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Bohemian Gothic--Eight Swords

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Bohemian Gothic--Eight Swords


I'm not surprised this one got overlooked. It's difficult to figure out what to make of this card....

A woman in red, a small wreath of flowers dotting her hair, stands in a crypt of pillars atop which sit skulls. She stands before one such pillar. She seems to be playing (plaiting? twining?) her hair. Light shines in through what might be a barred window, and there is a dark, open doorway behind her. Her expression may be coy, or doubtful or scared. All that can be said for sure is there's a certain shyness about it. Unlike some of the ladies, she doesn't seem to be "luring" someone forward. She appears to be the "prey," her red and gold gown perhaps signifying the lure of riches or young fresh blood.

She probably doesn't know what danger she is in, and may think, as many ladies in this deck seem to, that she is a willing participant in this game of cat and mouse. Her position against the pillar in a room filled with pillars reminds me of a game of hide-and-go-seek. And it seems she's been discovered. There is also a feeling in that she has been backed against the pillar by someone or something. The "coyness" element is in her playing with her hair. Is she nervous or trying to make sure it' looks pretty? Or was she standing there fixing her hair and was surprised by someone? Did she wander off alone to explore, or did someone tell her to "meet them" in this pillar room, and she's been waiting for them?

The RW 8/Swords shows a woman blindfolded, tied up and trapped by a ring of swords. Thinking on that image, I'd say that our lady against the pillar is "blinded" by what she sees, perhaps captured by it. Though she's free and has at least one exit out of there, she may yet be trapped by her own feelings and weaknesses. Which would fit with the usual 8/Swords meaning: fear within one's own mind traps a person, and keeps them from knowing that they can escape--or perhaps should escape.

Thoughts?
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I don't see her playing with her hair. I just think she has her arms up in a mock-helpless position. I do think she's playing a game with some unknown/unseen character, and the game at any moment may turn more serious than she had anticipated.
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every time I see her I think of her being locked in a tower as a prisoner but then I can't help but wonder is she the prisoner or is her captor her prisoner. I see her as playing with her hair or fixing it up.
Maybe she is just the crazy aunt who is being kept hidden in the attic of the mansion.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nytebugg
Maybe she is just the crazy aunt who is being kept hidden in the attic of the mansion.


I like this!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ncefafn
I don't see her playing with her hair.
A close up look shows that she does have a lock of hair between her fingers and seems to be fiddling with it (pinning it back atop her head?). Which doesn't negate your very valid point that it's symbolically a "helpless" position and look. We see something similar with the Star, hands up and on the head. It's part of that "I'm just a helpless little girl..." look.

And yes, Nytebugg, she could be the crazy-someone in the basement (looks more like basement than attic). She looks a little young for the aunt, but there are plenty of stories with the crazy young sister locked away. But there is that open door back there. In a deck with so many gates and barred doors, an open door is notable.

Of course, it's dark on the other side of that door. Given the 8/Swords usual meaning, I get the feeling that it's going to a very different mind-set for her to plunge through that dark door. Entrapment there in the "basement" with illumination feels safer to her at the moment then freedom through that open door into the darkness beyond.
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On my card she indeed seems to be holding a black ribbon. The texture of the ribbon is different than her hair, her hair aren't straight either (wavy) and what she holds is really straight, which makes me think it's a ribbon. She looks surprised and scared. Since the ribbon seems to be going behind the pillar behind her, sometimes I think she's being strangled. It's possible she played a game where someone covered her eyes with that black ribbon and she discovers too late she is trapped there now, she wonders where she is and what will happen to her.
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Thumbs up Letting Her Hair Down!


Dude! By jove! I think you've found the key in your point that she's holding a ribbon!
Quote:
Originally Posted by WolfyJames
Since the ribbon seems to be going behind the pillar behind her, sometimes I think she's being strangled. It's possible she played a game where someone covered her eyes with that black ribbon and she discovers too late she is trapped there now, she wonders where she is and what will happen to her.
The plot thickens! I checked out a blow-up version on line (it gives a close-up of the girl's face and hands and such). She doesn't seem to be strangling, panicking or terrified. The position of her arms and hands isn't that of frantically grabbing at the ribbon (and I agree, looking at it closer, I think it probably is a ribbon rather than her hair). From her expression and hand position, it looks like something has gotten lose rather than tight.

I love the suggestion that it might be a blindfold she removed, or something coming from behind the pillar--and that someone might be behind the pillar there (although the sun isn't showing their shadow). Alternately, given her pose, expression and what she's doing with her hair....Maybe she's just let down her hair? Released it from bondage? In many of these cards we see women with hair tightly coifed, pinned and tied up--also in tight clothing that makes it hard to raise their arms that way. But her hair is down, the arms raised and showing that they're free and can move (unlike the bound-to-the-body arms of the RW 8/Swords image). And there is that flirtatious look. Maybe the usually trapped lady of the 8/Swords has released herself?

Often the message of the 8/Swords is being bound by what people say--caring about what they'll think of you and trapped by that concern. Maybe this card is going in the opposite direction. This girl doesn't care what people will think or say of her, she's letting down her hair, wearing a bold, scarlet gown, maybe meeting with someone alone and unchaperoned in the crypt.

Who cares what anyone thinks or says about it? Hmmmm. I'm changing my story! I'm liking the idea of this card being the opposite of the usual 8/Swords image; the message, after all, is the same. Don't let yourself be trapped by fears of what others may think or say about you.
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I think we have missed something in this card which is vital to understanding its meaning. and that is the darkness, lying behind the entrance of the door at the back.

I feel this darkness represents whats holding her back, she does not want to face or even turn to face what may be beyond. The risk is too great for her.

As we know the 8 of Swords shows us imprisonment of our own making. The darkness of the door beyond pervades the whole card and overshadows the light, for she (and we) are terrified of it because we dont know whats beyond. We prefer the security.

What happens if we walk through?
What new beliefs will it bring us?
Will it harm us?
Will we have to surrender or lose something?

The idea that shes standing there would suggest that she has been "cornered" - why stand so close to something you are terrified of - even if it is a safe distance? She cant move forward and cant move back - ultimately life will force her to go through the door but is she strong enough to jump and just embrace it?

I also feel the pillars in the room represent her own intellectual support structures which if she passes through that door will be challenged and may come tumbling down.
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