8 of Swords: Tarot Card Meaning

By Lauren Williams
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8 of Swords Keywords


  • Imprisonment
  • Restriction
  • Powerlessness
  • Self-imposed boundaries
  • Limited outlook
  • Fear and anxiety
  • Paralysis over decision-making
  • Victim mentality
  • Trapped mindset
  • Lost direction


  • Release from bonds
  • Overcoming fear
  • Finding a way out
  • Breaking free
  • Liberated mind
  • Gaining perspective
  • Regained control over life
  • Overcoming restrictions
  • Self-acceptance
  • Mental clarity

8 of Swords Essential Meanings Snapshot


The upright 8 of Swords in a tarot reading is often a symbol of feeling trapped, restricted or confined, both physically and mentally. It’s an indication of a seemingly inescapable situation, driven by internal constraints such as limited beliefs, self-doubt, and overthinking. The energy of this card can also imply victimhood, helplessness, and surrendering control to external circumstances.


The reversed 8 of Swords suggests a shift from feeling caged or hindered to a burgeoning sense of freedom and liberation from restrictive situations. It often signifies a mental awakening to potential solutions and clarity, indicating an individual breaking free from the chains of self-limiting beliefs, paving the way for increased confidence and self-assurance.

8 of Swords Description

When viewing the 8 of Swords, you are immediately drawn to the striking image of a woman bound and blindfolded, surrounded by eight swords planted in the ground around her.

The swords form a sort of cage, a clear portrayal of confinement. Her gown is starkly contrasted against the harsh, white sky, adding to the sense of isolation and imprisonment.

A person tied up and blindfolded to 8 swords, as the 8 of swords tarot card.

Despite her predicament, she stands upright and resilient, hinting at an inner strength yet to be realized. She appears to be in a deserted place, indicative of loneliness and a soul’s cry for guidance.

The surrounding landscape is rugged, with barren mountains far in the background, further enhancing the aura of desolation.

The lack of vegetation suggests an absence of growth or personal development. Overhead, the oppressive, stormy sky stands as a symbol of impending challenges and emotional turbulence.

Beyond the Surface: Symbolic Meanings

  • Eight Swords: The eight swords arranged around the woman signify restrictions and limitations. They symbolize invisible barriers, mental constraints and fear that hinder our progress.
  • Blindfold: The blindfold on the woman represents confusion, lack of clarity, or unwillingness to face the truth. It implies that the solution to the issue is there, but we are purposely ignoring it.
  • Bound Woman: The woman bound in the card denotes feelings of powerlessness and victimization. It reflects the inhibitions, guilt, and self-punishments we unnecessarily inflict upon ourselves.
  • Distant Castle: The castle in the distance symbolizes a safe haven or destination. It’s a representation of the freedom and relief attainable once the self-imposed restrictions are lifted.
  • Water and Land: The card also features a mix of water and land, which illustrate the emotional and practical aspects of life. The presence of both depict the need for balance between emotion and practicality to overcome the situation.
  • Grey Sky: The grey sky symbolizes worry and uncertainty. It’s a call for introspection and understanding of one’s unconscious fears or self-doubts.

Remember, each element of the tarot card is a profound symbol carrying its own significance, all working together to provide holistic guidance for your spiritual journey.

Dual Perspectives: Upright & Reversed

When it comes to interpreting tarot, perspective plays an essential role. The orientation of a card – upright or reversed, bring in distinctive nuances to its symbolic meanings.

Upright 8 of Swords

The upright position of the 8 of Swords signifies feeling trapped, restricted, and limited. Users may feel confined, not by external circumstances, but by their beliefs, thoughts, and fears. The card represents self-imposed restrictions and indicates that the user might feel victimized or powerless. Nevertheless, the card calls attention to the fact that these bindings are often a construct of your own mind and this predicament does not denote permanent captivity.

Reversed 8 of Swords

In contrast, the reversed 8 of Swords indicates release from a state of paralysis or blockade. If you’ve been feeling trapped or limited by personal or otherwise depressing conditions, the reversed position of this card brings a wave of liberation and personal freedom. But keep in mind, this freedom often comes with the responsibilities of reigning in self-doubt and fear. It is about re-evaluating perspectives, realigning directions, and taking that courageous step towards breaking free from mental shackles.

8 of Swords in Life Scenarios

Understanding Tarot is a unique and reflective journey. One of the intriguing things about these cards is their versatile relevance to different aspects of life. Let’s decipher through a few life scenarios the implications of the 8 of Swords.

Growth & Self-Discovery

When you draw the 8 of Swords in relation to personal growth and self-discovery, it can represent being in a mental prison. It signifies a fear of stepping outside your comfort zone and a sense of self-imposed limitation. In this scenario, the card is a wakeup call to acknowledge and overcome psychological barriers. Take the blindfold off, move past self-imposed restrictions, and walk towards the path of growth.

Career and Creativity

A career-related reading with 8 of Swords indicates a state of stagnation or perceived lack of alternatives. Highlighting pressures and overthinking, it suggests the potential for creativity but a mental block preventing it. It acts as a reminder to professionals that escaping this state requires self-belief and thinking outside the box. It’s a call to have faith in one’s skills and to break away from self-imposed limitations.

Relationships & Bonds

In terms of relationships, the 8 of Swords can represent feelings of uncertainty, insecurity, and entrapment. This could be because of an unhealthy relationship or doubts about your feelings towards a partner. This card suggests an urgent need to communicate, to express feelings, and if necessary, to make difficult decisions for personal well-being.

To read more about the 8 of Swords in the context of feelings, read our 8 of Swords as Feelings article.

Choices & Life Decisions

Interacting with the 8 of Swords during a choice-related reading might signify feeling trapped by circumstances or indecision. You might feel stuck because of the too many or too few options given or lack of visibility to the big picture. Inspiration comes here from the belief that you have the ability to make decisions and change circumstances. The 8 of Swords nudges you to face fears, trust the decision-making process, and choose your path.

To read more about the 8 of Swords when making decisions, read our 8 of Swords: Yes or No article.

8 of Swords from Past to Present

The visual evolution of the 8 of Swords card is deeply intertwined with its historical significance. In older decks, the card often portrayed a woman bound and blindfolded, surrounded by swords, symbolising trapped feelings or a sense of helplessness.

The Rider-Waite Era

In the early 20th century when the Rider-Waite deck emerged, the image of the 8 of Swords became more profound. The illustration depicted a woman blindfolded and bound, surrounded by eight upright swords in the ground. This portrayed the feeling of being stuck, confused and directionless, a representation of internal rather than external pressures.

Modern Interpretations

In the present, modern decks often hold on to the central theme from the Rider-Waite deck but add elements that enhance the meaning. For instance, some decks display subtle glimmers of light or an open gap between the swords, indicating potential pathways to freedom, symbolising hope and possibilities amidst despair.

The 8 of Swords card, thus, over time has evolved to serve as a potent symbol of self-imposed limitations, fear, and a sense of powerlessness, yet hinting at underlying possibilities for liberation if one transcends the self-created mental barriers.

Synergistic Card Combinations

For a more comprehensive and nuanced Tarot reading, it’s important to understand how different cards interact with the 8 of Swords, producing a richer narrative and offering deeper insights.

8 of Swords with The Fool

When the 8 of Swords is drawn with The Fool, the combination symbolises a situation where ignorance may lead to self-limitation. The Fool’s naive energy, coupled with the trapped feeling of the 8 of Swords, suggests you may be recklessly confining yourself to a suboptimal situation.

8 of Swords and The Moon

When the 8 of Swords is drawn together with The Moon, it emphasises themes of confusion, trickery, and personal uncertainty. The Moon’s unsteady illumination is a reminder that not everything is as it seems, exacerbating the feeling of entrapment represented by the 8 of Swords.

8 of Swords and The Lovers

The 8 of Swords paired with The Lovers may signify a relationship in which one party feels trapped or confined. The harmonious connection indicated by The Lovers contrasts with the anxiety and mental restriction of the 8 of Swords, making this combination a sign of emotional conflict.

8 of Swords and The Magician

The combination of the 8 of Swords and The Magician is an encouraging sign of power and capability. Although the 8 of Swords is oftentimes a card of restriction, when combined with The Magician it indicates that there are unexplored paths and untapped resources that can aid in liberating oneself.

8 of Swords and The Empress

The Empress, a symbol of abundance, fertility, and nurturing energy, couples with the 8 of Swords to indicate a situation of self-imposed confinement due to nurturing or caring for others excessively. This combination highlights the need to establish healthy boundaries.

8 of Swords and The Tower

A combination of the 8 of Swords and The Tower signifies an abrupt and dramatic change that will eventually lead to liberation from a restricted state. This combination suggests that a sudden upheaval may break the chains of mental entrapment.

8 of Swords and Death

The 8 of Swords combined with the Death card emphasizes endings and transitions. However, this is not a negative indication. The presence of the Death card suggests the end of self-doubt, anxiety, and mental entrapment signified by the 8 of Swords.

8 of Swords and The Sun

When paired with The Sun, a card representing joy, success, and positivity, the 8 of Swords highlights the discrepancy between perception and reality. Despite feeling trapped, the light of The Sun suggests that positive outcomes and liberation are within reach.

Introspection & Meditation

The 8 of Swords has profound resonance for those journeying on paths of introspection and meditation. The card denotes entrapment, often self-imposed, and suggests a mental barrier preventing progress. When meditating with the 8 of Swords, it invites us to introspect, explore our emotional landscapes, and untangle self-limiting beliefs and fears.

Meditative Practices with the 8 of Swords

Meditating with the 8 of Swords can facilitate the uncovering of inner truths. Start by centering yourself, allowing thoughts to come and go without judgment. Visualize the imagery depicted on the card, focusing on the bound and blindfolded figure. As you meditate, perceive your constraints and imagine yourself breaking free.

Personal Reflections

Journeying with the 8 of Swords calls for deep personal reflection. The card’s profound symbolism triggers contemplation around your mental barriers. You are encouraged to recognize what holds you back, fostering understanding and compassion towards yourself. This introspective examination can break the chains of self-imposed limitations, empowering you on your path forward.

Unlocking Self-Growth

Embracing the energy of 8 of Swords can unlock significant self-growth. It pushes you to confront fears, overcome obstacles, and liberate yourself from psychological confinement. With this newfound freedom, you can step forward on your spiritual journey with strength and resilience. Thus, the 8 of Swords becomes an instrument, guiding your meditation and introspection towards profound self-discovery.


The 8 of Swords Tarot card set in a desolate landscape, a resilient woman surrounded by eight swords represents self-imposed limitations and mental barriers. Other symbols, including a blindfold and bindings, indicate denial and self-inflicted powerlessness, while a distant castle offers hope for freedom. The card’s orientation, whether upright or reversed, can shift its meaning from feelings of confinement to a promise of liberation from mental constraints.

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Lauren holding a crystal ball in her hands.


Lauren Williams
Lauren merges ancient wisdom with modern insights, offering a fresh perspective on life's mysteries. She's passionate about guiding individuals through the world of astrology, lunar cycles, numerology, and tarot. When she's not charting the stars or reading tarot, she enjoys getting out in nature, hikes and yoga.