"We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us." - Joseph Campbell
There is something unsettling about the 8 of Cups. Maybe it's because it's been stalking me for a solid year. Or maybe it's because whenever it shows up, it's a stark reminder that I'm still the fellow with his back to one life, though not fully entrenched in another; a kind of sort of between two worlds type of feel. Before I speculate on the true nature or intention behind the 8 of Cups, I first need to come to terms with why it makes me feel ill at ease.
In contrast, when I see the Tower, I often think, "Ok, looks like some devastation ahead but it's totally necessary and ultimately cleansing so, let's do this." But, with the Tower, there isn't necessarily anything to do. The Tower is a force all its own and often assures us that even if we stay static, the world will fall around us and it's more or less out of our hands. All we can do is embrace the transformation and try with all our might to come up as clean and graceful as possible on the other side.
But the 8 of Cups doesn't let us off that easy. The 8 of Cups is like the Tower introverted. The 8 of Cups doesn't force anything but it urges and nudges us to make the connection, to find the things that aren't working, and to make active strides to move away from them. But on top of that, the 8 of Cups doesn't even make any fancy promises about where we're going to end up! It just tells us to get moving and have faith, but the path ahead looks dark and treacherous (depending on what deck you're working with) and so, there's a choice, and it's an uncomfortable one.
Do you stay with the old familiar, the Devil you know? Or do you acknowledge that something about the present isn't working and accept, blindly, that you need to move on to completely different terrain with the hope that it will be what you want and need. On top of that, you're travelling on foot so it will probably be exhausting. And the path looks questionable, so you may get lost. Ultimately, there are a ton of variables and reasons to not accept the path ahead, but of course we know we have to if we want to progress, and so the choice is now less a choice and more a kick in the butt.
To help illuminate what we have to learn from the 8 of Cups, I decided to channel an interview with the energy and essence of the card. I've asked some questions below and following are the responses I received or arrived at.
What are you here to teach us?
There comes a point in our lives when we need to seriously reevaluate what it is that fills us up and brings us joy. I like to create a moment of pause for people so that they can assess what it is about their current situation that isn't working. There is no need to continue to pour your energy into this thing and you're at a point, spiritually and emotionally, where it's time to move on. I'm like your ticket to the next destination and your permission to walk through that gate. You've given enough. You've done enough. You are enough. And now it's time to anchor yourself into something that will give you the happiness you desire.
But why can't I see the end destination? It always looks so dark and ominous. What gives!?
Sometimes you're not meant to see what's next and sometimes what's next is undetermined. What you are asked to do is have faith that at the end of it all, you will have learned valuable lessons and be in a better place on many levels of experience. Often the road ahead and the change in direction is challenging, and sometimes it's best to go in a bit blind. If we knew how hard it was going to be, we might never set foot. Difficulty and challenge should never be the barrier to taking the next positive step in your life. As well, while it may not be evident with me where you will end up, you can always look to the other cards in the reading to help illuminate this, if you're meant to know the destination, you may find the answer there.
What will help me on this journey with you?
Look to the imagery on the card from the deck you're working with. I often have hints and clues that allude to the fact that you're intuition should be your biggest guide. I am often depicted under moonlight, and the moon, as we know, often symbolizes deep knowing, intuition, dreams, emotion and illumination. You don't need the sun to see what's going on around you, all you need in your own gut instinct and sense of knowing. In some depictions, the character is shown with a walking stick. The walking stick is your own will and determination and you will need to learn to trust and lean on this when the going gets tough. And yes, the going may get tough, that's why you see a person walking through rocky terrain and not being air lifted first class on a private jet to the next destination (or via train or what have you). The point is, you don't get to travel with much stuff, but you have everything you need.
What's in those cups I'm leaving behind?
The cups are a symbol for feelings, emotions and dreams that have already come to pass. They now represent what was but rest assured, they are hollow and contain nothing to sustain you emotionally or spiritually. You can continue to engage with those cups, pretending that they give you something, but your higher self knows much better and will continue to send you hints and clues in the form of gut feelings! Where you are headed, might not be a physical destination, but on the other hand, it may be! What it definitely is, is an emotional journey and cleansing. I am here to rid you of the empty chalices that now just hold you down and keep you energetically heavy. You may mourn them momentarily, as empty as they are, and that's okay. As long as you aren't fooling yourself to think that there is anything left of substance there. Delusional thinking in this respect will only keep you held back and stuck longer than necessary.
Any final words of wisdom?
When you see me, you probably already do know. What I mean is, I don't generally just pop up in a reading and catch the querent off guard. Like, "Oh, I had no idea something in my life wasn't fulfilling me. What a surprise. I feel totally wonderful and content!" No. Generally, when I show up, there is already a self awareness and sense of knowing. Even if the querent can't put their finger on it, even if they're still in the stage of processing things and especially if they are dealing with a reluctance to make the move forward. I show up and I grant you permission, as I said earlier. I'm the nod that reassures you that what you were thinking and feeling about an area of your life is okay and correct and it is time to move beyond it. I acknowledge the difficulty, the pain sometimes associated with such movement, but I don't take your pain lightly. I show you a path, I provide a wee bit of light and most of all, I ask you to turn to yourself and place your trust within. You are fully equipped, strong enough and wise enough to take the journey forward and when you do reach the other side, you'll have 9 new cups waiting for you, filled to the brim with all the stuff you really need and want.
So when the 8 of Cups shows up for you in a reading, it's time to take an honest look at what's going on around you. I'll leave you with some parting journal prompts for when you want to dig deeper.
-What is it in my life right now that isn't fulfilling me in the way it did or in the way I thought it would?
-Why am I clinging to this?
-Am I afraid to move forward and if so, why?
-What will I lose by giving up those empty cups?
-What do I stand to gain by giving up those empty cups?
-If I could make one change in my life right now, what would it be or what would that look like?
I hope that this in-depth will help others who maybe struggle with the 8 of Cups. If nothing else, it was certainly cathartic for myself to get some of my thoughts out on this card that's been following me for ages now. If there is a card that you've been struggling with or would like to see an "in-depth" on, comment below and maybe I'll make a series of this!