Eight of Swords Tarot Card Meaning & Interpretations

Eight of Swords Tarot card meaning and interpretation

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 cards in the other 3 Minor Arcana Suits are generally about the positive aspects of their numerological value whereas with the Suit of Swords half of its cards reflect the negative traits. The 8 of Swords is one of these card. 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 goals. 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. Too many choices, obstacles, problems. Too much data to process. Confusion, frustration and going around in circles which is what the 8 is, an upright infinity symbol.

Typical illustrations of this card, originating from the Rider Waite Smith (RWS) deck, are one of a bound and blind folded person standing partly surrounded by a semi-circle of swords sticking out of the ground. In the RWS image the land is barren, wet and swamp like. In the background there is a citadel positioned high on a rock outcrop. The mood being set by this imagery is one of isolation, imprisonment and despair. The artist's inclusion of the citadel might be to suggest that this person has been ostracized and punished by its citizens. The meaning of the 8 of Swords, in this context, would be one of feeling left out of things by others. The number 8 is empowering but this card represents the opposite and symbolises being disempowered. Thoughts and feelings go together and the emotional aspect of this disempowerment is represented by the water on the ground, the feeling of being left out gives rise to the thought.

The RWS artist, Pamela C. Smith, cleverly illustrated her cards in a way that leaves interpretation open to your intuition and not fixed and rigid. Blind folded, with arms bound, the central character can walk but cannot see or touch. Each of those 8 swords may represent a dangerous direction which could result in inflicting personal injury or damage. The water at their feet provides a possible solution to this tricky situation. By feeling the water with their feet and following it they can navigate their way out of the sword prison. 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.

© Phuture Me Ltd 2010-2019. All rights reserved.


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.

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© Phuture Me Ltd 2019. All rights reserved.

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