The Eight (VIII) of Swords

The Eight (VIII) of Swords –

Psychological Entrapment, Restrictions, Powerless

8 of Swords Upright


 Restrictions, Entrapment, Confinement, Caught in a Bind, Fenced In, Restrictions, Stagnation,  Dilemmas, Crisis, Calamity, Drama, Confusion, Un-focused, Misperceptions, Illusions, At a Loss, Hysteria, Imprisonment, Incarceration, Prison, Control, Slave, Unable to Face Problems, Can’t See a Way Out, No Options, Hands are Tied, Backed into a Corner, Blocked, Paralysed, Psychological Problems, Inner Turmoil, Self-Sabotage, Fear, Terror, Pessimism, Depression, Negative Attitudes, Helplessness, Hopeless, Pointless, Powerless,  Breaking Point, Disempowered, Victim, Persecution, Criticism, Condemnation, Insults, Blame, Punishment, Judgement, Lawsuits, Trials, Juries, Condemned, Consequences, Isolation, Censorship, Silencing,


Card Imagery Description 

When we left behind the Swords in Card Seven, it was after a grim time. There was a lot of confusion as to what was happening and who was who.  Alas, we were not used to such intrigue, double-crossing, theft and treachery, so found it hard to keep up with the comings and goings of those who were.  It was a dangerous time to be around and we had several different scenarios playing out.

To cast our mind back to the Six of Swords, we watched as the woman and child made good their escape from the Bully and Tyrant of the Five of Swords.  She had an accomplice who must have been looking out for her welfare. He had undoubtedly snatched her away from the brute aggression and force of the Figure in Card Five.  He could see she was heavily embroiled in the conflict that was going on but knew she was no match for her adversary.  He had tried to defend her as much as he could, but when they were both disarmed, he knew that their only chance of survival was to admit defeat, lay down their Swords and make a hasty retreat while their aggressor turned his attention on another.

They had sought the only escape route they could find, the boat moored down by the water’s edge.  It must have been heaven-sent for there was no other way off the Island.  The woman’s accomplice knew that they were all in grievous trouble should they be caught, even the woman’s young child, who sat shivering beside her in the boat.  Her accomplice did not think of where they might go except the other island that was just visible on the horizon.  It was their only chance.  They had to put distance between them and the conflict.  The woman was severely fretful and exhausted for she had been living for many years under constant stress and conflict.

Even though she had got off to a brilliant start in The Ace, when she was presented by Spirit with her bright gleaming Sword, she was warned that her Sword Sliced both ways.  It had the power to hurt and the power to heal. This dual power could be used on those around her but also on herself.  It all depended on how she handled her Sword as to whether it would serve her well or destroy her. We are not sure what happened, but somewhere in the Two of Swords she lost sight of how to work her Sword to heal and to free her mind.  She now had Two Swords but they  sat crossed like blunt butter knives over her heart.  She was at a loss as to how to use them. How had she forgotten so soon what Spirit had advised her in the Ace.  Her Swords should have made her brave and fearless but instead she withdrew and became confused. She found herself weakened as she dis-empowered her Swords one by one. She saw things going on around her that she could not consciously assimilate. She did not want to face the truth of what lay before her.  In desperation she tied a blindfold around her eyes so that she would no longer have to see or watch. In her dysfunctional sense, she hoped that if she could not see, then she might not be seen by others too.  Invisible to all, she might be left alone with nothing asked of her for she was paralysed by fear and the terrible stress of having to make a painful decision.

She was discovered sitting on her stone seat, blindfold on and Swords crossed but was dragged into the The Three of Swords were she got her first taste of real battle. She saw victims fall with Swords thrust through their heart.  She heard rows and arguments and also felt the hot searing pain of cold steel as it pierced her own heart. Carried from the battlefield, she was taken to a hospital to be treated.  The doctors, on examination discovered that it was not just the flesh wounds that had to heal but also her mind for she had been brought in, in a terrible state. She displayed all the signs and symptoms of being on the frontline for too long.

The Four of Swords had been her only respite over the years.  As her wounds healed she also tried to heal her mind. An attempt was made to find mental stability and strength.  She had been warned of how her condition would deteriorate should she not follow doctor’s orders and the advice of friends.  She tried her best and by the time she was discharged and declared well, we all held high hopes for her finding happiness and peace in her life at long last.  However, like a drug addict who must stay away from the offending substance if he is ever to fully recover, the woman needed to give the source of her conflict and mental strain a wide berth.  She needed to stay away from whatever or whoever it was that had brought her so close to the edge of insanity.

Whether it was the woman who made the first move or her adversary who sought her out, it did not take long for her to be sucked back into the vicious cycle once more.  This time however, the battle had intensified, emotions running high on all sides.  Anger and brute force charged the atmosphere. Others were involved too and there was a bloody battle to gain power.  The woman’s rescuer arrived just in time, for at this stage, her future certainly looked bleak.  He locked Swords with  her aggressor and called on her to run while she had the chance.  Her accomplice was a strong Swordsman and held his ground, but his opponent had a few dirty tricks up his sleeve. With a sudden twist of the wrist and upward thrust, the gallant young man’s Sword spun into the air before clattering loudly on the ground.  His opponent, the aggressive Figure from the Five of Swords lunged towards him and made to run him through with his Sword but was suddenly rushed by two big strong men who knocked him sideways.  He now turned his attacking attention on them.  The young man saw his chance and ran in the same direction the woman had taken.

And so, we know what happened from there on in.  On arrival at the far island, they had sought Sanctuary from the Chief of an Army ready to march on the Five of Swords Man.  It was touch and go for a while. The experienced Military Man was suspicious of their motives and thought them to be spies.  It was the woman and child who convinced him otherwise for they both looked a sorry mess and terrified out of their wits.  The Army Chief had given them shelter in a tent but did leave a guard outside just to be cautious.  At least they had somewhere to put their heads down and a bit of food to eat.  The woman and child fell asleep rapidly but the young man sat thinking hard.  He knew they were still not out of danger and if they were recaptured, there would be no mercy shown to them.  He could not understand why the now sleeping woman allowed the brute on the other island to exert so much control and power over her.  He was a nothing, a bully, a manipulator, a tyrant and violent.  When had she let the control happen? When had she dis-empowered herself and relinquished her Sword? Why had she not stood up to him? Why had she not left a long time ago? He does not understand the way her mind works for he knows what he would have done. He certainly would not have let things get this bad.  Looking down on her, he sees her closed eyes twitch and even in sleep, she wears a deep frown of worry.  He can see that she is dreaming and knowing her psychological state, her dreams will be of the nightmarish quality.

The Three refugees in the tent, in the middle of the large army camp, were completely oblivious to the sly activities, skullduggery and treason that was taking place outside.  They knew nothing of the traitor who would change sides and sell them to the enemy for a handful of silver.  The young man thought he had bought them some time, and that tomorrow they would travel on while the army went on the attack.  They could put much distance between them and the fighting.  The young man eventually settled down to sleep for he had far to travel the next day and needed rest.

We now pick up from the closing scene in the Card Imagery and Description of Card Seven.

The young man is abruptly woken up by pain as he is kicked and dragged.  He is dazed and confused as to what is happening.  He can hear the woman and child screaming and can see they too are being dragged through the open door of the tent.  It is barely dawn and icily cold.  Soldier’s boots fly in around him, finding their target as they hit ribs, head, back and stomach.  He is severely winded and cannot even cry out.  Blood from a gash on his forehead drips into his eyes and blurs his vision.  Through his pain and reduced vision, he can see these soldiers are the men from the other island, their enemy’s men.  He is now aware that a fierce battle is raging around him and wonders how this can have happened?  He receives another almighty blow to his side and this time he begins to lose consciousness. The last thing he sees before he blacks out, is the woman and child being flung up on a horse and taken away at a gallop from the field.

The woman is too terrified to speak or scream.  Before throwing her on a horse two men had grabbed her roughly and tied a blindfold around her eyes. Unbelievably she is handed her child and barely has time to clutch him inside her cloak before their horse gallops off at a terrific speed along the narrow pathway. Two men, each on horseback escort her. Both are silent but she had looked into their faces before the blindfold went on.  They were not dressed as soldiers. She recognised them as the Hench Men from Card Five.  These are her Aggressor’s Personal Men, sent to bring her back or to God knows where?

They do not spare the horses but force them on faster and faster still. The woman is exhausted but holds on tight.  She knows that should she fall, she will be trampled by the horse’s heavy hooves.  She wonders for a split second that it might be a blessing in disguise for she is certain she is doomed.  She had tried to escape many times in the past from the nightmare she existed in. Most were futile attempts but there were also those desperate bids to strengthen her resolve, her mind and regain her power, especially in the Four of Swords.  She wanted freedom of mind, body, emotions and spirit more than anything else but no matter what she did, she seemed to always end up back at the same place.  She would never be free and now in her latest attempt, she had unwittingly jumped from the frying pan to the fire.  Her incarceration this time would be worse than before.  Her last bit of power had been stripped from her and maybe her life would be too.  As the horses thundered on, the skies brightened to a pale sharp and cold grey.

Suddenly, the noise of hooves on stone announce that they have arrived at a building or castle.  The horses noisily clatter across the cobble of a large courtyard before coming to an abrupt stop which almost unseats the woman.  Loud sharp voices call out issuing orders and instructions and then she is being hauled off the horse and set on her feet.  She feels the ground move beneath her and is fearful of swooning.  She holds her child close but moments later he is pulled from her grasp and wild scenes of screaming and crying follow, the woman begging for her child and the child calling for his mother.  No one listens, no one is interested.  Between her sobs, she hears her child’s cries fade into the distance.  They are taking him away, to somewhere, to someplace.  Her heart is breaking and she falls to her knees.  Then she is grabbed by two men and forced to her feet.  Her hands are tied behind her back and rope bound around her body.  Someone pushes her in the back and suddenly she is walking or being led down a narrow walkway.  The air is damp and cold making her clothes cling to her body.  She trembles in fear as she wonders wildly where they are taking her.  She is more than likely heading towards her execution and a sudden rush of nausea brings her close to throwing up.

The path now turns sharply and she almost loses her balance.  A gust of air carries the salty waft of seaweed and she realises that they are near the coast.  They stop and now she hears a heavy door open and then she is being led down a flight of stairs.  As she steps off the last step the ground beneath her feet is uneven and stony.  She is forced to walk on and now she can hear the sound of waves breaking on the shore.  She is led carefully over loose rocks on the ground and notices that her feet feel damp. There is water in places on the ground and a new wave of panic hits her.  Now she believes they intend to drown her for what else have they brought her here for? She is waiting to be hurled, blindfolded and bound into the sea.  She wonders how long she will last in the icy waters before she can no longer draw breath.  Maybe it would bring an end to all her troubles and suffering if they just got it over with instead of all this waiting and fear.  Her stress would be gone and all her problems, but what of her son, what of his life should he lose his mother in a such a way.  She cannot bear to think of that.

They have now reached an area that is rugged with rocks and sodden with tide pools. They stop again and she is forced to stand still. She hears them draw Swords and gasps.  So this is how it ends she thinks.  She prays silently and bows her head. One by one, she hears the Swords swish through the air but they do not pierce her flesh.  The men grunt and heave as they drive them into the ground around her.  They try to form a circle of Swords around her as a cage but they realise there are not enough to completely enclose her.  They grumble quietly among themselves that they should have brought more than Eight, but none want to bother with going back to make another trip. Instead they decide to pretend to her that she is completely encased in the sharpest blade Swords to be found in the Kingdom.  They tell her that escape is futile for should she try to move in any direction, the Swords will slice through and kill her.  Should she try to drag herself bleeding in search of help all she will find is the deep, cold unwelcoming water of the sea, that will swallow her up and use her as shark bait.  Laughing to themselves they begin to walk away from her.

The woman’s mind is numb with terror and she cries after them, begging the men not to leave her, pleading for her life.  It is too late, the men are already far away, eager to get to the castle and enjoy the heat of a fire, some good food and plenty of ale.  They take bets among their group as to how long the woman will last exposed to the elements.  How long will she be able to stand without falling over from exhaustion onto the sharp blades?  Some bet on the tide coming in that will be her end and others delight in the prospects of her just dying of terror and fear.  As they drink their ale, they are slightly unsettled by the fact that she is not totally hemmed in by the Swords.  If she managed to get her blindfold off, even over one eye, then she would see that her situation is not hopeless.  She will see there is a way out and that she is nowhere near the actual deep water.  They have cleverly played with her mind and have led her to believe that she has no options.  They are relying on that fact and know that if they were to check on her now and each hour until midnight, they would find her still standing, terrified to move an inch.  Still they are a little worried, and heavy with ale and food debate as to whether they should have tied her feet too.  They dismiss this notion quickly as if she knows what’s good for her, she will stay stock still and do as she is told. They have played so many mind games with her, they could tell her she was surrounded by invisible walls and she would readily believe them.

Back near the cold shoreline, the woman stands paralysed with fear.  She can barely breathe with the trembling of her body.  Her mind races in circles and she starts sharply at the cry of a seagull over head.  She ducks her head expecting the bird to attack but it is far above her.  She can hear the crash of the waves on the rocks and thinks they are getting louder.  Her mind convinces her that they are closing in around her and it will only be a matter of time before she is swept away by a powerful wave.  Even the rock pools below her feet seem deeper.  In her mind’s eye she can see the Swords, perhaps twenty of them forming the steel wall of her prison, their blades pointing inwards ready to cut should she move an inch.  She can visualise putting her tongue out and one of their blades slicing straight through it, because they are that close to her.  Her feet have grown numb with cold, wet and lack of movement but she cannot afford to take a step. If she doesn’t fall onto a Sword, then she will fall into the deep-sea.  She is trapped and cannot find or think of a way out of her mess. Why doesn’t she just fall on the Swords and get it over with she wonders?

She stands rigid, her mind a racing nightmare of imaginings and delusions.  Inside, a hysteria is building and she is close to panic. She can’t think straight. She feels helpless and powerless.  The woman is close to going insane. Her tormentors have done a good job.  They implanted the suggestions and her mind has done the rest.  She really has given her power away.  She doesn’t realise it yet, but Six of the Eight Swords used to incarcerate her, are her own, the Six that were driven into the boat she escaped in. Only Two Swords belong to her captors, the rest, she is responsible for. It really was an easy mission for them.  Her Six Swords, represent her very powerful negative attitudes that she has built on and carried for a long, long time.  She uses them in a destructive manner towards herself and does not even realise it. These Six Swords are responsible for where she is today.  She may blame her captors, her tormentors but these are her Swords. She has given away the positive power of these Six Swords bit by bitIf she could take back the power they have to offer, then she would Out-Sword her tormentors and enemies by six to two.  They have used her Swords as weapons against her for they know how to push all the right buttons.  They barely had to use their own Swords. Her Swords belong to her, they are her God-given right and only she must be in control of their power. That is, if she is responsible enough to do so.  

If she could just let her mind calm a bit and begin to think rationally then she could start to form a plan of escape.  If she could just see what we see, just for a moment, she would probably have a good laugh.  Yes, yes, she is blindfolded and bound, that is true, but what of her feet, they are not tied. She can move her feet and because they are so close to the Water (her emotions), she can feel her way slowly and sense what is around her.  However, the sad thing is that the ropes and blindfold are not of the physical kind.  It is easy to untie and free the physical body but no so easy to release the bonds that tie up and imprison a mind.  Psychological bonds are made of much stronger material and very difficult to sever.  She may need to call in the professionals with their specialist tools (psychologists/psychotherapists/counsellors). The blindfold has just replaced the original one she put on in the Two of Swords.  She never really took it off for she has been afraid to face the truth, afraid to acknowledge her life and that things or she must change.  She has been a fearful creature and easily manipulated into this situation.

The woman also thinks she is beyond help for no one will hear her should she cry out. If she only knew that just a short distance away, sits a strong fortress castle where she could find sanctuary.  This is not the castle of her tormentors but the home and establishment of people who would offer her the security, stability and the help she so desperately needs.

The woman is now close to breaking and wants her suffering and fear to end.  She thinks of her son suddenly and sees his little smiling face.  As she does, her mind begins to slow and come into focus.  She cannot give in and die out in this cold lonely place for she has something to live for, to fight for.  She has to find a way out or die in the process. She has to escape but she is on her own.   She has lost her accomplice, her support back in Card Seven.  She has relied on others all the time to sort her problems out and deal with difficult situations but now she is on her own and it is all up to her.  She can no longer wait for or expect a Knight in Shining Armour to come to her rescue for no one but her knows where she is, how far away in her mind she has gone.  No one is coming for her, there is no rescue plan. It is down to her now. She must try to save herself for she is very, very tired of living in this manner.  No longer can she allow herself to be powerless and have no control.  She needs to get her Swords back and decontaminate them from all the negativity and bloodshed of the past.  She braces herself to step forward but is wracked with another wave of panic and terror.

The woman needs to dig deep inside to access her Inner-Strength.  It is there, but buried deep down.  It may take some time but if she is determined, she will succeed.  Then she will grow tall in herself, supported by her new-found Psychological Strength, Self-belief and self-confidence and take the first step toward freeing herself.  She will move cautiously until she finds the edge of one of the blades and carefully she will use it to sever the rope that binds her hands.  Once this first little step is successfully achieved, she will begin to feel the return of her power.  Encouraged by her success, she will next rip off her blindfold and see her situation for what it really is and not as her wild imaginings have led her to believe.  She will rip the remaining binds from her body and laugh when she sees the makeshift prison she was so fearful of.  When she recognises her own Swords she will get quite a shock and a rush of shame, for part of her prison was her own making.  She will pluck them  from the ground and rush to the sea where they will be cleansed by the salty water and brought back to their original bright, shiny state.  Then she will notice the friendly castle on the cliff face and make her way steadily and surely towards it.  When she is welcomed inside, she will tell her story and ask for their help and advice on reclaiming her son and life.  Running away and being afraid is no longer an option.  She will have her Six Swords back and she will use them wisely to ensure Justice is served through communication, discussion, negotiation and understanding.  She will want her Swords to heal and not to hurt.

As we leave the Swords Woman behind in the hope that she is now making her way up the side of the cliff, clutching her Swords, we speculate on whether she has the strength and courage to follow through on what we know she is more than capable of doing.  However, it is not us that needs convincing. She may stand there for a long time. She might stand there forever until the end of tim,e for it is a difficult world she occupies.

We shall have to see how this one plays out for she has been determined in the past before, thought herself healed and her Swords renewed, only for it to all fall apart again.  We will hold back on the final verdict for a while, but for the moment, let us think positively and support this Sword’s Woman as much as we can. Let us pray that she can free herself from  her self-imposed prison.


Viewing this Card from another aspect we also see what has happened to the Young Traitor Soldier of The Seven of Swords who sold out his army and friends to the enemy.  He also betrayed the whereabouts of the man, woman and child.  For every action there is a consequence and the Young Soldier must now face his.

When we last saw him, he was heading off, away from the battle, with a heavy bag of coins.  The traitors fee.  He had been cocky and smug, thinking he was so smart and could get away with anything.  He had planned to continue in this line of business; doing underhand illegal dealings, lying, manipulating, framing others, anything really just to make money and connections.  He saw himself as someone powerful and respected but really he was a common thief who not even a thief could trust.  He had continued in this manner for some time and did manage to fare well financially.  He had made a considerable profit from his illegal dealings but he had got sloppy.  He wasn’t covering his tracks as carefully as he had before and didn’t suspect, for one moment, that he was walking into a trap on his last mission as he went to sell stolen goods to a new buyer at the edge of the woods.

Upon handing over the goods and receiving his fee, there started much commotion around him. Several men emerged from the trees and grabbed him.  He recognised their uniforms as Officers of The Law and quickly realised he had been set up.  His new buyer was actually talking to the Officers as if he knew them.  He did, for he was one of them.  The traitor was arrested there and then, hurled into the back of a wagon and taken to the nearest prison where he was incarcerated in a dirty smelly dungeon cell. The next day he was formally charged with treason, fraud, theft, an accomplice to kidnap and assault on the King’s Highway.  He would have to remain in prison until his trial.

No one likes a traitor so he was reviled by the prison officers and fellow inmates who told him he should be ashamed of his actions and prepared to go to the gallows for his crimes.  He was put into solitary confinement to contemplate his crimes.  He realised he had no one to turn to for he had alienated himself from all by his actions.  He could expect no leniency from the judge or jury.

The Eight (VIII) of Swords

8 of Swords Upright


Restrictions, Entrapment, Confinement, Caught in a Bind, Fenced In, Restrictions, Stagnation,  Dilemmas, Crisis, Calamity, Drama, Confusion, Un-focused, Misperceptions, Illusions, At a Loss, Hysteria, Imprisonment, Incarceration, Prison, Control, Slave, Unable to Face Problems, Can’t See a Way Out, No Options, Hands are Tied, Backed into a Corner, Blocked, Paralysed, Psychological Problems, Inner Turmoil, Self-Sabotage, Fear, Terror, Pessimism, Depression, Negative Attitudes, Helplessness, Hopeless, Pointless, Powerless,  Breaking Point, Disempowered, Victim, Persecution, Criticism, Condemnation, Insults, Blame, Punishment, Judgement, Lawsuits, Trials, Juries, Condemned, Consequences, Isolation, Censorship, Silencing,


The Eight of Swords is a very powerful Card and when it appears in a Reading. Its message can be very strong.  How strong this message is depends on the surrounding Cards in the Reading, the Querant and the Question.

The Eight of Swords represents restrictions, entrapment and being backed into a corner.  For certain there is a crisis but because we are dealing with a Sword’s Card, it is unsure whether the situation is as serious as it is made out to be and where the real problem lies.

When the Eight of Swords appears in a Reading, there will be a sense of panic about an issue or situation. Negativity, pessimism and doom and gloom will govern.  There is a belief that you have no options and are stuck in a situation you can’t get out of. Depression and fear controls your every thought.  You may feel like the victim or martyr and that no one understands you.  Close friends and family will already have given you good advice and possible solutions to your dilemma but it is doubtful you have listened.  You will have an excuse as to why nothing will work and how pointless it is in trying.  When people try to help and see no response or effort coming from your side, they eventually back off or give up.  This leaves you, the victim, with a sense of isolation and deepening loneliness.  Your mind is then free to turn even more negative, and convince you further, of how futile and hopeless your situation is.  A vicious cycle becomes entrenched and the longer it goes on the more paralysed you become.  You may believe you are doomed and that your fate is sealed.

What we are dealing with here is psychological imbalance or dysfunction.  Narrowed, negative beliefs and attitudes convince you that there is no way out. You are trapped by your circumstances and may feel your problems or the walls closing in around you.  There is a way out for you but at present you are blind to that route to freedom.  You self-sabotage every attempt at making a break for it.  Fear is what grounds you; fear of the unknown, fear of change, fear of taking a risk, fear of the consequences, fear of taking responsibility for your situation, fear of not being able to, fear of not having the skills, fear of failure, fear of success, fear of not being liked, fear of being judged or criticised, fear of being blamed. The list could go on and on and on but what keeps you imprisoned is fear and the small chaotic world that is your mind.  Whereas those around you possibly see the solution to your situation as ‘quite simple really’, you will be in a tizzy and unable to focus on processing any logical thoughts or plan. You may not be able to understand or follow what is going on around you. Your self-imposed beliefs might see everything as a calamity and major drama, while others would call it a ‘mere troublesome situation’.  You need to calm down, lose the hysteria and drama so that you can look at your situation in a more objective manner.

You are likely overwhelmed by the extent of your problems. You cannot possibly deal with all Eight Swords at the one time for that would be too much for any of us. You need to take one Sword (stress) at a time and attempt to sort it before moving on to the next one.  This will help you feel more in control and that you are taking action instead of sitting on the floor crying. As you tackle your issues one by one, others may fall by the wayside as you go or automatically fall into line because of your actions. As the Swords dissipate, so too will the tightness of the binds that hold you.  The path to freedom will become clearer and you may even see a light at the end of the tunnel.  Action is required of you now and not passivity, submission and resignation.  Stop being a slave to your problems.

If the majority of Cards surrounding this Eight are Pentacles (especially reversed) then you may be backed into a corner under a mountain of bills and debts with no money to pay them. If Cups are dominant (especially reversed) you might feel trapped in a loveless marriage or controlling relationship. Several Wands may suggest being in a bind in work or in trouble after a course of action taken. Several Swords brings severe stress and psychological issues which may need professional help.

With the Eight of Swords, there is often failure to take responsibility for your situation.  You will not act or take control.  Instead you wait for others to come to your rescue but what if no one actually knows the trouble you are in? Pride may prevent you from seeking help in the right places.  You may prefer to see yourself as a damsel in distress waiting for her Knight in Shining Armour to come and save the day.  The only one who can save you from this situation is yourself. If you can show some effort you will gain the respect and help of others in return.

The Eight of Swords in the majority of cases suggests that the problem you are in is more than likely of your own making.  Yes, we do get into binds or get caught in traps created by other people, but then allow ourselves or give permission to be taken prisoner.  Instead of walking away, we stay and get involved. We then become obliged or duty-bound to get even further involved.  Before we know it we have had enough and want to get out but by that stage we can find very few or possibly no window of opportunity to escape. You may be fenced in by obstacles or opposition.  Trapped by your circumstances, the situation can become very limiting. You need to call on your inner-strength for it is there within and can help you find a way out.

The Eight of Swords can also suggest that you are the victim of persecution.  There may be those set against you who are making your life a misery.   You could be at the receiving end of insulting comments, criticism and verbal abuse. You may be ‘in the dark’ as to goings on around you or are perfectly aware of why it is happening. You might have fallen from grace or lost your reputation.

This Card is not that hard to interpret and when it appears in a Reading, the Querant will instantly react and identify with it. The sense of entrapment or being hemmed in can be related to anything; career, relationship, home or finances.  You can feel stuck and unable to make a decision or make a move. You may think you have no options but you do. It is time to stop feeling so helpless. You more than likely got yourself into this mess and with a bit of effort and self belief on your part can get yourself out too.  If you are waiting for someone else to rescue you from this situation you could find yourself waiting a long time. However, once you start to help yourself, doors will open and you will be supported. You just have to make the first move.  Think clearly and lose the victim mentality. Solutions to your problems are there if you are prepared to seek them out.

We must also look at the possibility that someone you know is in a bind and needs help. You may be aware of the situation but have not made a move.  Because of circumstances or those involved, you may feel that your hands are tied in this matter and so look the other way. You may be in a situation where you have been silenced and forbidden to speak about an incident or person.  This censorship may be on a personal or public level.

On a darker note, we must also accept that the situation being represented by The Eight of Swords may be very serious indeed.  Surrounding Cards will give you further insight, but if you see several other Sword Cards, either Upright or Reversed, Reversed Court Cards (especially Swords or Cups) or should The Devil of The Major Arcana appear or The Tower, then we may be very concerned for the Querant.  The person represented by the Eight of Swords may be close to a state of mental overwhelm or breakdown.  Their mind may be so tied up and dysfunctional that there is danger of them losing it altogether. They could be very low and see their situation as pointless and hopeless.  The see no way out of their problems and mentally have surrendered to them.  Listless and low in energy they will have no fight left in them.  The person suggested by this Eight of Swords may no longer be able to help themself and might be in grave danger. If they can see no way out of their predicament or their mental torture they may entertain thoughts of finding another way to be free of their suffering.  Clinical depression may be evident and the need for professional help such as counsellors or psychotherapists.

We also have a possible scenario where the person represented by the Eight of Swords is literally trapped in a bad situation.  Their movements may be severely restricted or monitored. They may have little control over what happens to them on a day-to-day basis.  They might be living in a nightmare and fear for their life should they try to escape or let anyone know what is happening.  Those responsible will exert a tight and vicious control over their victim and will use psychological manipulation and conditioning to ensure obedience and submission.  The victim will be led to believe that they have to stay where they are and do as they are told because terrible things will happen to them if they don’t.  This may all sound dramatic  but we are not necessarily talking about kidnap or incarceration in a dungeon or tower.  The person this Eight of Swords represents may be your work colleague, friend, neighbour, sibling or student.  They may keep up a facade or front in public yet live in fear behind closed doors.  They may also be the victim of bullying and this can occur absolutely anywhere.  Their mental strength has been deliberately eroded by another and are no longer in charge of their life.  There may be no locked doors in their homes, giving the impression they are free to come and go, but in their mind each exit is barred. Surrounding Cards will need to support this theory and very often the Querant will show a very strong reaction to the Eight of Swords.

The Eight of Swords can also suggest punishment or having to face the consequences of action taken.  The Swords deal with Justice and the Law, so if you have been involved in any underhand dealings or criminal activity this Card can suggest having to pay for your crimes. If involved in legal dealings, arrests or court cases you may be found guilty and sentenced or have to face trial. Law suits and judgements may go against you. The Eight of Swords can also suggest being tied up in legal issues and contracts that are hard to get out of or that go on indefinitely.

With regards to relationships, the presence of The Eight of Swords does not bode well.  This card speaks of feeling trapped in a relationship and not knowing what to do about it.  You may feel you want to leave but that there are too many restrictions or obstacles standing in your way.  Deep unhappiness comes with this Card and a feeling of being totally stifled.  There may be children to consider, finances and a roof over your head.  Especially during this time of recession, there are many couples who are stuck in unhappy marriages or relationships but cannot afford to separate or divorce.  Should you leave, you may have nowhere to go, not enough money to survive on and your property may be in negative equity.  You are probably stuck where you are for the moment and will just have to get on with it. There are no doors locked and barring your escape so if you really want out that bad, then you do have the freedom to go even if you have to leave everything behind.

If there has been an affair or unfaithfulness, the Eight of Swords can suggest that it has been discovered and is out in the open or publicly known.  You now have to face the consequences of your actions. Friends and family may shun you. You may feel condemnation and insults coming from all sides. People may be judging you without all the facts. Alienated and isolated you might feel alone and in the dark with no support.

Unfortunately, The Eight of Swords can highlight a controlling, violent and abusive relationship. Feeling trapped and terrified,  you may not be able to find the strength or courage to get out. Your partner’s threats may be a harsh reality leaving you powerless and isolated. You stay out of fear and have been conditioned to believe that you have no options. Your self-esteem, self-belief and self-confidence have been smashed.  You must find the strength to leave.  There is help available should you do; refuge centres, organisations and counselling, but you need to make the first contact with them. You can no longer live like this.

The Eight of Swords can also suggest a partner who is suffering from severe depression.

In relation to career, the Eight of Swords would suggest entrapment in your chosen career or job. There may be so many demands on you at present that you just can’t think straight. The pressures of work could become overwhelming and physical or nervous breakdowns may result. You could feel trapped in a profession that was forced upon you or expected of you because of family tradition. You will have to find the strength to sort this situation out before it breaks you. If you have been involved in any shady or dubious business you may now be facing the consequences of your actions.

Your business may be in extreme difficulty and you feel at a loss as to what to do next. You may not know which direction to take it and have lost your focus. You could feel overwhelmed by building debts and pressures. You do not know which way to turn and cannot see a way forward.  You really need to seek some outside help to gain clarity and perspective.  You do have options but are in too much of a panic to realise.


8 of Swords Reversed


Freedom, Escape, Breaking Free, Release, Difficulties Overcome, Pressure Off,  Options, Solutions, Possibilities, Opportunities, Doors Opening, A Way Forward, Facing Fears, Facing The Truth, Facing Facts, Coming Clean, Standing Up to Opposition/Criticism/Abuse, Seeking Help, Counsellors, Psychiatrists,  Coming In Out of The Cold, Optimism, Positive Outlook, Openness, New Attitudes, Mental Healing, Mental Effort, Logic, Reasoning, Clarity of Mind, Perception, Perspective, Objective,  Self-Belief, Mental Strength,  Release from Prison, Jury Rules Favourably, Acquittal, Severe Depression, Victim, Persecution, Resigned, Given Up, Surrendered,  Total Paralyses, Denial, Immobility, Stagnation, Sacrifice, Punishment, Oppression, Coercion,

When the Eight of Swords Reverses, it can suggest two different scenarios.  There will be a release from your oppressive, restricting and limiting situation or a worsening of it. In general the emphasis is put on the release aspect but if the surrounding Cards do not support this interpretation you will need to look at the other option.  Conferring with your Querant is essential as the worsening of the Eight of Swords Reversed can cause great concern for all involved.

When the Eight of Swords Reverses, the force of gravity loosens the Sword’s anchorage in the ground and they fall out and tumble onto the ground.  This suggests that all the stresses and worries of the Upright Eight begin to weaken their hold on you and lose strength.  Suddenly, you see a way out of your situation.   The pathway has been cleared and an opening has appeared.  Without the threat of all the Swords (worries) falling in on top of you, you can now rise above the panic and let your mind calm.  You now have options available to you.  You have been released from a restricting situation and new understanding replaces old beliefs and attitudes.

Along with all the Swords falling out of harm’s way, so too goes the blindfold and bonds around the body and arms.  You can now see your situation for what it is, and for the first time in a long time, are able to take action. What was once considered irreparable, hopeless or beyond help is now viewed in a new light.  Negative mind thoughts and attitudes are replaced by positive ones. You think ‘I can’ instead of ‘I can’t’. You say ‘I will’ instead of ‘I won’t’. You feel it is possible instead of doomed.  You can now take back control of your life and perhaps the responsibility of it for the first time.  You no longer wait for others to sort your problems out and prefer to get things done yourself. There is a wonderful satisfaction to be gained in saving yourself as it gives a tremendous boost to self-confidence and self-esteem. To know that you have sorted your own mess out means that really you can do a lot more.  It will give you the courage to take on any future challenges that come your way.

In the Reversed Aspect of the Eight, your situation becomes worse and escape less likely. You may have no one to turn to and nowhere to run.  Options and opportunities diminish as restrictions increase.  You may indeed by powerless to change your situation. You can’t see a way out of your crisis because there may not be one. Fears increase and magnify creating paralyses and immobility.  Your situation has ground to halt and you are stuck with it for the moment.  You may not have the skills or ability to sort this one out. You may also be too proud to ask for help.

The Eight of Swords Reversed brings relief to anyone struggling in a very difficult and limited scenario.  Depending on the surrounding Cards, it will highlight which area of your life that burdens are being lifted and gateways unlocked. If you have been in a financial bind with debts and bills mounting then the Reversal of this Card can suggest finding solutions or beginning at last to balance the books.  If you have been stuck in a bad relationship then you may well have found a way to break free, or through communication or counselling, attempts are made to repair the damage.  If work has been tying you up in knots of worry and stress, then the pressure is lifted as deadlines are met and projects completed.  Should you have been consumed with troubles and fear in your personal life or health-wise, then they will begin to resolve, allowing peace of mind to return. All in all, the worst is now behind you when the Eight of Swords appears Reversed.

In the Extreme Reversed Aspect of the Eight of Swords there will be a worsening of the above. Financial burdens increase with no means of solving them, relationships become more claustrophobic and stifling making you feel more trapped than ever. Pressures of work can become unbearable and there may be a deterioration in mental health due to worries, stress and various neurosis.

Recovery from your bind or dilemma will not happen overnight or out of the blue if there are psychological issues driving it.  On the contrary, the Reversed Eight of Swords indicates the slow recovery from mental stress or your situation.  Personal freedom will come in stages as the damage done from the Upright is not so easily fixed.  However, once there is a realisation of hope; mental energy and positivity will begin to return.  You will discover that all is not lost and you may indeed have a future to look forward to.  You begin to see that you can overcome your problems and will rejoice in mini successes as they come, each one encouraging you to take one more step forward.

This slow release from entrapment or the prison of your mind may require a lot of hard work.  There will be a strong determination on your part to make a bid for freedom.  This will probably be encouraged and supported by those around you, such as family and friends.  There is a likelihood of professional input too. As a Sword’s you may turn to the talking therapies such as counselling, psychotherapy or hypnoanalysis or possibly take the holistic route via alternative methods.  One way or another, you are making a very focussed effort in finding healing and psychological strength.  It is important not to rush this process and accept that there will be minor setbacks along the way. You will also have to accept that you may have created all the problems yourself. It may have been in your mind and not based on any reality or logic.  You will need to change your attitude and the way you handle things in future.  You should be proud of yourself for not just giving in under the pressure.  You are stronger than you think you are.

In the Extreme Aspect of The Eight, your psychological state will be diminishing and you probably are not aware of how bad things really are. You may be suffering from severe depression. It is unlikely you will seek help and will have to rely on others to see how much trouble you are in. Your mental walls may be collapsing within and you might need to seek emergency care.  You may be suffering from paranoia and delusional.  Your Swords have turned inwards on you and attacked. Your own Swords (mentality) is hurting you and not healing.

When the Eight of Swords appears Reversed it can suggest that after being kept ‘in the dark’ about a situation or issue, you now have the full facts laid bare in front of you.  With your blindfold off, you can now see things in stark clarity. If you have been the victim of bullying you may begin to fight back or go to the authorities.  Should you have been on the receiving end of malicious gossip or insulting remarks, you now rise above it or take action to defend yourself. You no longer allow others to exert control over you. In the Extreme Reversed Aspect, a trouble-maker may be back in town and back in business.

If you have been shunned by friends and family because of any inappropriate behaviour or actions, feelings may have changed towards you or you may be forgiven. You are no longer left out in the cold or forced to stay in exile.  On the other hand, you may have been blind to something going on around you or perhaps chose to turn a blind eye to it. However, this Reversed Eight will force you to face the truth or the facts whether you like it or not.  You will no longer be able to sit on the fence or claim ignorance. You can no longer argue that your ‘hands were tied’ and so could do ‘nothing to help’. Everything is now out in the open or in the public domain. Any denials of involvement or having nothing to do with a scandal, inappropriate behaviour or underhand dealings will be exposed as incredulous, when it was going on right under your nose all the time.

If the Eight of Swords Reversed is representing Justice and The Law, it can represent the release from imprisonment or incarceration. Release from custody may be as a result of being found innocent or after serving a sentence.   A jury may rule in your favour or you may win a long ongoing stressful court case. Where legal contracts are involved, you eventually find a loophole allowing you a way out of its tight bind.   In the Extreme Aspect of this Eight, someone may literally get away with blue murder as the guilty walk free or an innocent person is found guilty and gets sent down. There may be an escape from prison.

The Eight of Swords Reversed can also suggest standing your ground against the opinions of others regardless of how convincing they may sound.  Great force may be put on you to accept a certain way of thinking, understanding or beliefs. However, you will mentally rebel against their suggestions and implications. You will not be manipulated or coerced into anything and you will resist being forced into a corner by anyone regardless of the consequences.  You are prepared to suffer for your beliefs.  Attempts at silencing or censoring you is ignored as your strong mind, standards and principles battle for justice. You may be under threat of imprisonment or punishment for failing to obey.   It can also suggest that someone is attempting to control you but that you are putting up a strong resistance.

In Relationships, the Eight of Swords Reversed can suggest the release from an unhappy or controlling relationship.  After much time and terrible stress you have eventually found a way out.  There will be a great sense of freedom and relief but it will have taken its toll on you.  You will need to pick up the pieces now and recover from the whole ordeal.  On the other hand, if you have been seeking reconciliation, the Reversed Eight can highlight the lessening of worries, stress and conflict in a relationship through communication.  A way forward has been found through new understanding and attitudes towards each other.  This healing has still a long way to go as much damage has been done.

If you have been in a controlling abusive relationship, the Eight of Swords Reversed, can highlight the eventual escape from it.  It suggests that you may have eventually found the courage to leave or have sought help through organisations and refuges.  Again, it will be necessary to repair any damage done psychologically as the relationship will have had a very negative and destructive effect on the psyche.

When we look at the Extreme Aspect of this Reversed Eight, we can have the worsening of the Upright. Your situation can intensify.  Escape from an unhappy relationship may grow more impossible. You may have no options available to you and do not have the mental strength to help yourself.  You might resign yourself to your situation as the ties that bind become stronger and tighter.  It may no longer be all in your head as it is now a reality. Abuse in controlling relationships can escalate with the fear and threat of aggression and violence.  Psychologically you may be all over the place and not very well-balanced. You may be in denial about your situation but may be in grave danger.  There is a possibility you have given away all your power to another and it will be very hard to reclaim.  Surrounding Cards would need to support this extreme interpretation.

Career related the Eight of Swords Reversed can suggest that the pressures of work in the Upright Card have eased or you have left. You no longer take the work pressures home with you. By opening up and communicating your concerns to your work colleagues a new way of dealing with things may be looked at. You might find the strength to leave a stressful job behind. You realise that you do have other options. You may have to be open with family and express your decision not to join a family business or follow a traditional family profession. This will release you from a life sentence of duty-bound obligation and unhappiness.

On the other hand, in the Extreme Aspect of this Card, you cannot find the mental strength to leave a stressful job or career behind.  Instead you get sucked in further. Work pressures can increase causing severe mental strain.  You might believe you have no options and must stay.  You may resign yourself to joining a family business or following a family career tradition that makes you extremely unhappy.

In Business, the pressure is off and you have survived the worst.  You may have sought the advice of experts or a mentor, which has opened your mind to new areas and the options that are available to you. A way forward is found and new opportunities come your way.

*When we next visit the Swords in Card Nine let us hope that the young woman in the Eight has managed to free herself from the terrible dilemma of her life.  Let us hope that she found the mental strength to struggle out of her binds and rip the blindfold from her eyes. Let us hope she ran as fast as she could from all those Swords and eventually found her way to the castle and to the help she badly needed.  She has had a bad time of it for sure, and hopefully in Card Nine, we shall find her much improved and happier in herself.  We shall see.

Back to Lesson 8

Ace of Swords 2 of Swords 3 of Swords 4 of Swords 5 of Swords 6 of Swords 7 Swords 8 of Swords 9 of Swords  10 of Swords

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The 78 Cards – Detailed Study Version (Card Description, Keywords, Upright & Reversed Meanings)

The 78 Cards – Shortened Version (Keywords, Upright & Reversed Meanings)

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Copyright © 2006-2013 Vivien Ní Dhuinn
Truly Teach Me Tarot Part I
  1. This is so good, i have studied Tarot for many years, but never have i come across something as good and indepth as this, the story you said from start to finish and it all makes sense, i read cards, and want to in the future, and i am by know means a master, but things like this help me to understand the cards better and give a better reading, and learn more forthe future, thank you i enjoyed writing this it must have took you a long time to write, I enjoyed reading it all, I also have a reconcilation question and the eight of swords came up and i am a air sign, i wounder should i stay or go, and i guess as it was a reading for both him and me, he feels the same, i dont want to close the book, but i feel trapped by my own emotions and mind and i know i trapped myself here. i love it Awesome.


    • Thanks again Lisa, the Eight of Swords is quite a strong card and as both of you are air signs, and he feels the same, you will likely be influenced by the same pressures in this area. You say you feel trapped by your own emotions and mind and also know that it was you who trapped yourself. The Eight of Swords is a card about finding the psychological strength to free yourself from an internal or external restricting situation. The latter is much easier to do than the former. However, you are aware of this yourself. Knowledge is power and you will find a way to do this with the least amount of damage. Ask the Cards for guidance in how best to go about it.

      Blessings Be,

      Vivien (your Tarot Teacher)


  2. Thank you for this analysis. This tarot card happens to be the card for me this week, and it could not be any more accurate to what I am going through in my life right now. I feel trapped in my thoughts, my circumstances and in this environment. And I have been feeling this way for a very long time, feels like an eternity. And all I want to do is break free. I just really pray to the Universe that I can break free from my own prison. Because I want to be happy and live a happy life.


    • I hear you talya,

      I am a bit Eight of Swords myself for a long time. All those Swords are my health issues that knock me down every time I seem to make progress. Yes, I want to break free and be happy like you. I spent the last week in bed as too ill to get up. Today, I managed to walk in the forest and am now catching up on correspondence. Have felt very frustrated with not being able to get my writing done. I have a jaw problem that knocks me off my feet when it flares up. Balance goes and head feels as if it is splitting it two. It is impossible to work and I feel so ill. I hear your pain too.

      I have just pulled a card for you. The Star. Never give up hope on happiness. You seek freedom on many levels and are not currently being allowed to express the person you truly are. Your gifts, talents, hopes and dreams are not allowed shine. You must hold on to the wonderful restorative power of the Star and believe that your day will come to shine. You are right, your environment is not as healthy as it should be. It is all there for you, the person you are lies under that tight binds of the Eight of Swords. The Star offers healing to a troubled mind, body and soul. If it is a prison of your own making then much of the work will lie with you. However, the Eight of Swords often need some external help to escape those swords. Best of luck.


      Liked by 1 person

  3. A bit puzzled..

    Did a 4 card spread, just a general one, no specific question. Split the deck into three piles and drew the top cards of those and turned the last pile to see the base card for the underlying theme, I got:

    Situation: 9 of cups Advice: 6 of wands Outcome: King of pentacles.

    Underlying theme: 8 of swords

    It all seems really on point of how I feel – full of joy, emotionally fulfilled with the 9 of cups, advice of the 6 of wands is you are riding high, justifiably proud, but don’t get cocky else you will ruin your good work and the outcome is the king of pentacles – a thriving mature male and I’m a Taurus so that’s and Earth one so I thought that would seem like a good omen.

    But then there’s this 8 of swords which is all to do with this hopeless, helpless, entrapped, psychologically impaired person, which I guess that was me before for quite a long time. Am I correct to interpret this card as the underlying theme? It has seemed to fit nicely on many other occasions using this 4th card?

    I suppose elementally it’s quite balanced, one of each suit, although I read that fire and water unbalance or diminish each other so perhaps I am overestimating my own sense of joy and success, being overly happy in a deluded sort of way? Fire an Earth seem to be neutral towards one another from what I can discern about elemental dignities, and again Air and Earth I’m not sure I think they diminish each other so maybe it’s a warning in some respects like you are not as far away from slipping back into the trap of the 8 of swords that you found yourself in before.

    If you have the time to offer some insight that’d be really really nice and thank you for this wonderful resource you have provided us all with. A great tool for study and the depth offered on each card is fantastic, I think having the chance to reader longer prose on the subject is a much better way to learn it than some of the other websites which offer quite short entries for each card.

    Anyhow, thanks again keep up the good work,



    • Hi Lawrence,

      Those are great cards and so happy to hear that they reflect just how good you feel about your situation right now. Well done in whatever it is you have managed to achieve. You certainly are riding high and feel very pleased with yourself. Yes, the King of Pentacles, the successful man is very practical and will be on hand to keep your feet firmly planted on the ground as you worry you might be overestimating your recent success, or that you are deluded. The Nine of Cups and The Six of Wands can suggest smugness and feeling full of yourself, but if you have achieved your success under the influence of the King of Pentacles then you have probably worked very hard to arrive at this stage. As Taureans, me too, we often find it hard to accept praise and we never quite feel we have done enough. We are grafters and always go the extra mile. We are not used to feeling on a high after achieving success as we immediately begin to worry about losing it again. We rarely stop to bask in our glory and this is why you might be feeling a little anxious about overly celebrating your status or that others will think you cocky. We must occasionally give ourselves a pat on the back, before putting our head back to the grind. You are just being cautious about your success and feel you will hex it if too happy about it.

      That 8 of Swords shows what you have escaped from and acts as a cold reminder to never let yourself fall back into that mindset. You have travelled a long way as this card looks totally out of place. It belongs in another time and place, but it aims to taint your joy. This card suggests an entrapment of some sort. This is often self-entrapment due to a limiting mindset and pessimistic outlook. If you have shaken this off then you deserve your Nine of Cups and Six of Wands time. Fire and Water in their extremes can have a negative impact, but your cards are all upright. Fire can bring water to boiling point or totally evaporate it. Water can douse fire or fizzle it out. Too much emotion and too much restless energy can lead to trouble but they are upright and are under the careful eye of The King of Pentacles who will step in should he see any extreme antics. Stay with that energy and it will protect you from the 8 of Swords that will have no power over you once you remain positive with self confidence and a healthy self-esteem. It acts as a warning flag about thinking negatively. You know that Earth signs are cautious and will become totally paralysed by overactive negative thinking Air. Earth will stop in its tracks if it perceives danger. Is the danger, real or imagined? You have probably a tendency to do this and even now are already concerned that you are not far from slipping back into the trap you found yourself in before. If you allow that to happen then the smile will be quickly wiped off your face and you will fall from your mount. Be strong like the King of Pentacles and stay grounded. You have to believe in your success, be able to walk the walk and talk the talk. Celebrate your happy circumstances and keep up the good work.

      Thanks for your lovely comment. The above is just my opinion and could be interpreted in various ways.




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