Eight of Swords Tarot Card Meaning: Navigate Through Fear

Irina Tracy
23 Min Read
eight of swords
Upright Restriction, confusion, uncertainty, fear, self-imposed limitations, unhealed traumas 
Reversed Potential of empowerment, finding new perspectives, liberation, freedom, self-awareness 
Yes or NoNo (Upright)
Element Air 
Planet Mercury & Saturn 
Zodiac SignGemini sun, Gemini moon, Gemini rising, Capricorn sun

Eight of Swords is one of the most complex tarot cards, with an intense personal load as it can mean different things to different seekers. This card is highly connected to our core energy and can be interpreted by itself or in relation to the rest of the cards in the reading. 

Understanding the Eight of Swords correctly will help us incorporate its message into our lives and prepare for future events with better energy.

It gives us valuable insight into our own minds and helps us be aware of the self-imposed limitations that we need to overcome in order to grow.

Without further due, let’s dive into the secrets of this tarot card and how we can use them to reveal the message we seek when we get this card in a reading, upright or reversed! 

Symbolism of the Eight of Swords Tarot Card

eight of swords tarot card meaning

At first glance at the Eight of Swords, we see a woman standing barefoot in puddles of water. The woman is blindfolded and tied, surrounded by a semi-circle of swords.

She is wearing a red robe, and her feet are also visible. In the background, we notice a castle and gray skies.

The number eight is inscribed on the top of the card in Roman numerals (VIII).

Each element in the card’s imagery bares a complex meaning that can appeal to the seeker’s life, mindset, or feelings. 

Number eight in the tarot

Number eight in the Eight of Swords indicates cycles, transformation, balance, and infinity.

Eight phases of the moon impact our emotions and eight critical phases in the natural seasonal shift.

These phases speak of the changes we go through internally, which are more often than not linked to external factors. 

The two circles forming the number eight are equal and symbolize the balance we crave to achieve.

The shape of the number eight also speaks of symmetry and the fact that every action has a similar reaction in terms of energy. 

This number symbolizes no beginning and no end as the two circles flow from and into each other, which makes it a symbol of infinity.

It speaks of the infinite possibilities we have in life and invites us to take a leap of faith. 

The symbol of swords in the tarot deck

Swords are an entire suit in the tarot deck, and they stand for strength and masculine energy but also sorrow and low-vibrational feelings such as fear or uncertainty and even bad luck.

The suit of swords is linked to the element of air and represents our psychological strengths and weaknesses.

The swords are the obstacles we might face or the aspects that make us feel threatened and insecure. And we are expected to overcome these struggles by using the power of our minds. 

The meaning of Eight of Swords’ symbolism

The blindfolded woman

The blindfold element speaks of unclarity. The seeker struggles to see or understand their situation, or they have a false perspective about the world around them.

The woman is limited by her mind and trapped in a situation she sees no escape from. 

Tied hands

The person’s hands are tied, showing they cannot take any action. This symbolizes hopelessness, lack of power, and lack of optimism. 

Barefoot element

The bare feet also speak of vulnerability. We can barely see the feet of the woman in the Eight of Swords, but we know that they are free to move, yet she is not moving. This indicates that the seeker could get out of the difficult situation they find themselves in, but they don’t know how to do that due to fear and uncertainty. 


The water puddles stand for emotional turmoils and fluctuating feelings. The person is affected by their own emotions and unconscious mind where their fears and traumas reside, still unhealed. 


Besides the general meaning of the swords in tarot, in this card, we see eight swords that symbolize the prison of our mind.

The three swords on the woman’s left side speak of past trauma, while the five speak of past failures or disappointments.

These swords surround the person as if they were in a cell of their traumatic past, giving them a chronic fear of the future. 

The castle

In the background of the Eight of Swords, we notice a castle. This is a symbol of comfort and safety, and even happiness.

But it seems very far away, and the woman has to break free from her sword’s prison to get to it.

This castle could be seen as the seeker’s goal to feel happy and empowered in the future, or it can stand for where they were excluded. Either way, it is a potent symbol of the world’s potential outside their self-limitations. 

Eight of Swords: Upright Position Meaning

eight of swords upright position tarot card

Eight of Swords is the card of fear, uncertainty, and limitations. At first sight, this card talks about a person stuck in a doomed situation. But acknowledging the self-imposed restrictions and fears can also lead us to the key that ultimately sets us free.

Restriction, confusion, and fear

If we are to explain this card with three main characteristics, they would be restriction, confusion, and fear. All these features are linked together to explain your inner turmoil. 

If you come across this card, you are afraid to take action mainly because you are still determining the right step to take in the current situation.

So, you choose to restrict yourself by creating your perspective, surrounded by past traumas (the swords) that will not let you get to a place of emotional and physical safety(the castle). 

Interpreting the Eight of Swords in personal, professional, and spiritual readings

When it comes to tarot readings, the sky is the limit. There are readings regarding the personal life of the seeker, professional path, challenges, and spiritual awakenings. 

In a personal reading, Eight of Swords speaks about the limitations that come from past experiences.

It tells us that based on our past, we build our perspective on our present and future situations.

In this context, the Eight of Swords is an invitation to take a step back and analyze the situation objectively.

It also tells us to seek guidance or advice from someone we trust or a therapist to break from the prison of our minds. You need to build their self-confidence and learn to trust their potential again, despite what you went through in their past. 

Regarding our professional path and career, the Eight of Swords tells us we cannot evolve and step into our true potential.

We might be stuck in a job that we can’t quit as it pays our bills and helps us support our family, even if we can do more significant work. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look for new professional opportunities, on the contrary.

This card also tells us that the restrictions we feel are rooted in our minds, and as soon as we look outside our cell, we find solutions and new paths toward success. 

If we encounter the Eight of Swords in a spiritual reading, we might be blocked in front of a spiritual awakening or moment of enlightenment.

This card speaks of our resistance to spiritual growth and how we limit our evolution. The Eight of Swords invites you to a journey of self-awareness and the courage to explore new spiritual paths. 

Eight of Swords: Yes or No Questions

Yes or No readings are widespread and efficient when you need to answer only one question.

Before starting such a reading, you must clearly establish the question in your mind. Focus on your question as you are shuffling the cards.

You will need to pull one card only from your deck. This card holds your Yes or No answer. 

If this card appears in a Yes or No reading in an upright position, this is a No answer. Whatever your question is, the upright version of the card tells you not to take action in the immediate future.

And if you had a plan in place already, this is your sign to postpone it and re-evaluate your options and current position.

This card doesn’t necessarily tell you that you wouldn’t be able to succeed in whatever your question implied, but rather that the circumstances might not be in your favor. 

However, if you get this card in reverse, it becomes a Yes, but more ritualistically, it should be seen as a Maybe.

It tells you that if you put in the work and effort to break free of your fears and restrictions, you might achieve your goal. 

Eight of Swords: Reversed Position Meaning

eight of swords reversed position tarot card

Eight of Swords in reverse gives us more hope to work with. When we draw this card in reverse, it means freedom, liberation, the chance to escape from a difficult situation, and finding new possibilities. 

Reversed Eight of Swords: A positive sign?

When Eight of Swords is in reserve, its meaning also acquires a more positive vibe. Now, the card speaks of possibilities to break free of our restrictions and find our path toward success.

We are in the process of finding solutions to their problems. We also see our situation more clearly and learn to find better perspectives.

This reversed card speaks of a person that becomes empowered and steps out of their victimized nature.

They start identifying their fears and fighting against them. Through self-awareness, if we choose to go through the inner work, we will come out of it stronger and more confident. 

Interpreting the Reversed Eight of Swords in Personal, professional, and spiritual readings

Just like the upright Eight of Swords can bring different insights according to the type of reading, this card, in reverse, can also be interpreted in various ways. 

In a reading focused on the personal life of the seeker, this card, in reverse, speaks of finding the courage to break free of limitations and fears. We learn to release past traumas and heal them correctly.

If you get this card in your spread, it is a sign to step into your empowered nature and remove everything that no longer serves you. Even if you feel powerless, this is a sign to keep going. 

As a card in professional reading, the reversed 8 of Swords tarot speaks of new opportunities coming your way.

Have the courage to embrace these possibilities and find a career that suits your calling and life purpose.

Reversed Eight of Swords tells you that even if the present situation seems dire, you have what it takes to get out of it and step into a better professional phase of your life. 

Spiritual readings are some of the most complex, focused mainly on the cards’ symbolism.

In this case, the reversed Eight of Swords speaks of a change of spiritual path towards one more empowering and aligned with your beliefs.

If you are trapped in certain preconceptions that don’t represent your values, this card tells you to release them and follow your heart.

This card speaks of a higher level of awareness and understanding in terms of spiritual matters. 

Eight of Swords in Love and Relationships

Eight of Swords in Love and Relationships

When the Eight of Swords appears in love and relationship reading, it pulls an alarm signal.

This card can signify specific problems for the couple or weaknesses that need to be faced.

But it is not all negative, as the Eight of Swords can also speak of potential solutions for getting out of difficult situations. 

Challenges within the relationship

Eight of Swords speaks of your fears regarding your relationship. You might feel trapped in a connection that no longer brings you happiness or in a relationship in crisis, but you seem unable to find a way out. 

The communication between you and your partner might be poor, and the reason for many arguments and conflicts where you are left feeling like the victim.

There might be unspoken things between you and your partner that create detachment and even pain for both of you. 

You might self-impose many of the limitations and restrictions out of fears rooted in your past trauma.

This will hinder the development of your relationship and prevent you from accessing the happiness you deserve. 

Potential opportunities 

If you receive the reversed Eight of Swords, your love life might change for the better.

But for that positive outcome to manifest, you must break free of your restrictions and heal the traumas that generate your present fears and limitations.

You might have more options than you actually realize as long as you let go of the old mindset.

In reverse, this card invites you to seek help from your friends, family, or even a therapist to heal yourself before giving your best to the love bond you share with your partner.

Your struggles may not be easy but with the support of your loved ones, you will overcome them successfully. 

Eight of Swords in Career and Finance

Eight of Swords in Career and Finance

Eight of Swords is a loud card when it also appears in a career and finance reading. In such a reading, a career is more than your professional life.

You might have a job in your professional life that helps you cover your daily necessities and even more than that.

But a career is aligned with your life purpose, and it is a domain you invest a significant part of your nature. 

Career and finance challenges signaled by the Eight of Swords 

When Eight of Swords appears in your reading, it might tell you that your current career path is not the one you identify with the most.

It is not bringing you the financial satisfaction you need, and you will not feel fulfilled following this path. 

It can also speak of your job as draining and without perspective.

If you compromise on a job you don’t feel passionate about to make an income, this card speaks of feeling trapped.

You cannot see a way out of your career situation, and you will only be happy in this aspect of your life once you follow a profession that aligns with your true purpose. 

You might be afraid or need more confidence to follow your dreams. But these fears are self-imposed and stand in the way of your potential. 

The reversed Eight of Swords brings new opportunities. 

On a more positive side, the reversed Eight of Swords speaks precisely of the opportunities that might lie before you should you defeat your inhibitions, fears, and restrictions.

Changing your mindset to a more positive one can also bring you the new perspectives you need in your career and the strength and confidence to pursue them. 

If you choose a career path that aligns with your life purpose, breaks free from the one you are on, and brings you no satisfaction, you will also reach the financial satisfaction you aim for.

But it will be a challenging process, and the path must be clarified. 

Personal Growth and the Eight of Swords

We can learn several valuable lessons from Eight of Swords and improve our lives. If we are willing to see this card as a warning and act accordingly, our life can improve once we overcome our challenges. 

Self-awareness and self-improvement

The Eight of Swords speaks of the need to start a journey of self-awareness and analyze our own limits.

Many of these restrictions might come from unhealed traumas and fears that are holding us back from manifesting our true potential.

This card tells us to acknowledge our patterns and be aware of the mistakes we might be repeating. Only by identifying our fears and self-imposed limitations do we have a chance to escape them. 

Defeating negative thoughts 

When we encounter this card in a reading, we are faced with negative thoughts and emotions. These thoughts lock us into our cells and get us stuck in situations that make us unhappy.

It reminds us to question our negative thoughts and chase them out of our minds to open the path to evolution and growth.

We can change the course of our reality by choosing to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. 

Ask for help 

We look at the Eight of Swords as advice to seek new perspectives and advice from those who love us on a situation we are going through.

Many times, we might get so lost in our traumas that we cannot see the opportunities in front of us.

Our friends, family, and a therapist can help us gain a more positive perspective on our lives and overcome our struggles. 

Get out of your comfort zone. 

Even if Eight of Swords is not a card that speaks of comfort, on the contrary, it tells us that if we manage to get out of the restrictions and struggles we face, we can reach a more stable level of happiness.

We must embrace the discomfort and see it as a potential for growth. If we get through our fears and eliminate the native thoughts and feelings from our life, we can start fresh and live up to our true potential. 


Eight of Swords is a tarot card that speaks of the lessons we learn through times of trouble. It shows us the wisdom we can gain should we face our demons and break free from our self-imposed restrictions. We are often our worst enemies, and this card reminds us to treat ourselves better and not drag our past into our present or future. 

Every time you come across this card in a tarot spread, take a moment to meditate on it and how you can learn from its message.

Depending on your current situation, the Eight of Swords could help you identify the causes of the struggle or the solutions you must embrace to overcome it and develop an empowered mindset. 

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As an astrology, tarot, and numerology expert, Irina brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the world of divination. She has developed a deep understanding of the mystical arts through years of study and practice. Irina has published several books worldwide and is excited to explore mystical topics. Read more about her