8 of Cups: Tarot Card Meaning

By Lauren Williams
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8 of Cups Keywords


  • Personal transition
  • Spiritual journey
  • Seeking deeper meaning
  • Disillusionment
  • Escapism
  • Abandonment
  • Solitude
  • Letting go


  • Confusion
  • Fear of unknown
  • Fear of abandonment
  • Walking away prematurely
  • Hopelessness
  • Returning to old love
  • Dependency
  • Ignoring intuition

8 of Cups Essential Meanings Snapshot


In the upright position, the 8 of Cups speaks of a poignant moment of self-discovery or realization that propels an individual to abandon what’s familiar in search of greater meaning or spiritual enrichment. Often, this card indicates a choice to leave behind relationships, jobs, or situations that no longer serve, in favor of the unknown.


The reversed 8 of Cups suggests a struggle to let go, or fear of moving forward. It represents a situation where an individual may be reluctant or unable to leave behind what no longer serves them. This might stem from a fear of change, attachment to the past, or comfort in the familiar, despite the dissatisfaction it brings.

8 of Cups Description

The 8 of Cups tarot card depicts a lone figure, shrouded in a red cloak, venturing away under the light of a waning moon. His back is turned towards the eight cups stacked in front of him emphasizing the act of leaving something behind.

A man walks away from 8 golden cups as the 8 of cups tarot card.

The cups signify emotional ties or commitments, and their organization in an orderly manner suggests that this is not a hasty decision but one that has required contemplation. The figure’s deliberate steps take him towards a rugged mountain path, indicating the challenging journey ahead.

The scenery is painted with a palette of deep blues and blacks, giving an impression of night’s tranquility and introspection. Simultaneously, the moon shines high, adding to the spiritual undertones of the card, and suggesting the guidance of intuition on this journey of abandonment and starting anew.

Beyond the Surface: Symbolic Meanings

Tarot cards hide layers of meaning within their intricate imagery, and the 8 of Cups is no exception. Each element tells a unique story, inviting the seeker to peel back the scenes and uncover deeper wisdom.

  • Abandoned Cups: The eight cups, once full, now deserted imply disillusionment, disappointment, or loss, but towards finding something better.
  • Mountainous Landscape: The rugged terrain is symbol of the challenges and difficulties that lie ahead but climbing it suggests a worthwhile journey of self-discovery and personal growth.
  • Moon: Sign of duality and the subconscious, it illuminates the darker paths and represents our anxieties, hidden fears, and inner turmoil.
  • Walking Away: The figure is leaving something behind, showing a necessary withdrawal or detachment for growth. It suggests acceptance, moving on, and choosing better things.
  • Cane: Emblem of support, demonstrating the resources we have in our journey. It could indicate spiritual guidance, inner strength or support from loved ones.
  • Cloak: Representing protection and concealment, it emphasizes the need for self-care and also shields the figure from past mistakes, reinforcing the theme of moving on.
  • River: The flowing water symbolizes the flow of life, emotions, and suggests the acceptance of change and continuation of life’s journey.

The symbols ensure a rich tapestry of stories that resonate deeply within us all.

Dual Perspectives: Upright & Reversed

Upright or reversed, the 8 of Cups in a Tarot deck holds potent messages about search and discovery, each manifestation offering distinct insights.

Upright 8 of Cups

In its upright position, the 8 of Cups depicts someone embarking on a transformative journey – a voyage of self-discovery. He has chosen to abandon what’s comfortable and secure in favor of pursuing greater, spiritual truths. This card often pops up when one is urged to push boundaries, step away from the familiar, and explore unchartered territories. It signifies a soul’s yearning for growth beyond the material, towards the realm of the spiritual and the unknown.

Reversed 8 of Cups

Oppositely, when the 8 of Cups is drawn reversed, it’s expressing the difficulty or hesitation in embarking on this journey. Here, fear of the unknown and attachment to comfort zones hinders our path towards spiritual growth. It can also indicate returning from a spiritual journey, perhaps disillusioned or disappointed but ultimately wiser. The reversed 8 of Cups still carries a deep spiritual message: it beckons us to learn how to balance our spiritual quests with practical realities, ensuring we don’t abandon essential parts of our lives while seeking higher truths.

8 of Cups in Life Scenarios

In Tarot readings, cards manifest their significance depending on the situation. The 8 of Cups can offer profound insights when applied to diverse real-life scenarios.

Growth & Self-Discovery

When the 8 of Cups emerges during a reading centred around personal growth and self-discovery, it signals a transformative period. You might feel a profound yearning for deeper meaning or the need to leave your comfort zone for greater spiritual development. The card can point to a phase where materialistic desires are replaced with spiritual endeavours.

Career & Creativity

For readings focused on career and creativity, the 8 of Cups lends itself to a myriad of interpretations. At its core, it suggests a moment of reevaluation and introspection. Maybe you’re with a business that no longer aligns with your values or perhaps your current role is not fostering your creative expression. In such instances, the 8 of Cups might suggest it’s time to abandon what no longer serves you to pursue a path more attuned to your personal fulfillment.

Relationships & Bonds

Within the context of relationships and bonds, the 8 of Cups often reflects a journey towards emotional release and rediscovery. It might emerge when you find yourself clinging to a relationship that has run its course or when you’re seeking deeper emotional connections. It calls for emotional courage, asking for letting go what is not for your highest good and moving forward with hope.

To read more about the 8 of Cups in the context of feelings, read our 8 of Cups as Feelings article.

Choices & Life Decisions

In aspects like decisions and life choices, the 8 of Cups emphasises the vital nature of emotional authenticity and personal truth. It may be signaling that an impending decision requires you to leave behind the familiar and venture into the unknown. It urges you to choose a path aligned with your deepest truths, even if it means leaving behind what is seemingly safe or comfortable. This card also indicates that it’s time to release old patterns, making way for a new perspective on your life journey.

To read more about the 8 of Cups when making decisions, read our 8 of Cups: Yes or No article.

8 of Cups from Past to Present

The 8 of Cups is a powerful card in the tarot, and it has a rich history of imagery and symbolism. Throughout the centuries, the images portrayed on the card have evolved, yet the underlying message of the card remains consistent.

Visual Evolution

From the Marseille Tarot decks of the 18th century to the modern Rider-Waite deck, the visual representation of the 8 of Cups has undergone significant transformation. It typically depicts a figure walking away from eight cups, signifying the ability to leave behind what no longer serves us.

In older decks, cups were generally stacked in an orderly fashion. This represented a settled life or situation, emphasizing the disruption caused by departure.

Modern tarot decks, such as the Rider-Waite deck, present the card in a more detailed and symbolic way. The cups are often disorganized, sometimes with a gap, hinting at the dissatisfaction felt by the figure walking away.

Historical Significance

Historically, the 8 of Cups symbolizes a journey of self-discovery, not necessarily physical but often spiritual or emotional. From its roots in medieval tarot to its contemporary interpretations, the 8 of Cups consistently embodies the concept of moving on and emotional growth.

During the Renaissance, the card was often related to the idea of pilgrimage or religious quest. Later interpretations in the 19th and 20th centuries tied the card more closely to emotional introspection and self-exploration. Today, this card signifies moving on, seeking deeper meaning and ultimately, transformation and personal growth.

Synergistic Card Combinations

8 of Cups and the Sun

The combination of the 8 of Cups with the Sun is a signal of a positive transition. The 8 of Cups’ theme of moving on pairs with the Sun’s optimistic and joyful energy, suggesting that the decision to leave something behind will lead to a brighter stage in life.

8 of Cups and the High Priestess

When you see the 8 of Cups alongside the High Priestess, it often carries the message of following your intuition. Leaving the familiar behind (8 of Cups) requires deep introspection and trust in one’s inner voice (High Priestess), highlighting the necessity of inner guidance in your journey.

8 of Cups and the Hanged Man

The Hanged Man coupled with the 8 of Cups reflects a time of voluntary surrender and waiting. As the 8 of Cups speaks of the need to move on, the Hanged Man points out that this might need to involve some sacrifices and periods of inactivity or contemplation.

8 of Cups and the Death

The duo of the 8 of Cups and the Death card signifies a transformative period. The leaving behind symbolism of the 8 of Cups combined with the Death card, which symbolizes an end, suggests a period of major transformation or the end of a significant phase in life.

8 of Cups and Five of Swords

When the Five of Swords appears with the 8 of Cups, it warns of potential conflicts or strife on the horizon. This combo underlines the necessity of moving beyond egotistical battles and to embrace acceptance, even when victory seems within reach.

8 of Cups and Wheel of Fortune

This tarot combo implies a drastic change heading your way. The 8 of Cups’ theme of moving on combined with the Wheel of Fortune’s unpredictability suggests that you may have to adjust to abrupt shifts and take decisive actions to make the most of the current situation.

8 of Cups and the Empress

With the 8 of Cups and the Empress card together, one is encouraged to nurture themselves and embrace self-love. It emphasizes the importance of self-care and valuing your personal growth while moving away from current satisfaction towards potentially better opportunities.

8 of Cups and the Four of Wands

When the Four of Wands accompanies the 8 of Cups, it signifies that the departure will lead to a successful outcome. It hints at a celebratory moment or a peaceful transition into a new home or lifestyle, which comes after the brave decision to move on and chart a new territory.

Introspection & Meditation

Embarking on the spiritual journey spurred by the 8 of Cups involves significant introspection and meditation. This tarot card encourages personal examination and reflection – unearthing deep emotions and feelings as you traverse life’s many paths.

Meditation Practices around 8 of Cups

Meditation, when linked with the 8 of Cups, aims to cultivate peace and understanding as you leave behind matters that no longer fulfill or nourish your spirit. Consider meditating in a quiet, tranquil space where you focus on the imagery of the 8 of Cups – eight filled cups being abandoned in pursuit of a higher purpose. As you dwell on this image, allow any associated emotions or thoughts to flow freely, granting you insight into your own life and the things you might need to abandon for your self-growth.

Self Reflection and the 8 of Cups

Self-reflection, a crucial aspect of introspection, allows you to thoroughly examine and gain understanding of your feelings, thoughts, and actions. In connection with the 8 of Cups, contemplate about the aspects of your life that no longer serve your present self or align with your future goals. This introspective process nudges you towards making significant decisions that honor your growth and healing, echoing the journey symbolized by the 8 of Cups – a journey of self-discovery, letting go, and moving forward.


The 8 of Cups in tarot symbolizes a profound journey of self-discovery, urging individuals to leave behind what’s familiar in pursuit of greater spiritual truths.

Visually, the card shows a cloaked figure departing from eight cups, indicative of emotional ties or commitments, with a backdrop that conveys introspection, challenges, and spiritual guidance.

Depending on its orientation, it either emphasizes moving forward with conviction (upright) or highlights hesitation, attachment, and fear of the unknown (reversed).

What Next?

Explore more insights with our detailed guides:

Lauren holding a crystal ball in her hands.


Lauren Williams
Lauren merges ancient wisdom with modern insights, offering a fresh perspective on life's mysteries. She's passionate about guiding individuals through the world of astrology, lunar cycles, numerology, and tarot. When she's not charting the stars or reading tarot, she enjoys getting out in nature, hikes and yoga.