8 of Swords
If you are new to Tarot one of things you will quickly pick up on is a theme of negativity around cards in the suit of Swords. The other 4 suits are generally about the positive aspects of their numerological value whereas with Swords it's the negative ones.
With the 8 of Swords this tends to be true. A positive 8 gives you a "can do, will do" energy and drive. A focus to get things done. Not only the ambition but also the direction and resources to manifest a goal. The 8 of swords is the exact opposite of this.
The negativeness of the 8 of Swords leaves you feeling directionless and lost. Trapped, isolated even imprisoned. Swords deals with mental challenges and therefore the root of this disempowerment will be in the mind. To many choices, obstacles, problems. Too much data to process. Confusion, frustration and going around in circles which is what the 8 is. It's an upright infinity symbol.
Typical illustrations of this card, originating from the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, are one of a person bound, blind folded and standing in a circle of swords sticking out of the ground.
Each of those 8 swords may represent a dangerous direction which could result in inflicting personal injury or damage.
In the Rider-Waite-Smith deck there is an escape path in the form of water. This is the recommended solution to this situation. Water represents feelings, and since the mind is the root of the problem, your way out is to use your intuition, gut instinct or just follow your heart.
Another way to interpret this card is to start with the Water and not the theme element of Air. This card, on it's own, could reflect a feeling that something is missing or not right. There's something you should be doing, or a new direction you should be taking, but you just can't figure it out in your head. The feeling alone makes you realise that on some level you are trapped or caught up in something you need to get out of.
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THE PICTORIAL KEY TO THE TAROT;
By Arthur Edward Waite (1911)
A woman, bound and hoodwinked, with the swords of the card about her. Yet it is rather a card of temporary durance than of irretrievable bondage. Divinatory Meanings: Bad news, violent chagrin, crisis, censure, power in trammels, conflict, calumny; also sickness. Reversed: Disquiet, difficulty, opposition, accident, treachery; what is unforeseen; fatality.