8 of Cups

Alt names: Indolence, Departure
Keywords: Longing, dissatisfaction, quest, departure, withdrawal
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Range of meanings

Light: Wanting something better. Blazing your own trail. Realizing there must be more to life. Leaving an unhealthy situation behind. Starting your own business. Going on a retreat. Seeking the “still, small voice.”

Shadow: Being implacable. Finding fault. Nitpicking. Refusing to settle down. Running away from problems or confrontations. Saying, “It’s my way or the highway!” Harping on past mistakes and disappointments. Threatening to quit as a strategy to get your way.

Questions to ask

  1. In your own life, what do you need to walk away from? What new experiences or insights might you gain from doing so?
  2. What risks are inherent in starting over? What would be lost? What benefits might you gain from a fresh start?
  3. What do I need to leave behind once and for all?
  4. If I left in search of “more,” what would I be looking for, exactly?
  5. How might a retreat enhance my perspective or provide closure?


Personal Growth: As children, we ridicule “quitters.” As adults, we need to realize the time does come to throw in the towel. In your own life, what habits or attitudes need to be abandoned, cold turkey? Don’t think of it as quitting; see quitting as a step toward a new beginning.

Work: Threatening to quit is never productive. Dedicate yourself wholeheartedly to a task…or move on without fanfare. A persistent feeling that “something’s missing” should tell you something. Know when to say “No!” to overbearing bosses.

Relationships: If a relationship fails to supply what you need, consider looking elsewhere. Occasionally, a little time apart can restore perspective and reveal true character. Don’t be afraid to be alone; it’s okay to be your own person.

Spirituality: Consider the value a retreat might offer. Spend time alone in nature. By stepping outside of your daily routine, you automatically heighten your awareness. When you return to your every day world, you’ll see it with fresh eyes.

Fortune-Telling: Someone’s “stepping out” on you, now or in the near future. Maybe it’s time to quit talking about the problem and just move on.


Astrological: Pisces

Planet: Saturn

Fool's Journey: The main character finds his or her everyday life suddenly unrewarding. They set off to find their destiny.

The Number 8: The Action: movement, outer work.

Cups: One of the 4 suits of the tarot. Also sometimes called vessels, or chalices. Represents intuition, spirituality, affection, and motivation. As a suit marker, Cups suggest receptivity: they are vessels, waiting to be filled. Cups have long been associated with divination (remember the uproar caused when Benjamin stole King Joseph’s cup?) and, by extension, intuition.

Stacked Cups: The RWS-inspired versions of the 8 of Cups frequently depict eight stacked Cups, arranging to emphasize the ninth cup’s absence. This missing cup must be found.

Content generously licensed from Mark McElroy via TarotTools.com.