Friday 26 May 2017

Gemini in the Minor Arcana: The Eight of Swords

In the system I follow, the first of the Minors that’s associated with Gemini is the Eight of Swords. This is linked to Jupiter in Gemini, as well as to the first ten days of the sign – so this year, from the 20th to 30th of May.

Eight of Swords (trimmed):
©Sharman-Caselli Tarot

Gemini is the mutable Air sign – exchange of knowledge and information through networks, through language and ideas.  It’s about communication, as well as the market place.  Jupiter brings the desire to grow and expand through developing a wider range of skills, through broadening our learning.  It takes Gemini’s need to dip into a variety of interests and turns that into a way to bring greater meaning to life.  Jupiter is in detriment in Gemini, though – so the faith and optimism that we tend to associate with Jupiter can be hindered by excessive worrying, or over-analysis – and even by the constantly changing curiosity of Gemini.  And that, for me, is the clue to Jupiter in Gemini’s association with the Eight of Swords.

The Eight of Swords has come to represent the idea of being restricted by our thoughts, about not being able to see (or choosing not to see) things as they really are. Most images show a woman blindfolded, but loosely bound, surrounded by eight swords. The ties that bind her do not necessarily prevent escape, and there is space between the swords so that she could walk away. 

Eight of Swords (trimmed):
© Druid Craft Tarot
The number ‘8’ is associated with re-birth/death or regeneration, both in tarot and in astrology, through the 8th house, so we’re looking at ending old or invalid ideas and beliefs, and the beginning of something new. That ‘something new’ is symbolized by a single bird in the Sharman-Caselli deck (Beginners Guide to the Tarot), and by the new growth in the background in the DruidCraft Tarot – both hard to see if you’re blindfolded.  

That combination of blindfold, ties, and barrier of swords represents the excessive worrying, or the over-thinking of Jupiter in detriment in Gemini.  But remember that Jupiter is a gaseous planet – gas, when heated, expands – so there is a way out!  We need to take of the blindfold – develop our reasoning so that we can see the fears and worries for what they are, and allow ourselves to trust (also symbolized by the bird) in ourselves – to have faith in not only ourselves but also in life.

Eight of Arrows (trimmed):
© Wildwood Tarot
In the Wildwood and Shadowscapes Tarot decks, the emphasis is the same, although the images are different. 

We see a figure struggling through the snow, cold and wind (Gemini being an Air sign) in the Wildwood.  The lantern represents the hope and faith of Jupiter that will help us make choices and overcome the fears and anxieties we encounter on the way.  

Eight of Swords (trimmed):
© Shadowscapes Tarot
In the Shadowscapes, we see a swan surrounded by a barrier of swords.  She’s looking up at the sky, as if she’s aware that there’s an escape route – and if she wasn’t, there’s a little hummingbird above her, lighting the way. So what’s holding her back, apart from the brambles and swords around her? The thorny bramble over her head? The barbed wire at the top of the image? There’s a way out if you stop and breathe – taking a deep breath, expanding (Jupiter) the lungs (Gemini)!

Eight of Swords (trimmed):
© Thoth Tarot
The Thoth emphasizes that idea of struggling to endure that comes from thinking too much to the point that we are ‘frozen’ by anxiety, doubt, and fear; there’s no longer the clarity to be able to make a decision or choice.  Gerd Zielger (Tarot: Mirror of the Soul, published by Weiser Books) writes about Jupiter being a ‘harbinger of the unforeseen and unexpected change for the better’, and that it’s this, rather than trying to come up with an ‘analytical’ (Gemini) solution to the problem, that will show us the way out.

Beginner’s Guide to the Tarot created by Juliet Sharman-Burke, illustrated by Giovanni Caselli, published by Connections
DruidCraft Tarot created by Philip Carr-Gomm and Stephanie Carr-Gomm, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections
Shadowscapes Tarot created by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law and Barbara Moore, published by Llewellyn

Thoth Tarot created by Aleister Crowley, illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
Wildwood Tarot created by Mark Ryan and John Matthews, illustrated by Will Worthington. Published by Connections.    

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