The Bohemian Cats Theatre Tarot, Seven of Swords card
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A surprising Seven of Swords: furtive feline felony unmasked!

The crafty bulldog in the Seven of Swords hopes his disguise will go unnoticed.

The curtain rises on the Seven of Swords scene in our Bohemian Cats’ Theatre Tarot and,  my goodness, surely this is not actually a cat? In fact, our image features a deceitful French bulldog who has donned the mask of a cat to sneak into a feline military camp and make off with seven of their swords.

As he steals away he has removed his mask and is almost out of the camp, so he seems to have carried out a successful theft. But what’s the story behind this? Has he done something nasty and dishonest, or is he a resourceful and brave agent in a conflict between cats and dogs? It all depends, we suppose, on your point of view.

Symbolically, the Seven of Swords in tarot embodies themes of deception, strategem, deceit and evasion, inviting reader and querent to explore the complexities of human conflict and competition and the art of subterfuge.

In our unusual and very theatrical rendition, the card takes on new layers of meaning, and, if you take the dog’s side, may show the spirit of ingenuity and resourcefulness in the face of adversity. Our little French bulldog, with his audacious disguise and stealthy manoeuvres, serves as a reminder of the power of intellect and cunning in navigating life’s challenges and overcoming an enemy.

So how did we decide on this rather unusual scene for this card? Well, it came about when we were designing a picture for our proposed Bohemian Cats Art Book (working title) based on the Queen of Swords. We wanted to show this queen in a dramatic sword fight that also had an edge of humour and so we fixed upon the idea of her dueling with a small dog.

Poodle? A bit too fluffy and friendly-looking. Chihuahua? Too small and not at all likely to be a worthy adversary. Shih Tzu? Westie? Pomeranian? None of them seemed right. But a French Bulldog? We felt that would be perfect.

Once we tried him in our large book image, we just knew he also had to appear in the tarot deck. In the Queen of Swords card there was simply no room for him (tarot cards have a rather restricted format and layout), but we quickly realised that he fitted perfectly into the Seven of Swords. All we needed was to make a mask with which he could disguise himself, and we had an image that made a lot of sense for this card, and that was also amusing and provocative.

If you look closely at the background scene, you will see a cat on horseback who is beginning to be distinctly suspicious of the figure carrying the swords!What is he up to and where is his tail?

By the way, for those who know our original Bohemian Cats tarot – The Baroque Bohemian Cats’ Tarot from 2003,  you might recognise a nod to the painting in the background of one of our most loved cards, the Four of Pentacles, who became known almost immediately as “The Grumpy Persian”. 

The Grumpy Persian - from The Baroque Bohemian Cats' Tarot
Back in 2003, we were playing around with the idea of a military feline gentlecat on a horse!
Seven of Swords cat tarot card Bohemian Cats by BabaBarock
The final card. As ever, grid and copyright notice will not appear on the real cards, it is there to protect this image.

Read about our design for another, very different, swords card, The Knight of Swords

2 Comments

  • Lisa Livant

    Luv this image and use of the French Bulldog! This portrayal of the 7S seems to add a dimension more easily recognizable than in most RWS decks and is in perfect harmony with the cards basic meaning(s)!

    • KarenMahony

      Thank you Lisa. Yes, we do a lot of thinking about getting the meanings across. Of course it’s always a balance, as we also want to be true to the theme. But hopefully we usually get it right!

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