Seven of Wands


A warrior defending his position on a bluff brandishes his battle staff against six enemy warriors attempting to attack him from below. Our fighter holds the high ground, but his position is completely exposed, and he is outnumbered six to one! He may have the upper hand for now, but in the process he may have blundered—like Custer at Little Big Horn—into a trap of his own devising.

Aleister Crowley titles this card “Valour,” and Arthur Waite ascribes to it the same attribute, but “Conflicted Effort” seems equally applicable given the actual event depicted. Certainly our warrior is brave (after a fashion) in the face of such numbers, but he was equally impetuous and foolhardy to have picked a fight against such long odds. The Seven reminds us, then, that sometimes, a strategic retreat is the wiser move—to “live to fight another day” and not charge into a situation recklessly to find ourselves overextended and unsupported. As things stand now, our warrior is stranded on the bluff until more help arrives. As we discussed with the Six, we should choose our battles carefully, and not wage them until we are sure that victory is certain; our warrior didn’t, and the best he can hope for here is a stalemate.

This is Netzach, primordial emotion, in the suit of Wands in Atziluth, which is pure Divine intellect. Viewed this way, this card reminds us that when the head and the heart are in disagreement, poor decision-making often follows. In our everyday waking lives, after all, a level head is just as important as a valorous heart.

Meanings in a reading can include: Conflicted or wasted effort, energy misspent, the folly of youth, manifestations of the split mind, and ego run amok; but also a retreat from a bad situation, life goals reassessed, a truce offered, and the psyche restored. We all want to be thought of as “heroes” by our friends, parents, spouses and colleagues at work—we just need to remind ourselves that one of the marks of a true hero is good judgment: Knowing which hill is worth “dying on,” and which is best abandoned until reinforcements arrive—and they will, as we will see in tomorrow’s survey of the Eight.

Dante DiMatteo

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