Tarot - 03 Minor Arcana - 07s Redemption [Rebirth]
Type of Spiritual Experience
The seven cards highlight all sorts of possible spiritual failure – the futility of a course of action or deed, perhaps too much of an action [debauch] too much of doing the wrong thing, or even too much of doing the right thing thereby rendering it useless, and misusing one’s new found abilities wrongly.
It also indicates the need and the courage to change, expressed in the cards as valour – courage to change where the mistake has been serious enough that a great deal of work is needed to get back on track.
Ascension is thus the path to Redemption.
If we look at the spiritual path this is the time for Judgement, in other words, this card ties in with that for Judgement in the Major Arcana . But your spiritual mentors do the judging not you, if they judge you to be 'failing' in some way then the course of action is Redemption [rebirth]. In other words, on a personal spiritual path one is judged and tested.
A description of the experience
Disc [Earth] – Failure
The Seven of Disks is a call for us to examine whether what we are doing is right. It means what it says, one has failed. Generally speaking, if one has failed spiritually, one fails in many other ways as well, hence the darkness of the cards. One has taken the wrong path.
The mid-nineteenth century painting that inspired the Seven of Disks in the Rider Waite pack was The Man with a Hoe by Jean-François Millet. The painting was viewed in its day as a protest at the plight of the peasantry, but also as a tribute to their courage in the face of soul-crushing drudgery and exhausting hard work.
With this in mind, we might also see this card as an indication of uninspiring or unfulfilling work. Not everyone can be a Beethoven, but if the work you are doing has no ‘customer’ other than the man who controls you in the power structure, you are serving the wrong master.
So the Seven of Pentacles/Disks suggests that every now and then we should pause for a moment to reassess the path we have chosen and the master we serve. Everyone needs a ‘customer’, but if your only customer is your boss/master, you may be doing the wrong thing. Are you merely working to make him and you money, possibly at the expense of the planet and its other inhabitants, or does your work achieve something in the wider scheme of things?
From The Man with the Hoe - Edwin Markham, 1852 - 1940
Is this the Dream He dreamed who shaped the suns
And marked their ways upon the ancient deep?
Down all the stretch of Hell to its last gulf
There is no shape more terrible than this —
More tongued with censure of the world’s blind greed —
More filled with signs and portents for the soul —
More fraught with menace to the universe.
What gulfs between him and the seraphim!
Slave of the wheel of labour, what to him
Are Plato and the swing of Pleiades?
What the long reaches of the peaks of song,
The rift of dawn, the reddening of the rose?
“The Man with a Hoe,” written in 1899 by Edwin Markham, was published in thousands of newspapers and magazines, and enjoyed widespread popularity and impact. This occurred only a few years prior to Pamela Colman Smith’s creation of the RWS deck, so it is reasonable to assume that she was aware of the poem.
Cup [Water] – Debauch
Once one has found a method for obtaining spiritual experience that works for you, there is the temptation that one treats it as a form of recreation and simply repeats the process endlessly, without getting anything out of it. Both Crowley's and Rider Waite’s card [right] shows this rather well – his multiple cups are overwhelming, his cups don’t just fill, they are entirely overfilled. Waite even calls them ‘cups as strange chalices of vision’. They are all up on a cloud, which reflects their ungrounded, impractical and transient nature.
They are actually useless and are simply leading to the confusion of the figure conjuring them. Illegal drugs do this, they delude people into thinking they have attained some sort of spiritual understanding, when in fact they haven’t and may even have set them back spiritually on a permanent basis. One has to recognise however that even repeated prolonged meditation creates the same delusion. Overload = excess = debauch.
There are no revelations here, no transcendental spiritual truth(s). All is confusion. The symbols do have a meaning but not like this. Furthermore the symbols have been distorted to show this fanatical profane user of sacred methods that he is going very wrong.
The shrouded, glowing figurine represents fanaticism [it can also mean overuse of sexual methods] - the burning need the person has to show he is 'enlightened' or 'spiritual', when he is not. The snake here simply shows he is full of very earthly animal passions and desires. He is building a tower which will undoubtedly become the Tower struck by lightning if he continues; and there is the preoccupation with wealth and money. Even the laurel wreath shows a preoccupation with status – notice the skull like shadow on the cup itself, which may point to the great dangers of vanity and pride (a deadly sin). The dragon here is more of a demon - a symbol of evil, anger and envy, calamity.
Sword [Air] – Futility
In the Rider Waite card, the figure is taking stealthy steps, looking back to examine the scene he is leaving. Apparently he is doing something he knows he should not be doing, and is attempting to get away with it anyway.
The next card shows a fox, a symbol of cunning. In other words the path being taken is selfish and possibly dishonest, underpinned by greed and thoughtless behaviour. There may be 'secret plans and hidden dishonour'.
The Seven of Swords symbolically describes the failure that ensues from misusing one’s intellect for immoral gain, at the expense of others. Just because one may have the gift of intelligence – a good memory and reasoning power – doesn’t mean one should misuse it to cheat your fellow man. Ultimately one is pursuing a course without any conscience, no sense that it is immoral, which spiritually is entirely futile.
The TarotGuide is quite hard on this particular symbol using words such as cheat, pathological liar, underhand scheming, thoughtless manipulation, slander, con merchant, and two faced coward!
But the keywords here - the path to redemption - is in confession, asking forgiveness, and turning over a new leaf.
Wand [Fire] - Valour
In the Rider Waite card a man is striving to maintain or is fighting over his slightly elevated position, he is making a strong effort to keep something which is important. Note the superior position of the character. He has managed to raise himself up a little above the low position he was in originally – the failed, debauched or futile path he was leading – and has decided he needs to change his ways.
It shows the courage, tenacity, perseverance and strength of character needed to change and ‘raise his game’. The alcoholic goes teetotal, the drug addict gives up drugs, the thief reforms, the cunning manipulator starts to be a straight talker, the rapist learns to respect women, the child abuser seeks forgiveness.
In the Rider-Waite deck, the person braces themselves in a defensive pose against the other wands prodding in his direction. The temptation to return to old ways will still niggle him the whole time, this is no easy decision or fight. Looking strained and stressed, but standing firm, the Seven of Wands defender stands ready for battle.
It is as much about defending any progress gained, as it is about making that progress in the first place. It is he alone who has to undergo this fight, the battle is entirely his. The primitive club forefront of the Golden Dawn Wands of the Adepts, is an indicator that the battle will be brutal.
Going cold turkey or drying out is a huge challenge, physically and mentally
[Astrologically this 7 card represents Mars in Leo. Mars in Leo is a position of courage and strength but a clash is certain, whereas, victory is not.]
Contrary to what might one expect from the naming of the cards, the seven cards teach that you must have faith in yourself and the spirit realm as well as the Great Work.
The cards are there to remind us that even the most humble possibly demeaning activity is being asked of us for a purpose. That it may appear to have absolutely no relevance, but in the broad plan for evolution – the Great Work, it is of importance, It may also be that it is a key part of one’s ‘training‘, that what eventually is learnt will be essential at a later stage. It is a reminder that one must have faith, faith that there is a purpose behind what appears to be a total mistake and that in the scheme of things it may appear wrong, it may be wrong, but will work out in the end as long as we recognise the fact and act with valour to change things.
The source of the experienceTarot, the
Concepts, symbols and science items
SymbolsFour seasons and the hours
Activities and commonsteps
Asking for forgiveness
Being comforted [removal of emotional pain]
Questioning and doubting all existing beliefs
Ritual removal of guilt