The Seven of Swords, Vampires in Pink Bow Ties, and Malignant Narcissists

Malignant Narcissists as the source of monster legends.

Have you ever been worked over by a malignant narcissist?

Perhaps an incredibly charming person appeared in your life and he or she seemed to absolutely worship you.  You were told to an almost embarrassing extent how perfect you were, how beautiful, how intelligent, how sexy.  You fell in love, let down all of your guards and boundaries, and within a year that same person was constantly devaluing your opinions and your self worth and telling you that you just weren’t quite good enough.  You were too fat or too skinny or not very bright or not very well informed or your hair was too long or too short or you weren’t very satisfying in bed.

Or perhaps it was a family member, someone you’d always been fond of and trusted, but you find that they’re actually tearing you down and belittling you to other family members when you’re not there.

Or perhaps it’s a co-worker that you liked and opened up to about your personal life when you had a couple of drinks too many on a Friday night.  On Monday morning you’re shocked to discover that your drinking buddy has shared your personal, “secrets,” not only with all of your co-workers but with your boss, as well.  

There’s a common reaction from anyone who’s been chopped up and spit out by a malignant narcissist and that reaction is bewilderment.

“How could I have been so stupid?”

“Why didn’t I see this coming?”

“But . . . I thought he loved me . . .”

“She totally got under my radar.”

For whatever scant comfort it may provide, you’re in extremely good company.  Some of the smartest, most empathetic, highly evolved people in the world have been taken to the emotional cleaners by malignant narcissists.  It’s what they do and they’re experts at it.  It has NOTHING to do with how intelligent you are, how attractive you are, or how evolved you are.  To a malignant narcissist, you’re just a tasty snack.

The Seven of Swords is a perfect image of a malignant narcissist.  He’s stealing someone else’s power, as represented by the swords slung over his shoulder.  The flaps on the tent are closed, showing that the person he’s stealing from is totally unaware of what he’s doing.  And even the guard posted outside of the tent – representing our conscious mind – seems to not register what’s going on.

If we type, “malignant narcissist,” into a search engine, we’ll get a huge number of results.  There are literally thousands of articles and videos discussing what they do to other people, how they do it, and why they’re malignant narcissists to begin with.  Really, it’s kind of astounding when we realize that they only comprise 5% of the population.  To put it one way, they seem to have an over-sized footprint.  To put it another way, they’ve fucked with an AWFUL lot of us.

Although the term, “malignant narcissist,” is fairly new, there’s nothing new about this personality type.  In the past, they’ve been referred to as sociopaths, psychopaths, monomaniacs, and, “utterly without a conscience.”

And my favorite term for them:  monsters.

There is something positively inhuman about malignant narcissists.  They seem to have absolutely no sense of empathy or compassion.  They have no conscience and remorse.  And, far from being intelligent in the sense that most of us might use the term, their intelligence is more on the level of a vicious animal, a predator hunting down its prey.

We don’t even have to bend reality too much to see the malignant narcissist as the probable source of all of the, “monster,” legends that human cultures have promulgated.  Vampires, for instance, were seen as beings with no souls, no compassion, who fed on their victims and destroyed them in the process.  That’s a pretty good description of a malignant narcissist.

Of course, one of the things that folklore tells us about vampires is that they didn’t have any reflection in a mirror, which would drive a malignant narcissist nuts. They like to see how beautiful they are.  It might have been the reason that vampires were always on the prowl for fresh victims:  not just for fresh blood, but for more feedback.

“So . . . before I bite into your jugular vein and drain all of the life out of you, let me ask you one question.  How do I look in this outfit?”

“Wha . . . wha . . . WHAT?”

“This outfit.  How do I look?  The tuxedo and the string tie.  Too much?  Does it make me look pale?  I can’t see myself in the mirror, you know, and I’m just dying to know what you think of it.”

“Well . . . I mean . . . it is a little stark, I guess.  Just black and white is kind of . . . I don’t know . . . a little visually boring.  It could maybe use a touch of color.”

“Ah HA!  Precisely what I was thinking!  Just a dash of something a little brighter.  A red cummerbund, perhaps, or even a pink bow tie.”

“No, no, I wouldn’t go with pink.  Pink just isn’t . . . you.  Red would be fine.  Red would match your eyes and it’s more of a statement of who you really are.  You know:  the whole blood thing.  You could probably even get away with a deep magenta, but no pink.”

“Ah, thank you, thank you.  This conversation has been really invaluable to me.  Now, just one more thing before I kill you.  How do you like this hairstyle?  I’ve been thinking less hair gel and more curls . . .”

We can extend the vampire metaphor even further.  Like vampires, malignant narcissists just . . . won’t . . . stay . . . fucking . . . DEAD.  When we finally get enough of them and tell them to get lost, they just keep coming back for another drink of our blood.  It really does feel like we’d have to drive a stake through their hearts, cut their heads off, and stuff their mouths full of garlic cloves to finally make them shut up and leave us the fuck alone.

And, of course, malignant narcissists can’t stand the light of day.  When they’re finally fully exposed for what they are, they crumble into dust.  It becomes totally apparent that there’s no human substance to them, that there’s nothing there but sharp teeth and a giant ego.

One final thing that they have in common with vampires is that they count on us to make that one flawed decision that leads us to our own destruction, which is to get involved with them in the first place.  We all know that scene in the old Dracula movies where the Intrepid Traveller is standing in front of the horrible creepy castle.  There’s blood dripping down the walls, bats are flying in and out of the windows, wolves are howling in the distance and the Traveller looks at all of that and says, “By golly, I think I’ll knock on the door and see if anyone’s at home.”

The entire theater audience is mentally shrieking, “No, no, don’t get in there, stupid!  He’ll bite your throat!  Stay at the Motel 8 instead.  I know the rooms are tiny, but there are good locks and they have those little coffee machines.”

The same thing happens with malignant narcissists.  If we don’t go through their door, we don’t get our throats bitten and have the life force drained out of us.  It may well be that most of us will never be smart enough to deal with malignant narcissists effectively.  They are, after all, apex predators.  

What we can do, though, is to learn to recognize them.  If someone shows up in our lives and they’re so charming that it’s hard to believe – don’t believe it.  If someone is love-bombing us WAY too early in the relationship, ask ourselves why they’re doing it.  If it feels like love at first sight, take a good, hard second look.  

And take a good hard look at their histories.  One of the things I’ve noticed about malignant narcissists is that they have virtually NO social media presence.  Which is odd, when we think about it, because narcissists love, love, love to talk about themselves.  Malignant narcissists, on the other hand, are terrified of people they’ve exploited blowing their cover so they have no desire to leave a record on social media.  If you knew how many ex-lovers they’d left in bloody tatters, you’d run like hell in the opposite direction.

Finally, if you’ve been victimized by a malignant narcissist even once, or if you had parents who were narcissists, I’d HIGHLY recommend watching Dr. Ramani’s series of videos on YouTube.  

Abuse Cards in the Tarot

One of the most frequent reasons for people to consult a Tarot reader is relationships, specifically romantic relationships.  This includes the full gamut of topics from, “Does Bobby like me?” to, “Is my marriage worth saving?”

You may find that a prominent subcategory of that topic is physically and/or emotionally abusive relationships.  People who are in abusive relationships are frequently desperate for advice and guidance.

You may also find – as any cop, social worker, or emergency department nurse can tell you – that the questioner may not even be willing to admit that he or she is in an abusive relationship.  They may be deeply ashamed of it. They may have been victims for so long that they’re afraid to reveal the truth, afraid that talking about it will only bring more abuse down on their heads.

It can be very puzzling to a reader.  You’re looking at a reading that indicates that something is very, very wrong in the questioners life and, yet, they assure you that everything’s fine.  There are, however, a few cards that can tip you to what’s actually happening.


The picture kind of says it all, doesn’t it?  This card may well indicate an abusive relationship though at this point – given that this is a Wands card and, thus, ideas card – the abuse is probably more verbal than physical.  A couple living in a constant state of verbal warfare with nasty, wounding arguments.


A card of stealing away in the night, this may indicate someone who is literally fleeing from a really bad relationship.  This can be a relationship that is SO bad that the questioner is leaving town to get away from his or her partner.


This is a card of really ugly power games and can indicate a person who is a serious sadist.  Deep wounds are being inflicted here and they may be actual physical wounds as well as emotional wounds.


This appears to be a fairly placid card on its’ surface but there are undertones that can indicate abuse. As I said in the original definition from my book, “Just the Tarot,” this is a card of leaving troubles behind and moving toward better times.  A journey from rough waters to waters that are placid and calm. There is a definite element of escape, of fleeing in this card.

There is also an element of hiding and of turning your power over to someone else and asking them to guide you to safety.  The woman and child are cloaked and bent over, as if to conceal their identities.

I have seen this card frequently in the context of an abused wife or girl-friend fleeing to a women’s shelter or finally, finally calling the cops to stop the abuse.  


This card doesn’t so much indicate physical abuse but may point toward a form of emotional abuse.  The questioner may be involved with someone who is stealing his or her power in a relationship, belittling them, and grinding down their sense of self-worth on a daily basis.


Again, the picture pretty much speaks for itself.  A person who is literally being held prisoner in a terrible relationship.  The blindfold can indicate a high level of denial on his or her part, refusing to even acknowledge, much less deal with, the fact that they’re in deep shit.


This may well be the scariest of the abuse cards.  It’s the end of the power cycle and the subject lies dead on the battlefield stuck full of the swords that he or she tried to wield.  A reminder that abusive relationships can have horrible endings.


I’m including this card in the post, not because it shows overt physical or emotional abuse, but because it may show a certain form of emotional or financial bondage in a relationship.  The woman in the card is to all appearances happy, content, and surrounded by wealth. One of the key elements of the card, though, is the blindfolded hawk. This card may indicate a person who has – perhaps willingly – surrendered his or her freedom for financial security.  There can be a great deal of inequity and inequality of power in a relationship like that and that can certainly lead to abuse.


The Devil can, of course, indicate a whole slew of other things besides relationship abuse but it’s almost always there when abuse is present.  You have to be a wee bit cautious in automatically assuming that, though, because human sexuality covers a whole spectrum of behaviors. I have never personally understood it but there ARE people who enjoy giving and receiving pain as a part of their sexual experience.  If it’s mutually agreed on, it’s none of our business.

Despite that, The Devil can be a clear indicator of a relationship that has gone very, very wrong.  The man and woman are chained but the chains are obviously loose enough to be slipped off if they chose to do so.  There is an element of voluntarily sinking into a terrible, poisonous relationship and elevating the very worst of human nature into a so-called, “relationship.”  The abuse here can be emotional, physical and spiritual.


The Tower can show abuse but it’s probably just happened.  The Tower is sudden calamity, a bolt from the blue, a shocking development.  Chronic abuse can go on for years. It may be shocking to others to discover it’s been going on but it’s certainly not shocking to the victims or perpetrators.  Depending upon the surrounding cards this may indicate the very start of the abuse cycle.


As I said in my original definition:  The Moon shows that the questioner may be involved with someone on a very primitive, unconscious level and that there may be deception on the part of the partner or, more likely, denial on the part of the questioner.  There is a lot of emotion present but it may not be of a healthy, evolved nature.

This card can show the depths of rationalization and deception involved in an abusive relationship.  Everything is murky, shadowy, and there’s no clear path out for the victim.

So those are the primary cards that may indicate an abusive relationship.  They don’t always indicate that but you’ll be able to tell a great deal by the surrounding cards.  I would also emphasize that these are by no means the only cards that can indicate abuse. Abusive relationships can be incredibly complex and so can the readings for the person being abused.

Seven of Swords

A man with a mocking grin on his face is seen sneaking away from an encampment bearing five swords in his arms while two swords remain thrust upright into the ground.

This card hearkens back, therefore, to both the five of swords and the two of swords.  The same sort of merciless, sadistic power games are being played as in the five of swords, but there is an element of secrecy, concealment, and being underhanded about his malice.  The individual is causing just as much harm but doesn’t want others to know about it.

Swords represent power and he is literally stealing someone else’s power from them.  As a result of it he is leaving them power-less, locked into the same state of stalemate as the two of swords and no longer able to function.  

Reversed:  The person doing the stealing and deception is about to get caught.  His or her behavior will be revealed and the problem will resolve.

EXAMPLES:  The employee who is constantly undermining her supervisor with malicious gossip.

The, “friend,” who is gossiping about you behind your back and destroying your credibility and reputation.