Intellect takes us along in the battle of life to a certain limit, but at the crucial moment it fails us. Faith transcends reason. It is when the horizon is the darkest and human reason is beaten down to the ground that faith shines brightest and comes to our rescue.
~ Mohandas Gandhi
This week, we receive, for only the third time ever, a visit from the Eight of Swords. This is a card that, at first, is rather disturbing, for here is the damsel in distress, trapped, surrounded by swords, blindfolded and helpless. But, as is so often the case in the Tarot, this is a card that beckons us to take a closer look.
For is she, in fact, so helpless? Where are her attackers? Of what or whom is she at the mercy?
There are no enemies to be seen. It would seem instead she is simply ringed by eight swords. Eights are about organizing, expansion, and how we overcome challenges to move forward. And the Swords are the suit of air, thought, and vision.
With her blindfold, and hemmed in by the swords, it would seem that intellect, ideas, perception, and opinion prevent her from taking action. Procrastination, perfectionism, or victim-thinking may be in play here.
Because after all, as distressed as she seems, is she actually lost in some trackless wilderness? No, it appears that safety and shelter are quite nearby, as you can see by the castle in the distance.
Is she on the edge of some precipice or about to be swept off by roaring wind or waves?
No. The sea, or maybe a lake, is off in the distance, but near her there are only shallow, remarkably tame puddles, and the land is flat and nonthreatening.
Are her legs and feet tied? Is she truly unable to move? It would seem not. Her only challenges are her bound arms, and her blindfold. It might not be easy, but she could simply walk away.
What do we believe binds us to our own unhappiness? In what ways might we fear we are doomed? What guru, lover, savior, healer, or leader do we wait (and wait, and wait) for, to sweep us away from our current circumstances? What triggers our thinking that we are stuck and helpless?
What we can see, that she cannot, is that the swords are no threat.
From behind, they form a protective semicircle. And before her, as intimidating as it might seem, the one sword that stands alone could help her cut her bonds. Her liberation is only a few paces away, if she could just trust herself to walk forward and find it.
How often is this the case in our own lives?
We fear the universe is out to get us; that we are surrounded by enemies or some dark fate about to destroy us. We give up on our dreams, struggle with “analysis paralysis,” and stay stuck in our self-pity and blindness, rather than risk the discomfort of change, autonomy, and the unknown.
Whether we choose not to see, or whether we have indeed fallen prey to misdeeds, deception, or even co-dependence, there is, in truth, absolutely no reason not to change whatever our unhappy circumstances might be…except that we so strongly believe in the reality of our prison.
This week as the Moon wanes in Aries and then the Sun and New Moon move into earthy Taurus, let us make a new start. It’s a great time to take stock of what holds us in check. In what ways do we feel thwarted from our desires, goals, or ability to be authentic and free?
It may be true that there are barriers, but are you so helpless, really? What hesitation, fear, or illusion is acting as your blindfold?
We might need to invoke the greater Eight of the Major Arcana, Strength, to help us take the needed steps forward.
When all our smart strategies, plans, intellectualizing, and arguments fail us, it is time to dig deep for our faith. Real courage may be needed, but it is time to walk free from a bad situation. Insisting that we are stuck makes it so. The antidote is to act.
We do not need to be rescued, for we are as free as we choose to be.