Tarot Reversals – The Sevens

Tarot Reversals - The Sevens

The Sevens of the Waite Smith tarot seem to be at the pivot point of the fight, whether it be the general struggle of life, or a fight in an actual war. Rather like every-day life in the twenty first century, you might say.

We shouldn’t be surprised that seven is a “pivotal” number as far as the minor arcana are concerned. After all, Netzach, the qabalistic influence, is represented by the right foot. The pivot is best exemplified by the Seven of Swords: our thief hot-foots his way out of enemy territory. He has turned into the home stretch of his high-risk, high-gain military, spying, thieving, or whatever-it-is operation. But we don’t know the outcome yet. He doesn’t see his way out just yet, and we don’t see what’s next, either. With the Seven of Swords, as with the others, we’re frozen in time at the point of the pivot. And the perspectives—upright and reversed—can be described as the view from within and without the pivot.

As for the other Sevens, in the Seven of Wands, the fight is almost upon us. The defender’s attackers are very close. We have reason to believe he will be victorious, but at great cost; for the moment, he’s got his foot firmly planted, so as to hold the high ground. Our farmer of the Seven of Pentacles is also at a pivot point. It’s time to harvest. He’s just a walk to market away from the end of his struggles, but unfortunately for him, he has only small potatoes to show for his efforts. His struggle is unfulfilled and all but over. The dreamer of the Seven of Cups is certainly someone with no feet on the ground. He has even less to show than the potato farmer; for though our hallucinating friend’s attainment may be served in a golden trophy cup, it is nonetheless illusory and empty. Netzach, it appears can pivot either way, for good or bad, as far as the RWS Sevens are concerned.

As usual, this post reiterates the text within the illustrations in the accompanying PDF (link below; note also that the PDF will probably be much easier to read then the bitmap graphic). The purpose is to place the content of the PDF here for the benefit of the web indexers. Unlike the posts at accompany the One Page Guides, there’ll be little or nothing new from this point forward that is not in the PDF. Feel free to skip to the PDF.

In the first post in this series, we introduced the idea that relationships between the divinatory meanings (as defined by Waite in the Pictorial Key to the Tarot) of the upright vs. reversed minor arcana in the RWS can be interpreted as a change of perspective.

In the thirty six cards corresponding to the decans, we find visual clues to understand reversals by looking at the characters’ points of view. Where there is more than one character, we look at their perspectives of each other. Where there is a single character, from the point of view of an outside observer.

For the four Sevens, to illustrate the idea of these perspectives, we find the following (Waite’s meanings in regular typeface, my notes in italics):

  • Seven of Swords no frame

    The Seven of Swords Upright: “design… that may fail”—the planner’s perspective of the mission. Reversed: “good advice”—the perspective of those who would advise him not to as regards to that plan.

  • Seven of Wands no frame

    The Seven of Wands Upright: “valor”—the defender’s perspective looking down at the attackers. Reversed: “perplexity”—the perspective of the attackers trying to “take the hill;” it’s a greater challenge than they thought!

  • Seven of Pentacles no frame

    The Seven of Pentacles Upright: “money… altercation”—the perspective of the failing farmer.. Possibly “ingenuity” refers to avoiding the lender! Reversed: “anxiety regarding (lent) money”—the perspective of the creditors.

  • Seven of Cups no frame

    The Seven of Cups Upright: “fairy favors”—the dreamer’s perspective upon their dreams and desires. Reversed: “desire”—the real world’s (including Vulcan’s) perspective of the dreamer. (possibly Venus) of those dreams

IsleVue Tarot-Zodiac-Element-Sephiroth Wheel of the Golden Dawn

Though I rely on Waite’s writings, the tarot wheel, wikipedia, and my general cultural education to wrest the stories out, there are many other means to do so. I suspect that what I’m demonstrating in the one page guides, and now, these takes upon the reversals, is that there is no “pure” approach to understanding any given card. If you rely 100% on what has been written by the Golden Dawn, A.E. Waite, or anyone who came after them, you won’t ask the questions that lead to a proper understanding. If you take a 100% intuitive approach, you are likely to miss some of the enormous wisdom and energy that was injected into tarot in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, especially by Waite and Colman Smith.

Background for feature image by Elias Sch. from Pixabay

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John Iacovelli

I have spent 30+ years in the computing industry. In it I've pretty much done everything from tech support for elderly people doing genealogy, to documenting compilers, to software evangelist, to direct mail guru, to CIO of an international corporation. And here I am, older and gray, getting interested in Tarot?