All is mystery; but he is a slave who will not struggle to penetrate the dark veil.
Appearing here for only the fifth time in fourteen years, the Eight of Cups arrives brimming with mystery and power.
Interesting that it follows last week’s visit of The High Priestess, behind whom the veil of Mystery beckons, and who accompanied us across the gateway of Solstice and the Cancer New Moon.
In her classic work, Seventy Eight Degrees of Wisdom, Rachel Pollack names the Eight of Cups as one of the Gate cards. Whether by the use of geometrical patterns that stimulate the brain in mysterious ways, or simply because of what she calls “The Strangeness,” the Gateway cards open up levels of information not intellectually understandable.
Several years ago, one of our Tarot Meetup members, Dana, showed us his mathematical insights to this card’s “gateway” patterning.
As you can easily see in Pixie Smith’s depiction, there seems to be a cup missing from the neatly stacked cups in the foreground. The cloaked figure (one of the few people in the Rider-Waite-Smith deck of ambiguous gender) is positioned in the missing space, walking away.
What Dana noticed is that the negative space is a hexagon, the six-sided geometrical figure. In many numerological interpretations, six is the number of love, communication, sincerity, and enlightenment.
Above in the sky, in a harmonious balance of nearly identical size, is the circle shape. The circle is a symbol encompassing all space and time, divine unity, and the Goddess. It is also the enso of Zen which represents elegance and enlightened fulfillment.
And of course it is the symbol of the sacred wheel of life/death/rebirth.
So here, in a most subtle form, we are invited to feel (rather than explain) what the figure may be seeking, the “gateway” through which he or she has passed, all watched over and blessed by the presence of Divine Mystery.
The Cups, of course, are about our dreams, emotions, love, moods, and intuition. And all of the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot’s eights hearken back to the Major Arcana eight – Strength. So we see someone who has summoned the courage to move and take action, regarding those concerns.
Turning from the methodically placed cups, he or she has crossed the river, and holding a staff that may remind us of The Fool, cloaked in passionate red like The Magician, the choice has been made. The heart seeks what it must find, though the journey be hard, and no promise of the result is clear.
A Liminal Time Out of Time
While it appears that this is a night scene, a closer examination of the somewhat odd orb in the sky reveals that this is actually an eclipse, with the Moon’s inner awareness overshadowing the Sun. An eclipse is, itself, a Gate, a time between, when Mystery’s song to us may be clearly discerned.
Thus, the underlying understanding comes from the hidden, or unconscious realms, rather than overt, mundane reality. This is a crossroads, a brief doorway of magical time and space. It offers a time out of time, through which one may slip.
What has this voyager decided to release? And more to the point, what is it time for you to leave behind?
Have you ever gotten something all arranged, in perfect order, only to realize there is an ache in your heart that it does not satisfy?
This is what happens when relationships or success look good on paper, but do not meet your truest desires.
In what area of your life has a necessary emotional depth been missing?
What discontent nudges you to leave your comfort zone? Do you dare walk away from what has been safe and secure, trading it for this deliberately solitary path?
A gateway is opening, and you would be wise to listen to your heart’s promptings.
Are you being asked to find your courage, perhaps to turn away from whom or what does not truly inspire you? What mysterious longing summons you to leave behind what you have known, before the cups can be spilled and ruined?
By your own volition, you are now free to leave behind the fullness of your experience, without waiting for it to turn bitter, dry up, or be dramatically dumped out. It appears this is a choice you have been coming to for a while, though you may not be able to say what exactly you seek instead.
The itch in your soul that lures you away from the safety of your carefully lined up situation is perhaps inconvenient, and possibly baffling to others. But fearing to penetrate the veil of that which is haunting your dreams can keep you chained to a life you do not love.
Your path is calling to you, but do not delay. You can now leave behind what you know in your heart is finished, without regrets.
May your journey into the mystic be blessed.