Eight of Cups
Function: Emotions, love, spirituality, imagination
Twilight is setting in, and the Moon and the Sun are meeting, looking down in sympathy at the man walking away from the eight cups standing at the front of the picture. He walks up rough terrain, surrounded by water. Where he’s going is uncertain, other than simply away from the cups. The cups are stacked in a group of five and three. Three cups are a celebration of gain, and five cups are sorrow at loss. Both the sweetness of gain and the bitterness of loss are in balance.
The man is keeping his head up, so we know he’s not in sorrow. In fact, he’s wearing red, the color of passion, and dark green pants, the color of life, muted. He’s going to be okay. In fact, he wants to move on. He’s using a walking stick, which looks like a wand. He’s got the motivation and the drive to just get away from it all and start over. It looks like he has a journey ahead of him, but he’ll be following the water, symbolizing his spirit and emotion, and forge a new, natural way.
The cups are neatly stacked in a group of five and of three, not spilled, not even filled. It’s as if the man stacked them up before he left them, perhaps to leave them neatly for someone else, perhaps as one last hurrah before he walked away.
The Eight of Cups is not about loss but about letting go. Seriously: what could the man do with eight cups? Is he really going to carry them all around in the darkness of night, as it sets in, as he’s all alone? What sense does it make to carry around all these cups? Thus, the Eight of Cups is about leaving behind one’s emotional baggage. The thoughts, feelings, and memories that keep up stuck in the past and unable to move on can simply be abandoned. No, there may not be anything to take their place, but maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe what matters right now is that there is separation, a lightened load, and the decision to break up and make room for new things ahead.
When the eight of cups is Reversed:
When the Eight of Cups is reversed, the querent refuses to move on. They may be forced to leave something behind, but they either refuse to emotionally let go, or they refuse to walk away from it even if it doesn’t do them any good to stay.
The Eight of Cups reversed can also mean that the querent is moving on, making a messy break. They’re not sure if they want to leave, but they’re doing it anyway. Of course, they may not have a choice in the matter, because they’re the one being left, or because of a disaster or some other circumstance that forces them to move on against their will or before they’re ready. They may be drifting away without a clue as to where to go or what to do next.
In a three-card reading, this card means…
Past: In the past, the querent cut their losses and left something behind to change the course of their life, which has brought them to the present moment.
Present: Currently, the querent has come to a decision to cut their losses and leave something behind in order to go into the future without it.
Future: In the future, the querent will make a decision to sever something in their life, leave it behind, and go into the future without it.