There is a theme to the higher-numbered sword cards that can be summed up as “you are your own worst enemy”. In the Ten, someone is experiencing pain, but not so much that they can’t over-dramatize it and make a bid for martyr of the year. In the Nine, a person is having a sleepless night due to the unproductive mental activities of stress, worry and anxiety, so the brain is working overtime and accomplishing nothing.
In the RWS deck’s Eight of Swords , we see a person who hasn’t quite reached the extremes of the Nine and Ten, but they are well on their way. How? In a word, they feel trapped. Maybe it’s in a situation, like a dead end job or endless debt (or both), maybe it’s in a relationship where the other person has come to feel like a burden but there is a sense of responsibility or obligation there. On the other hand it could be a controlling or abusive relationship that one feels cannot be escaped, at least without dire consequences. Really, it could be anything that you feel is inescapable, you’re helpless to do anything about, and can’t see a clear way out.
Anyone who has ever seen Dr Phil or Jeremy Kyle knows (I can’t believe I just put both those names in the same sentence) that this is where the audience starts saying (or shouting) “Get up, Go, walk away. Why are you still here?” It’s so much easier to be rational and objective when you are reviewing someone else’s life.
But here’s the thing. The person in this card is bound and blindfold, but those ties seem loose enough to shake off with a little effort. Her legs are not bound at all and the swords that seem to form a perimeter do not completely surround her. It appears she could just walk out the front of the card and leave. Of course, whoever is living in that distant castle might send guards chasing her down the beach, but she’d have a good head start. I didn’t say it would be easy.
What I am saying is that, when you are in the midst of a restrictive situation, it is quite possible to feel more trapped than you actually are. There is always a way out. There has to be, or else what is the point of hope? Often there is a way of peacefully separating yourself from what holds you back that respects and is in the best interest of all parties, but if there isn’t you have to protect yourself and look after yourself. Don’t willingly give away your freedom and power.