Margarete Petersen Study -Eight of Swords - the net of perceptions


  • The eye's-view* -- perspectives change. The harder you hold on to the past, copied over and over again, the more your percepections will be grotesque and distorted. Shadows and spooks -- see what they're like. When they come, why they come, how they appear. Recognize their dynamic and play with it. Nothing remains static. Everything you see, you are -- it is what was received on your retina.

    Forgive yourself, and take in another perspective.

Link to image: Acht der Federn

*Der Augen-Blick -- a sort of play on words: augenblick means - the moment, as in "in the twinkling of an eye", or "in the blink of an eye" -- but here the word is separated into two nouns Augen (eyes) - Blick (view, glance, vision, scene) -- meaning -- what is perceived by the eye -- or, as she says further down, "what is received on the retina".

The word for "retina" - netzhaut in German is also interesting with regards to this card -- it is made of two smaller words : netz, (netting, mesh, grid, web) and haut (skin) -- it calls to mind the sort of net or trap the gal on the RWS eight of swords finds herself apparently emprisoned in -- the interesting implication being here, that we are emprisoned in the net of our own perceptions -- that which we take in - on our retina, aka "netting-skin" also becomes the net which entraps us... that our freedom will be won only by our changing perspectives -- and that this change in perspectives can be done in the "blink of an eye"...

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Of this card Crowley writes, “The Will is constantly thwarted by accidental interference.” This odd epigram reminds me of one of the old Jackie Chan movies, the really old ones, when he was barely in his 20s. His character had promised his very nervous father that he would not engage in any fighting, so every time hooligans came to attack his father’s restaurant, he had to pretend to trip and fall with continuous clumsiness, “accidentally” flattening all in the process. Their Will was thwarted by continuous accidental interference. I don’t know, it all sounds so charming, rather benign, but the eight of feathers is hardly a benign card. Look at that eye! My, my, darling, red eyeshadow is so last season, don’t you know? And the bloodshot glints in the pupil, chilling. So where is the truth, in the despair of Margarete’s protagonist or the lighthearted confusion of Crowley? Margarete buries amidst her confusion of feathers another symbol, a mask of a Chinese new year parade dragon or lion. I can never tell them apart. His fearsome grimace would never frighten even the little children, only the (not very bright) spirits who come out on the eve between the years. The fears represented by this card are hard to pin down.


ah yes, interference -- as the fun-house mirror interferes the light and stretches or squashes our image -- so our ego interferes with our perceptions sometimes to give a distorted view of what is.


Each card in this deck is like a multi-layered parcel of the sub-conscious. You take off one layer only to find another. My eye was drawn to the healthy eye in this card but it was not until much later that I saw the wounded eye. The wounded eye? That is what came to mind.

The use of the eye in this image is important. I lost the sight of my left eye almost 25 years ago. In a short period of time both eyes “went” but the left never recovered and at the time, without any knowledge of tarot, astrology or anything like that, I always thought it had something to do with the past – something I was not able to see. I think I still somehow believe that I’ll wake up one day and the sight will return just as quietly as it went. This time the interpretation in Petersen’s book fits my own perceptions of this card. You can see the present through the wounds of the past or see it in the present moment. You have a choice.

As I contemplate this card now, the damaged or grieving eye becomes huge and dominates the image. I now need to work consciously to focus on the clear eye so that it becomes predominant. That in itself is an interesting metaphor. I can consciously choose to focus on the present or the positive and leave the past behind. If you focus on the past it will predominate. The past always be somewhat distorted because it is comprised of layers of memory. Remembered pain or anger, and also joy, is always somewhat distorted.. One only ever really has the present moment.