|Ancien TdM, Grimaud 1973|
Thoughts that seek to destroy you should be met by the serene indifference of your inner knowing.
The 8 of Swords is all about troubled thoughts. The number 8 itself stand for 'ideas or thoughts of the mind', and Swords 'are the troubles that plague every man'. So the 8 of Swords is the perfect card to represent overthinking, particularly obsessive worries about the 'troubles that plague every man' -- thoughts about things like losing a source of income, having a catastrophic illness, or someone dropping dead, contemplating your own mortality, right down to smaller universal troubles like never being sure you're doing the right thing, or looking back on the past and wishing things had gone differently, all of these are 'troubles that plague every man'. They happen to everyone. The 8 of Swords represents worrying about these things. In fact, the Grimaud LWB says, 'This card has powerful undercurrents and possesses no meaning in the abstract sense. Heavy and overpowering, it marks despair because of the evil undercurrents that it attracts.' Wow. We can all justifiably worry about these things. But does it do us any good?
In this story of the cards, even though Death is facing the High Priestess, I don't think he's going for her. I think he's making obeisance to her. It looks like he's just chopped up worries from the 8 of Swords and is looking to her for approval. She certainly looks on at him with a benign and pleasant expression. They see eye to eye. So it could be that he's destroyed the overthinking and is turning it over to the higher mind, the aspect of self that exists above the ego. That's one way to read the story of the cards.
Another way to look at this draw is that in fact 8 of Swords and Death ARE working together -- the overwhelming thoughts and Death have teamed up to try to destroy you. But they find themselves squared up against a more powerful force than themselves -- inner knowing. In this story told by the cards, Death uses the 8 of Swords as his primary weapon, wreaks havoc in the mind, turns toward the High Priestess looking rather exhausted and hoping to go for her next, but nope. She is wise to his tricks. She looks mildly at him. She even looks somewhat amused by him. He can stand there panting and clutching his scythe all he likes. She knows that while she's locked eyes with him, he doesn't have the strength in his scrawny arm to raise it against her. And that's another way to read the story of these cards.
That is the most helpful thing I can do for myself today. Rise above troubled thoughts that believe they can destroy me. They can't. I cannot be destroyed -- not even by myself. No, not even if my thoughts have convinced me that they can. They can't. Not if I look them in the face and let them know I see them. They can't get the real 'I'. Not the higher me.