For some reason, these two cards confuse me. If you look at the surface of them in the RWS and Robin Wood deck, they look the same: Someone is taking away swords. For many years, I’ve used these cards interchangeably, “Someone is stealing something from/returning something to you.”
But there’s more than that. The five of swords shows someone taking swords, but in this case, they’re the spoils of war. Someone has been conquered, and the winners are taking away what belongs to them now. Robin Wood has someone chuckling as he’s taking things away, saying “Nah, nah, I win.”
The seven of swords shows someone sneaking away with the swords. And there’s the distinct difference: That’s the “Someone is taking something from you.” Not because they deserve it as above, but because they’re betraying you.
I pulled these same cards from two other decks that are sort of RWS derivatives but with a different spin. Shadowscapes has the same kind of thing for both cards, swords with birds. See how easy it can be to confuse them?
Witches’ Tarot has a dragonfly with swords for 5, and a man carrying swords away for 7. The 5 is, to me, a WTF card, meaningless in itself. The 7 is like the RWS deck, someone taking something from you.
As a single card reading, I will probably revert to the “someone’s taking something”, but have to add, “Because they deserve it, you’ve surrendered it” vs. “Because they’re thieves.”