How have I lost my compassion and intuition? That's the question asked by the 7 OF SWORDS / 7 OF FEATHERS / USELESSNESS cards. What follows is a comparison of the imagery and interpretation of the Rider-Waite, The Haindl, and the Collective Tarot decks' respective seventh of the air suit cards.
Smith Rider-Waite shows a figure holding the blades of five swords and sneaking away, glancing back at the two he's left behind. A festival is underway by the look of the colorful tents behind him, and a circle of people in the bottom left corner at the horizon. He might not get away with this. He is in such a hurry that he's holding the sharp part of the swords and may also seriously injure himself in this dangerous undertaking. His red hat and red shoes indicate passion- and though the yellow sky (which symbolizes clear immersion in thought) is clear, he doesn't seem to have put a lot of time into planning this heist. Sneaking away, he can't help but wonder what he could have done to make this a more successful, less painful venture. Another read is that if he's stealing weapons from the enemy, any removal of their arsenal will only help his side. So there's an element that clever, well thought out tactics are helpful, even if imperfectly executed.
Haindl names this card "Uselessness" and pairs it with the I Ching hexagram 36, Ming I or "Darkening of the Light", which reversed to 35, Chin, or "Progress". The opposite of progress is dimming ourselves, turning away from happiness, shunning enlightenment in favor of conforming in our thoughts to a system that wants us to serve the profit of a small few. "The image of faces melted together...emphasizes the idea of defeating the patriarchal power, the "useless old men" as we might call them, who arrange the world for their own benefits," says Rachel Pollack in The Haindl Tarot: The Minor Arcana. She goes on to explain that people only feel useless when spirituality and kindness are missing from the world they live in. The swords are falling without any order whatsoever, in fact they seem to defy the order of gravity even. They fall dangerously, pointed every which way. The energy of the swords is scattered, dissipated. Without some control over the logical mind's endless rationalizing, we end up muddled and diminished in our potency.
Collective Tarot shows two vultures eating a dead vulture in a train yard while a fourth vulture circles above in the distance. "Logic is privileged over sentiment," states the Collective Tarot guidebook, "and the result is ethically questionable. The vulture in flight above reminds us of the option to decline." The birds make their meal in a train yard, symbolizing massive potential movement that has stopped. The train in the background isn't rushing by, it's parked and waiting to be put to use. The gears of our minds come to a grinding halt when we only use one half, the rational half. When we stop our intuitive minds from rolling along with us, we cannot move ahead.
Thanks to @inthe78cards and @thetruthinstory for hosting this month's awesome challenge on Instagram!