This card usually indicates a time of powerlessness and restriction, and more often than not this restriction is self-imposed. You may be holding yourself back because you fear moving into the future, or because you are wary of getting hurt by a new situation, or maybe for no reason at all. In rare instances you will find that another person's action - or inaction - is what keeps you from moving forward, but most of the time the blame falls on you alone. You cannot be held back unless part of you wants to be held back. The trick is finding a way to overcome that, and free yourself from the bonds of fear and doubt.
When the Eight of Swords appears, its purpose is not to taunt you or to tell you something you already know. The reason for its manifestation is to show you that you can escape your situation just as quickly as you put yourself into it. Look at the picture on the Rider-Waite card again. The woman's feet are not bound, and if she chose to, she could carefully walk to the closest sword and use it to cut the ropes holding her arms to her sides. At the moment she does not do this, because the same fear that got her into this situation is keeping her from escaping it.
No matter how difficult your situation, the Eight of Swords shows that there are always options and ways to escape. You may not think they are plausible, and you may not even know they exist, but they are there waiting for you to put them to use. The key is to stop using the Swords for negative purposes. Anger, agression, haste and excessive force will only make your situation worse, so let them go and accept the mental clarity and peace that the Swords suit idealizes. With that new and perfect vision you should be able to see the way out of every problem that you encounter.Copyright 2000 James Rioux