Eight of Swords

Element: AIR

Upright: Feeling Trapped, Self-Victimising, Negative Thoughts
Reversed: Freedom, Releasing from Negativity / Self-Harm Behaviours

Symbology, Meaning and Interpretation


Feeling Trapped, Self-Victimising, Negative Thoughts.

This card portrays a woman tied up and blindfolded. She is surrounded by swords and stands in a muddy ground. Some interpretations describe a situation of crisis, as if our hands are tied by our fears and anxiety, with special impact on our psychological balance.

The symbolism of the swords and the castle in the background is related to an authoritarian force with influence on us, while the dirt at her feet may represent a humiliating position.

That idea could be an indicator that we are being subjugated to something or someone in a variety of contexts, be it work related, emotional, social, financial, among others.

In the card it is interesting to note, however, that the swords are not totally restraining the woman. There is a way out just in front of her and no one is there to stop her from running away. Similarly, the chains are loose enough to allow her to take the blindfold off, but it seems she is not even trying to escape.

In a way it resembles ideological mystification as an impediment to critical consciousness. This process, generally developed in a political context, passively suggests that we should accept our condition instead of questioning the ruling system. That is close to what this card really means.

As a card of Air, it speaks mostly about a mental imprisoning, more accurately, a self-imprisoning. We probably see ourselves in a dramatic moment that led us down, but we stagnated in that stage and do nothing to break free.

Around us, everything looks dark and filthy though we feel more comfortable to embrace that darkness instead of looking for a brighter place. That attitude simply breeds negative patterns and keeps people away from us, so it makes us feel guilty, depressive, and constantly victimising ourselves.

The chains, in some contexts, may represent our traditions and morals which are strongly rooted in your life. As the card states, you are a prisoner of your own thoughts and beliefs; and if they seem to restrain you from your personal development, it is imperative to re-evaluate them.

The obstacles were all made up by our minds, so do not be afraid to walk away from your hibernation cave. Unlike you may think, there are choices ahead. Spring is outside and it is full of joy waiting for you.


Freedom, Releasing from Negativity / Self-Harm Behaviours.

In general, the reversed Eight of Swords means freedom, to set ourselves free from a situation and move forward.

Escaping from the upright’s version regarding self-imprisoning, we discovered more options and solutions for our lives. With that, the pressure on our shoulders is finally alleviated. To release ourselves is a difficult journey, facing great fears such as failure, criticism or hostility. We need to trust ourselves to fight those fearsome and personal battles. By winning them we get closer to our true goals and true self.

Depending on the context, the Eight of Swords in reverse could indicate an aggravation of the negative attributes of the upright position. The self-criticism and pessimistic behaviour restrain you even more and increase the polluted darkness around you.

It is urgent to stop the self-harm behaviour and walk towards the light. Opportunities will come to you as you take action with more positive energy.