The 8 of Swords is a card that resonates with the element of air (the mind) and water at 8 (karmic bonds). Here we find that the bonds we have created have become binding and therefore we see the woman on the card bound and with her head bowed.
This is where we have got old thoughts that have got stuck and are holding us back. Often this has happened over a long period of time and we can see this mental conditioning may have originated in our early years and are now creating karma for us.
They are the mental patterns that keep us stuck and afraid to move forwards, often in this situation the emotions are stuck in the body and we feel like we cant breathe of are suffocating in a situation. This is often experienced as physical pain of some kind and its often quite painful to feel the feelings that are buried so deep, so we need to be gentle with ourselves when we have this card.
Its when we may sigh very often and feel lethargic with no reason for being so. The solution is to go back a step to the 7 of swords where we find another influence or source of wisdom that can intervene and help us access these stuck feelings so that we can be released from bonds and breathe again. If we don’t and keep moving forwards we find the suffering of the 9 of swords, where the stuck emotions must be expressed in some way and we have found active ways to manage difficult feelings that seem irresolvable.
There fore the 8 of swords relates to long term illness and feeling that you cant breathe, needing to talk to someone and find out what has caused these feelings and mental patterns by talking to someone skilled such a counsellor or psychotherapist who can help you to unravel the knot inside. The reversed 8 in this case is positive, its showing us that the querant has started to take the first steps away from a limiting situation and has become aware of the need to do something (remember at 8 we are static and inactive and not taking action) to start to resolve their issues.
Love and light, Saskia 🙂 x
The 9 of swords relates to air at earth. The air are vital energy that regulate the body. They are the breath of life and the ability to love and be loved.
Earth at 9 is the glorious end of one cycle where the absolute stands as the new beginning on the other side. Very few people take death to be the glorious end of one cycle but this is what happens when the air passes from the body. First the body crumbles to dust, then physical matter gives way to the absolute, allowing rebirth to take place. Thus physical death is one aspect of the symbolism of the ace of swords. Air (swords) is also symbolic of the intellect and our ability to know who we are. At earth the vital air is trapped and immovable, on the one hand this may be useful if we are gardeners wanting to know how to put the vital air of life in to the soil to help our plants to grow, but it is not so positive for a human being to be trapped in the soil. We cannot breathe under the air – there is no air. Imagine yourself potholing or caving travelling on a journey deeper and deeper into the earth. Now imagine this is the physical body, the deepest recesses of it lacking in the air of intellect. We would come across dark stagnant places where thoughts and memories are buried deep within our psyche, which then reflect in the physical body. There is no clear thought or ability to discriminate in this dark place as one’s mind is full of pain, grief and horror, thus the 9 of swords is the physical earthly manifestation of negative karma.
It’s interesting to note that various complementary therapies, such as Rolfing and Bodytherapy, come from the premise that emotional trauma stay within the body / cellular memory and can eventually manifest as disease if not dealt with. Deep manipulation of the muscles releases the pain and healing takes place. One Bodytherapist I spoke to said that with many clients, once the root cause is reached the effect is highly cathartic, with the patient often bursting into tears and reconnecting and releasing old emotions that they have been so bound by. The patients often noted improved breathing (air) and ability to enjoy life. A psychotherapist also works on the same level using communication to unearth and excavate things that are buried so deep and causing so much pain that often we cannot face them.
The 9 of swords is multi-faceted and although it illustrates physical death, this is rarely the case during a reading. More often it indicates the client is mentally suffering but without the jovial façade we can still manage to maintain at the 8 of swords. This card is the anguish which makes one believe one is going mad or will crack up or has reached the end of ones tether – it’s the I can’t do this or I can’t cope any more card.
Images suddenly rush up from the psyche in the form of nightmares or flashbacks or the body gives way to panic attacks r the extremes of mental illness and stress. There are many ways of dealing with this type of deep ongoing mental stress and each individual is unique. Some people contemplate suicide as the only escape, while others drown the pain and thoughts in alcohol or drugs, some people become violent and lash out or act up at work or in relationships. However none of these things deal with the cause of the problem.
The 9 of swords is an active card due to its association to the magician (1) Hermit (9) and Strength (11), so although it describes a type of depression, it is a dynamic force. People with the 9 of swords want to do something about the drak energy within them and wont just sit out like the 4 of swords. At this point the pain has become unbearable and action must be taken to deal with it which can be abything from an eating disorder to self harm to attempting suicide, infect anything to bring about death to the mental pain. Drawing this card during a reading is a sign to be careful in regard to how you interpret and treat the querant with extra care as they may be feeling very vulnerable.
If taken at the start of a reading its best to gloss over its meaning a little until you have gauged their state of mind and whether it refers to the client or someone else in their life. I can then come back to the card later in the reading.
These are extremely sensitive issues and it is the card readers responsibility to take care of the clients feelings. I have often seen that someone who comes to me for a reading and they are concerned about a loved one who is drinking to excess or taking drugs. However I have also seen many clients who have either already attempted suicide or had extreme feelings that this would be the only way of stopping the deep metal pain.
An elderly woman came to me for a reading with the 9 of swords in the upper row (indicating the inner world) with the 5 of batons crossed by the king of cups below it. Other cards showed her to be a reasonably happy person. When I suggested the death of a man she loved kept playing on her mind, she looked at me with astonishment. ‘but that was eight years ago’ she said. As the 9 of swords relates to the mind and great fears that the mind will give way, I went on to suggest that he had died in his sleep next to her. She agreed that this had been the case and that on waking she had been terrified and not able to put the image out of her mind. So much so that she was afraid to go to sleep at night. The image had got stuck in her hearth and created this negative energy field that the 9 of swords represents.
‘I can’t tell anyone’ she said, ‘I sleep so badly, if at all’ we took cards to see how she might best deal with the problem and they suggested simple things like moving to a different bedroom and redecorating the house, or sleep with the light on. She said she had tried all these things and none of them had made any difference. It wasn’t until the 7 of swords reversed and the 4 of cups came up that in 8 years she had not shed one tear for him. The shock of grief had affected her so deeply that her own vital energies had been blocked and now emotion was beyond her. Gently I explained this to her and quite unexpectedly she burst into tears. The reading had affected a healing. ‘I never thought I would cry again – I thought my mind would give way first’. She admitted that there would be many more tears as she finally allowed herself to feel and process the grief but for her it was a new beginning. This was backed up some months later when her daughter telephoned me to say that her mother was much brighter than she had been for years and that when she had returned home from the reading she had spoken at length and there’d been a lot of tears. Neither of things shed ever shared with anyone before and not, gradually her sleep pattern was improving. The woman in this case said that she feared her ‘mind would give way’ a perfect expression of the 9.
Another client had a very grey aura when he came to see me – depressed ad I go the impression he was surrounded by death. He wanted to embark on a spiritual path and learn tarot ye t the cards suggested this would not be possible until he dealt with deep buried issues. He insisted that everything was fine and he didn’t know anyone who had died. We then went on to his work and he mentioned that he had just changed jobs and used to work in an abattoir. I pointed out that the many detahs from his past were the many animals he killed every day. I never saw it like that he said – I didn’t realise how it might have been affecting me.
Death, extreme inner anguish, feelings of suicide, drug or other addictions, violence, nighmares, flashbacks, symptoms of ptsd
Same as the upright card, oftenm more acute
The Lion is an enigmatic symbol representing passion and strength, both physical and emotional, making the Strength card one of the few major cards which can have both positive and negative connotations either way up. Let me explain this in detail.
The woman in the strength card is the feminine, soft side of us all. She calmly tames the lion, often being shown gently opening the lion’s jaws with no effort at all. This symbolises the ease with which we can all *tame* the inner beast inside us which threatens to assault reason and create sudden overt displays of *not nice* emotions such as jealousy, anger or revenge. She is aligned with The Magician at number 1 who performs all actions with skill and ease. However, in less aware moments, we are all able to react with passionate outbursts and this is when we require inner strength to recognise the inappropriateness of fury or negative reactions. Only by doing this can we re-attain the calm perfection of the Magician.
Thus in this context the taming of the fire driven lion is the correct action to take.
However, the lion being ruled by fire also symbolises passion and an outward, directed thrust of energy. To hold back on passion and desire for too long through some self deluded sense of righteousness often brings pain, suffering and ultimately illness. I saw this clearly for one woman who was very creative at heart and enjoyed painting and writing. For many years she had suppressed her creative flair to raise children and follow her husband from country to country in pursuit of his career. By the time she came to me she was recovering from a serious illness which had put her whole life on hold. The Strength card reversed depicted her way forward and she immediately acknowledged her need to let out her creative passion or, quite literally, dry up as a consequence.
I have also, on numerous occasions, seen the Strength card depict someone holding back on having what they deem an inappropriate sexual encounter. They make many excuses for their behaviour such as, he/she is too young or too old, too wealthy or too busy, unable to commit, or the ultimate, that they are married.
When the Strength card is reversed it symbolises a release of the pent up desires, and I have often had feedback and follow up readings where people whose sexual desires have been depicted in earlier readings as blocked are now leading very satisfactory lives while enjoying their passions.
Hence when judging the Strength card during a reading surrounding cards must always be taken into account. To restrain from outbursts of extreme anger or irritability is often positive, while to refrain from healthy activities purely because they are deemed too extreme by others is not always the right course of action.
Very often the timing of the release of the lion is all important. Hold back now but let the passions run high later.
Always with the Strength card we are talking about inner strength rather than physical strength, although in certain context the card does not exclude physical ability. The Strength referred to is not a brutal strength but a gentle quiet sort of strength, the type which is recognised in many famous men and women of courage. It is the courage to hold one’s tongue when one would much rather shout, the courage to walk away from a fight and the courage to give up something desired for the good of others.
It is the inner strength required to stick to a new diet, to give up an addiction or to study when we would rather play. It is also knowing when to break the diet for an hour so that we can enjoy dinner with friends, to have a cigarette because we fancy one or to dump the books and go out with our mates.
The Lion she tames is the mind and all of its earthly desires. It is that difficult part of ourselves which we endeavour to control during meditation. It can be tamed with ease through an inner calm or brutally through a desire to *do* or achieve something. In the Visconti-Sforza we find a very different image of a man fiercely clubbing a lion suggesting that to use the brute force of one’s nature (as depicted by the club) is the only way to control the beast.
These days we have progressed and understand that to be gentle on ourselves can be just as effective. With the introduction of modern psychology we have come to realise that we do not need to beat ourselves up in order to attain Nirvana.
The High Priestess tarot card sits at number 2. She is the mystery of life, the great unknown. She symbolises in life all that we are unable to perceive. She sits in front of the veil to the portal to all answers to the universe. She represents the cause behind all actions and all creations.
When we fall still during meditation we are able to go beyond the veil and find answers to our questions regarding life and its meaning. Thus we gain insight and understanding.
In practice she symbolises one of mankind’s greatest mysteries-conception-the enigma of life itself. All life is created through the High Priestess, nothing passes into creation except through her.
In readings she often places a block on the seeker gaining answers to their question for she refers to things which they currently cannot perceive or are unaware of.
I saw this distinctly for one woman who was in the middle of a long legal battle. When the High Priestess was turned I suggested that certain information was being withheld, and that she would be wise to delve deeper and request more information from her opponent. At the time of the reading she very much believed that everything necessary had been disclosed, however several months later she phoned to thank me saying that she had pushed for further disclosures and been quite amazed by what had surfaced. She thus managed to win her case.
When reversed the High Priestess implies that the questioner does know something vital to their situation yet is unaware of it. Very often the answer to the problem we are struggling to resolve is right under our nose and we fail to see it.
Thus when the card is reversed it is a sign to trust ourselves.
The 8 of swords relates to air at water, water is the element of bond and its is only bonds that create limitation. Due to bonds all the shapes in the universe have their existence and all shapes create a limit or boundary through which particular types of bond are operating.
At the 8 of swords the air or breath is tightly bound up and ones own mind becomes the limit of ones existence. Mental stagnation, inner torture and fear of breaking away from the negative pattern take hold. The mind is trapped. There is also the feeling – with relation to number 2 – a feeling of separation, that nobody else could understand how I feel. For an individual this card symbolizes great inner torture and anguish, the prisoner of war or anne frank would have this card. Although physical circs can add very much to the quality of this card, it is not necessarily external influences that create it. Giving limits to what is limitless creates inner pain and the 8 of swords is that stagnant water that we see at the bottom of the Moon card, it is love / emotion turned stale and it is also Justice (8) in that this is the personal karma we have created for ourselves. If we continually react tto the same situations in the same way then the bonds are strengthened, but if like the crayfish in the moon card we start to navigate a new path and face up to our fears, then we can achieve success.
Sometimes we don’t understand how we ever managed to get ourselves into a particular situation, yet there we are living it, as if it’s a script from someone else’s life.
The way to clear samskara is to act in the moment, to be proactive and take control setting up a new pattern, sounds easy doesn’t it? But its not, even for those of us who tread a spiritual path. Most of go through terrible experiences at some point or other that shake the foundation of our sense of self until we are forced to change. Each person’s interpretation is different depending on their personal karma. One person’s bliss may be another person’s trap – for example, two women are pregnant – one can’t wait to meet her child, the other is dreading losing her freedom and wonders if she will cope with becoming a mother. One glows and is full of joy, the other is full of anxiety and feels that she is separate from the world and has to put a brave face on things.
The 8 is a latent behavioural pattern so here we can see that something is on repeat and the client is stuck in a rut and quite often will reveal that they’ve been in the same situation before.
While the four of swords wishes to be alone as the feelings are very immediate and they can’t hide them, the 8 is able to bury their emotions and put on a happy face; they will still experience agony inside even while in company and sometimes seek company as a way of avoiding their pain.The first step towards freedom and releasing the pain and changing the situation / behaviours but it is not an end in itself – just shows a move in the right direction.
feeling trapped / being trapped / stagnation / inner torture
When bonds have turned to bondage / anguish
Reversed: initial steps towards releasing oneself from anguish
5 of swords5= ether / air – mindon our circle, no. 5 sits at the mid point between the causal and physical worlds and acts as a transformer or bridge between worlds. the etheric level is singular as it cannot be felt or seen as with the other elements, it is space with no boundaries but it can carry sound. in the major cards its symbolised by the pope at 5 ad the devil at 15. both represent what is carried from one world to the other. it is what is coming through from the casual realm. within the suit of swords – air and the mind / ego – it represents our deepest eld beliefs and ideas. this space holds what we believe we are and those ideas which keep us in balance.in practice it indicates the q is trying to change their beleifs and how they think, act and behave or someone else is doing this to them and the qs concept of who they are is challenged.often we do this voluntarily, through systems such as NLP or CBT and our values and principles are also indicated – do we rasie our sword and take a stand or do we change our beliefs to meet a changing ssociety?next to cards of pain and lonliness such as the 4, 9 or 10 of swords, we may be questioning whether there is a God as the pain of our situation makes us wonder where there is justuce in the world.teh knight of swords next to the 5 shows we are fighting for our cause and if it indicates someone in the qs life it can indicate a battle of wills and that someone is being persuaded to change their mind against their better judgement or deeper feelings. it indicates a very mentally agile person, barristers, writers, journalists, hypnotists. the hypnotist unlocks the gateway to the subconscious mind and cross the bridge to the causal realm to bring about a healing or change deeply held beliefs or unlock hidden information.As the 5 of swords is influenced by the Devil (at 15) which symbolises guilt and repeat karma, this card can also indicate any matter that goes to a court to be heard (ether carries sound and so both sides of the stoy will be heard, listened to a judge who becomes the living equivalent of the pope. the card itself will not show which side will ‘win’, however upright, it shows a case will go to court and that revversed that it won’t get to that stage.next to other cards: the king of swoords – a dogmatic and stern judge, next to the page of swords – various lies or tricks will be played, next to the ace of coins – a very important document,next to the chariot reversed, the case will be adjourned, next to the judgement card reversed – the case will not be heard and is resolved in chambers or through mediation.keywords:the individuals belief systemlegal matters and court casesbeing persuaded that you arewhat you are not or to do / think soomething against your better judgementreversed:not wishing to change ones beliefs, even against strong oppostion
As we know air relates to the numbers 4,6,14 and 16 and the mind and ego or feeling of I am and the ideas we hold about ourselves.
We also know that 3 on our circle relates to fire and the character of the individual as something active or an energy and passion that we feel in the body. So here we have the individual believing that they are the strong thought or emotion. We feel the fiery passion and desire in relation to our thoughts and we are actively defending and promoting our ideas. This card symbolises arguments and conflict that is actively happening and it’s simplest interpretation is anger, jealousy, hatred, resentment and thoughts of revenge etc. Anything that is not love or an expression of love in a relationship. We may in this case forget who we really are and with the 3 of swords we feel that we are our bad feelings as they can overwhelm us, albeit temporarily. It is the tension held in check at the two of swords being released and we ‘have it out’ or ‘clear the air’ and in our quarrel manage to get things off our chest and hear Athens other persons point of view. We lay down swords and reach an agreement.
Sometimes we may not need to shout and we may practice assertiveness and tell our loved one or do worker ‘that makes me angry / jealous / upset’ etc. The other party then allays our fears and we are able to move on. Sometimes it may not be possible to speak to the person concerned as the source of the negative feelings is not available to speak to. In this case we may go to a counsellor and get it out that way.
If we don’t release these won’t up feelings then we move onto the following swords and the buried negative emotions cause further difficulties. This is what we see in action when the card is reversed, the querent is bottling up their anger and this can indicate that in the further their will be a reaction and the feelings will find some outlet and nine times out of ten this is what we find at the 7 of swords, but depending on how the individual is dealing with their feelings and the surrounding cards, other outcomes are possible. For example it’s widely accepted that depression is repressed anger.
Anger, jealousy, hatred, revenge, suspicion
An argument or heated discussion that clears the air
Negative emotions are suppressed, or we are unable to express anger for example due to childhood conditioning