2 & 8 Of Swords: Blind Devotion (c) Cheryl Lynne Bradley 2006
"They who have put out the people's eyes, reproach them for their blindness" John Milton
The Two and Eight of Swords in the Tarot present us with images of a person, usually female, wearing a blindfold. In the Two of Swords the blindfolded woman is sitting with her arms crossed, holding two swords but in the Eight of Swords she is bound with rope, blindfolded and stuck firmly in place like a prisoner by eight swords. Both women are usually in a kneeling position and both share an aspect of waiting. The blindfolds are reminiscent of the traditional white head band worn by nuns which represent self-denial and the abandonment of worldy concerns and things.
Traditional interpretations allow that these ladies are both being hoodwinked - fooled by their beliefs or illusions. One waits for more information in order to see her way out of the situation she is in and one is in need of a timely rescue. They both need to open their eyes, in other words, wake up and smell the coffee. I prefer to think of both of them being prisoners of love or impossible circumstance and blinded by devotion, a kindly term for co-dependency. It could also be that they have both enacted or are seeking some form of revenge and their quest of an eye for an eye is leaving them blind. It represents the disease of our eyes or of our heart which is causing our inability to move forward. It also represents the intimate and most private aspects of our lives being driven by powerful desires, impulsive actions or obsessive and compulsive behaviours, that are seeminly beyond our control or comprehension. We have invested before we properly investigated. This blindness can be temporary or permanent. It can also refer to inner vision or deeply reflective thinking.
St. Matthew 15: 14 "Let them alone; they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch."
Their blindness could either be a medical condition or their circumstances. It can symbolize a refusal to see the reality of ones own life or situation, or the truth about people we are putting our faith and trust in. Blindness in a religious sense can represent the ignorance of spiritual knowledge and understanding or religious doctrine and dogma while the blindfold can represent teh darkness of the soul. In ancient Biblical times, blind or lame people were not allowed to become priests and blind animals were not allowed to be sacrificed, the belief being the only "whole" people could carry and share the Word of God and only "whole" animals were worth of sacrifice to the Almighty.
Dreaming of blindness can indicate that you are overly introverted or have retreated into yourself, and your life is suffering because of your introspective and contemplative nature. It can also be a sign that someone will be asking you for financial assistance. Dreaming that you are blind is telling you that a great change is going to overtake you which could take you from the height of success to the depths of poverty. It can also be a very straightforward warning to watch out for deceit among those people who you trust the most. A blindfold in a dream is telling you to reexamine and reevalute your plans and your motivations. It can also indicate an uncomfortable conscience.
The blindfold is a symbol of disempowerment, it as clear and obvious a symbol of branding or bondage as was the scarlet letter worn by Hester Prynne in Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter". This was the symbol of her blind love and devotion both to her daughter and to the father of her daughter, Pearl. It was the price she paid in protecting his identity.
"Giving up her individuality, she would become the general symbol at which the preacher and moralist might point, and in which they might vivify and embody their images of woman's frailty and sinful passion. Thus the young and pure would be taught to look at her, with the scarlet letter flaming on her breast, … as the figure, the body, the reality of sin."
There are superstitions which surround blindness as well. It is thought that meeting a blind person on the street is a sign of good luck and that this good luck will be doubled if you help the person cross the street or in some other regard. It is considered very unlucky for a bridal party to meet a blind man on the way to the church. In the Middle Ages, Death was often depicted artistically with a blindfold. This represented Death's blindness to social status, wealth or position - Death is a great equalizer and plays no favourites.
We all know that a blindfold is used to prevent you from being able to see, We have all played play Pin the Tail on the Donkey or other party games which use a blindfold. Blindfolds or sleep masks are used when we are trying to block out light in order to sleep. Blindfolds can also be used as a form of sensory deprivation and victims of kidnappings, imprisonment or torture are often blindfolded to prevent them from knowing where they are or who they are with. Blindfolds or sacks are also used in executions to cover the face of the condemned.
The blindfold, which we associate with the symbol of earthly Justice the Greek Goddess Thetis (Themis), symbolizes impartiality and fairness in the modern legal system. She was viewed as agoddess of wisdom and wise counsel. It was also her task to interpret the will of the gods. She was a Titan, daughter of Gaia and Ouranos, and mother of Dike, the goddess of human justice. Originally the blindfold on Lady Justice was meant to suggest that the courts were blind to the abuse, cruelty and injustice imposed in the name of justice. Justice was supposed to be blind to corruption and undue influence, to judge on proper facts, and to ignore any personal influences of individuals before the court or their representatives. It was supposed to represent Justice being dispensed and served without fear or favouritism. Some think the blindfold represents the foolishness of mankind, that we have placed the blindfold over the eyes of Justice through our own folly. The blindfold over Eros' (Cupid) eyes symbolizes chance.
Light can seep through a blindfold or we can peek about its edges to catch a glimpse of what is around us. Sometimes the blindfold is made of very sheer material, more like a veil representing and offering an unknown but still accessible level of truth. When we are approaching these cards the symbolism of the blindfold is strongly significant. It suggests to us that we may be participating in or contemplating some course of action or relationship which really goes against our own principles and belief system. It can represent a secret of our own that we may be consciously or subconsciously holding back. It could also represent a secret about our significant other or object of our blind devotion which we really aren't ready to know yet.
If we rip this blindfold off, the mystery which has been plaguing our psyche will be revealed, for better or worse. If we only loosen the blindfold temporarily we may be able to withdraw from the situation with only minor embarrassment for the foolishness of our misplaced loyalty, duty or obligation. We should not view this blindfold to be a symbol of mourning or grieving but as a sign of annoyances, disappointments and misplaced attachments which have us temporarily stuck or oppressed. This isn't about being afraid of being blinded by enlightenment, it is about blocking out illumination of things that we just aren't ready, willing or able to see yet - just another one of those wonderful things that make us all so human. On the other hand, they could be going on a blind date.