By Sarah Taylor
Okay. Something is going on somewhere in your life, whether directly to you or as an event that you’re now aware of, that is testing you. It may be edging you well beyond the line that you consider to be the outer boundary of your comfort zone. It may be far from comfortable — a haranguing and overbearing dissonance. This is the card at the centre of today’s reading: the Seven of Swords.
As always with tarot, however, every problem has a solution, every bitter encounter has a balancing antidote. Readings are nothing if not supremely practical.
Here, the antidote is two-fold, and comes in the form of the cards that flank the Seven of Swords: Alchemy (also known as “Temperance” or “Art”) on the left, and the Two of Stones (Pentacles) on the right. They are a complementary pairing, working less visibly than the Seven of Swords, behind the scenes.
The three cards together are a reminder that conflict-as-distraction can be a compelling and effective way of maintaining a status quo that feeds off those who feel disempowered enough not to do anything about it. Let me say that again another way: if you are feeling “uselessness,” it’s not a side-effect of what’s happening — it is the purpose for what’s happening.
This conflict may be an external one between two parties, or between you and someone or something else. Or it may very well be an act of sabotage that you are playing on yourself — it’s just that that part of you has managed to get away with it. Until now, that is. Because now you can see it, clear as day, in the card in front of you at centre. When I look at the Seven of Swords, I get a visceral feeling that can only be described as squirrelly. There is a weakening discomfort that writhes in my stomach — like iron butterflies. If you’re feeling that somewhere in your life, then perhaps this reading both offers a spotlight so that you can identify it, and points to how you extricate yourself from it.
This extrication is a subtle one. This is not a situation where you go in, sword drawn, with a loud rallying cry. (Not least because it may be you on the other side of that battle line, too.) Nope. Enough with the warring, the belligerent rhetoric, the stinging words, the judgements — all niftily concocted to keep you on the back foot. To fight is to identify with the Seven of Swords; it’s more of the same.
What you need to do is to perform an act of magic — alchemy, in fact. You do this by holding a paradox. Your task, if you want it, is to find an equilibrium between two different ideas that appear to have no resolution.
Carl Jung said that he didn’t work with people under 40. One of the reasons for this, he said, is that they did not have sufficient ego strength to look inside. The ego has to be defeated, the subject humbled, before they are able to do the great work of inner alchemy. Another reason is one connected to this: when we are younger, we want to solve paradoxes, not hold them. A younger ego doesn’t like that squirrelly feeling of non-resolution. It wants control; it wants to be in charge. It resists mystery, it resists not-knowing, it resists being unable to square that circle.
Here, you are in a position to work your magic by allowing that circle to exist alongside that square. This means not moving into the conflict in order to defeat it in the same way it’s being waged; nor is it about identifying with it so fully that you can’t step back to see that there is space around it. It is this space that you can perhaps allow to draw your interest.
It might be something that doesn’t quite sit with the fighting — a part that is not interested in joining in.
It might be that you can feel something present that is not the Seven of Swords, but which is in some way connected to it.
There may be an alliance that you can seek — a form of co-operation or a partnership with other/s — that builds something alongside the Seven of Swords. Not in reaction to it, nor to address it directly. This thing offers an alternative that doesn’t play by the same rules. I’d like to write that it’s a “game-changer,” but what you’ll be creating is more like a quantum shift: it takes it out of the game entirely. No more game.
Or, rather, no more games.
There is the possibility of harmony at a time when harmony may seem entirely impossible. Harmony is there, though. It is accessible through that alchemy, which is a state of holding the impossible while not trying to solve it, and simultaneously being receptive to what else is arising around you that feels better — far better than this old, stale story that’s taken centre stage in a part of your awareness for long enough. Magic seems to me like a far more exciting option.
Astrology/Elemental correspondences: Alchemy (Sagittarius), Seven of Swords (Moon in Aquarius), Two of Stones (Jupiter in Capricorn)
If you want to experiment with tarot cards and don’t have any, we provide a free tarot spread generator using the Celtic Wings spread, which is based on the traditional Celtic Cross spread. This article explains how to use the spread.