8 of Swords

Mar. 6th, 2017 09:41 am
tarot_scholar: An image of Norman Rockwell's interpretation of Rosie the Riveter (Rosie)
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This is a card that has come up a lot for me in readings on unrelated subjects. Now, I'm fairly confident that I shuffled well enough to assure that the deck (Russian Tarot of St. Petersburg) was well and truly randomized between readings, so I want to take a moment to pay attention to this card and see if I'm missing anything.

The 8 of Swords typically features a captive figure (usually a woman) who is bound, blindfolded, and surrounded by swords, often some distance outside of a village, town, or other indication of civilization. Here is the Waite-Smith image that serves as the basis for many decks today:

In the Thoth deck, this card is titled "Interference"; in the OGD it was also known as "The Lord of Shortened Force." I think this is one of my favorite of Harris's cards; something about the colors and the background geometry and the placement of the swords all works together to invoke a sense of static-y disruption. For whatever reason, it's a card that I have no problem responding to an on instinctual level -- maybe even easier than I do with the Waite-Smith version.

One thing that comes up often with the 8 of Swords is that it represents a self-imposed bondage: one that is a result of overthinking, or in refusing to accept some obvious reality, rather than outside forces conspiring to keep you in your place.

In her companion book to the Russian Tarot of St. Petersburg, Giles highlights the differences in representations between the Russian Tarot and the Waite-Smith and other Waite-Smith inspired decks available at the time. Here, the captive figure's eyes are closed, instead of blindfolded, which highlights the self-imposed nature of the interference. Giles also points out the ambiguity of the floating sword: is it coming to cut through the binding ropes? will it simply settle into the ground with the other 7 swords? Is it, like the floating fourth cup in the 4 of Cups, potentially something unreal or imagined in nature? Overall, Giles concludes that the Russian Tarot's 8 of Swords is a little more hopeful than the Waite-Smith version.

My favorite name for this card is the OGD's "Lord of Shortened Force." I don't have ADHD myself, but I get that kind of vibe from the card: constant distractions, unable to focus, getting nothing done as a result. (Or having to do a lot of extra work just to tread water.) I admit to feeling like that a lot, recently. Seeing this in the outcome feels a lot more like "results unclear, try again later" than "no bueno." I'll have to lay out another reading later, when I'm less harried, and see if anything changes.


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