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The 8 of Cups and the Art of Letting Go

‘’Waking up to who you are requires letting go of who you imagine yourself to be.’’ Alan Watts


I have been around the proverbial spiritual block a few times and I have discovered that no matter what your creed or belief system, no matter who you deem to be a great master, they all have one thing in common, the encouragement to simply let go. Yet, it is so hard for us to let go.

I think it is one of the most difficult but rewarding of our life lessons and it seems we all have to learn it, to let go.

It is the nature of the human ego to cultivate attachments. This I feel is the ego representing itself in the physical world, the empowerment of the ID. Whatever we bond with, whoever and why, so we form attachments to validate the self. This world is all about self, our inner reality, the true reality externalises itself, shaping the exoteric world we physically inhabit. The outer world is but a phantom of our inner landscape. This inner landscape is an ever changing, dynamic and pulsating canvas of rhythm, pattern and form. It is part of our purpose to bring this form into consciousness, to realise the idea - and then let go. When it is externalised we can then move onto the next thing, that next lightening flash of inspiration that creates a new vibrational paradigm.

As we go through life we are in a perpetual state of growth, moving through various levels of consciousness.

If we hold on to outmoded levels of being then we dull our resonant vibration and we can’t bring to us that which is needful or relevant for our life. It’s a bit like the film Groundhog Day, a constant return to what was and the new and the better is but a blip on the horizon.

The ability to let go comes from a wise and deep relationship to self. In this relationship we are able to see that change is an inevitable part of life and to trust that change will bring us to where we should be.

In other words it all starts within.

I love the painting by William Holman Hunt, ‘The Light of the World.’

It is not unlike the Hermit card as its symbolism depicts reflection and contemplation. However, we can see master Jesus stepping out through the door but the door has no handle and can only be opened from inside. This represents our mind or thinking; it indicates we should open up our mind to the possibilities and potential yet to be discovered that allowing change to happen will bring.

We can ask: does Jesus know the world he is stepping into? Is he embracing the unknown? Is he alone?

These are questions we ask of ourselves as we go through the fluctuating nature of our being. We illuminate our outer existence by the desire and courage to grow and move forward. That is ultimately what letting go is all about…to move forward.

‘’Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go.’’ Hermann Hesse.

The 8 of cups is a fascinating card. It urges us to move on. In the imagery we see a figure facing forwards, their back against what is behind them. The upright cups represent that as we move forward we are not without power as we take all that we are and what we have achieved with us.

Nothing is ever wasted.

Perhaps we are being reminded that nothing is ever random, everything we do can be seen as a progression, when we look back we can see the reason for our actions and how it interfaces with the present and how it may shape the future.

This 8 also shows us that humans are wary of the unknown.

This attitude shows up in the death taboo, our fear of transition is from the ego not being able to image in the state of being in the light. It can’t form an attachment to it so death is discarded as unstable and to be denied. Yet we die all the time or at least our ego does! We are in a constant state of transformation and rebirth. We let go all the time but when it filters through to the conscious mind that this is so, we shut down and hold on.

The 8 of cups is about becoming aware that you alone are responsible for your own life path, no-one but you can walk it.

This can be a very solitary feeling, we have to trust that every step we take moves us forward to something better. But sometimes that future is unclear and uncertain. So by looking ahead and not behind we will reach a point of fulfilment and greater awareness perhaps a dream or project will come to fruition, but we move on we must!

I have found that there are four stages to moving on.

Firstly we have to understand where we are and how we got there, what is it that has happened to us? Then we have to forgive all that has been challenging and difficult, mostly within ourselves. Forgiveness is so liberating and is crucial to release and is intrinsically intertwined with self love, which is another of our great lessons.

Then we let go. Letting go is easier once we have gone through the process of forgiveness (everything is a process, right?) Turn your back on the past, breathe courage into your heart and try to see the bigger picture, only then can we move on, we can’t move anywhere until we have let go.

So, this card asks us have you got the strength and the confidence to move on. If not what is it that is truly holding you back. Tarot is a mirror and we glimpse into it we see our honest reflection.

We could see that the 8 of cups encapsulates all that Tarot might be. It is a messenger of transformation and rebirth, cycles of life, the need for balance in all things, hope and courage as we come into consciousness and our divine self at work as we walk our path.

To move on is to walk in accordance with the universe. When we do that she can conspire with whatever is in our heart and hopefully we can lead meaningful and rewarding and magical lives.

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