(The above image is a copy of The Eight of Swords card in a standard Rider-Waite Tarot deck. The 6 symbols pointed out above are explained below.)
The Eight of Swords depicts a bounded figure surrounded by a cage of swords. This card appears whenever we feel trapped by outside forces. While the figure appears to be in a hopeless situation, the card allows for the possibility that they could escape their bonds and be free.
For more information about The Eight of Swords card, check out A. E. Waite’s description here.
Point 1 – BOUNDS
The Eight of Swords depicts a woman bound from head to toe. These bounds suggest a limit of thought. They are a manifestation of her caged mind. While it appears that she is trapped, the bounds look easily escapable. This implies that the woman’s mental limits can be overcome through self-realization.
Point 2 – BLINDFOLD
Along with the bounds, the woman is blindfolded. As the Seven of Swords was a parody of the Five of Swords, the Eight of Swords is a parody of the Two of Swords. While in the Two of Swords, the blindfold seemed an extension of the intellect, here, the blindfold limits the intellect. In order for the woman to reach spiritual maturity, she must first remove the blind so that she can tie it on her own.
Point 3 – SWORDS
The eight swords around the woman reiterate the parody of the blindfold. The swords should be tools used by the woman; they should be extensions of her. Instead, they trap her and limit her mobility. The swords emphasize the need to reclaim oneself from self-delusion.
Point 4 – FIGURE’S CLOTHING
The woman’s red clothing matches the paradox found in the clothing of the man in the Seven of Swords. The red illustrates the woman’s passion and zeal however the surrounding environment suggest that her emotions are consuming her. The card thus calls for a balance.
Point 5 – WATER AT FIGURE’S FEET
There is a pool of water at the feet of the woman. Like most of the water symbolism found in the Swords suit, the water here illustrates the woman’s connection to her subconscious. While her body is trapped, the woman still has the power of her mind; it is up to her to use it to set herself free.
Point 6 – CASTLE
Behind the woman is a large castle. The security of the castle is juxtaposed with the insecurity of the sword cage. The castle is built to protect a person while the swords and binds are built to limit the woman. The castle furthers the interpretation that the woman needs to regain control of her surroundings and to use them for her advantage rather than her disadvantage.
An Upright Eight of Swords suggests that you are feeling trapped and powerless. Perhaps you are in a dire financial situation or are stuck in an abusive relationship with a friend or romantic partner. While these situations seem helpless, it is important to realize that you always have the power of your intellect. Like the woman in the card, you have the agency to free yourself from the terrible situation.
A Reverse Eight of Swords suggests that you are entrapping yourself through self-delusions or limiting ideologies. Perhaps your stubbornness on an issue is preventing you from maturing. Perhaps a previous trauma has remained unprocessed and it is causing you to have arrested development. In situations like these, it is important to take a step back, meditate on the problem, and talk about it with a licensed therapist in order to free yourself from this oppressive mentality.
For more Tarot Card Meanings, check out our blog here.
About the author: John Taylor is a content writer and freelancer through the company Upwork.com. You may view his freelancing profile here. He has a B. A. in English, with a specialty in technical writing, from Texas A&M University and a M. A. in English from the University of Glasgow. You may view his previous articles about Tarot here and his LinkedIn profile here.