Friday, 6 March 2015

A Prison of Our Own Making

8 of Swords, Rider Waite Smith.

Blindfolded, hands bound and surrounded by steely blades.

What is the situation that has this lady scared and unable or unwilling to move?  Is it a situation she has put herself in?  Has something else put her there?

Could it be she's a victim of bullying or verbal abuse?  Worn down by the constant cruel words, that she comes to believe they hold truth.  Trapped in a way of thinking that she no longer is able to see or function with true clarity.  What other people think and say to us has a massive impact on our psyche.  Tell a child of 4 or 5 years old that they are ugly often enough and that child grows into an adult with serious issues around their physical appearance.  Tell a person frequently that they are useless and they give up trying to reach for their dreams.  Words cause wounds, I dislike that adage I was taught when I was young, that sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.  Sticks and stones cause bruising, possibly even a fracture, it is a visible wound, it heals.  Words cut to the core, the wounds are invisible but the scars are big.  Victims of abuse and bullying are not allowed to think there is a safe haven for them if they ever work their way out of the situation.  So there she stands back turned and eyes blinded to the security of the castle at the top of the cliff. 

Is she the same victim but is trying to analyse the situation and feels the need to close herself off to the emotions it evokes and stopping herself doing anything impulsive or making any rash moves?  I think we all try to rationalise our  less pleasant situations.  We try to work out if there is any logic in them.  We try and work a way out but first we need to stop and think clearly without external interference or allowing our emotions choose our next move.  This lady could follow the small flow of water at her feet to find a safe exit, but would that mean she is being guided by emotion and not logic?

Could this lady be someone with an eating disorder?  Punishing herself with her own harsh thoughts?  An inability to see the truth of her situation?  Eyes blindfolded by the illness, she does not see things as they truly are, her skewed thinking is caging her in, making her a prisoner of this cruel condition's poisonous thoughts?
The castle up on the cliff is the 'goal'.  If I can lose 1 pound today/ 8 pounds this week, then  I will be happier/ perfect/ prettier/more clever/popular and I can live happily ever after.  However those swords are pretty well placed and bloody sharp.  It then becomes easier to stay put, not able to see which to turn to reach your castle.

Is she an alcoholic/drug addict even some one in the darkest stages of depression?

When I see the figure 8, I see it as the lemniscate the infinity symbol, and as the lemniscate it depicts a cycle, the ebb and flow.  Whatever this lady's situation, it is a vicious cycle, there appears no way out, and she remains there,  seemingly quite unconcerned.  It may be more comfortable to stay put and not move away for fear of making the wrong move.  In the words of Albus Dumbledore, 'to choose what is right, or to choose what is easy'.

At the crux of the card is the uncomfortable feeling it gives the onlooker. You feel like shouting instructions to the lady guiding her by telling which way to turn to move safely out of her predicament.  But this is not what is needed.  The woman needs to do this on her own.  She will not find the solution from someone else's intervention, as hard and as uncomfortable that may make us feel.  Like I said before this is a cycle, it continues on and on until the lady herself (the central issue) works out for herself whether to shake her hands from their bindings, uncovers her eyes and finds her safe path up to the safety of the castle. 

She does not need 'rescuing'.  She needs to rescue herself.


  1. It is so hard to stand by and see people you care about struggle time after time.
    It is so hard to find you self in the same situation over and over again and the only thing you have to do is to open your eyes and see the people you care about waiting for you step out of your prison.
    This card has been my stalker card for a long time but recently I see it less....

    1. I think it's one of the hardest lessons we learn in life. In hindsight it is so easy to see that we always held the key to our release, at the time, it never seems that simple.