The gap between the cups represents what is missing in this woman’s life. Despite being enough for some, the 8 of Cups represents a longing and need for more. In order for her to feel complete, she must go in search of what she feels she doesn’t have. It’s likely that she will not return to this stack of cups again.
In the distance we see a city. Is this where she is headed? Probably. But in order to get there, she must travel through rougher terrain. She knows that her journey will not be an easy one.
This card comes up when we are not satisfied and know we have to leave a situation, person or place. Often, what we choose to leave looks secure to others. The stack of cups might symbolise the marriage which appears secure on the outside or the ridiculously-well-paid job which your mates envy you for having but which bores you rigid. Sometimes, the gap is something which only the person being read for can see.
In a pair, we can sometimes see what the woman in this illustration is walking towards by which card sits next to it. Let’s imagine that she is joined by the 9 of Pentacles.
The 9 of Pentacles is a card of abundance and personal achievement in the material and physical world. This combination could arise when someone decides to leave a ‘good’ job and go it alone. This would be a profitable pair, should the 9 of Pentacles sit on the right, because it depicts where she is headed. It could signify a need for independence and a good lifestyle earned by one self.
What about if the lady in the 8 of Cups was walking towards the 5 of Pentacles? This would be a less fortunate coupling, since the 5 of Pentacles represents physical difficulties and hardship. Even though there are blessings and teachings to be found in the most difficult of places, this is not a card which anyone would willingly walk towards. When a combination such as this arises in a reading, it presents a warning. The cards do not suggest we abort our mission, but they could advise us to suspend it until the timing is right or we’re better prepared for an uphill journey.
© Steven Bright Tiferet Tarot 2014
Illustrations by Steven Bright