The 7 of Swords is traditionally considered a card of theft, trickery, and sleight of hand. Although who is doing what is never exactly clear. Is the querent on the verge of a heist? Or is someone preparing to steal from her/him? The 7 of Swords almost always points to a chaotic unknown, to some factor still in play that can change the game thoroughly, suddenly, and forever.
Dali represents this card in a most refreshing manner. Utilizing a tableau of Diana, the Huntress from an unknown Master at the School of Fontainebleau, this card is the instantiation of its own meaning. Or rather, the collage of collage, its overt lack of origin, begs the question — How many “Masters” paint(ed) their own work? And what is to distinguish the “Master” from the “Apprentice”? The answers — Age, power, wealth, social status, PR, the ability to signs one’s name to a work that one did not paint and have its value increase exponentially — are hardly satisfying. Such dissatisfaction is the base impetus of the 7 of Swords. For if we are meant to think on the nature of theft, we must surely think on the nature of property…
…Which is theft, as Proudhon so famously noted. Or to be more precise, which is the privatization of the public. A ruse. Without which there is no pre-existing law or right before it. Rousseau reflects in chapter 4 of Discourse on the Origin of Inequality:
The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself of saying ‘This is mine,’ and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows: Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.
No one owns anything: neither the plenitude of the planet nor the sovereign experience of one’s own body. It can all be taken; and everything is only ever proper to its other. Which leads us back to the brave and powerful goddess Diana.
Against a backdrop of periwinkle blues, Diana and her greyhound are cast in a sanguine orange. She glances confidently over her shoulder as she strolls forward naked, clad only in her armaments. She is the Mistress of the Hunt. Free. Wild. Alone. Without apology. And the goddess of the Moon, that mysterious globe that controls the tides, for which Neptune gets all the credit. But Diana doesn’t seem to care about that. Carrying five swords in her knapsack, with two swords firmly secured in the ‘ground’ behind her, she is accompanied by a dancing blood-orange figure of neutral gender whose right hand seem to double as a torch. Its left foot dribbles downward, like a walking wound delineated by its own blood.
Life feeds on life and Diana is in pursuit of a kill. There’s just no nice way to say this. With whom shall you identify?
The 7 of Swords indicates the devolution of order into anarchy. But anarchy has its own order, an order that is at once the founding principle of Civil Law and which trumps it every time. And anarchy is honest. When you pull the 7 of Swords, know that your own desires are in conflict with the desires of others. Own this conflict and do not apologize for it, for s/he who is “right” will be s/he who survives. Prepare for rapid reversals in power, and do all that you can to ensure that you are the hunter and not the hunted. ”There will be blood tonight!“
**While all manner of comments are welcomed, any further information pertaining to art history, symbolism, myth, cultural reverberations, and Tarot card meanings that traverse decks or lend especial light to the Universal Dali deck, specifically, are actively sought and encouraged. I’m not using a book for these descriptions, so I may miss a reference that bears mention in relation to a card. If you know something, please share it!
Conversely, I actively negate the astrological significations of the Trump cards within the Universal Dali deck in favor of the more traditional Thoth. My plan is to tackle the astrological significations of the Universal Dali Trumps and their overt divergence from all norms in one article… after having described each card. That’s a ways off. ;)
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An especially related article: I. Mysticism, Democracy, and the Self-Same