Eight of Swords

Key Meanings

A failure to see the bigger picture. Self-limiting beliefs. The feeling of being trapped.

Eight of Swords—Original RWS TarotEight of Swords—Original RWS Tarot

Meaning of the Eight of Swords

The Eight of Swords shows a blindfolded woman surrounded by swords and shows a failure of perspective. She is trapped by her own thoughts and held back because of fears. The blindfold shows indicates a failure to see the bigger picture.

This card can represent self-imposed restrictions; limiting beliefs; or too much attention being given to details, instead of focussing on the bigger picture or the basic principles of the problem.

It can also show imprisonment or being trapped in some situation. There could be some sort of crisis. You may have a feeling of isolation and powerlessness. The important thing is that you need to step outside the box, to develop an alternative perspective in order to to find a solution.

The Eight of Swords can also show some sort of conflict or malice. There may be a pettiness being shown by someone you know. Is it possible that you are being petty in your dealings with another person?

With this card, there can be an ease with some tasks, but also a disorder or confusion when attempting other tasks.

The Eight of Swords Reversed

The Eight of Swords reversed holds a number of meanings. 

It can indicate the opposites of the upright card, and show an easing of a difficult situation as you begin to see it from alternative points of view.

However, it may also indicate a difficulty or feeling of disquiet. Someone or something is opposing you. 

As always, the cards surrounding it in a reading will influence the interpretation.

The card can also show an internalisation of the energy (relating to the upright meanings). Perhaps there’s more of a feeling of being trapped than is really the case.

Images, Symbols, and More

The Eight of Swords shows a woman in red, bound and blindfolded. She’s standing in a marsh or perhaps on the shore when the tide is out. The weather is overcast. She’s surrounded by swords that are stuck in the ground. Although she can’t see it, there are ways out of the swords around her. In the distance, there’s a mountain with a walled town or castle built on it.

The Shadowscapes Tarot shows a swan trapped inside a cage of swords and barbed wire. A phantasm flies overhead, giving an oppressive feeling, but directly above the swan, a brightly coloured bird hovers, giving hope of a way out.

The esoteric title of the Eight of Swords is Lord of Shortened Force.

Astrologically, this card represents Jupiter in Gemini.

Read more Tarot Card Meanings


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