Tarot de Marseille
In B.A.-BA Tarot, Carole Sédillot observes that (relative to other pip cards in the Swords suit in the Grimaud Tarot de Marseille) the sword in the centre of the card protrudes, to a great extent, out of the oval created by the intersection of the other swords. Because of this, combined with keyword Victory (one of the keywords she lists for the number 7 in Pythagorean numerology) and her interpretation of the Swords suit as corresponding to the intellectual domain, she assigns the divinatory meaning for the card -- "intellectual success" leading to "recognition" and "[access] to a new, gratifying status".
In the Etteilla Tarot, the upright card keyword is Espérance (Expectation/Conviction), while the reversed card keyword is Sage Avis (Wise Advice).
In the Golden Dawn's tarot curriculum, the card was called the Lord of Unstable Effort.
Astrological: Moon in Aquarius
Divinatory meanings for the card, in the Golden Dawn's Book T:
- Partial success. Yielding when victory is within grasp, as if the last reserves of strength were used up. Inclination to lose when on the point of gaining, through not continuing the effort. Love of abundance, fascinated by display, given to compliments, affronts and insolences, and to spy upon others. Inclined to betray confidences, not always intentionally. Rather vacillatory and unreliable. ... Journey by land: in character untrustworthy.
- A man in the act of carrying away five swords rapidly; the two others of the card remain stuck in the ground. A camp is close at hand. Divinatory Meanings: Design, attempt, wish, hope, confidence; also quarrelling, a plan that may fail, annoyance. The design is uncertain in its import, because the significations are widely at variance with each other. Reversed: Good advice, counsel, instruction, slander, babbling.
As Waite notes: The design is uncertain in its import as there are varied meanings for the card.
Some tarotists, especially those who draw out similarities between the Book T meanings and Waite-Smith illustrations, may point out the following:
- The camp is close at hand. The man carries away five swords, leaving two behind: This may illustrate the Book T notions of "[losing] when on the point of gaining, through not continuing the effort". This may also illustrate the Book T notion of "a plan that may fail" or "partial success".
- The man is rapidly covering ground: This may illustrate the Book T notion of "journey by land". (Compare: Six of Swords: "Journey by water")
- A single man is carrying the swords away from a nearby camp, in a hurried, haphazard manner: This may illustrate the Book T notions of "betraying confidence", "unreliable" or "quarrel".
Some tarotists may see a connection to the Etteilla card meaning as well: Convinced that he can probably succeed, the man attempts a risky endeavour.
Suggested Divinatory Meanings
- Taking risks (rationally or irrationally)
- Partial success; Partial failure
- Dishonesty; Deceit; Betrayal; Deception; Underhanded tricks; Mischief; Treachery; Sabotage; Theft
- Taking the easy way out ... Acting shamefully or without honor
- Running away from, or turning your back on, your responsibilities. (For example, a “deadbeat dad”)
- Getting away with something wrong or unethical
- Leveling the playing field
- Thinking outside of the box
- Guard your belongings and take precautions--something may come up missing.