Understanding Tarot: The Sevens of the Minor Arcana

minor arcana sevens
Cards Pictured are from the Rider Waite Tarot Deck

The Understanding Tarot series is written by Claire Chilvers. If you would like to read more of Claire’s articles or book a tarot reading, please visit www.clairechilvers.com or follow her at – @ClaireChilversTarot

Accepting the Challenges of Sevens

The Sevens are a challenge and when they appear for us in readings they remind us that (sometimes) life is hard.

We don’t always ask to take on challenges, but, nonetheless, they have a funny way of showing up and not always at the most convenient times. 

Seven is often associated with being a lucky number, but, looking at these four cards and the expressions on the faces we can see on the cards, they don’t seem to be portraying luck.

There is also an element of déjà vu about the sevens – a feeling that we have already learned the lessons they are showing us.

Perhaps the sevens are testing us to see if we have learned from our previous lessons?

A greater understanding of ourselves was the offering that was handed to us so long ago with the Aces when these journeys began and now is the time to see if we are aware of that fact.

The Seven of Swords

Does this look of smugness and someone collecting a pile of swords seem familiar to you?

On the Five of Swords, we saw a similar scene and one that was equally as baffling. At the five we were warned not to waste too long trying to work out what happened to the characters within the scene. Yet, in a short space of time, we are back in a similar situation wondering what on earth is going on.

Why is this character grabbing five swords? Has he stolen them? Won them? Or is he rushing to distribute them to his friends? Why are two swords left behind? Why is he looking backward, yet running forwards? Is he escaping someone or something? Is he friend or foe? Does he represent our situation or someone around us?

More questions, more uncertainty, and more challenges to our minds and thought processes seem to accompany this card.

The picture looks ambiguous and we cannot be sure what is happening as we are unable to see the ‘bigger picture’ of what is occurring to the left and right of this man.

But we can see the bright yellow sky, which is so often seen in cards that portray messages of power and inner strength (The Magician and Strength card are two examples of this.)

I feel this bright yellow colour shows the difference between the earlier number five card and this one. It portrays the confidence that has grown within to trust our own thoughts and intuition, which is a mighty power to have.

Sevens may present challenges within our lives, but, they also represent wisdom. By the time we reach this point in our swords journey, inner turmoil and soul searching have been carried out in abundance.

This card may have similarities with the Five of Swords, but, it also comes with the benefit of hindsight and the healing energy that was suggested in the Six of Swords. The message of this card is to ask whether you are confident enough to trust your own instincts about the situation you find yourself in?

It is important not to misunderstand this message though. Seeing this card in a reading may confirm your instincts not to trust a situation or person that you have dealings with, but, does that mean you are correct?

Could this person in the picture be a version of yourself running away from people unnecessarily because of your own trust issues? Or, are you absolutely certain that your instincts are correct? What is the truth? What really is going on? 

And back we go to the uncertainty!

No wonder this man is looking backward, but, walking forwards. He really does not know which way to go. And when this card appears then most likely you will not know either.

This is not an easy card to deal with or live through. It challenges your mind perhaps more than ever before because the aim is to move forward and get to a place where you no longer need to be unsure of yourself, your mind, or your actions ever again.

Trusting your own judgment and knowing, without doubt, that you can trust the people most close to you is not as common as you would think. But, this card, is giving us the promise that it is achievable if we continue on this swords journey.

The Seven of Cups

For the Seven of Cups we (once again) have magical cups appearing out of the sky, another déjà vu moment as this is now the third time as it has previously happened in the Ace and the Four).

There is a difference now though, the last two times there was only one cup appearing in the sky; now there are seven. 

So which one should you choose?

Obviously, some look more appealing than others and I suspect more of you are drawn to the laurel wreath of success or the cup of jewels, rather than the snake or the scary-looking blue monster!

These cups are choices and they are caught up in a cloud of confusion which is often likened to a dream sequence or the inner workings of our imagination.

Of course, there are many representations of what these symbols spilling out of the cups mean and they can resonate with each person differently, but, generally, these cup options signify relationships, finances, personal goals, or moving home. And, the less appealing options signify choosing to give in to temptation or letting the darker side of our impulses rule our emotions. 

Not all choices we make are healthy and this card is presenting all the choices equally, which leaves it very much up to the character within the picture to decide.

In times of indecision and confusion it is often suggested that a person should listen to what their heart tells them which leads us to the challenge within this card – have we learned the ability to feel which is the right way forward?

As I mentioned earlier, by the time we have reached number seven on this journey we have experienced a great deal. For the cups journey, it is hoped by the time this decision-making process is presented the person will have had enough understanding of what makes them happy, sad, angry, bored, overjoyed, and content to be able to make an informed choice of how they wish to feel moving forwards.

We cannot see the expression on the character’s face within this picture. But, his arm is outstretched as if he is about to reach out to his selected cup.

The fact that we only see his shadowy black silhouette, reminds us that it was not so long ago when this person was cloaked in black and consumed by his grief. It is therefore a comfort to see that through processing his emotions and working through this pain, options have now appeared for him and so much more now seems possible. 

Ultimately the biggest prize on offer here is in the cup shown in the centre. Underneath the cover is a person with their arms outstretched and we can just make out they are dressed in a robe of pure white. This cup is suggesting inner change; it is a new version of this confused character that is being offered. 

Often we fantasise about how external possessions, a change in circumstances, or a new relationship would be the catalyst for true happiness. But, this ‘mystery’ cup is suggesting that the choices we make to find happiness within us are far more beneficial. 

Up to this point, the cups have shown us various ways that emotions can affect our life; falling in love, enjoying celebrations, becoming bored and restless, experiencing grief, and reminiscing on past events are all important experiences, but, they have the common thread that other people have been a factor in creating these emotions. 

The biggest challenge that the Seven of Cups gives us is the premise that we need to find a way to make ourselves happy without expecting others to do this for us. This can be the hardest task for many as it involves even more soul searching than has been done so far. 

Spending time pondering on how you would find true contentment, inner peace, and self-love is a difficult thing to do. So is deciding to move on from regret, grief, or unhealthy life choices. 

The sevens are not an easy place to be, but, they all have the opportunity to enhance life for the better. The Seven of Cups gives the message to dig deep into our innermost emotions to choose the cup which your heart desires the most. 

The Seven of Wands

The Seven of Wands sees us back in the midst of a battle again. The victory parade did not last long, did it? Are we really back here so soon?

The wands can be exhausting at times, and the seven is a reminder of how many times on this particular journey there have been obstacles to overcome.

These obstacles were shown on a more internal level at first with a large helping of self-doubt (two of wands), followed by overcoming the difficult environment (three of Wands), and no sooner do we get the chance to be pleased and celebrate (four and six), then others come in and try to knock this character down again.

As the wands represent our ambitions, passions, and desire to succeed in life, it is very telling that the challenges are so frequent. By the time the seven has been reached, this character looks a little concerned and he has good reason to be; six against one are not good odds.  

However, there is one major difference between this battle to the one observed in the Five of Wands. Our character seems to have the advantage of being on higher ground. Perhaps his victory parade finished at this helpful vantage point and with an elevated position comes the luxury of being able to see things from a different perspective. 

Our adventurer seems able to stand at a distance and not be in the firing line of these wands. He has managed to rise up above the others and is using his wand to protect himself further rather than join in the stick pointing! 

Being elevated to a higher position can be done in many different ways in our own lives. Whether this is in a real sense, such as a promotion or change of career (which both can be rewarding but cause others to be disappointed or a little envious), or there is the moral sense of moving to a higher place when a conscious decision is made to stop sharing point of views, ideas or decisions with family, friends or colleagues as the disruption and arguments that occur are not helpful and a waste of energy.   

However, there is a warning in this card as regardless of this fortunate position which the character finds himself in, he is still choosing to face his critics rather than put down his wand and walk the other way. But are these wands his critics?

We often assume that on the end of each one is an angry competitor or opponent but, they could just be fence posts that are stationary and not a threat in any way. Are we just being paranoid? How often do we assume others are in the background being critical of us when we have no evidence at all? 

Sevens are urging us to progress and the wands are no different. To continue on the path of creativity, passion, ambition, and achievement there has to come a time when you believe in yourself fully.

If this person had managed that, would he still be in that position facing his doubters and defending himself? I doubt it, instead, he would be running in the opposite direction off to the next adventure and leaving the rest of the crowd behind.

Wands denote how we choose to use our energy and not to waste effort getting side-tracked with the trivial if we want to succeed.

The Seven of Pentacles

The Seven of Pentacles is our last wonderful example of progression. It would seem that much hard work has been undertaken here.

There has been no time wasted to invest the money obtained in the Six of Pentacles. The money has been used wisely and slowly (as with the pentacles we are always slow!) but the crops are beginning to appear. 

Forethought and planning were needed here and the picture we see is the result of many months of hard work.

We see one of the pentacles at the character’s feet, which suggests he may be taking this one to sell or possibly to re-invest in another crop so that his fortunes will continue to increase.

Whatever his choice he appears to be taking some time to think and weigh up his options, his pensive and contemplative stance shows the maturity that has come from experience – which is a theme throughout all the seven cards. 

I always feel this seems to be a very serious card. The expression on his face seems reflective and brooding. Is he happy with his choices? Or is he wishing life could be a little more exciting or enjoyable?

The warning at the start of the pentacles journey was the continuing questioning as to whether the hard work is worth the effort. This will resonate with anyone who has ever fallen to bed exhausted after a hard day’s (or night’s) work with aching muscles or a frazzled mind; there is always a little voice in our heads reminding us of all the other things we could be doing with our time rather than working!

But, as with all the other seven cards, this person has witnessed the bad times as well as the good and in his bleakest times out in the snow-cold winter, he was given a vision of abundance from the stained glass window of the church in which he sought refuge.

As promised, he is now with his own harvest. The wisdom that the sevens are showing us here is that in your darkest moments you can imagine a better future for yourself and make it a reality. 

Regardless of what suit you resonate with, there is no doubt that the sevens will leave you with a feeling of progression and wisdom, and a sense that you are beginning to work out what the purpose of this journey is.

There are three steps to go before we reach our destination and as we are now wiser with more clarity and understanding we move towards the empowering energy of the eights.  

If you would like to read more of Claire’s articles or book a tarot reading, please visit her website

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About the author

Claire Chilvers

Claire Chilvers is a writer and tarot reader and lives in Essex, UK. She offers tarot readings to clients in the UK and around the world via video calls (Skype usually), if you would like a reading please contact her at clairechilverstarot@yahoo.com. Claire also has a Youtube Channel where she shares daily readings- https://www.youtube.com/@dailytarotwithclaire