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Futility - 7 of Swords - Thoth

Thread originally posted on the Aeclectic Tarot Forum on 16 Mar 2003, and now archived in the Forum Library.



Kitty  16 Mar 2003 
Hi All!

The discussion about the keywords on the Thoth cards got me thinking...

The seven of swords is labelled "futility"

Looked up the dictionary meanings....


A useless act or gesture
No valuable effect
Uselessness as a consequence of having no practical result
Lack of importance or purpose - frivolousness
A futile act

Hmmmm pondering these definitions in relation to the card - have I missed something here? I have always looked at the 7 of swords as cunning/devious behaviour - knew that the Thoth was different though. Or is it that the cunning/devious behaviour is futile?

So could the 7 of Swords show useless thoughts - thinking that brings about nothing of value? Thoughts that will not lead to a practical result?



Comments? 


firemaiden  16 Mar 2003 
HI Kitty, I have pondered this one myself. I don't really have an answer, but what comes to mind right now, is, when direct action is impossible, (like when one tiny sword is overpowered by 6 others) devious and cunning action becomes necessary. 


Kitty  16 Mar 2003 
Quote:
Originally posted by firemaiden
HI Kitty, I have pondered this one myself. I don't really have an answer, but what comes to mind right now, is, when direct action is impossible, (like when one tiny sword is overpowered by 6 others) devious and cunning action becomes necessary.


I like that interpretation! That makes sense to me - can see how that works with the picture on the thoth card.

Lets hope some of the others have some thoughts to help us out :) 


Macavity  16 Mar 2003 
It is indeed a strange one! Barrett's Ancient Egyptian uses the image of a bunch of guys with swords waiting outside a (house?) door... ostensibly to "mug" the occupant - But only if the latter chooses to exit that way? He could be equally as devious? But it looks (potentially!) more FATAL than futile? Heheh :D I suppose it is the image of (as Crowley says) "many feeble" versus ONE strong. Haindle says "uselessness" - hmmm.

Good Question! :)

Macavity 


Kitty  16 Mar 2003 
Found this in a search on the internet...

www.angelpaths.com/swords/swords7.html

Interesting. I understand more about the thoth interpretation of the 7 of Swords but still doesn't really answer our question....

time for bed for me - catch you all tomorrow :) 


HOLMES  16 Mar 2003 
as i was thinking of futility and the ideal of the 7 of swords, and the possiblity of the chariot manifested in the mental world of the swords.
and taking into account the hints of the tower, the star and the moon into it. some ideas come to mind.

in much of today world it seems futilie to try certian things as circumstances are against us and our backs are against the wall.
this ideal is been in countless movies where the lawman is outgun, and he tries a trick in order to turn the tide.
(in josey whales when old clint left to do guerrila warfare upon the will sampson band of natives. chief dan george character says he doesn't plan to come back he knows he can help us best .. (i just forgot the rest ehe)
yet when he got to the camp instead of running in there and killing the chief like it was his plan. he talked words of steel, and made peace.

perhaps it is possible to make peace as the chariot in the rider (i know we are talking about toth) is at a standstill currently planning his next move before travelin again. he isn't resting, but preparing.
so coming back to the futility plan, sometimes we have to act and we know we will lose, but still we do it anyways it is interesting it is in the mental world instead of spiritual, or emotional or physical. perhaps it is on the mental world where the battle is to fought, our own personal battles that dictate from where we will travel next.
the hint of the tower in the 7 of swords and futility give us the question are we acting now with our sabatoge action to avoid the tower from falling or help it to fall as it foundation is weak. ?
the hint of the star in the cards ask us are we coming from this plan out of hope or is there reality in it. do we still have hope it will work ?
the hint of the moon in the 7 of swords ask us do we have all the information as we are making our plans from the ideal of deceptions and we are responding in kind. we are following our wolf instincts right now . 


Rusty Neon  16 Mar 2003 
Some quotes from Crowley could explain how he saw this card as expressing Futility.

In the GD system, this card is Moon in Aquarius.

In the description for 7 of Swords in the _Book of Thoth_, Crowley writes:

"The symbol shows six Swords with their hilts in crescent formation. Their points meet below the centre of the card, impinging upon a blade of a much larger up-thrusting sword, as if there was a contest between the many feeble and the one strong. He strives in vain."

On the 7s, Crowley writes:

The Seven of Swords is called Futility. This is a yet weaker card than the Seven of Wands. 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" afer being out of the ring for years. Its ruler is the Moon. The little energy is possesses is no more than dream-work; it is quite incapable of the sustained labour which alone, bar miracles, can bring any endeavour to fruition. The comparison with the Seven of Wands is most instructive."

In the Golden Dawn's manuscript, Book "T", this card is instead called Unstable Effort. The GD meanings are closer to the meanings inferrable from the images in the RWS 7 of Swords.

From Book "T": "Partial success, yielding when victory is in grasp, as if the last reserves of strength were used up. Inclination to lose when on the point of gaining through not continuing the effort. Love of abundance, fascinated by display, given to compliment, affronts and insolences, and to detect and spy on another. Inclined to betray confidences, not always intentional. Rather vacilating and unrealiable, according to dignity as usual. ... Journey by land, in character untrustworthy." 


Hedera  16 Mar 2003 
I shouldn't really join this discussion, I suppose, because I am the happy owner of a keyword-less Thoth deck... (2, actually) :)

...but I just wanted to share my initial impressions of this card.

It seems to have a very pale, moonlight coulour to it, somehow the atmosphere reminds me of the 8 of cups in some decks, except this card has a very cold feel. There is a waning moon at the top, indicating something decreasing. The clear thinking and rational, systematic thought process from the 6 of swords perhaps?
The whole card has a fragile feel, like the big sword in the middle is about to be shattered, or could be shattered if you're not careful in your actions/thoughts.

I'm not great on numerology, but I tend to see 7 as a very unstable, challenging number. It could be that this card is about doubting your own mind, not wether you're sane or not, but wether your ideas and opinions are strong enough, will hold up to scrutiny/ daylight. Maybe all your intellectual efforts are futile? I see this as a card that poses that question, rather than answers it.


And all the while I'm typing this, I'm trying to block out a stern voice in my mind that says: 'Resistance is futile.....' :D 


Thirteen  16 Mar 2003 
Quote:
Originally posted by Rusty Neon
"...It is like a rheumatic boxer trying to "come back" afer being out of the ring for years. Its ruler is the Moon. The little energy is possesses is no more than dream-work; it is quite incapable of the sustained labour which alone, bar miracles, can bring any endeavour to fruition."


Rusty, this is really a great quote. Excellent find! I think it brings VERY MUCH into focus the meaning of the card.

Crowley's observation of the card, as so many of his interpetations, give a slightly different spin to it than the more direct "Thief" card of Waite. But the meaning is essentially the same:

One or more small weak folk want to bring you--a stronger opponent--down. If they face you straight on, they might win, but they'll sustain great injury. You are still the prize fighter, if aging. So, instead, they gang up and use deceit. Swords are Air--they are using mental, legal and verbal tricks to defeat you. Like insects, stinging. Your first inclination will be to swat, to swing, to fight back! To loudly maintain your reputation--to defend yourself.

This is futile. And any dream you have of defeating them straight on, to get justice in an open court as it were, is futile.

Once, the card acknowledges, you were strong enough to withstand such an assult. Once, you might have been able to call them out and win. But like the aging prize fighter, no longer. Deceit, nasty tricks, fighting fire with fire or just getting out of the game is the only way you are going to survive this.

You can see how much this could apply to just about any situation--most especially one where reputations are involved. It is, sadly, a brutally real and cynically honest card. It reminds me of this current case--a guy put out a patent on some web design then started suing anyone using anything remotely like it. He gives them the option to "pay" him for the patent. Most folk pay EVEN if they KNOW they're not in patent violation because it would cost far much more to take it to court. One scrappy guy has decided to fight it.

The patent guy said, quote, "If I wins, I win, I get my money. If I lose, I still win. I still have the patient, I can still make my money. He's the one who had to bring it to court, lose sleep over it, etc."

That, to me, is VERY much the 7/Swords. The patent holder is manipulating the law to screw honest people. Dreaming of justice, of a "fair" fight in this instance is, sadly, futile. It SHOUDN'T be, but thanks to the way the law is, it might be. 


Hedera  16 Mar 2003 
Thank you Thirteen, that is a very clarifying post!

And Rusty, too; I think your combined posts made this card a lot clearer to me.

Thirteen, did Crowley's opinion come from the Book of Thoth?
I keep meaning to download it, but I'm waiting for a faster (+cheaper) internet connection.... 


Kaz  16 Mar 2003 
just adding the card here for peeps that dont have the deck.

~kaz 


Kitty  18 Mar 2003 
I have read over the responses - thank you to you all - very helpful- have done some reading too - put it all together into my own notes...

"Not wanting to face the truth, allowing deceptive thoughts and thoughts not based on reality, to hinder clear thinking. Trying to kid yourself and others."

The two words which relate to the RW (for me) are - deceptive and kidding yourself and others - can see how they relate the the RW

I see the thoth as emphasizing the your own deceptive thoughts while the RW emphasis is on your own but also the deception by others that cloud your judgement.

What do you think? 


Macavity  18 Mar 2003 
It's been a great thread indeed! :) I have found it useful to go through the RWS, while looking at the images and (usually) recalling the Thoth's keywords. It also occurs to me that the match is indeed rather GOOD in most cases. Unsurprising maybe, but some notable "mismatches" stick in my mind... and might be motivation for future threads? (Hint!) The most recent exercise leaves me feeling (variably) sceptical over:

3 Wands - Virtue
4 Wands - Completion

4 Cups - Luxury
8 Cups - Indolence

2 Swords - Peace
4 Swords - Truce
7 Swords - Futility (say no more!)

2 Disks - Change
7 Disks - Failure

(Obviously!) A matter of opinion, but perhaps some consensus can be achieved? Or maybe the "obvious" can be explained... to me! Heheh :D Thoughts/threads welcome...

Macavity 


firemaiden  18 Mar 2003 
Excellent list, Macavity. The answer is yes.

oh? yes what? Okay, well, actually, I can live with the as change, because it isn't just change, its that swirling snake thing, which looks just like the RW juggling thing. Change sort of in the sense of constant juggling. The German keyword Wechsel - I like better, change - but also mixing... more like swirling jiggling type of back and forth and around change then sudden death-type change.

As for the two of swords, I can live with that too. Peace, in the sense of balance for the moment, which is also implied in the RW card. A happier shade of balance perhaps in Crowley.

I can live with the as virtue too, mainly because the RW card makes no sense any way (to me) (sorry). Virtue, as virtue going rewarded, such that the ships are coming in -- virtuous behaviour and or labor, that will reap benefits. (good karma)

The : also never made a ton of sense to me in the RW. Okay, there's a hoopa (chupa?) for a marriage from four wands, and people leaving a castle - a wedding procession. IN the sense that one's bachelorhood is over at a wedding, and a new life together beginning, that is also completion -- so is the completion of the man and wife coming together to be a complete whole. Completion, maybe in the sense of wholeness, as well as in the sense of "Vollendung" full-ending which is the German Keyword.

- as luxury. Another RW card that hinges on making no sense. another cup being offered - more than required or necessary? luxury? hmmm

- radical, isn't it. Isn't the Crowley card gross? lugubrious, fementing sludge. yuck, and phosperescent green light for the rotting. hmm. Maybe it is in the turn inward of the guy in the RW cup, that we see he feels the sense of rotting, and need to turn in a new direction...

before I lose this... I post, and ponder the 4 of swords... 


firemaiden  18 Mar 2003 
AS for the four of swords, let me get back to you. I am going to take a long long death-like nap, and when I awake I am sure I will have the answer, meanwhile, please be sure to hold your fire. 


Kitty  19 Mar 2003 
Quote:
Originally posted by Macavity
It's been a great thread indeed! :)

3 Wands - Virtue
4 Wands - Completion

4 Cups - Luxury
8 Cups - Indolence

2 Swords - Peace
4 Swords - Truce
7 Swords - Futility (say no more!)

2 Disks - Change
7 Disks - Failure

(Obviously!) A matter of opinion, but perhaps some consensus can be achieved? Or maybe the "obvious" can be explained... to me! Heheh :D Thoughts/threads welcome...

Macavity


Oh what have we started ;) Good Idea Macavity!

As a starter, the one which stood out to me - 7 of Disks - Failure - appears quite different to that of RW - hmmm the sevens again - perhaps is there something in the way that thoth presents the sevens? Different to that of RW....

*kitty off to have a look - I looooooove doing little bits of research*

Start new threads for each so that others know we are discussing... 


Macavity  19 Mar 2003 
Thanks Firemaiden and Kitty.

I think we've essentially now "done" 7 Disks - Failure and 7 Swords - Futility? I'm also not quite sure WHERE such threads might go? I am happy to (rapidly!) "concede" there isn't much of a problem with: 2 Disks and 2 Swords - In agreement with Firemaiden! :)

Hmmm... What does that leave - Quite a small number hopefully?

3 Wands - Virtue
4 Wands - Completion
4 Cups - Luxury
8 Cups - Indolence
4 Swords - Truce
6 Swords - Science **

I'll leave 4 Swords "on" - In retrospect, I have a decreasing problem with that one? BUT I've now added (aaargh) 6 Swords - Science! Hah, What think ye of that, Eh? :D

There are some (minor) candidates such as 8 or 9 Disks(??), but I've never quite been sure what Waite was trying to say on the LATTER one anyway... Anyone have any more - Or indeed any less?? ;)

Macavity 


Thirteen  20 Mar 2003 
McCavity--

Would love to discuss all of these. Could we have a separate thread for them? Like "7's in Thoth" thread, 4's in Thoth thread? Etc. It'd be nice to really explore them and I suspect this thread will get very crowded very fast if we try to stick all our thoughts on all those cards here! 


Kitty  21 Mar 2003 
Quote:
Originally posted by Macavity
(Hint!) The most recent exercise leaves me feeling (variably) sceptical over:

3 Wands - Virtue
4 Wands - Completion

4 Cups - Luxury
8 Cups - Indolence

2 Swords - Peace
4 Swords - Truce
7 Swords - Futility (say no more!)

2 Disks - Change
7 Disks - Failure

Macavity


Macavity - I did reply this is the other day - but for some reason it hasn't appeared in the thread (?) Yes! lets start analysis of some of the other cards - the one from your list which stands out to me is the 7 of Disks - Failure - maybe there is something in the way the Thoth presents the sevens which is different from RW? 


XLCR  22 Mar 2003 
I noticed when talking about the 7 of swords you al mention Thoth. I use the Sacred Circle tarot and my seven of swords is labled "Diplomacy" and pictures seven swords coming to a point with one seeminly larger in the center fore ground. Does this give a different maning to the 7 of swords when using this deck? 


Diana  22 Mar 2003 
XLCR: I have been reading this thread with great curiosity. I don't use the Thoth deck, and I have been racking my brains how on earth a seven and a suit of Swords can mean futility.

I really think that this is very much a Thoth interpretation and probably can't be transposed to all other decks.

I'm interested to see that the Sacred Circle 7 of Swords is called "Diplomacy". It's rather limiting, but makes more sense in my mind than calling a 7 of Swords "futility". But of course, Crowley is quite entitled to call his cards what he likes. 


The Futility - 7 of Swords - Thoth thread was originally posted on 16 Mar 2003 in the Using Tarot Cards board, and is now archived in the Forum Library. Read the active threads in Using Tarot Cards, or read more archived threads.

 


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