My Year Ahead: Eight of Swords

2017 is the first year that I actually did the year-ahead reading for myself and I intend to analyze each card of the month as a summary of said month. This is more of an experiment than anything else for me - I do not treat this kind of readings (or any tarot readings for that matter) as a means of predicting one's future or dictating how one should live one's life.

As some of you know, I mostly use tarot as a tool for self-discovery and self-exploration, in conjunction with self-analysis, reflection, based on one's intuition as well as the backbone of jungian psychology. In the particular case of year-ahead readings, I treat each card of the month more as a parable or a kōan to try and "solve" / draw wisdom from in relation to my present situation and state of mind, rather than a determinant of what's to come. Of course, I do not exclude the possibility of things serendipitously aligning, for it is not only Self that influences one's existence but a number of outside, collective notions, both conscious and unconscious, that should be taken into the equation as well.

Eight of Winter - Victorian Fairy Tarot

My January card was Eight of Winter (Swords). Now that I think about it, I'm glad I used the Victorian Fairy Tarot for my Year Ahead spread - it seems subtle at first but it doesn't fuck around too much. Here's what we can read in the guidebook:
Stuck inside for far too long by winter weather, fairy children become fractious and full of naughty mischief. This hapless parlor maid is beset upon by the children of the household, and she finds this particular parlor game less than enjoyable. Circumstances of class and obligations of employment keep her from protesting - or do they? She has let herself become a victim and an object of fun to these thoughtless children. She fears that speaking up for herself could jeopardize her position. Though longing to shake off her captors and return to her duties, the fairy maid stands resigned to her fate.
That feeling when you wish your job was more meaningful and profound but your superiors make it impossible. That feeling when you wish for a challenge but your clients need mostly simple stuff from you. That feeling when you're kind of doing what you always wanted to do but not exactly in the shape or form that you wished for. I bet most of us felt or will feel this way at one point or another. If we were on a motivational, coaching-oriented blog, we'd probably read something along those lines: "The limitations are all in your mind! If you're not fully satisfied with your job - quit. If you're not feeling fulfilled in your relationship - ditch it. Don't hold yourself back."
Sure. Also, if your family is not perfect - sign up for a Family Exchange Project. And don't forget to quit anything that might feel like a challenge. We don't need difficult emotions and challenges in our lives, do we?

Getting away from any kind of toxic environment is one thing - avoiding life lessons is another. There's stuff that could be easily avoided, put away for later, there's situations that we want to get away from, people we don't want to deal with. I feel like this month I've been repeatedly exposed to this lesson - that even though I'm aware that the situation I'm in right now might not be my final dream destination, it is a step towards something and it is a valuable lesson. Let's say I'm like the fairy maid from our Eight of Winter and I feel stuck in a job that I hate. Does that mean I have to quit it as soon as I realize that? Of course not! Even though I might easily free myself from this place maybe I should recognize that I got here for a reason instead.

More often than not our present happens as an organic outcome of the progression of our choices and actions over time. Our current situation and state of mind are very diagnostic of whether we live our life consciously or not so much. Not everyone is a great strategist but anyone can foresee the most probable outcomes of their actions.

It's easier for us to get away from new situations that feel uncomfortable or undesirable. Once we stay somewhere for years, grow roots there, it's much harder to let go - that is our typical Eight of Swords right there - feeling stuck, imprisoned, unable to change a thing. This kind of stuff is not a new job that we hate or an internet friend that doesn't vibe with us. This is the thread that our everyday reality is woven from - so much so that we mistake it for an integral part of our very mind and body, we stop observing it, we stop being a strategist at the front seat of out life. That's when we entertain victimhood and inertia.

Eight of Swords: Japaridze, Osho Zen, Golden Klimt

There's also another aspect of the Eight of Swords - guilt. The Osho Zen's Eight of Swords is called just that - Guilt. What do we do when we feel guilty? It would be ideal to forgive ourselves and try to heal the wound, but it's not always that simple - first we'd have to be aware that we feel guilty in the first place, which is not easy to notice and even harder to admit. So, what do we do? We punish ourselves to ease the internal tension. That's what I see when I look at the Eight of Swords from Japaridze - a woman who locked herself up in a cell from the inside (the key is in the lock) to contain something ugly inside, to force herself to keep her shit together, even though it does her more harm than good - but it feels conformable, in control, and thus it feels safe.

Why does the Eight of Swords feel guilty? That's the question.
These are matters of the mind. Not necessarily conscious mind. These are all the situations when we failed to fulfill our parent's expectations, when we tried to fulfill those expectations but instead we felt like we betrayed ourselves, when we sought approval, validation and understanding from our loved ones but didn't get any, when we betrayed someone's trust out of weakness or heedlessness, when we betrayed our own trust by failing to follow our gut, our dream. These are all the situations when we didn't react or speak up when witnessing someone's suffering, when we lacked bravery, assertiveness, strong will.

We are going to fail multiple times, we are going to find ourselves in places and situations that feel less than ideal, we are going to face challenges and not always succeed at them. And we're going to feel trapped because of it. We might choose to keep an eye out for such moments and act as soon as we spot them. But there will be times when we also fail to notice, when we won't want to notice. That is when we inevitably fall into the Nine of Swords territory - when we repress it and allow it to fall into the shadow, into the subconscious realm of dreams and fears. And that is okay.

No human is infallible. Instead of punishing ourselves for the guilt we feel we can choose to use this energy for something constructive - for ourselves or for the larger scope. If we're not sure how to help ourselves heal or move on, helping others to heal is just as valuable.

No human can grow without difficult experiences. Instead of running away from challenge we can choose to face it head on, or face it slowly but surely. If we lack the bravery to do that, helping others go through difficulties is just as valuable.

That is my lesson for January.


  1. Ohohoho. Good c:

    1. I've been wondering if you're secretly reading my blog or not! Sneaky sneaky :>

    2. ogham-lady1/2/17 11:15 am

      Got your back :D


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