Eight of Swords tarot card

Eight of Swords Explained - Upright & Reversed Meanings

Last Updated: December 1, 2022

The Eight of Swords is the eighth card in the suit of Swords (also known as the suit of blades) and one of the fifty-six suit cards from the minor arcana. In divinatory tarot, the Suit of Swords is associated with thought, intellect, mental strength, and integrity. They can also represent conflict, hardship, and misfortune.

Divination practices such as cartomancy can help us make decisions, offer guidance, and help us tune into our intuition when we are at a crossroads in our lives. Understanding the meanings of each tarot card can help you sharpen your interpretative skills so you can get the most out of your readings.

Eight of Swords is a great personification card that shows the origin of blockages within us. It is a minor Arcana of swords. This card is usually not welcome in readings by the recipient because it is mostly negatively interpreted.

In this article, we will discuss the meanings of the Eight of Swords in various tarot reading contexts as well as the different symbols and nuances that can be found within this court card.

Table of Contents

Pictorial Symbolism in the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck

The artworks from the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck contain deeper esoteric meanings that tarotists love to decipher. 

Eight of Swords is a card with a grey coloured background. There is a blindfolded and tied person standing. On both sides of the person, there are swords lined up. In front of the person, there is water and a muddy pathway. The person tries not to touch the water while walking. 

Eight of Swords Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck

Behind the person and the five swords on the right side of the card, there is a large grey fortress or castle with red roofs. However, no way leads to the fortress. As the person is walking, there is one more sword in front. 

The blindfolded person cannot see where they are walking. Their upper body is tied with several ropes, which makes it impossible to move their arms freely and free themselves from the bandage on their eyes. This speaks about a negative self-image and confusion, which prevent the person from progressing on the life path. However, their feet are free, so they could go and get help somewhere. 

The swords around the person act like a prison and blockages. They are preventing the person from finding the way out of the situation. However, the way back and the way in front of the person are clear. 

A small water pond at their feet stands for their intuition and allows them to find a way out of the situation if they follow their inner voice.

The Eight of Swords key correspondences

Upright keywords

Isolation, punishment, anxiety, no clarity, confusion, worry, loss, helplessness, limitations, disorder

Reversed keywords

New perspectives, freedom, relief, facing fears, end of isolation, open to new, open eyes

Yes or No



8 (VIII)



Ruling Planets

Mercury, Jupiter

Astrological Sign

Gemini, Jupiter in Gemini May 21st - 30th

What does the upright Eight of Swords mean in the Tarot?

There is a struggle to find the strength to face life at the moment. Even the simplest things seem to be difficult now. Self-doubt is preventing the person to achieve what they want. Over time it will be possible to remove the blindfold. The card indicates that the person is currently confused and does not know how to proceed in the current situation. 

On the one hand, they want to move forward to solve the situation. But on the other hand, they want to run away and forget about the challenge in front of them. When this card appears, it indicates that the person will be very indecisive and anxious. They waste a lot of time analysing irrelevant situations. 

Additionally, this card does not have to indicate always self-doubt. There may be some external factors and obstacles that are preventing the person from achieving the goal. Sometimes, it indicates that the person is dependent on the opinions of others and cannot make a decision independently.

Upright Eight of Swords

When pulled in the upright position, the Eight of Swords is associated with isolation, punishment, anxiety, no clarity, confusion, worry, loss, helplessness, limitations, and disorder.

What does the upright Eight of Swords mean in a love reading

Eight of Swords speaks about the presence of certain problems in the relationship. The main problem can be the partner’s stubbornness which leads to frequent arguments.

The card may indicate an external interference, but internal aspects should not be excluded. This card often tells you that it is time to end a bad relationship in which both you and your partner feel constrained.

If you are determined to save the relationship, act immediately, and talk openly with your partner about your feelings and desires. There is a strong feeling of confinement. Important aspects of one’s personality are often suppressed, which leads to an imbalance in life and relationships.

By standing up for yourself and not letting yourself be restricted any further, you will take the first step towards more freedom, and your partner will have to adapt to the new situation.

For singles, the card indicates strong self-doubt and worry. They do not dare to approach other people. They are maybe even confused about their feelings towards someone.

There may be a spark of love, but something inside them does not let them feel at ease. The card reminds us of the importance of listening to our intuition.

What does the upright Eight of Swords mean in a career reading?

Eight of Swords indicates that a person may feel stuck or trapped in a job that they do not like. The card can also signify that there may be difficulties at work associated with the lack of clearly defined tasks. In general, the card speaks about the slow movement in a career. Maybe your tasks are very repetitive. 

Try to break free by taking on new professional challenges. Often it talks about burnout and not being able to do more. You have done a lot and invested yourself too much professionally. Additionally, the card may indicate that the person always says yes. Bring in more boundaries and learn to say no; blockages are good sometimes to protect us from making bad decisions. 

If you are going to start a new job, the beginning could be challenging. Doubts may arise that you cannot handle these tasks. You will adapt to the different work processes and also regain more self-confidence.

What does the upright Eight of Swords mean in a health reading?

The Eight of Swords indicates that a person does not feel well. There is a danger of slipping into depression. There might be a lot of stress around them that can cause health issues. It is important to find some physical activity. 

Additionally, whilst this card can indicate problems with breathing and eyesight, the card speaks mostly about mental issues, such as anxiety or stress. Maybe the person is overly pessimistic about certain situations. Sometimes, it predicts that someone will be restricted in their activities due to an illness.

The Eight of Swords as feelings/emotions

Eight of Swords represents negative feelings. A person may be feeling stuck, confused, and without choices. If you are in a relationship, the card talks about feeling stuck and overtly anxious. Maybe things in the relationship are not how you wished. Maybe someone has unrealistic expectations from the partner. 

However, it is only a temporary phase. If you are single, maybe you are overwhelmed by the current dating scene. You might be passive and not really eager to make steps towards the people you are dating. Nevertheless, these negative feelings are the result of our attitudes and false beliefs.

The Eight of Swords as a person

As a personality archetype, the Eight of Swords represents someone who might be holding themselves back. They seem difficult to approach. They look closed off and not ready to talk or exchange ideas. They are too focused on their problems. Sometimes, they lack to see the bigger picture. 

However, the card represents an intellectual and introverted person. This person is an overthinker at the same time. Usually not open to new things. They often see themselves as a victim. They lack self-confidence.

The Eight of Swords as advice

If you are asking the tarot for advice regarding a specific situation in your life, drawing the Eight of Swords means that there are many bad thoughts in your head at this time. You may feel trapped and paralyzed in a situation. However, it is not as bad as it seems, because you still have choices. You can leave the situation as it is and do nothing about it. Also, you can move forward, realise your inner strength, and decide how this situation should affect you. 

You can always remove yourself from the situation and leave it behind; the power is still within you. Some situations are pressuring us to help us make changes in our life. We reach our limits at times and need to break out from the feelings trapped inside of us. 

Sometimes we need others to help us; asking for help is not always a bad thing and we cannot do everything on our own… Even if it is only talking about the situation, it can be helpful.

What is the zodiac or astrological sign associated with the Eight of Swords?

The Eight of Swords represents Jupiter in Gemini. Jupiter in Gemini speaks about communicating with others about your struggles. It is important to be social, open-minded, and patient. Jupiter in Gemini signifies an overload of information. The dates relating to this card are May 21st to May 30th.

Is the Eight of Swords a yes or no card?

The 8 of Swords is a no card.

Below are some of my interpretations, as an experienced tarot practitioner, based on different types of questions:

  • Will I get the job? No. It’s likely you’re not mentally up to the task of this role and are better suited else.
  • Is this new person in my life good for me? No. There are anxieties, negative thoughts and generally a risk of self-doubt with this person in your life; you deserve better. If you want to keep them in your life, I would suggest setting unwavering boundaries to protect yourself.
  • Will I achieve my current goals? No. Right now your mentality and mindset need more attention, and they’re preventing you from moving forward.
  • Should I make that investment? No. It might be too risky – I’d be wary of how it’ll restrict your own power with money.
  • Should I start my own business? No. Right now it’ll be too mentally restricting for you, and you deserve to explore creatively and financially in other ways. Maybe take some courses to help you feel more confident regarding starting your own business if this is your dream.

What does the reversed Eight of Swords mean in the Tarot?

The reversed Eight of Swords indicates the importance of changing perspective in order to solve a problem. Freeing yourself from heavy feelings should help you move forward. The bonds created by self-doubt are usually only in your mind. The card in this position symbolizes collecting strength, working on your fears, and a lot of ambition. 

Eight of Swords reversed sometimes indicates that problems are out of your control, and this is something you should acknowledge with grace and not feed into personal worries. 

Reverse Eight of Swords

When pulled in the reversed position, the Eight of Swords is linked with new perspectives, freedom, relief, facing fears, end of isolation, being open to new things, and opening your eyes.

What does the reversed Eight of Swords mean in a love reading?

The reversed Eight of Swords in a love reading asks you to be open in a partner search. It is not good to have too many expectations. Before judging, get to know a person first. Tolerance and receptiveness are important. If you are single, enjoy the freedom you have. Devote yourself to the goals you want to achieve. 

If you are in a relationship, the reversed Eight of Swords indicates that you have found a path with your partner. Your partner may help you to gain new perspectives and visions in life. Maybe, you are now able to open up emotionally too. However, you may feel that communication is stuck and that you do not dare to say uncomfortable things to each other. 

Nevertheless, the card usually indicates an improvement in the situation and you should find some empowerment in this together. Another meaning of this card is that someone has been in a toxic relationship and can finally break free now.

What does the inverted Eight of Swords mean in a career reading?

The reversed Eight of Swords asks you to look for new perspectives. Maybe you are stuck in a routine, and your career life is boring, or you have too many duties and they are draining you. If your job does not satisfy you anymore, be aware of the contribution you make. The main difficulties are over. The problems are temporary. 

However, this card in this position can sometimes mean the opposite. Maybe someone has given up hope. They do not think that it can be better for them. It is important to understand that nobody except ourselves can save us from such a situation.

What does the upside-down Eight of Swords mean in a health reading?

The reversed Eight of Swords indicates that someone is getting better. It indicates a successful fight against the disease and a slow recovery. The card also suggests looking for psychological support. Maybe the past period was very draining mentally. Consultation with a psychologist or your doctor can be helpful to process the disease mentally and focus more on healing. On occasion, this card has indicated impotence.


In conclusion, the Eight of Swords tarot card is a powerful symbol of isolation, punishment, anxiety, no clarity, confusion, worry, loss, helplessness, limitations, and disorder. When this card appears in your reading, it is often a sign that you are feeling overwhelmed by the number of options before you, or that a situation is out of your control and you’ve trapped yourself in an undesirable state. There is a lot of avoidance and fear when it comes to this card.

Despite its association with mysticism and occultism, the tarot has grown to become much more than a simple “fortune-telling” tool. For many tarot practitioners, it is a complex system made of symbolic imagery and psychological considerations (Jungian archetypes for example) that can be used for self-exploration, meditation, and personal transformation.

The 56 lesser arcana cards relate to the day-to-day events of our lives, the more mundane aspects of our existence. Even though that part of the tarot is about the “smaller picture”, it symbolizes the constant choices we make that shape our lives, our characters, and ultimately our destinies.

Have you ever had a reading where the 8 Of Swords appeared? What was the outcome? What does that card mean to you personally? How do you interpret this card in your own tarot practice?

Share your thoughts and experiences with me in the comments below.

Additionally, If you want to know more about the different tarot cards, feel free to check out my complete list of all 78 tarot cards and their meanings.


I have been reading Tarot for more than 15 years. I have always enjoyed using my intuition to provide clarity and insights to others. Tarot is one of my favorite forms of divination, and I love sharing that passion with like-minded folks.

Learn more about the Suit of Swords

This page is part of our comprehensive list of the 56 minor arcana tarot cards & their meanings. If you enjoyed the read, then you’ll love the following articles.

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