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Tarot’s Sevens and Self-Defense

The TikToks from the recent Montgomery Brawl lowered my blood pressure. 

Hundreds, if not thousands, of people defend their right to body sovereignty each day. I salute them all. Rarely, though, do we get to witness collective self-defense.

The joy and power the fighters’ courage enlivened gives me hope that America is about to slide into a Tower moment. 

The Tower, the sixteenth card in tarot, is rightfully the most feared in the deck. Accidents happen under The Tower’s influence. It brings sudden destruction.

But destruction for whom? 

The Tower inserts an element of unpredictability into tarot as a tool of prediction. This can be disruptive for our interpersonal lives. 

The Tower, however, is essential to toppling oppressive political power. 

Tarot’s sixteenth card is an ally to those who work for justice. While it doesn’t ensure a movement’s success, it challenges rooted systems of inequity. Whether that’s a boss who treats you unfairly or a government that doesn’t respect your right to exist, the Tower can help set things right.  

The Tower evens the playing field for those who live under the strain of oppression. We may all be having a fucked-up time but, for once, we’re all having the same fucked-up time. 

Yet we cannot make it to a Tower moment, let alone through one, without self-defense.  

We can agree that widespread socioeconomic, political, and collective change is necessary for a livable world. We can agree that unseating the present power structure can be beautiful but will not be easy. To agree to that is to accept that the Tower is coming. 

Consistent, daily action paves the road to the major arcana’s moments of triumph and change. 

Tarot’s sevens may help us reach the Tower’s calls for rebellion and revolution.  

Seven of Swords

There are times you don’t want to see the Seven of Swords. If you ask if you and your partner are forever, and the answer is Seven of Swords? Hit ’em with the prenup, and quick. 

Or better yet, start analyzing your last few conversations with a critical lens. This is because Seven of Swords, particularly with court cards, can indicate infidelity. 

But Seven of Swords in a political sense is a godsend. We do not owe our oppressors loyalty. We owe them nothing. They owe us money and action geared toward reparations, at the very least. 

The Seven of Swords encourages us to go out of our way to bewilder, deceive, and trick those who hold unjust power. 

The Seven of Swords asks us to operate like a trickster. It invites us to lie in service of the truth. That may seem confusing, but we should obscure our actions to avoid those who would undermine our freedom when the Seven of Swords is around. 

Narrow ideas of good and evil don’t always serve those living under oppression or fighting for justice. The Seven of Swords tells us that the ends do sometimes justify the means. This could look like quitting a job without notice ten minutes before your shift, or lying to an abuser to make your escape.

Seven of Pentacles

Are you willing to work for what you want? Are you willing to wait for it? 

The Seven of Pentacles reminds us that some projects take years, or even lifetimes, to build. 

I spent part of this month at the Black Feminism Lives! Summit hosted by Black Women Radicals at the People’s Forum in New York City. While I was there, Dr. Loretta Ross reminded us that we don’t have to solve all of society’s problems, just ensure that the “chain doesn’t break with [our] generation.” 

Dr. Ross is the Black feminist activist who coined the term “reproductive justice” among myriad other accomplishments. She has organized feminists of color since the 70s. Her work, the work of her collaborators, and the larger movement for justice is part of why we have whatever freedoms we enjoy today. 

That willingness to be a link in a great chain is the work of the Seven of Pentacles. 

Dr. Ross reminded us that lack of immediate change isn’t failure. Change is not immediate. Accepting that is a lesson in humility. 

The Seven of Pentacles asks us to get our work done. It asks us to work whether or not the accolades come. It asks us to do our sacred work rain or shine, day in and day out.

Not because we think we’ll move the needle in our lifetime, but because we must

Seven of Wands

The Seven of Wands finds us willing to defend ourselves. It finds us winning. 

The figure on the card finally has the higher ground. 

It may feel triumphant in the moment, but it’s actually a time to remind ourselves what we’re fighting for. Have we become tyrants to our own people? Are we fighting for the sake of fighting?

We need tarot’s wands. They ask us to use pure instinct, our animal intuition. They’re essential in times where it’s better to beg forgiveness than ask permission. 

But that mode can’t be our go to stance if we want to live our ethics. We need the Seven of Wands to keep fighting, to mount our defense. 

Yet when we come home, we must be able to let that stance go. 

We must build soft spaces where we aren’t fighting for our lives. We must make spaces where we can lay down our arms and be vulnerable, even fragile, with each other. 

Living well with the Seven of Wands is about achieving balance. There’s a time and a place to defend oneself. We must cultivate discernment to know when it’s safe to rest.

Seven of Cups

The Seven of Cups can be a card of confusion or freedom dreaming. For those who don’t know, freedom dreaming is a type of liberatory visioning and manifestation. 

It can happen whether you are asleep, as it did for Harriet Tubman when her dreams showed her the best paths out of enslavement. It can happen while you’re awake, too, like when you imagine a world without prisons, or meditate on how to raise the money you need for a gender affirming surgery.

We need both. 

Without admitting we’re confused, there can be no clarity. Without expansive dreaming, action will not liberate us. 

There will always be many roads to take, as the Seven of Cups shows us. Dreaming is a kind of planning. 

Without dreaming, we are doomed to repeat the same stagnant patterns; without action, dreaming can never yield material results.

Speaking to the confusing aspect of this card, Seven of Cups can bring about a sense of trickery, or illusions. It can also illuminate the path toward enlightenment. 

The workers, the builders, and the tricksters may not understand the artists, but they do need us. 

Artists dream of a world that is not yet possible. Activists and other builders work to create what they can right now. An artist’s dreams push an activist forward. An activist’s work grounds the craft of an artist. 

When a movement acknowledges the talents within it, the next step is to strike a harmonious balance among all elements. 

Every revolution contains the Tower. Rebellions among the enslaved and the Red Summer of 1919 are examples of the Tower. So too, unfortunately, are January 6th and the fall of affirmative action. 

The Tower is a reset. It is not in itself positive or negative. But we can’t remove the oppressor’s boot from our necks without the dreaming and labor required to activate the power of tarot’s Sevens.

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