Seven of Swords

When I started learning to read Tarot, it was with the Sacred Circle deck by Anna Franklin and Paul Mason, and the primary keyword they chose to go with the card is

“Diplomacy.”

Franklin and Mason advise tact and diplomacy in dealing with situations if this card appears. In essence, to choose your words wisely in order to convey the illusion you wish to be believed. This scene from the novel Great Expectations by Charles Dickens reminds me of the Seven of Swords because it’s like Diplomacy Run Amuck!

Poor Joe Gargery is out of his element in this scene, and copes the only way he knows how, which is to fling every high sounding word and phrase he can think of around to use a lot of words to say very little real content. Kind of like the Dark Side of Writing. Joe is also trying to hide that he feels inadequate to the task at hand … like an animal puffing itself up to appear larger than it really is when it’s threatened. That’s where the tie to the traditional meaning of this card is – to

Deception

and

Acting Strategically.

***

And now for the Seen of Swords scene:

7 swords sacred circle.jpg
Sacred Circle Tarot by Anna Franklin and Paul Mason

‘You are the husband,’ repeated Miss Havisham, ‘of the sister of this boy?’

It was very aggravating; but, throughout the interview Joe persisted in addressing Me instead of Miss Havisham.

‘Which I meantersay, Pip,’ Joe now observed in a manner that was at once expressive of forcible argumentation, strict confidence, and great politeness, ‘as I hup and married your sister, and I were at the time what you might call (if you was anyways inclined) a single man.’

‘Well!’ said Miss Havisham. ‘And you have reared the boy, with the intention of taking him for your apprentice; is that so, Mr. Gargery?’

‘You know, Pip,’ replied Joe, ‘as you and me were ever friends, and it were looked for’ard to betwixt us, as being calc’lated to lead to larks. Not but what, Pip, if you had ever
made objections to the business – such as its being open to black and sut, or such-like – not but what they would have been attended to, don’t you see?’

‘Has the boy,’ said Miss Havisham, ‘ever made any objection? Does he like the trade?’

‘Which it is well beknown to yourself, Pip,’ returned Joe, strengthening his former mixture of argumentation, confidence, and politeness, ‘that it were the wish of your own
hart.’ (I saw the idea suddenly break upon him that he would adapt his epitaph to the occasion, before he went on to say) ‘And there weren’t no objection on your part, and
Pip it were the great wish of your heart!’

It was quite in vain for me to endeavour to make him sensible that he ought to speak to Miss Havisham. The more I made faces and gestures to him to do it, the more confidential, argumentative, and polite, he persisted in being to Me.

‘Have you brought his indentures with you?’ asked Miss Havisham.

‘Well, Pip, you know,’ replied Joe, as if that were a little unreasonable, ‘you yourself see me put ‘em in my ‘at, and therefore you know as they are here.’ With which he took them out, and gave them, not to Miss Havisham, but to me.  I am afraid I was ashamed of the dear good fellow – I know I was ashamed of him – when I saw that Estella stood at the back of Miss Havisham’s chair, and that her eyes laughed mischievously. I took the indentures out of his hand and gave them to Miss Havisham.

‘You expected,’ said Miss Havisham, as she looked them over, ‘no premium with the boy?’

‘Joe!’ I remonstrated; for he made no reply at all. ‘Why don’t you answer—‘

‘Pip,’ returned Joe, cutting me short as if he were hurt, ‘which I meantersay that were not a question requiring a answer betwixt yourself and me, and which you know the answer to be full well No. You know it to be No, Pip, and wherefore should I say it?’

Miss Havisham glanced at him as if she understood what he really was, better than I had thought possible, seeing what he was there; and took up a little bag from the table beside her.

joe and miss h.jpeg
F.A. Fraser – An illustration for the Household Edition of Dickens’s Great Expectations (p. 48). Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham

‘Pip has earned a premium here,’ she said, ‘and here it is. There are five-and-twenty guineas in this bag. Give it to your master, Pip.’

As if he were absolutely out of his mind with the wonder awakened in him by her strange figure and the strange room, Joe, even at this pass, persisted in addressing me.

‘This is wery liberal on your part, Pip,’ said Joe, ‘and it is as such received and grateful welcome, though never looked for, far nor near nor nowheres. And now, old chap,’ said Joe, conveying to me a sensation, first of burning and then of freezing, for I felt as if that familiar expression were applied to Miss Havisham; ‘and now, old chap, may we do our duty! May you and me do our duty, both on us by one and another, and by them which your liberal present – have – conweyed – to be – for the satisfaction of mind – of – them
as never—’ here Joe showed that he felt he had fallen into frightful difficulties, until he triumphantly rescued himself with the words, ‘and from myself far be it!’ These words had such a round and convincing sound for him that he said them twice.

  • taken from Chapter 13 of Great Expectations

***

To learn more about the traditional meanings of the Seven of Swords, click here: www.biddytarot.com.

 

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