Many of us as children have run away – to some it's almost a rite of passage. For those who have run away from home before, you might remember how the planning stages went. “Do I have money? Do I have some food? Where will I go? Where will I sleep?” Most children would return after a few hours or a night out in a field somewhere, but some escape for good. When we ran, though, there was some sort of glee when we realized that we had “gotten away with it” - no one had seen us, and we were now following through on a plan our parents did not approve of. There was some sort of secret thrill to “getting away with it”, and the Seven of Swords embodies both the act and the thrill.
On this card we see a valley, surrounded by more mountainous region – in the background we see an array of colorful tents, and to the side of them a group of people surrounding a fire. The tents look almost like those of a traveling circus. In the foreground we see a man holding five swords in his arms, peering backwards towards the tents in a gleeful way. It seems as if he's grabbed everything he could and is now making a run for it.
The main theme of this card is this: acting unjustly. It refers to an action that you, or another, might have followed through on, and now they are fleeing the scene of the crime. We all do unsavory things from time to time, and very often we get away with it - this card does not shrink away from that fact, and neither should you. This card asks you to face whatever wrongdoing you or those around you might have done, and ask what can be done now in order to level the playing field.
A secondary theme of the card is the concept (and thrill) of “getting away with it”. Like pulling the van away from a huge heist, you might feel the thrill of a “job well done”. This feeling doesn't necessarily mean you have done anything inherently wrong – simply that you feel you have followed through on something that had a low success rate.
Lastly, this card can be a sign that you, or someone close to you, is seeking solitude right now. The man in the picture might simply be running away from the crowd in order to have some time to himself – who knows, the swords might be all he owns, or they might belong to others but he saw it fit to take them for survival reasons. The people on the hill are no longer the type of people he wishes to spend his days around, so he's running for the hills. When you are in a poor situation, it sometimes becomes necessary to act unjustly in order to improve your situation.
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself when you see the Seven of Swords. What have you been trying to get away with recently? Are those around you who have gotten away with hurting you? Have you completed a risky task with a low success rate? Do you feel as if you have escaped a negative situation or surrounding recently? How can you use what you've learned?
Two cards can be related to at least two other cards in the deck – an example of these would be the Five of Swords and the Nine of Pentacles. The Five of Swords shares a sense of dishonorable action – any unjust actions that might have happened in a card like the Five of Swords, the Seven of Swords is the card that comes after (running away from those unjust actions). The Nine of Pentacles speaks to the more just side of the Seven of Swords – the Nine card simply has to do with fending for yourself, and building your own safe environment away from others, just like the final meaning of the Seven of Swords.