The Eight of Cups is the ultimate walking away. It’s finally achieving everything – all the goals you’ve created for yourself have been accomplished, you’ve made it to where you thought you wanted to be, and recognize that this isn’t what you wanted after all. This walking away is very powerful. It’s the ultimate courage to give up everything you’ve worked toward and having faith in yourself and the universe to walk away from something you know isn’t right.
This is an emotional ride, symbolized by the water throughout the card. Walking away is a very difficult decision – the figure is climbing rocky terrain, but is deliberate in turning his back on the cups and walking away. The waning crescent moon in the background indicates a period of release or deep reflection. The full moon combined with the red jacket and boots are indicative of this powerful transformation. The walking stick the figure carries is an indication that he will have support in this decision – the support of the universe. Eights are all about movement. Contrast with the Eight of Wands which was all about quick movement forward, in this case, this is a deliberate movement in the opposite direction.
Upright: After a great deal of hard work, we accomplish what we set out to achieve only to realize the achievement wasn’t as fulfilling as we expected. This is a deeply spiritual and emotional card. The only other time in the cards where we see a face in the sun or moon is in the Major Arcana Sun and Moon cards. This is the ultimately walking away, letting go of material possessions and generic achievement for something even more powerful. It’s a recognition that greater joy lies outside the present circumstance. It’s hard to walk away, but necessary to find our greater purpose.
Reversed: While the 8 of Cups in the upright position indicates a clear walking away, when the card is reversed, it’s an indication we’re confused about what to do. The fear of walking away after so much success is more intense in the reversal. That fear is getting in the way of what we know we need to do. In order to find that greater meaning in our lives, we need to walk away from what doesn’t serve us. Staying in our present circumstance will only lead to greater dissatisfaction in the long-run.