Almost universally, the tarot blogs and books and courses I’ve looked at say the best way to get to know your tarot deck, and just a good habit for life, is to draw one card in the morning and then journal, or meditate, or just spend time thinking about it.
Beth at Little Red Tarot is no exception, and in fact her highly excellent Alternative Tarot Course that I am starting today (I am a sucker for a good online/self paced course) lists it as a daily exercise.
Today’s Daily Draw comes to us from the Steampunk Tarot deck, which I happened upon this past weekend- deeply discounted because it had been used on a display or something. I didn’t need much convincing to give it a good home.
The Eight of Swords. At first glance, it’s a bit alarming. The girl is blindfolded and seated with her hands tied behind her back. Eight swords hang off the mechanism around the chair. She must be able to hear them, the small sounds of metal against metal, and feel the breeze as they move back and forth. She isn’t sure if one or more are about to come crashing down, killing her or at least seriously hurting her.
Still, her face is calm. She isn’t panicking. She’s thinking.
The manual for the Steampunk Tarot says this:
The Eight of Swords represents a doubly precarious situation. If this card shows up in your reading, it is likely that the reality is problematic, and resolving it satisfactorily would be a challenge in any case. The trouble is probably exacerbated by your way of looking at it, or perhaps it is more accurate to say that you are not looking at it. You are sensing in other ways, but you are not seeing things clearly.
However, I think another important aspect of this card is the absence of a guard. The girl’s hands are bound and her eyes are covered, but she is not tied to the chair. There is no one physically keeping her sitting there. Does she know that? Maybe. Maybe not. But the reality is that she is free to leave this situation if she wants.
I spent a lot of time today thinking about this card. In the short time I’ve been practicing tarot it has appeared for me several times, both using this deck and the Shadowscapes deck.
I think in many ways it applies to where we are as a country right now. It’s a precarious situation, with dire consequences. Pain. Death. We know (or many of us do) that where we sit right now is dangerous, but we aren’t always sure what to do about it. We feel helpless, bound and rendered immobile like the girl on the card. We’re just waiting for the sword to fall and end it. End everything. Maybe we need to look at things a different way to find a solution. Maybe we need to remember that we have a way out, we just have to find it.
In spite of the darkness of this card, I find some hope in that. There is a way out, we just have to find it.
This card is also particularly relevant in my personal life.
I was raised in a True Blue Mormon (TBM) family. I was baptized at age 8, went to the temple at age 12. I spent three hours every Sunday at church, two more on Wednesday nights from age 12-18. I attended Seminary at 6am every morning of High School… at least until I flat out refused to keep going my Senior year.
When I moved to college, the first thing I did was formally leave the church, or start the process at least. It requires a formal letter with exact wording, a visit or conversation with your Bishop (the head of the congregation), and a three month waiting period.
After sending the letter to the head of the church, I sent a copy and an attached note to my parents explaining what I had done and why.
I wasn’t even out to myself at that point. It would be years before I was self aware enough to realize I was gay. I just knew that the church was wrong and I didn’t want to be a part of it anymore.
Since that decision – well, since I started voicing my doubts as a teenager – I have had a very rocky relationship with my parents. Since coming out as a lesbian, it has been even harder. They’ve stayed in the church. Not just stayed, they’ve thrived and climbed up the ranks. They look at me and refuse to see what they don’t want to see, like the Hosts in Westworld. They want to pick and choose the parts of my personality to pay attention to. It hurts, every time I talk to them.
But it was this past election that was really the breaking point. The line in the sand that I couldn’t bear to cross. In the months since, I’ve found that I simply can not bear to compromise myself anymore.
So I recently decided to stop maintaining my relationship with my parents.
I’m not throwing a big tantrum or giving them an ultimatum because I’ve done those in the past and it hasn’t changed anything. I’m simply going to stop visiting. Stop answering phone calls. Stop engaging them in conversation. I don’t do this in hope of things changing. I’m just accepting that this game we’ve been playing for years and years now, was never fair.
The only winning move is not to play.
I am certain it is the right thing for me to do, but the reality of it crushes me, it tightens around my ribcage until it’s hard to breathe. Thank the Goddess for a great therapist.
So in thinking about the 8 of Swords, I find myself relating to the girl in the chair. Blind to the future, restricted in my options, a victim of my own choices, but keenly aware of the danger, the pain that surrounds me.
It’s a no-win situation. There is no possible positive outcome. My parents will never be what I need them to be in my life. But I can’t go on re-traumatizing myself every time I speak to them either.
What I can do, is get up and walk away. I might cut myself in the process. At the least I have to figure out how to get the blindfold and hand restraints off, and I’ll always be wary of being dragged back to this chair. I have to face the fear, the unknown, the black emptiness of the future for a chance at freedom.
The only way out, is out.
In this case, the 8 of Swords isn’t warning me that I’m not really looking at the situation. It’s reminding me that even in the most dire of circumstances there is always an escape.