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Don’t Fence Me In: Boundaries and Restrictions in Tarot

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This Tarot Blog Hop had a musical inspiration: the Gene Autry song “Don’t Fence Me In.” After listening to the song, I decided to consider which tarot cards speak to me of restriction and boundaries and which symbolize exploration and new horizons.

Tarot cards that make me feel fenced in 

The Eight of Swords from the Brady Tarot.

The Eight of Swords, for sure. Although it’s largely a self-imposed restriction or imprisonment, when you’re trapped in false beliefs or patterns of overthinking? Hooooo, boy. It sure feels icky. And breaking those patterns or moving beyond those boundaries isn’t always easy.

But there’s good news. Easy, no. Possible? Absolutely.

The Eight of Swords is telling you to open your eyes and reconsider your situation. Your perception may not reflect reality. If you can recognize this and accept that the boundaries and restrictions that may have protected you in the past are now holding you back in unhelpful ways, you can change and grow. That’s why I didn’t freak out when the Eight of Swords came up in a recent reading I had with Emi Brady, creator of the Brady Tarot. I love her take on this card: The blue jays are mobbing the bird of prey–and even though he could easily fight them or fly away, he stays and takes the abuse, letting himself be held captive. Mob your false beliefs. Confront them and drive them off. Next time you find yourself in an Eight of Swords scenario, be the blue jays–not the hawk.

The Devil also speaks to me of imprisonment–though this card represents more powerful obstacles than the Eight of Swords. The Devil is a scarier foe: we may not have the strength or resources to fight the barriers he represents. They’re bigger, fiercer, more complex. Mental Illness. Addiction. Abuse. Trauma. Discrimination. Ugh.

Tarot cards that make me feel free to roam

The Six of Swords from the Dark Days Tarot.

If the Eight of Swords is all about self-imposed boundaries, for me, the Six of Swords is the antidote. Sayonara, stupid limitations! I’m leaving you for greener pastures and new ways of thinking. I really enjoy the image of this card in the Dark Days Tarot… no looking back. Just paddling off to new possibilities. The Eight of Cups has a similar vibe, although the card represents different feelings and emotional patterns as opposed to new ways of thinking.

There are a few majors that spur my sense of adventure as well: The Fool and the Chariot. I love the sense of possibility associated with the Fool. Limitless potential — what an amazing gift! The Fool doesn’t care about boundaries; he’s entirely unaware. They don’t apply to him. Think of how good it would feel to live with zero self-doubt.

While the Fool has a gentle optimism, the Chariot feels more decisive and deliberate. You’ve made a decision and you’re moving forward. You’re on a MISSION. There will be PROGRESS. The Chariot energy is powerful stuff–obstacles be damned. Roll right over them. You got this.

What’s your take on boundaries and freedom in the tarot? Which cards make you feel free versus restricted?

Check out the ways other tarot bloggers interpreted this blog hop’s prompt:
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9 thoughts on “Don’t Fence Me In: Boundaries and Restrictions in Tarot

  1. I like you idea about 6 of S antidote… I’m going to log that in my head for further consideration….

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this. I love your reading on the eight of swords!

  3. Your choices are all great examples. If I were to add anything, I guess the Knight of Wands and Eight of Wands come to mind for movement and getting going. And one of my favorites, the Page of Wands, who I think is always excited to start on an adventure. As to restriction, 8 of Swords definitely.

  4. I appreciate you sharing the illustration and meaning of the Brady Tarots’ Eight of Swords. . .wise words: “. . . be the blue jays not the hawk.”

  5. I love the Eight of Cups because sometimes you just gotta leave all that baggage behind and MOVE ON! Yes! I love that Eight of Swords card. What a beautiful message.

  6. Really enjoyed the Brady Tarot Eight of Swords as well. We actually see this scenario play out almost daily here in rural Oregon. The Jays and crows often go after the hawks and intimidate them. You would think the hawk would be more aggressive, but often, no.

    I focused on the freedom in some of the more restrictive cards in my post; I’m glad you too a different route and brought up the freedom of the Wands, Chariot, and Fool, and especially the different vibe between Fool and Chariot; I need to remember that for my readings. 🙂

  7. I love your approach to the 8 of Cups and 6 of Swords! 🙂 It is time for me to look at them via a more positive filter, too. Thank you so much for your post, Jenn!

  8. Yes! I do find the 8 of Swords a very restrictive card, I’ve always been on the fence about the Devil card, mostly because it depends on what surrounds it. However, in saying that I have as yet to see anything good come out of that card.

  9. The VIII of Swords is one of my favorite cards in the tarot deck because it reminds me that restrictions are created by perspective, in the mind, failuring to see solutions. We might not have a lot of control over what happens in the world around us, but we have total control over how we perceive the world around us, how it makes us think and feel.

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