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What does the Eight of Swords mean?

June 18, 2015

Eight of Swords Today I’ll present a pithy meaning for the Eight of Swords which takes it into an area I’ve never seen for it before. Read this and you’ll never view this card the same way again!:

For this pithy Tarot meaning for the Eight of Swords, I need to start off with a short discussion of the term “Ulysses Contract.” First, here is the background for the term (from Wikipedia):

Ulysses wanted to hear the Sirens’ song although he knew that doing so would render him incapable of rational thought. He put wax in his men’s ears so that they could not hear, and had them tie him to the mast so that he could not jump into the sea. … Upon hearing the Sirens’ song, Ulysses was driven temporarily insane and struggled with all of his might to break free so that he might join the Sirens, which would have meant his death.

Ulysses and Sirens -- 8 of Swords .
(This description can’t help but remind us of the Eight of Swords!)

Although the term “Ulysses Contract” is generally used in medicine in reference to advance directives, it has more general applicability.  For example, in an article I found titled “Ulysses Contract: A Tool For Reaching Goals,” I found this example of how one might use this technique:

An example of a Ulysses contract for weight loss would be something like this: “Joan wants to lose 30 pounds in the next 6 months. She gives her best friend a sum of money, say 500 dollars to keep for her. Her friend is only to give her [back] the money if after the 6 month time period, 30 pounds of weight has been lost.”

And so we see that the Eight of Swords may suggest a general strategy of using the rational part of your mind today (when you are not being tempted by something) in order to bind or constrain your future actions at a time when the irrational, compulsive part of your mind will be overwhelmed with temptation. This may be condensed into the following pithy meaning for this card:

If you don’t trust your future self to act properly, make a Ulysses Contract with yourself now.

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Note: Each of these pithy Tarot meanings is just one facet of its card. Find more of them on my Card Meanings page.  Also, get my Pithy Tarot eBook or the FREE app that uses my pithy Tarot meanings … and LIKE my Pithy Tarot Facebook page!

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