A silhouetted figure, its back turned toward us, beholds seven cups borne up in the clouds. Each cup is filled with some kind of offering: A towering castle, jewels and baubles, a soldier’s garland, a hideous monster, the face of an angel, a slithering serpent, and a shrouded figure clad in white and emanating an aura of fire.
Now our Cups have been transformed yet again, this time into vessels through which archetypal life enters man’s psyche. This is Netzach, primordial emotion, in Briah, Divine love, made manifest inside the collective unconscious of man. Many of the archetypes pictured here we have carried with us for millennia, and even today, with our ever-accelerating leaps into brave new technological worlds—and the changes in consciousness they evince from us—we still possess a great deal of the same “psychic baggage” as our ancestors, and knowing how to process these symbols in dreams is an important part of learning how to love; for learning how to interpret them gives us a greater awareness of our own true Self—and as we are commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves, greater Self-awareness allows us to love others more fully.
As we all know from dreams, many of these symbols compete for our attention, as pictured here, and their seemingly random and arbitrary natures can be confusing; but we can be assured that they are all merely representations of elements, feelings, impulses and desires that reside deep within our own psyches. As such, we have complete mastery over them at all times, and they are only as confounding or terrifying as we allow them. We simply need to exercise our unconscious minds the way we exercise our physical bodies. This can be done in many ways, but to achieve the best results, it typically requires a “spirit-guide”—a shaman, holy man, counselor, priest, rabbi or psychoanalyst—to provide us with some initial leadership: Someone who has already walked down this road, and knows the “lay” of the psychic “land”.
Note, however, the death’s head “skull” insignia inscribed onto the goblet bearing the victor’s wreath. This would indicate that the only true “evil” impulse that dwells within us is the unchecked will to power—the impulse to devote our energies to waging wars of conquest when we have been sent here only to love and liberate. We don’t like to admit that we have this kind of dark side lurking within us—but how else to explain the many savageries that have occurred over the past century of “advanced” Western civilization? Of all the “choices” we face in life, the Seven suggests to us that the will to dominate others in the pursuit of riches and power is the one true “wrong” choice we can make. Even serpents, which can only deceive, and monsters, which can only frighten, are benign by comparison to what terrors man can unleash upon himself!
Meanings of this card in a reading can include: Active imagination, the stirring of the unconscious, the teaching power of symbols, revelations from a dream or vision, mysticism in all its aspects; but also delusion, self-deception, hallucination and madness. Aleister Crowley titled this card “Debauch,” and as a negative connotation it sums up the Seven succinctly. The power of the dream to transform our minds is a formidable one indee. We should take care when interpreting them lest they lead us astray. When that happens, we can be caught up in a Dark Night of the Soul.