“Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” This is always the thought that occurs to me when the eight of swords comes up in any tarot reading. It is a card of being trapped, paralyzed not only by real threats but your own fears and blindness. The eight of swords is a card that foretells of a painful choice – to remain imprisoned in a bad situation or to risk the cuts necessary to escape.
When I throw down cards to read for myself, I expect certain patterns to emerge. What I wasn’t expecting when I did several spreads last night was that this card, without fail, came up first in every spread. Reading about my day job… eight of swords. My other business… eight of swords. A relationship on the rocks… eight of swords. Health concerns… eight of swords. My hair style… well, I think you’re getting the picture by now.
The universe is trying to tell me something- something I already know, something of which I am acutely and painfully aware. I have been feeling held hostage in my own life lately and too fearful of the consequences of trying to break free from the bonds holding me. The deadly duo of self-criticism and self-doubt have left me feeling that any choice I make will be wrong. Sadly, I know the root cause of all of these feelings and the underlying situation creating those feelings has been the one from which escape is most difficult.
Sometimes these eight of swords situations are just ridiculous and so petty that they should have never become an issue in the first place. My hair is a good example. On a whim, I decided to grow my short hair out. After a year, I was starting to hate it – my hair is thick and heavy, it looks weighted down when it grows out, it’s hotter than Hades in summer, etc. I felt trapped within a commitment I’d made to myself. When my stylist moved out of state, I spent two months fretting over letting someone new touch my hair and possibly make a drastic change to it. Two months of worrying over my damned hair, which normally doesn’t get any more thought than “Does it look like a camel tried to suck on my head? No… good, I can leave the house.”
Not all of these eight of swords situations are as frivolous as hairstyles, but all are, in some way or another, just as ridiculous. We get so blind with our own fears that we can’t see that escape is possible. An acquaintance of mine used to be fond of saying “Better the devil you know than the one you don’t.” I think that this kind of mentality is what leads us to be trapped in these situations. We may be held captive, but we know that if we don’t move, we are momentarily safe from harm. We don’t know what will happen if we try to kick our way free of the swords that surround us. We can’t know if we will successfully escape, if we will be harmed in the process, or if we will simply be humiliated by our attempts and remain bound. The choice to remain captive often feels like the path of least resistance.
The sudden appearance of the eight of swords in response to all of my questions was not so much of a revelation as a call to action. It was a good reminder that sometimes we do need to break free in order to move forward. It may not be without some cuts and bruises, but these will heal with time. I realize now that my own fears are more of a barrier to me that any bonds created by others. I needed to be reminded that we sometimes are the ones who hold ourselves captive by being blind to our choices.
Oh, about my hair… I reluctantly went to a new stylist today. The result was a hairstyle that I absolutely adore and that was getting compliments from strangers before I even got out the door of the salon. Sometimes, when you take a risk, the only thing that gets cut is your hair. 🙂