The Spiritual Meaning of the Eight of Swords Tarot Card

The Spiritual Meaning of the Eight of Swords Tarot Card

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The Eight of Swords may look like a challenging tarot card, but it offers us a way out of our current distress. Learn more about the spiritual meaning of the Eight of Swords tarot card.

The Eight of Swords can be a disturbing card to pull. The traditional Rider-Waite-Smith version of this card shows someone tied up and blindfolded standing in a puddle, surrounded by eight swords arranged like a cage. This card looks cold and scary. But the cage of swords is fairly open. The blindfold is loose, and the person doesn’t look particularly distressed.

The suit of Swords is about thought and intellectual energy. It is the suit that contains some of the most difficult cards in the tarot, but part of the point of Swords is understanding that our own thoughts can often be much more hurtful than the reality around us. A sword can be double-edged, hurting us even as we try to defend ourselves. The ideal sword is the sword of discernment, able to help us tell the difference between the truth and illusion.

Separate Real from Unreal

As we “travel” through the suit of Swords and reach the Eight of Swords, we are still learning how to manage our thought energy. Eights of all suits often depict a feeling of being trapped. Eights are two sets of fours, two boxes on top of each other, a trap on top of a trap. The Eight of Swords specifically is all about stress, anxiety, depression, and feeling like there are no choices—the binds created by our own minds.

In the Light Seer’s Tarot deck by Chris-Anne, the Eight of Swords shows a woman looking in the mirror. In the mirror, she is tied up, bound with string being pulled by crows that, in this deck, represent the Swords. On the other side of the mirror, however, the woman is free of any bounds. She perceives herself as being trapped, but in reality, she’s not.

If this card has appeared for you in a tarot reading, the work required of you is to separate the real from the unreal. There may very well be a difficult situation that you find yourself in that needs careful attention. But we must place our attention on discernment. What are we seeing about the situation and ourselves? What are we assuming? If fear is arising, we must pause to consider whether our fear is about the present situation or something that happened in the past.

Recover Your Agency and Emotional Wisdom

This card can also indicate that one’s sense of choice and power is hidden just beyond reach. Have you forgotten the choices you have? Are you truly powerless, or have you simply decided that you are powerless? What do you need in order to access your sense of power again?

In the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, the puddle shown in this card may point us toward the suit of Cups, whose element is water. Intuition is nearly, but not completely, dried up in the Eight of Swords. If we can reconnect to our hearts, emotions, and intuition, we may be able to see the way forward after all.

Feel Your Feelings

So much of the time when we’re feeling stuck, paralyzed, or trapped, there’s a difficult emotion (or many) that we’re avoiding. When we feel unable to move forward, it’s because a part of us is afraid of feeling a certain emotion, keeping us caught in a cycle of anxiety or spiraling thoughts instead. Our system knows that if we allow ourselves to fully feel the grief, sadness, anger, or horror in our bodies, we still may not be able to do anything about it.

So, our systems present as “stuck” instead, shutting us down rather than letting us feel what’s really happening. The Eight of Swords lets us know that, as painful as these emotions are, we’re going to have to feel them. We still may not be able to fix the situation we’re in, but we can release those stuck emotions and begin to see what options we really do have.

The Eight of Swords teaches us that we don’t always see ourselves or our situation clearly. It reminds us to use our resources—not just thinking, but feeling as well, maybe even moving our bodies in order to process difficult emotions. Yes, we may be in a really difficult, painful situation in our lives, but our power is there, somewhere. If we can get honest enough with ourselves about what’s going on, we can find that power again and face what’s happening—swords at the ready.

Learn how tarot can support us through dark days.

The Spiritual Meaning of the Eight of Swords Tarot Card

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