The Seven of Swords is the seventh tarot card in the Minor Arcana suit of Swords and represents the feeling that one must use strategy, covert action, or a tactical approach to getting one’s needs met. It speaks to the ways that the mind can either unlock novel solutions to untenable problems or otherwise lead us astray with circular thoughts that lead to a state of paralysis.

The Seven of Swords is associated with the element of air, the third decan of the astrological zodiac sign Aquarius (20-29 degrees), and is ruled by the Moon. The Moon’s nature as highly changeable speaks to the unstable nature of the mind. In this card, the man in his fur-trimmed hat and boots is portrayed as a trickster, which speaks to the mind’s ability to use trickery and self-deception to scam oneself into believing powerful delusions.

Where the key meanings of the Major Arcana focus on life’s overarching themes and events, Minor Arcana cards like the Seven of Swords explore and reveal the more subtle changes impacting one’s day-to-day life and near future. The Seven of Swords also bears similarities with its sibling cards the Seven of Cups, Seven of Pentacles, and Seven of Wands, in that all four deal with overcoming hurdles and facing challenges in order to achieve a desired goal or outcome.

Seven of Swords Keywords

Upright Keywords

Reversed Keywords

covert action, resourcefulness, strategy, insecurity

imposter syndrome, self-deceit, learning to trust again

Description of the Seven of Swords Tarot Card

In the Six of Swords, an exiled family left their homeland by boat in search of a new home. In the Seven of Swords, the figure finds himself to be a stranger in a strange land and is confronted with the need to be resourceful and adaptable. This card precedes the Eight of Swords, which shows the result of identifying with false beliefs that are seeded in this card.

In the classic Rider-Waite Smith tarot deck, a man is dressed in a fur-trimmed hat and boots, which gives him a trickster-like quality and potentially signals that he’s trying to blend in with his environment (the tents in the background are made of rich tapestries). He seems to want to go unnoticed as he carefully sneaks away from the camp, five of the enemy’s swords in hand.

The man’s face turns one way while his feet turn the other, indicating an internal tension due to feeling pulled in opposite directions. This body posture also speaks to themes of misdirected action, doublespeak, and a misalignment of intention and behavior. He appears to be engaged in a strategic move to acquire the resources he needs by covertly sneaking away with the enemy’s swords.

This act of theft may be the only way that he’s able to survive, or he may be operating from a mindset of scarcity which drives him to believe that this is his only option. This card speaks to the ways that the mind can convince us of apparent certainties that aren’t true and lead us to act out of insecurity, fear, and doubt.

Seven of Swords Upright Meaning

In the upright position of a tarot card reading, the Seven of Swords may indicate that you are acting from a place of scarcity, insecurity, or self-doubt and that these entrenched beliefs could be leading you astray. If you are operating from the belief that you have to act covertly to get your needs met, you may be undermining your efforts and your integrity.

You may be approaching a situation with your cards held close, afraid to reveal your true self out of a fear of being rejected or denied. This could lead to saying one thing and doing another or behavior that confuses others with its performativity and misdirection. This card suggests the need to align your behavior with your true intentions and focus the mind on clarity of thought and action.

The Seven of Swords upright can also indicate that you are involved in a situation that requires careful strategy, wit, and resourcefulness to navigate successfully. You must call on your resilience in order to move through the situation and achieve your ends. Your ability to think outside the box and arrive at ingenious strategic solutions will help you succeed.

Love and Relationships (Upright Meaning)

In a love reading, The Seven of Swords upright suggests that there’s a lack of clarity within the context of a relationship. Someone may not be speaking up about their true needs out of fear of being rejected or dismissed, which could lead to situations where one acts in secrecy. This card encourages open, direct, and clear conversations where each person can express their true desires, needs, and motivations.

The upright Seven of Swords can speak to a feeling of insecurity within your love life or a relationship. You could be operating from the belief (consciously or unconsciously) that you’re not worthy or deserving of love, and so you behave in ways that could be self-sabotaging your romantic connections. This card invites you to examine the root causes of any false beliefs you hold about yourself with self-compassion.

Love/relationships upright keywords

Career/finance upright keywords

denying true needs or desires, secrecy, insecurity, self-sabotage

need for careful strategy, negotiation, juggling too many responsibilities, scattered energy

Career and Finance (Upright Meaning)

The Seven of Swords upright can indicate that you are involved in a situation within your work or business deals that requires careful strategy, resourcefulness, and negotiation between two parties. You may need to employ novel tactics and approaches to securing what you desire in order to avoid blowing up the situation. Use your wits and intelligence to find a way around a seemingly impossible situation.

A career tarot reading with an upright Seven of Swords can also indicate that you’re trying to juggle too many responsibilities, and as a result, you feel like your energy is being spread too thin. You could be faced with many distractions, divided attention, and restless thoughts, which are scattering your efforts. This card may come as a suggestion to focus your energy and hard work on that which is of the highest priority.

Seven of Swords Reversed Meaning

A tarot spread with a reversed Seven of Swords can indicate that you’ve spun an intricate web of sneaky rationalizations around certain actions or behaviors that are becoming increasingly convoluted. Your actions and your words may be at odds with each other, which is creating confusion for yourself and others. This card is an encouragement to be honest with yourself about what it is you truly want and need.

The Seven of Swords reversed may also speak to the feeling of imposter syndrome or the belief that you’re not worthy of what it is you desire or already have. You could be stuck in patterns of comparing yourself to others, negative self-talk, and limiting beliefs about your capabilities. This card invites you to work to untangle these beliefs that could be preventing you from owning your true worth.

The reversed Seven of Swords can also symbolize a renewed commitment to clarity, honesty, and trust with yourself and with others. You may be waking up to a truth about yourself that you’re now ready to share with others, or you could be learning to trust again within the context of a relationship.

Love and Relationships (Reversed Meaning)

The reversed Seven of Swords can represent a period of time where you are trying to heal from past deceptions and open yourself up again to new relationships and love. You may feel that it’s difficult to overcome the urge for hyper-vigilance and the suspicion that others can’t be trusted. It may be important to release the hurts of the past in order to assess the situation with fresh eyes and an open heart.

The reversed Seven of Swords may also indicate that there’s a disconnect between your head and your heart or your actions and your words. You could be hiding an important truth from yourself or your partner and, instead of discussing it openly and honestly, are attempting to stuff it away. This card encourages you to bring your truth out in the open so that you may turn over a new leaf and move forward with clarity.

Love/relationships reversed keywords

Career/finance reversed keywords

healing from past deceptions, hyper-vigilance, releasing the past, hiding a truth

acting covertly to achieve your goals, imposter syndrome, negative beliefs that undermine your efforts

Career and Finance (Reversed Meaning)

The reversed Seven of Swords may speak to the feeling that you have to act covertly in order to achieve your goals. You may be taking shortcuts at work, circumventing an established protocol, or holding your cards close to keep others at a distance. This card may be a warning sign that these actions are diluting your efforts and that finding ways to pursue your true goals openly will lead to better results.

The Seven of Swords reversed can also speak to a persistent feeling of imposter syndrome that undermines your efforts and keeps you stuck in an unsatisfying situation. This card asks you to examine the ways that your negative beliefs about your deservingness, capability, or worth impact the way that you assert yourself in your work or take risks to pursue your dreams.