Quantum - The Seven Swords


The Seven Swords has had a lot of bad press in its day, and not all of it is undeserved <grin>. So has radioactivity, the breaking down and changing of particles as other, smaller, particles are released.

Many years before this deck was designed, I remember doing a reading for myself, because I was tempted to enter into a relationship with a new person, having been comfortably and happily alone for a while. This person had already told me they were surrounded by neighbours who dealt drugs, fenced stolen goods etc. The Seven Swords came up. I went with the usual interpretation of it as a lack of candour, a dishonesty, but made a value-judgement that the dishonesty was on the part of people surrounding them, not themselves. I learnt differently, to my cost.

The image shows us a cluster of an "atom" - pink and green subatomic particles cluttered together in the centre of the tracks of electron orbits. Seven swords, shiny and rapier-thin, are pointing outwards and shooting away from the cluster, changing its elemental nature and becoming the energy of radioactivity.

I remember an interview of some of the people involved in the immediate response to the Chernobyl breakdown, who said they felt a stinging heat on their skin. A friend of mine, the late Doug Rickard, was the last survivor of the Maralinga cleanup crew in Australia: less was known about radioactivity back then, and they were deemed to have suitable protective clothing in gloves, steel-capped boots and sunglasses. They were just boys - they were all wearing shorts and singlets. They were all toasted by radioactivity, and within five years half the cleanup crew were dead. Doug managed to outlive the second-last survivor by decades, poor man, and died horribly after a long and complicated illness. And Doug, too, said it was like a burning tingle on the skin. Sometimes I sit on a particular seat against a brick wall when I'm waiting for something: if it happens to be even a mildly warm day and I'm wearing black pants, the blackness will trap not only the direct sunlight but reflected heat from the concrete below me and bricks near me, and my legs will feel a tingling burn. Perhaps what Doug and the Chernobyl crew felt was a ramped-up version of that, as they were bombarded with flesh-unfriendly barrage of subatomic particles. You can feel it, but you cannot see it, and the official wisdom (probably from people with "average" skin-sensitivity) is that you can't even feel it.

This card, dazzling though it is, tells us that all is not what it seems. I should, perhaps, have taken note of the card years ago, and avoided that person. Fair words and a fair face do not guarantee a fair heart. And with the heart of the radioactive minerals sending out clouds of energy-packets in all directions as they decompose, nothing can be what it seems, nothing can stabilise for a long time.

People should be cautioned against thinking of this as a "bad" card, or an "evil" card. It isn't. It is a warning-card, a warning that other people may not be as honest as you would like them to be. As such the card deserves better press - it is serving a function, like an orange flashing light on a barrier near a steep drop, or a red light on an intersection, or a guide dog stopping a blind person from crossing a busy road into danger. Are guide dogs and warning-lights seen as bad? Nope. And neither should this card be. It merely counsels caution. What situation requires an oblique approach?