Alchemical Study Group - Eight of Swords


(From the Book)

Eight swords point downward into the ground to form bars of a cage. A mythical beast with a human-like expression is contained within.

Tarot wisdom: You are holding back the beast within. The beast represents repression, anger, feelings of alienation, or feelings of being cut off from others. It also is inner rage. The human expression on the beast tells that the animal within can be tempered by the higher self. When dealing with angry persons, look past the beast and speak to their higher selves.


The beast looks a bit sheepish or even dismayed/disheartened by his/her circumstances. There is a lack of courage in this card. The beast is rippling with muscles but the inner fortitude is somehow lacking, as is the initiative to do something about the situation.


This is a very interesting variation of the traditional RWS depiction of this card. I get this card for myself a LOT so I'll apologise in advance for what I know is going to be a long, and possibly rambling, post :)

I think this version goes beyond the whole 'being trapped' thing. Sometimes in life we build up a world around us that is not in harmony with our true self. As a result we go through life pretending but always there is a part of us feeling sad, lost, and trapped. I think this card speaks to me of looking at how our external world compares to who we are inside. If these worlds are too disparate then feelings of anger, rage, resentment and frustration will build, represented perhaps by the beast in the card.

I also notice that the second sword from the left is chipped but all the rest as still sharp. Perhaps this is an indication that our facade is starting to crack. Once the cracks appear, then the beast can escape, perhaps as an angry outburst or even physical illness. This card could be a warning to address these issues or at least to be conscious of them.

Also, beyond the swords there is lush grass, where in front of them it is rather barren. Maybe this indicates that a more fulfilling life exists if we don't keep the beast trapped within.


Red Beastie

I get this card a lot for myself too and I really like him. I don't feel all of the negative things about the beast all of the time.

Sometimes it feels like it is nice to be imperfect, ugly, beastly and to not have to pretend otherwise.

I posted this big file (7+MB) in conjunction with promoting the upcoming class on the Trumps. It is one of 4 annotated pages that Robert will be using before going into the imagery of the Major Arcana.


I actually got this card last night in a reading I did for myself. To me, the beast looks REALLY sad and beaten down. My feeling is that he's being trapped and repressed. I don't get the sense that he's a 'bad guy', for some reason.


Eight swords are stuck point first in the ground forming a barrier. The Beast is part eagle, lion, bull, and man. These are the same four components of XXI - The World from the Tarot de Marseilles, and the World card is the Anima Mundi or the soul of the world. The Beast is made up of the same four components as the World Soul; everything the Beast needs to become the World Soul is already inside him. But the Beast is blocked by its perspective; it fails to see that the barrier only blocks one direction. Looking in a new direction could lead to growth to the most high goal, but focusing on the barrier only leads to frustration and a downward spiral of being the victim, trapped in this body, The Beast.

Yocheved Dina

VIII Swords

This morning this card appears flanked on it's left with the High Priestess and on it's right with the Queen of Staffs. All three cards seem to be looking directly at me with an expression of "whatcha gonna do?"....
Would love to hear your thoughts.