Sunday, 23 March 2014

Moon never beams without bringing me dreams -- 7 of Swords in Cosmic Tarot

The RWS 7 of Swords looks nothing like this one from the Cosmic Tarot. It has the familiar depiction of a man apparently sneaking away with five stolen swords from amongst the tents of a medieval jousting tournament.  (The other two remained stabbed in the ground -- or rather the floor of the stage.) The meaning of the 7 of Swords in Cosmic Tarot is closer to that of Thoth. In fact, I would say the Cosmic Tarot is a Thoth-inspired or Thoth-based deck, as far as meanings go. You can see on the bottom of the Thoth 7 of Swords the card title 'Futility'. The Golden Dawn called it 'Lord of Unstable Effort.'

I really don't know why 7 of Swords has come to mean 'theft' or 'deceit' in common parlance, other than the figure in the RWS card tiptoeing away from the apparent scene of his crime. So leaving aside the vagaries of Pamela Colman-Smith's image, let's take a look at the 7 of Swords from Cosmic Tarot, reading it in light of Thoth/Golden Dawn interpretations. In Book of Thoth, Aleister Crowley writes, 'The 7 of Swords is called Futility. It has a passive sign instead of an active one, a passive planet instead of an active one. It is like a rheumatic boxer trying to 'come back' after being out of the ring for years. Its ruler is the moon. The little energy it possesses is no more than dream work. It is quite incapable of the sustained labour which alone, bar miracles, can bring any endeavor to fruition.' The 7 of Swords, according to Crowley's system, is ruled by the moon in Aquarius. 

'The Moon in Aquarius comes up with the grand ideas, but can have a hard time with the nuts and bolts. Some may find the mundane challenges of daily life, such as paying bills or doing the dishes, to be a herculean struggle. When feeling insecure, they may hide behind a veil of aloofness and try to blend in with the multitudes. Some find connection by simply sitting alone in a public place, such as a coffee shop.' ~ Molly Hall

So we begin to see where 'Lord of Unstable Effort', and even 'Futility' comes from. It's an astrological association. The word futility itself simply means, 'the quality of having no useful result'. It is not the same thing as 'doom', though some people do seem to think that's what the word means. 'Futility' is merely not of any particular use. And so lingering around the house all day in one's bathrobe, never quite eating a full meal, never quite watching an entire show or reading a chapter from a book, having got through an entire day with out really accomplishing anything -- that could very easily be a 7 of Swords day. 'Futility' doesn't mean horrible, gloom, or despair. Just kinda pointless.

The image from Cosmic Tarot is dominated by the moon in the cloudy sky, its pale yellow colour repeated in the large cloak draped over the woman's shoulders and arms, as if she is clothed in the moon's energy. The seven swords are stabbed into the ground around her, which is completely barren and grey. She is strolling out of the open circle of the swords toward the moon, moving in slow, languorous steps, and we can see she is reaching her left arm out to straighten the robe so she can toss it over her right shoulder, enveloping herself in the energy of this 'passive planet', the moon. She will continue to stroll in her slow, purposeless way, casting a shadow in the moonlight, looking down at her pale feet, thinking of nothing in particular, or if she is thinking it will be of something inconsequential, or of something quite 'grand' but of no practical application. She will look back on the past hours and wonder where they went, and what she was doing during them.

It's that sort of Futility -- and in fact, I spend most Sundays like that! Just sort of piddling around, not accomplishing much. There's nothing wrong with a bit of idleness, sometimes.

5 comments:

  1. Sounds exactly like my yesterday's mood. I find it rather unsettling to feel like that.

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    1. It is unsettling, but it does happen on occasion. :)

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  2. Thank you for going deeper with the 7 of Swords. I agree with you, and I think this mood can be unsettling, but good sometimes. Our days are filled with thinking and focusing and things to do. Sometimes its ok to be idle.

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    1. You're welcome, Marcia. Thanks for reading my blog and taking time to comment. :)

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  3. I'm very accustomed to alternative takes on the Seven of Swords, but love your explanation and take on futility. It dovetails nicely with research, which I sometimes see in this card: it can be easy to slide into all sorts of atricles and webpages that really have very little to do with what I first set out to find ;)

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