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Join Date: 26 Aug 2002
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Maat Tarot Study Group Seven of Swords


Last Quarter Moon in Leo: The Seven of Swords

Illusion is a major theme of this arcana. In the background a burial sheet coils in upon itself and is just about to complete a circle. Its source seems to be the clothing of a man whose torso is mostly nude: A beautifully worked Renaissance sleeve is intact; otherwise, the fine suit of clothing dissolves to feed the sheet. The state of the clothes notwithstanding, the man’s body seems to be young and in a fair state of health.

Assuming that the body does not deceive, we may now turn our attention to the head from whence deception, if it is present, arises. There is, I believe, a single head which sports two faces: a skull looks at us and a young face in profile looks to the left. The third face, also in profile, is a mask.

Three layers: now the fun starts.

First layer: the mask. The figure in this arcana is a Renaissance character—at least according to his clothing. The mask fits that culture, too. Of course Renaissance people did not go about literally holding masks. However, they were expected to construct a mask using behavior, speech, and even clothing to conceal what they thought, felt, or intended. There were manuals to tell one how to do this. So, here we have an apparently wealthy young man pretending to be wise and experienced. But he’ll only fool the foolish because his body (literally or metaphorically) will give him away.

A modern reader might interpret the mask differently, however, because most people have some knowledge of psychology these days. With the idea that a person’s self-image is likely to lag behind his/her chronological age, one might conclude that the young face along with the young body is the man’s idea of himself which is “masked” by age. In that case, we’d have an old man fooling himself.

Second layer: face of flesh. This young face is the least visible face of the three, for all it seems to be the one in control of itself and the mask. Problem: it does look like flesh except it’s blue and has a blue nimbus surrounding it. A similar blue nimbus covers the top of the hand manipulating the mask. Now perhaps this young face has reached the sixth level sword (the blue chakra) or perhaps the blue is a ghostly blue and is letting us know that this face is the least “real” of the three faces we see, even though it fits the body best.

The third layer: the skull. So you don’t like masks? You want to see it like it is? Then this is the face for you. It is beyond doubt the ultimate earthly reality. Beyond that metaphysics takes over. Traditionally, however, a skull appearing in the way this one does—atop a well-fed and (perhaps) youthful individual, and facing the viewer—stands for vanity, self deception and a wish to deceive others. The winding shroud being formed from the fine clothing is a visual metaphor for this concept as is the mask.

And speaking of coils. . .

Between the shroud and the figure may be a saving grace. Seven swords are ranked corresponding to chakra levels from anal(red) to supercranial (purple) in more or less prismatic order. Chakras are part of a system of yogic practices in which one attempts by meditation and other contemplative exercises, postures, etc. to awaken ones vital power. This power, which takes the form of a serpent (a.k.a. the kundalini), coiles itself three and a half times around the sacrum but may be induced to rise to higher levels within the body via the spine, primarily. The higher ones kundalini rises, the greater is the spiritual progress. Ultimately one might even reach beyond the body, but the pentultimate chakra corresponds to the head. This chakra is blue, which likely accounts for the blue color of the young face. If so, the person depicted has made considerable spiritual progress despite his worldly posturing.

Which all goes to show that we can be fooled from the right to the left.

So how does all this connect with the following:

“’The last quarter moon phase symbolizes the power of an acute awareness of ideals and high standards and the implementation of these standards into daily life. Disappointment can occur if these standards are not met.‘ "

because the connections are there to be made.
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