Read most Tarot books and under the standard meaning for the eight of swords you will see phrases such as “self-imposed restrictions”, “overthinking”, “being bound by one’s thoughts”. You get the idea.
I too will often see this card as one of restrictions and lack of clear thinking. However, after a recent conversation with someone who has no knowledge of the tarot, I had something akin to an epiphany about this card. The Rider Waite Smith image came to mind as we spoke.
Suggesting that the Querent can release themselves from the eight of swords energy by navigating each thought with logic and reasoning is advice often given.
My “a-ha” moment came when I looked at the image and thought, let us consider the idea that the Querent has chosen to relinquish their power of decision making. Note I use the word “chosen” it has been their choice to surrender to another person/circumstance to decide for them.
As a fiercely independent individual this was at first a shocking and highly unusual, you could say alien thought for me. To willingly submit to someone else. I think not! Although the more I thought about it the more I wondered, is there a freedom in doing this? Could it be liberating to let go for a while? All the problems that you cannot find a solution too and are plaguing your mind handed to someone else to either solve or at least suggest a different path to take? Or in fact give a feeling of time suspending itself, create a moment in time where there is the deafening silence of the conscious mind?
Could this be a form of release, I wonder?
Studying the Rider Waite Smith version of this card there is a woman bound around the body and blindfolded surrounded by eight swords. These swords do not hold her prisoner, she is not caged. Her feet remain unbound, and this suggests she may walk out and away from the swords whenever she wants too. Yet she chooses to remain. She is not even tied to the swords as you can clearly see all the swords in the image, again this suggests she chooses to remain in this position.
Let us look and consider how she is bound. She would have had to blindfold herself first as once she has bound her body how would she be able to put the blindfold on? Then is it even possible for her to bind herself in this way restricting her arms and tying the bonds behind her own back? For the sake of research, I tried this as failed, (yes, I am that dedicated in my research) however this may just have been me.
The Astrological Correspondence for the Eight of Swords is Jupiter in Gemini. Jupiter being the planet of expansion and Gemini the sign of the Twins, dual personality, and that of thought. An air sign, ruled by Mercury the Planet of Communication. The card rules the first ten degrees or Decan of Gemini. I see the three Decans of each sign similarly to the three stages of life: Youth, Middle Age, and Old/Wise Age. The first Decan of Gemini being the adventurous sometimes reckless youth full of exuberance. If it is unlikely, she had bound herself, the question is, who or what did?
Would it be fair to suggest then that Jupiter expands the thoughts in our minds regardless of them being positive or negative? By submitting to another can we release these thoughts and create a sense of peace within that moment?
If we take the idea of duality from the sign of Gemini, we all have a light and shadow side to us. The light traditionally is the one we show to others and the shadow side the one we keep hidden from others and often ourselves too.
What if we where to indulge in our shadow by choosing to relinquish our control? Where could that lead? Would there be a greater sense of wholeness? Could this even be a cathartic process that could heal us in a way that we have never considered?
If we use the image of the Eight of Swords and think of this in terms of a Dominant/submissive dynamic most people would say that the Dominant has all the power because they are the one who has free reign with the submissive. However, this is not altogether true. The Dominant only has consent to do what the submissive has agreed too. Ultimate power is with the submissive as at any time they can stop the interaction and the Dominant must respect that. It is a relationship built on trust, honesty and mutual respect.
Its my intention that this post may encourage you to consider the cards from different perspectives, after all, we are all vastly different in our own special ways.
For the initial spark of inspiration for this blog post I must thank a remarkably interesting and intriguing person with a Stellium of planets in Virgo. The other sign ruled by Mercury.
Thank you, Angelus.