Eight of Swords | Tarot Card Meaning & Interpretation

8 of Swords

Keywords for the Eight of Swords

RESTRICTIONVICTIM MENTALITY
BONDAGEFEELING TRAPPED
CONFUSIONHOPELESSNESS
OPPRESSIONCONFINEMENT
FEELING POWERLESSLEARNED HELPLESSNESS

In the image on this card, we see a woman in a red dress standing on the beach at low tide. She is blindfolded and bound, seemingly trapped amidst a fence of eight tall swords.

Shallow pools of water can be seen around her; even the sea has deserted her, leaving her to her fate abject and alone.

In the distance, we see the red roofs of a tall castle high up on a cliff. Perhaps help is available, if only the woman could see it. 

Interpretation of the 8 of Swords in a Reading

When 8 of Swords comes up in a tarot reading, it often indicates some kind of restriction, of feeling trapped or stuck within the limits of a given situation.

When this card appears, we can often feel as if we are powerless, and have little we can do to change our fate.

As a result, we can feel victimized, and come to believe that we have no choice but to give into forces greater than ourselves. 

We may give up our sense of being powerful, autonomous agents of change, instead placing our only hopes in the hands of others for salvation.

We can look again to the image on the card for clues on how to resolve this seeming impasse.

If we look closely, we can see that both the ties which bind her arms, as well as the blindfold which obscures her sight, are tied quite loosely. The swords around her do not fully enclose her, either.

If she were to try, she could most likely free herself quite easily from the ties that bind her. But in order to do so, she must first believe that it is possible.

This speaks to the clearly mental nature of the sense of entrapment we see in this card. Often, we are only trapped because we have come to believe we have no other options.

This speaks to a sense of “learned helplessness” that we sometimes may develop after experiencing serious traumas or adversities. There may have been instances in the past where we truly had little power to change our circumstances (such as in childhood abuse or instances of serious violence). 

Unfortunately, due to these traumatic experiences we may have come to believe that we are always powerless in more than one area of our lives. The painful experience may become so embedded in our sense of who we are that we generalize outward from this one situation to all others.

As difficult as it may be, we must remember there is always a solution to our problems. There are always other options available to us, although they may be one we had never imagined for ourselves before. Sometimes they show up in ways that at first may seem unattractive, but ultimately may be exactly what we need.

The 8 of Swords asks us to remove the blindfold and open our eyes, and to shake ourselves loose from the ties which bind us. Once we begin to believe in ourselves again, anything becomes possible. 

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