“Your hand opens and closes, opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralysed. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as birds' wings.” ― Rumi
This week's Tarot card of the week comes from the suit of Cups. Cups hold the water element, which governs feelings and emotions, love or the lack thereof. The heavy emotions of the Cups bleed into many realms, and it is quite simplistic to just say emotions. Cups govern intuition, artistic pursuits (music, painting, poetry, sculpture), psychic abilities, spiritual pursuits, cycles, ebbs and flows (think the tides). The heart rules over the head with Cups, and thus its issues govern this eternal grappling between logic and emotion.
The Eight of Cups has much going on in its symbolism. We see a man crossing water away from eight cups balanced upon each other. He holds a staff and wears red. He travels toward mountains. In the night sky, a full moon and the waning moon watches him leave. He does not look back or show emotion in the slightest, or if he doesn, we cannot see. He travels onward.
Eights reign the balance, success and power realms of the Tarot. In the Major Arcana, Strength appears as the Eight Card, showing a woman of infinite wisdom petting a lion, or rather the balance between her emotions and intellect. We see a different kind of balance here, but the same tug of war between what we have and what we desire. Our first indication that balance is out of whack is the placement of the cups in the foreground. We have eight, a balanced, even number, but divided five and three, showing a lack of balance. We need some rearranging for symmetry. Other Tarot writers see this as a missing cup; however you see it, it is about not being balanced, not having all you need for fulfillment. It is no mistake that Pamela Colman Smith chose to present the cups with this imbalance. This is precisely what the man is walking away from. His attempt at balance have failed. He has rearranged the Cups, and cannot find what is missing, or how to balance them. It is the best he can do. Red, symbolizing the material, has not been enough to fulfill him. He wants more. Often this more is emotional, creative, and spiritual. The Cups urge us to that place. So, this man might be leaving his family, or his job, but he is opting for more, and more than likely, it is his soul path. He may have been working a 9a-5p desk job, but he can no longer ignore the fact that he was born to be an artist, or musician. Or his wife and he might have a perfectly civilized relationship, but there has never been a spark of love and intimacy.
The moon cycles tell us something about his life as well. His life was once full, as the moon was once full, but it is not waning, or decreasing. His material life is not fulfilling him any longer. He is ready for find new purpose, new significance to his pursuits. One thing we have to remember that he is searching for balance. Money often has these bad connotations in spiritual circles, but money is an exchange of energy. The pursuit of the Eight of Cups is to find a balance in the exchange of energy. What he is giving no longer matches what he is getting whether that is with work or his relationship, or a friendship no longer serving his Highest Good. I'm using the pronoun He here, but of course, this is a unisex card. It deals with anyone not fulfilled in some way.
The Eight of Cups is also a moving card, one of two, that can be pulled to indicate the Seeker might be moving house. (The Six of Wands is the other moving card.) We often say, for both those cards, it is the Moving Card or the Moving On Card. This card often comes after a long grappling on whether this move is right and correct for the Seeker, it is not an insistent or impulsive card. it often comes after much soul searching, it is why the man on the card doesn't have to turn around. He knows exactly what he is leaving and why. When one is ready to move on, this card appears. When this card comes for someone in the Seeker's life, it is important to emphasize that this is not about them, but about the soul searching of the other person. This is a card not to take personally. It is about the individual, not what they are leaving, but what they are walking toward. Mountains always suggest stability--both the situational stability and the stability of the Seeker.
When you pull this card in a romantic question, you can probe deeper. Is the Seeker in a rut? Fulfilled? Thinking about leaving? Is the creative energy stifled? Of course in work situations, the same applies. There is promise here of better horizons if one moves on, so if the Seeker is asking the question if this is the time to move on, then the answer is yes. In the Reversed position, this card indicates enjoying family, friends, parties. it can indicate a new relationship after leaving an emotionally unfulfilling one. It tends to be an extroverted type of card in the Reversed (whereas the upright position suggests solitude for self-contemplation and soul-searching.). There is flirting, fun, dating, new loves and lots of social gatherings. It is the period after moving to moving on and enjoying life again.
Hope you enjoyed this interpretation of the Eight of Cups. Please put any questions in the comment section, or any comments about your interpretation of the Eight of Cups.