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Eight of Swords Meaning – Smith-Waite Centennial

Our free tarot reading series takes a step in a somber direction today! The high-stakes Eight of Swords is a major tonal departure from the quiet triumph of yesterday's Four of Wands.

And with the numeric increase from four to eight, it's not just the tone that has shifted. Despite yesterday's peaceful reflection, today you might find yourself with a lot on your mind.

Eight of Swords meaning: Detailed image description in the body text. The Eight of Swords tarot card from the Smith-Waite Centennial deck is pictured against a deep, blue-black background. It is nestled between two long, narrow, white crystals laid out in the shape of a V.

The Eight of Swords in the Smith-Waite Centennial Deck

We've pictured today's card with two long pieces of frosty-white selenite to emphasize the stark lines of these many swords. But there's much more than that to this tarot card! It's one of my favourites from this classic collab by Pamela Colman Smith and A.E. Waite. (To learn more about their work together, see if you can find Waking the Witch by Pam Grossman at your local library.)

In this card, all eight of the eponymous swords stand point-down in swampy earth. And among them stands a red-clad figure whose black hair disappears behind stiff shoulders. Their arms are tied down against their torso with four coils of tan-coloured cloth. Meanwhile, their eyes are obscured by a white blindfold. They appear to be standing as stock-still as the swords are. And they seem to be looking downward—but is that because of resignation, or because they're deep in thought?

These eight swords evoke the suit of air. And, in both tarot and astrology, air signs stand for logic and rationality. Unlike wands, which represent the firey power of creativity, swords signify a different kind of power. They evoke the sharp impact of mental decisions—from the subtle parries of pragmatism to the irrevocable lunges of calculated risk.

Contrast all this airy, rational tension with the vivid, flowing water at the Eight of Swords protagonist's feet. Water is the element of the cups suit, and it symbolizes emotional sensitivity. The tidal force of intuition. 

Get ready to be tested

So what does the Eight of Swords mean for today's tarot horoscope? Simply put, it means you're going to be tested! But the Eight of Swords in this position isn't as bleak as it seems. I don't see a figure who's struggling. But nor do I see a figure who's resigned.

Faced with great obstacles, we might find that today, the solution is a mental one. When you're overburdened by important decisions—even if they're imposed upon you rather than your own choice—it doesn't always make sense to fight back. Instead, look inward. See if you can mute out the noise. There's a lot on your plate right now, probably. But you've already got everything you need to come out on top. 

The Eight of Swords tempers reason with instinct

Weigh your options carefully. It's important to consider the potential costs and impacts of each one. There are a lot of choices before you—so many, actually, that it's hard to see which paths are the best when you analyze the facts.

Try to stay calm. If you can, close your eyes and feel your feet connecting to the floor or the ground. Tap into your intuition—the emotional truths that help you make sense of the facts. There are times for swords and times for cups. To get through today's mental overwhelm and avoid burning out, you need to connect with them both. And even though it might not feel like it, you are autonomous. You get to choose.

S.M. signature — Savanna Margaret's initials

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