I would suggest that the number 8 in the Tarot tells of focus and power. Confidence and self-esteem can correlate to the degree with which we can manipulate the outer world. The Eight of Pentacles and Eight of Wands depict assured women who know their craft and their path. Their attention is singular, focused. The Eight of Swords and Eight of Hearts on the other hand tell of hesitance. Held back by inner doubts or unalterable reality, their path is not so assured. They gaze outward as if pleading for help from above. For them applies the lesson of having faith in one’s own power and being able to acknowledge limitations and letting go.
Eight of Hearts – Sacrifice
Amidst a wintry landscape, a woman weeps of heartbreak and hopelessness. Her tears, like fallen leaves, fall into the frozen river below. This scene creates feelings of helplessness in the viewer; no action we take can dry this woman’s tears.
Unique amongst the cards, the Eight of Hearts depicts the act of crying which even the Three of Swords, the card of sorrow, does not contain. Why is this so? Many theories have been posited for why humans cry, but I am most convinced that weeping is the expression of helplessness. It is a social act meant to arouse empathy and draw support from others when we cannot help ourselves. In weeping, we return to the time of our infancy when we depended on others for all our needs.
Ironically, a good cry can make one feel better, as if all the stress and sadness were released with the tears. Crying signals the beginning of recovery; it is the act of “letting go” of the inner emotions which translates into letting go of real world issues, hence the sacrifice. For the Eight of Hearts reminds the reader that beneath that frozen stream, life endures. The ice and snow will melt come Spring.
Eight of Pentacles – Craftsmanship
A girl regards the brick wall she has constructed for her garden. With patience and attention to detail, the girl has ensured the flourishing of her garden, but her attention is not directed towards the fruits but toward her labor.
The Pentacles suit as a whole speaks of work and reward. The Eight of Pentacles tells of work that in and of itself IS the reward. This card tells of someone who is planted firmly in the present and not in the past or future. This is the point where work and play seamlessly merge.
This state of perfect focus and concentration is not readily accessible. Still I know it intimately when I work long hours on jigsaw puzzles or read a classic into the dimly lit hours.
Eight of Wands – Signals
A young girl rubs her hands together, creating a spark that ignites the flower at her feet. From the rising smoke, emerge eight beams illuminating the way.
This card reminds me of Shadow of the Colossus. In that game, the location of the titans were concealed, but raising the sword into the sunlight generates a beam guiding the wanderer to his destiny. As the player draws closer, the beam intensifies and excitement, barely contained, mounts with the second.
The card tells you to ride forth along the opened way to meet with fate. Power divine is already within your grasp.
Eight of Swords – Indecision
A woman stands erect, paralyzed, clutching a sword to her bosom as if in prayer. She is trapped within a thicket of swords. Although the tool to escape lies within her grasp, she does not act, unsure of the correct course to take.
Depicted in the Eight of Swords is another sort of helplessness. If the message of the Eight of Hearts was to let go of things beyond control, then the Eight of Swords speaks of deliberation Although the proper decision may require some time and thought, fear and doubt should not be allowed to hold one back forever. Life must go on, and faith in oneself will guide through even the densest obstacles.