Card of the Day: Eight of Swords, reversed

Ah, the eights. So much work in the eights.

I woke up early this morning. I couldn’t sleep. Anxiety and hope fluttering in my belly. I thought about forcing myself to go back to sleep, but I decided that was silly. Got up, turned on the kettle, drew my card (also checked social media and my horoscope, because, anxiety).

So the Eight of Swords, reversed.

The Eight of Swords from The Wild Unknown tarot.
The Eight of Swords from The Wild Unknown tarot.

There’s the cocoon. The keywords for this card in the liner notes are “trapped, powerless.” I like that I got it reversed. That the time of feeling trapped is almost done, it’s coming to an end. There is forward-moving energy, and this feels like such a hopeful card. The swords do, as Happy Fish Tarot says, appear to be threatening the butterfly. But sometimes you have to come out of your cocoon even if you feel like the swords are threatening. Sometimes you have to make a choice to move towards freedom, even when it’s terrifying.

From Happy Fish:

This card shows those times where there seems to be no solution in sight, no matter how hard we try to think of one. The harder we think, the more trapped we believe we are.

The imagery here draws some similarities to the Waite-Smith depiction, which shows a woman bound and blindfolded. The butterfly is bound up around itself, unable to find a way to navigate the surrounding swords and stretch its wings.

This card shows those times when we feel stuck, and worse yet, we doubt our own ability to disentangle ourselves. It can become tempting to give up our personal power and wait for another person or an outside circumstance to offer assistance.

In a reading, this card can ask you to look at the stories you are telling yourself about your options. If you seem to be stuck or entrenched in mental fog, this card can remind you to take steps towards reclaiming your personal power.

Of course, this is easier said than done! You can begin by changing your thoughts, updating your stories. Instead of focusing on your confusion and lack of clarity, train yourself to look for steps – even small steps – towards freedom. When you consciously choose to loosen your mental constraints, a path forward will begin to emerge.

I read the reversal as indicating that this process has begun. This energy is present – both the feeling of being trapped, and the encouragement to move beyond it.

I’ve used the metaphor of the butterfly a lot lately for myself and for my springtime love. I think that the traumatic break in April forced us both into cocoons, and now we each have a choice as to whether we emerge or stay trapped and powerless.

I want to choose expansiveness. I want to choose to fight my way out of this fog, out of this cocoon, to continue to grow. Shake these wings off and fly. I want him to do the same, to meet me there (and now the image of The Lovers from The Wild Unknown seems even more clear). I can’t make that choice for him, though. All I can do is make the choice for myself and trust that if we’re meant to fly together, we will. We were pretty rad caterpillars together. And they’ve shown that butterflies remember what they learned as caterpillars, despite the cataclysmic change of metamorphosis (is there anything more emblematic of the cataclysmic change than turning to goo and then reforming, mind intact? I don’t think so.).

This cocooning has been awful. Painful. Hard. But I am grateful for the opportunity to grow into my better self.

I think it’s time to come out of the cocoon. It’s time to become this new self.

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Gloom Fairy

I'm a genderqueer, queer, poly, kinky, sex-positive, sex-radical feminist and activist and student.

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