, ideas, plans, or visions. It could be someone taking unfair credit for a project; or unethical methods of gaining status within a group. Or it could be identity theft, or a data breach of some sort.
I also often consider the Swords suit to represent the concept of time. If this is the case, then beware, for as the old proverb reminds us, “Procrastination is the thief of time.” Follow through on your plans and decisions, before it is too late.
More conspicuously, though, it is possible that someone is telling lies (or, as by leaving the two Swords behind, partial lies). The two swords left are just enough truth to give this sneak credibility, maybe even an alibi.
Falsehoods and Half-Truths – The New Normal?
When this card came up in 2014, I shared an excerpt from an interview that Bill Moyers conducted with investigative reporter Chuck Lewis about his book, 935 Lies: The Future of Truth and the Decline of America’s Moral Integrity.
It examined the propaganda machinery we had begun to accept back then, and the toll that it was taking on our democracy.
Four years later, that alarm sounds almost quaint.
As everyone is surely aware, the dishonesty, subterfuge, and half-truths floating through the halls of power are polluting civil discourse at every level. Now, with foggy Neptune having stationed direct on Saturday, perhaps it will become more apparent what is real, and what is deception. But I am not counting on it.
After all, there has been so much deceit that the Washington Post’s fact checking system of “Pinnochios” has been augmented to include an additional category. In their summary of the public, political falsehoods they have tracked this year, they write:
There has been no serial exaggerator in recent American politics like the president. He not only consistently makes false claims but also repeats them, even though they have been proved wrong.
The explosion of false and misleading statements from him in 2018 is well documented in our database:
In the seven weeks leading up the  midterm elections, the president made 1,419 false or misleading claims — an average of 30 a day.
We also created the Bottomless Pinocchio, to document false claims repeated over and over again.
They even added a “bonus award for Pinocchio-thievery this year,” thanks to the seven GOP candidates that tried to use the Post’s fact-checking system for their own ends, by lying to the voters about the Pinocchio system itself.
Like in the Seven of Swords, the grain of truth is the truth killer, especially if no one will care enough to dig deeper, or examine who is proclaiming the “truth,” and why.
This week, as you spend more time with family and prepare for the holidays, pay attention to the actors on your own personal stage. Who, in the events that involve you at this time, has real integrity, and who is play-acting? Is someone attempting to take what they have not fairly earned, or what rightly belongs to someone else?
This may be a warning about our own unwillingness to scrutinize someone or something that does not possess the honor we would have hoped. In my experience, it is often the most true-hearted that are the least willing to realize they may have overestimated the trustworthiness of another.
For as the thief believes everybody steals, good people have a hard time believing in the nefarious motives of others.
Confrontation is no fun, especially during this emotional holiday time, with the Full Moon in the family-loving sign of Cancer. It’s particularly tough if we must face down someone with no qualms about causing pain or subverting the truth.
Is there a chance that someone else is showing you a false persona? What glamour spell may they have cast, which deceives and deflects the real truth? What unsavory energy has been allowed to enter your camp?
Who is the traitor? Who or what is about to steal off with your valuable idea, project, or reputation?
And what are they leaving intact, in order to cover their tracks?
What can we do about such situations? Should we defy this behavior, or do we just wait and hope they will trip themselves up? When people seem to get away with unethical behavior, where will they stop?
At least keep asking yourself — what is being shown to you; what is kept hidden? Have the courage to seek the real truth in the dramas you are facing.
If you or those you care about are in doubt or in danger, it may well fall to you to sound the alarm: “Halt! Who goes there?” and “Why?”