In-Depth With The 8 of Cups

"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 person with their 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 uncomfortable.

By 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." And furthermore, 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 unscathed as possible on the other side.

8 of Cups from the following decks: Cosmic Tarot, Fountain Tarot, RWS Radiant Tarot

8 of Cups from the following decks: Cosmic Tarot, Fountain Tarot, RWS Radiant Tarot

But the 8 of Cups doesn't let us off that easy. The 8 of Cups is like the Tower introverted because it doesn't demand anything; only urges or nudges us to make the connection, to find the things that aren't working, and to make active strides to move away from them. On top of that, the 8 of Cups doesn't make any fancy promises about where we're going to end up! It simply asks us to to move forward with faith, even though 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 that you need to move on to completely different terrain with the hope that it will yield what you want and need? On top of that, you're travelling on foot so it will probably be exhausting. And the path isn't clear cut, so you may get lost. Ultimately, there are a ton of variables involved in the forge forward and probably, those have evolved into excuses to keep you stuck.

To help illuminate what we have to learn from the 8 of Cups, I asked a series of questions and sat with the energy of the card to arrive at some possible answers based on my understanding.

What is the lesson behind the 8 of Cups?
There comes a point in our lives when we need to seriously reevaluate what it is that fills us up and brings us joy. The 8 of Cups creates a moment of pause so that we can assess what it is about our current situation that isn't working. There is no need to continue to pour energy into this thing and essentially, it's time to move on (no pressure though, this isn't a forcing of the hand). The 8 of Cups is like a ticket to the next stage of the journey and permission to walk through that gate. It simple states: “You've given enough now”.

But why can't we see the end destination?
Sometimes we'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 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. And while it may not be evident 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 more about the end destination, you may find the answer there.

What will help me on the 8 of Cups journey?
Look to the imagery on the card from the deck you're working with. The 8 of Cups should contains clues that allude to the fact that intuition is the ultimate guide. It is often depicted under moonlight, and the moon symbolizes deep knowing, intuition, dreams, emotion and that which lies beneath the surface or in the dark. You don't need the sun to see what's going on around you - seeing comes from a different place, in this case. In some depictions, the character is shown with a walking stick. The walking stick can represent will and determination, and the 8 of Cups asks that we lean on this when the going gets tough. And yes, the going may get tough, which is why we see a person walking through rocky terrain and not being air lifted first class on a private jet (or via train or what have you). Luxury/comfort is not the point.

What's in those cups that are being left behind?
The cups are a symbol for feelings, emotions and dreams that have already come to pass. They represent what was, even though it's technically still found in the present on some level. If you'd like, you can continue to engage with them, pretending that they contain more than they do. The thing is though, your higher self always knows and will continue to poke and prod even admidst any ignorance/denial that exists.

What else is there to consider when the 8 of Cups shows up (especially repeatedly)?
It's rarely a surprise. It doesn't generally pop up in a reading and catch the seeker off guard. Like, "Oh, I had no idea something in my life was off". No. Generally, when it shows up there is already an awareness, even if it's an uncomfortable one. It can also be an acknowledgement of the difficulty and pain sometimes associated with transition, but it doesn't take that pain lightly. It shows you a path, provides a bit of light and most of all, asks you to turn to yourself and place your trust within (kinda Hermit vibes, no?). 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 want and need.

So when the 8 of Cups shows up for you in a reading, it's time to take an honest look at what's working or conversely, not. 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!

Happy travels!
Julia Eve