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8 of Cups and the Path of Purpose

“Someone needs to tell those tales. When the battles are fought and won and lost, when the pirates find their treasures and the dragons eat their foes for breakfast with a nice cup of Lapsang souchong, someone needs to tell their bits of overlapping narrative. There's magic in that. It's in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict. From the mundane to the profound. You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone's soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift. Your sister may be able to see the future, but you yourself can shape it, boy. Do not forget that... there are many kinds of magic, after all.”

― Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus

It’s a funny thing how some Tarot cards are more accessible than others.

Sometimes we can automatically get the gist of the card’s emergent message and at other times it is a little more difficult. I see from my own path that a card will reveal itself cognitively when we are ready to appreciate what it has to say. Our consciousness has to be tempered enough to be able to resonate with the depth and the richness of the card, at this moment engaging with the symbolism and the energy becomes a participatory event.

These insights come from experience.

As our understanding of the world we live in created from our life experience grows, so does our Tarot know-how. In light of this we begin to realise that a Tarot card will become clear when we have the ability or consciousness to take the meaning on board and it actually begin to mean something. This is why Tarot can be a lifelong journey and one never stops learning! With each passing year comes a fresh interpretation or insight. The best advice is to be patient and go with the flow. We forget how much we actually do process and then that magic moment comes when a penny drops and we feel enlightened, a special feeling as if something exquisite has been revealed to us, this is soul food.

A card that took me a while to grasp is the 8 of Cups. I call it the life purpose card.

For me, when this card turns up it is a reminder that we are on a life path, a soul journey and nobody can walk that path but us. We might have all the supporters in the world but none can do the walk. It is we that must put one foot in front of the other and trust that we synchronous with an aspect of destiny. We face the unknown, the uncertain and the inconsistent. Our major challenge is letting go and moving on…humans are not always very good at this.

We like to create attachments.

Our ego encourages this bonding to things, places, situations, even people in the vain hope that our identity somehow belongs. It is however very good for the soul to be occasionally cast into wild frontiers of our personal wilderness in order to catch up with self and to explore what we are here to do.

This 8 asks us to leave the past behind.

It makes us wonder if we have the courage to move on fully and wholeheartedly, to allow this passage into a future to be part of our story. We all have a story.

We find ourselves in this 8 because we are motivated by something that didn’t work, loss, grief and happenstance. A chapter must soon open and as a result of rejecting the past we find ourselves face to face with the truth of our own destiny. We are reminded that if we keep avoiding what we are here to do we will be cast back on our path like a fish being thrown back in the water.

Here we see separation from something that we deeply loved but a mysterious journey begins.

This journey takes us deep into the psyche, an old skin is shed. It is for us to feel the joy of illumination but it is more likely that we suffer the disappointment of a lost comfort, a disconnection and an overwhelming sense of insecurity. Walking the path of purpose can be isolating; a new perspective must be envisioned.

With the death of our everyday ego comes a rejection of the ‘normal’ world. A time of being alone is indicated in this space one can reconnect to their own natural rhythm, we can reflect on the flow of cycles and to view the idea that from death comes creation.

In the RWS deck we see the stack of the 8 Cups but something seems irregular about the stack.

The pattern is not perfect. Do we run away when something is less than grand? Our lesson maybe to understand that things are not perfect. Is the perfection of something the actual goal or is it more that we have to learn to accept, warts and all? The intellect has to come to terms with the domain of the emotional and a communication could transpire between conscious intent and unconscious mystery.

The 8 of Cups is about a journey. Whether the vehicle be meditation, imagination or ritual, the darkness leads us to a place of light form which we can’t undo but only ever, as a result of knowing, keep moving forward.


Take your 8 of Cups and try out various combos. Don’t forget to have your pen and jotter ready to make notes.

When working with your combos think of key words for each card and then key words for the combo. What does their energy feel like? Does any life experience come to mind? If this was advice for a friend what would it be?

What is the story the combo is telling? Here are some pairs to get you started.

8 of Cups with:
  • Death

  • The Tower

  • Judgement

  • The Emperor

  • Ace of Pentacles

  • Temperance

  • The Devil

  • 7 of Wands

  • 2 of Cups

  • The Moon

These are but a few. Add new key words or insights as you go along and most importantly of all, have fun doing it!
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