The eight of swords is a card embodying a state of staying trapped, being stifled by fear, and blinded by choice. One image from the Ryder-Waite deck portrays this as a woman that is bound, but by loose ropes. She is surrounded by swords, but there is a castle in the distance. She could easily remove the ropes herself and step out away from the swords to head towards the castle. It is by her own fear that she is held in this bound state. She may have originally been bound by circumstance or by some one else, but she is now left on her own to choose if she wants to free herself and move forward. Her fear may come from what was or what is, but there is no immediate danger for her to fear. Luckily, eights signify positive outcomes, so I like to imagine that the woman finds her courage and strength, overcomes her internal battle, and frees herself in order to seek all the greatness that is in her reach.
Sometimes we stay in a situation or avoid making a decision due to our fear. A fear of the unknown, a fear of disappointment, a fear of repeated past, fear of not choosing the right path, fear of the strength we may need, fear of power over our destiny. Sometimes we stay trapped because this state is familiar, comfortable, or all we know. Maybe we feel a false protection from this state. Remaining comfortable feels safe, so we choose what we know, even if it may not be a positive situation for us. If we free ourselves, we must overcome our fear, we must find our courage. We must move into the unknown, which may hold amazing things for us, but there is a chance that it may not, and the fear of that can paralyze us into not taking action. But we are being called to take action. We know that we cannot exist in this trapped state for too long. It has begun to wear us down and we are losing ourselves by remaining stuck. "The eight of swords reminds you that life brings obstacles and adversity, but if you open your eyes, you recognize that your worst enemy is fear," says Jason Gruhl in his description of this card accompanying the Fountain Tarot deck. We must open our eyes. We must face our fears. We cannot settle. We must find greatness.
So, how do we begin? i believe it must start with trust, trust in ourselves, trust in others, trust in the universe, trust that if we break free from what is holding us back that great things will await us. Just as when we are trapped and being led blindly by fear, when we choose to unbind ourselves we can blindly follow trust. Trust is a value that must be given to also be received. Trust can be ensured by reliability, but life, circumstance, and others are not always reliable. Thus we must be reliable, we must nurture our courage and strength, we must show up fully in our lives for ourselves, we must give ourselves what we need and fulfill our own desires. We must trust ourselves, then we can gain a deeper trust for all that is outside of us. When we choose courage and strength, when we choose to overcome our fears, when we choose to free ourselves from what binds us, when we choose to show up for ourselves in a way that we want the world to show up for us, we empower ourselves and being empowered not only breeds trust in ourselves, it helps us to tune into our own needs and desires, acknowledge them, and then seek them out in the world. As we move forward onto our path to seek all that we desire, we don't look back, we leave behind the swords, the ropes, the struggle, the fear. And as we further embrace what is to come, we may know that what we give, we shall receive. It we put out greatness, greatness will come to us.