Thoth – Rider-Waite
Futility: Defeatism, Hopelessness, and Shame
The Seven of Swords. Futility. Hopelessness. Defeatism. Unfairness. Being Alone. Shame. Surrender. Appeasement. Shame. Running Away. The Seven of Swords corresponds to the Sefirot of Netzach. Bliss and the degenerate weakness of the suit of Swords. The Seven is the weak aspect of the Six that manifests itself in degenerate qualities. In many ways this card is similar to Defeat, but is different in its tone. While the Five of Swords also has a relationship the ideas of surrender and appeasement, the Five’s relationship with them takes place after a struggle to maintain the Truce has already been made. Futility’s surrender and appeasement, on the other hand, is given without a fight; it is wanton appeasement and quick surrender, with no semblance of standing up for what you believe in – the antithesis of the Suit of Swords. In those aspects, this card represents the failure of the energy of Swords.
This card also indicates hopelessness and unfairness – the sense that the world is against you. When one contemplates the realities of the world – as the Suit of Swords urges us to do – it can easily make one rather pessimistic and make them believe that their whole existence is futile, and that is also what this card is about. In this way it is similar to Sorrow, but instead of despair and a sense of betrayal, this card’s energies correspond more to a resigned surrender and a sense of shame at letting yourself just give in.
The Rider-Waite art shows a man seemingly stealing a collection of sowrds from a group of pavilions. He is alone and set apart, and is shaming himself by stealing swords. The Thoth art shows a single sword, with six other swords all pointed down at it. The large sword in the middle is not only beneath the other swords, but is being threatened by the others. The whole world is against it, and it is pointless for it to resist; it is all by itself in a cruel world.
In a reading, this card advises you to look at how defeatist attitudes play a role in your life. Are you ashamed for not standing up for someone? Have you just given up fighting for what you believe in? Does it feel like you’re all alone in a cruel world? Reversed, this card’s energies are blocked or hidden somehow; perhaps you are doing something that is in reality an act of surrender or giving up, but you don’t realize it. Maybe you have already given up on life but you just don’t know it yet.