When you have put yourself in a bind from which there seems no escape, when you are lonely and might only have yourself to blame, when you adamantly refuse to take any responsibility for a bad situation … you are drawing the Eight of Swords in a Tarot Reading. This is a card that demands you investigate your status as a victim and acknowledge your own role in any possible downfalls that may be occurring around you.
A woman in a flowing robe is blindfolded and her torso bound. She is standing, not tied to anything and not tied up by anyone. Behind her off in the distance is a castle on a hill. At her feet are murky puddles of water in the mud. There are 8 swords behind her, buried with their points in the ground. The desolate landscape is under a dreary and cloudless gray sky.
Swords represent words. A sword that is buried represents words that dug deep. The gloomy nature of the scene depicted on the Eight of Swords Tarot card underscores that a long period of criticism has caused a person to turn into an withdrawn, stuck being. Be it harsh words that were lessons from your past or more recent verbal exchanges in your professional world or love relationship, the ideas expressed have caused you to shut down.
There is nobody around the tied-up victim, she has her shoes on and could begin walking away from all those swords. There is nobody stopping her from slowly removing that which binds and blinds her. But at the present, she stands amidst the swords. A closer contemplation could make one wonder how much of the negative criticism that they represent she has begun to believe about herself.
Meaning in Past, Present and Future Positions
Each Tarot reading occurs at a unique moment in time. The cards are placed in past, present and future positions. The position the Eight of Swords lands in is important as this card is weaker in different places.
In the past position of a Tarot Reading, the Eight of Swords indicates that you have been trapped in a hurtful relationship. Perhaps it was in your childhood or prior to a recent breakup. The Eight of Swords is weak here, it is never a card to serve as the foundation of the reading. The lasting effect of the card may be as minimal as low self-esteem, but could also point out that unresolved issues from childhood are creating a self-destructive response to your current situation.
When the Eight of Swords is dealt out into the present position during your Tarot reading, it is at its strongest. This is a card that is confronting you with the stagnant aspects of your current situation. Often, Tarot readers will tell a person receiving this card during a reading that the Eight of Swords in the present position represents denial. Oftentimes, the querent will then deny that there is any of that behavior going on. The Eight of Swords in the Present position lets you know that you may not be the person who put the blindfold around your eyes, but you are the person keeping it on.
This card is a strong warning when it appears in the future position. The Eight of Swords indicates stagnation, a loss of passion, apathy and an otherwise general malaise concerning your enthusiasm for the things you enjoy. When it is in the future position, consider that you may be on a path that leads to disappointment, perhaps even one that traps you into a life of casual comfort from which you lose all hope escaping because the lack of stimulation has left you with no imagination.
Of course, there is free will and spotting this card in the future position is a good way to take heed of a warning from the Tarot deck and not get too comfortable with how things are going. You can stand up to an abusive spouse even if he is supporting the two of you. You can get help if you are taking pain medication rather than pursuing physical therapy to mend an injury. All of the things that you are putting up with in the present can lead you into a position where suddenly you are kept from all the possibilities of life outside a narrow scope. Seeing the Eight of Swords in the future position warns you that current comforts may become tomorrow’s ties that bind.
The cards around the Eight of Swords will describe what led you to apathy and self-doubt, as well as indicating what you can do to break free of the bondage illustrated in the card.
When there are other Sword cards in the reading, the verbal warfare is heightened and you may need to speak up once and for all. When there are many cards from the suit of Cups with the Eight of Swords, emotional confusion is keeping you stuck somewhere. The suit of Pentacles represents money problems when the Eight of Swords appears amidst a few cards of that suit. Many wealthy people are surprised to find this card in their readings, but their lifestyles are making them so comfortable that they are hardly living and avoiding reaching anything close to their real potential.
When there are many Wands cards in a reading with the Eight of Swords, you have a natural creativity and business savvy that is being thwarted by spending your time in frivolous pursuits or a destructive relationship.
The Eight of Swords is a card that is stronger and more intense when it is in the company of cards from the Major Arcana. There are few classic “good” combinations. The Moon or Strength cards appearing in a reading indicate that you will find a way out of your mess. Other than those two, the Eight of Swords brings out the worst entropy-like energy from Major Arcana cards. But it is always up to you to unwrap yourself, lift the blindfold and move on from those old swords buried behind you.