The Eight of Swords often appears in Tarot readings as a nudge from the universe, telling you that it is time to liberate yourself from the frustration and restriction of rigid and limiting beliefs.
You are wasting your time where you are, your eyes closed to the possibilities and to your own potential. Your spirit is calling out to you and your sacred journey is waiting for you to pick up where you let it fizzle out into the sand. These things never abandoned you – you just lost sight of them somewhere along the way.
What the Swords mean in Tarot
The Tarot’s Minor Arcana consists of four suits, one for each of the four elements; the Wands represent fire, the Cups water, the Pentacles earth and the Swords air. Each element governs a different area of life.
The Swords deal with the mind and communication.
Numerological meaning of the number 8
The number 8 is a sign of balance, harmony and infinity. Its energy is one of abundance and wholeness.
All of the 8ths of the Tarot concern themselves with matters of balance and success – finding, restoring or maintaining it.
Eight of Swords Tarot card description
The 8 of Swords Tarot card differs from deck to deck. Most renditions feature the same imagery and symbols as the ones we find in the traditional Rider-Waite Tarot – these are the one we will be looking at here.
The blindfolded woman
The focal point of the Eight of Swords Tarot card is the woman, standing in the middle of the card and gazing down at her feet. She is wearing a blindfold and her hands appear to be tied behind her back. She is wearing a red dress, symbolic of her innate passion and power which is currently being restrained or suppressed.
Surrounding the blindfolded woman on all sides are eight sharp swords stuck into the ground. Their sharp blades appear particularly threatening because she cannot see them, only sense their presence.
It is interesting to note that no-one appears to be guarding the woman and holding her captive. If she weren’t so afraid of cutting herself on the the swords, she could wiggle free of her ropes, removed the blindfold and easily escape.
A thin stream of water is snaking its way through the barren landscape, and both of the woman’s shoes are touching it. Water, in the Tarot, signifies intuition and heightened perception. Although the woman’s situation appears rather hopeless and restricted, deep down she is still in touch with her intuition. She may not be able to see with her eyes, but her intuition is alive and well.
The castle on the mountain
If the woman were to trust in her intuition and follow the stream of water, it would lead her to the mountain rising on the right in the card’s background. On top of the mountain, appearing to almost be growing out of it, is an impressive castle.
Mountains are a familiar symbol to those familiar with the Rider-Waite Tarot or any of its many clones. The mountain signifies your higher aims in life, your true calling, and the spiritual journey. Conversely, the castle is a sign of material wealth and earthly ambition.
The fact that the mountain and the castle appear in the 8 of Swords Tarot card is significant: The blindfolded woman may not be as trapped as she believes herself to be, or have as limited options in life as she has been taught to think. If she is able to transcend her fear and follow her intuition into the unknown, awesome rewards and experiences await her.
Eight of Swords Tarot card meanings
The Eight of Swords Tarot card has multiple layers of meaning. Which ones rise to the top in any given Tarot reading comes down to the Tarot reader’s individual interpretation, the subject of the reading and the context provided by surrounding Tarot cards.
One of the primary meanings of the upright Eight of Swords Tarot card is limiting beliefs and the restrictive impact they have on both your world view and your perception of yourself.
Limiting beliefs can exist in every area of life and often stem from our upbringing and how we are socialised. As we grow up the beliefs, mindsets and attitudes of the people around us become embedded in our minds – not all of them are empowering or helpful. As a result, over time, we may come to feel trapped in roles we never signed up for. We may feel restricted by the expectations that others impose on us.
When the Eight of Swords shows up in a Tarot reading, it is a reminder that you have many more options, way more freedom and much more power than you’ve been lead to believe.
Negative self image
The upright Eight of Swords card can be a sign of negative self-talk and a disempowered self-image.
Deep down, you are a free, powerful and eternal spirit. You have come into this world to explore, to play, to love and to express yourself. But over time, you may have come to believe that the mores, limitations and opinions others have projected onto you are real. You may have been told that you are small and powerless so many times that it has become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
One of the meanings of the upright Eight of Swords is victim mentality.
Remember that the eight swords stuck in the ground are entirely illusionary – the opinions, projections and believes of others may feel very tangible and real, but they aren’t.
It is your own responsibility to shake off your negative conditioning, to reject the limiting beliefs or negative opinions others may have of you, and to discover your own strength, freedom and path in life.
Reversed Eight of Swords Tarot card meanings
When the Eight of Swords appears in a Tarot reading, it takes on a very different meaning to the upright Eight of Swords. Here are some of the most common interpretations of the reversed Eight of Swords.
The reversed Eight of Swords Tarot card might be a sign of liberation. You are removing your blindfold, shaking off the robes that bind you and moving past the swords, recognising that they are not really real and cannot harm you.
You are healing your negative self-image and transcending inner obstacles, such as learned helplessness.
Others may be trying to entrap you or impose their restrictive word views onto you, but you’re not having it. You are feeling secure within yourself and you rely on your own intuition to guide you.
What the Eight of Swords means in a Tarot reading about love and romance
You are fearful. Perhaps you a worried about loosing control if you venture further into this relationship. Perhaps this relationship is not what others would expect it to be, and you might be overly worried about judgement.
You are transcending your fears and exploring a surprising new connection – or exploring new territory within an existing one.
What the Eight of Swords means in a Tarot reading about money and career
You doubt your skills and you don’t trust yourself to handle money. As a result, you are holding yourelf back in your career or in business. Are those beliefs real, or are they just opinions that have taken root?
You may not have been very confident with money or career opportunities before, but you are ready to lay claim to more of your innate potential, to grow and explore your options.