The Eight of Cups shows a figure turning his back on eight full cups of water to venture alone towards the heights of the mountains. Perhaps he is distracted, whimsical or lazy and wasting the opportunity for joy, connection or spiritual intuition that is sitting right in front of him. Or maybe he is turning away from the inner world of emotions and instead pursuing the material rewards of the external world of the five senses.  

The somber looking moon suggests that it is a somewhat dark, moody or “lost” period, yet the traveler’s bright red outfit and the fact that he is walking upward to higher ground signify that it is a period of mental or spiritual ascension. This card may symbolize foregoing the familiar and ordinary, getting out of one’s comfort zone, which will bring deeper understanding about one’s self and the world at large. You may be undertaking a new course of study in a particular sphere of knowledge, or this card may represent a literal journey or travel you will soon embark upon.

If not a literal outer journey, this card can signify an inner shift, and often an ending of some kind. You may be turning your back on an activity or situation that used to give you joy and happiness. You may be right or wrong to do this— perhaps the opportunity is still there, or perhaps your destiny really lies in distant lands. This card can in a more literal way symbolize the escapist tendencies belonging to the metaphysical element of Water which the Tarot suit of Cups symbolically embodies. In readings, the goblet-like Cups can in some cases literally represent alcohol, and this card may indicate a person disappearing into the oblivion of drink, or, alternatively, the successful rejection of the temptation to drink, depending on the situation and the other cards present.

Often this card is advising you that it is time to leave some aspect of your life behind. This may be a lover, spouse, job, dream, habit or physical location. You may already know and accept this, or you may have long been fighting this change. The time has arrived. Nothing lasts forever, and it is time to move on.

Astrological Association:

The Eight of Cups card is connected to Saturn (World) in Pisces (Moon).

Card meanings upright:

The Eight of Cups card represents a time of turning your daydreams into realities in your life. You may need to let go of some things in your life in order to pursue a dream that is deeply spiritual and satisfying to your soul.

Card meanings reversed:

When the Eight of Cups card is reversed, it can indicate that you may have given up on a dream and surrendered to an uncomfortable, loveless, and miserable reality for someone else. You may be feeling like you’ve stopped growing, and are lost in the world while battling feelings of shame and guilt.


The Eight of Cups card can represent an upcoming change in your work life that will make you happier and more satisfied. If you are feeling bored or unappreciated in your current job, now is a good time to think deeply about the specific steps required to change your work situation by improving your current position or seeking out a new opportunity.


The Eight of Cups card can represent the end of a long-term relationship in your life. If you feel very certain about ending a relationship, then waiting for the right time may prove more detrimental, as there is truly no perfect time to tell your partner that your relationship has come to an end. If you are ending a relationship, you may need some time and space for yourself before you can move forward with a new love interest.


The Eight of Cups can represent a time of change through careful planning in your career. If you are unhappy and unfulfilled in your current job, now may be a good time to consider a carefully plotted and organized change in your employment. If you have been wanting to start your own business and work for yourself, you may need to invest time in planning before you make the leap.


The Eight of Cups card may represent the need for solitude and reflection in your spiritual life. You may need to take some time and spend it alone to hear the depth and wisdom that you inner voice is trying to share with you.

The Gilded Tarot Deck by Ciro Marchetti © 2004 Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. 2143 Wooddale Drive, Woodbury, MN 55125.  All rights reserved, used by permission.