Eight of Cups Tarot Card Meaning

By Charrette Vachon

The Eight of Cups can signify change, transition, outgrowing situations, departure, and emotional intelligence. Astrologically, the Eight of Cups is associated with Saturn in Pisces. Saturn, ruler of Capricorn – the authoritative workhorse of the zodiac – juxtaposed with sensitive, imaginative, escapist-tendent Pisces, framing a contention between practicality and idealism. As such, it gestures to the necessity of balancing the two, finding a solution that can satisfy both purpose and dreams.

  • Element: Water
  • Planet: Saturn
  • Astrological sign: Pisces
  • Key dates: February 19 – 28

Visual Elements and Symbolism

A figure is shown with their back turned to eight full cups in the foreground. The cups are stacked off-center, indicating that the figure has only just left the cups moments ago. The placement of the cups also suggests that something is missing from the picture. The number eight signifies abundance and fulfillment, yet the figure is turned away from this bounty, signifying dissatisfaction with their circumstances and the desire to seek new opportunities for growth and fulfillment. The figure is headed towards mountains in the distance, representing new challenges ahead.

The Sun, representing the mind, and the Moon, representing intuition, are combined in the sky. This indicates a tug-of-war between the head and the heart – should the individual be content with the comfort of familiarity and bounty they have in front of them, or venture into parts unknown to pursue emotional fulfillment, broader horizons, and new perspectives? The mountains in the background of the card beckon to the figure, representing rewarding challenges to overcome. The figure is drawn to the mystique of the unknown and the potential of new experiences it offers. Walking alongside the water’s path, the individual is following its flow toward new prospects and possibilities.
It is nighttime, prompting them to be guided by the light of the moon – following instinct and intuition.
The figure is garbed in a red cloak, signifying the ability for manifestation, and carries a supportive walking stick, an indication of wisdom and guidance.

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What Does The 8 Card Mean In Tarot

The Eight of Cups as a Person

This card represents someone who is unfulfilled by their current circumstances and questioning a significant life change (likely in a personal relationship). The individual may be experiencing stagnation in a situation or relationship, and as a result has chosen to seek change in perspective and opportunity. Something has prompted them to perform a critical assessment of their circumstances and make a purposefully considered change to their trajectory. This card can indicate someone who feels they are inhibited by their circumstances, or someone inhibited by their own lack of confidence – fear, doubt, indecision, uncertainty, or a lack of self-esteem are preventing their ability to make progress towards their dreams or desires.

The Eight of Cups Upright

In this orientation, the card tells us that the querent has decided to distance themselves from a situation or relationship. It is not a decision that has been made lightly, but it is for the best – there is a sense of loss with this card, in the sense of temporary sacrifice (perhaps only perceived), in order to attain a better outcome. Feelings of indecision, doubt, and uncertainty may nullify any benefits of a situation to the querent, or impede achievement or success.

Love & Relationships – In a love relationship, things may be petering out, and one or both parties have come to the conclusion that withdrawing is the long-term solution. If the querent is single, the Eight of Cups could signify a departure from old circumstances and the beginning of something new. The figure may be a victim of self-limiting beliefs or other negative thoughts and emotional patterns. It is a gentle encouragement for the querent to assess and adjust their attitude to a more positive and secure orientation.

Career – this card can represent challenges, obstacles, or stagnation in one’s career. In this case, the only way out is not through – it requires a detour, or perhaps an altogether about-face. It can be a signal that it is time to seek new or alternative opportunities.

Money – representative of a financial situation, the Eight of Cups can indicate financial difficulty due to circumstances not entirely within one’s control. Exercising prudence in these matters can set the course for quick correction. It can be helpful to consider the meaning of any cards in the suit of Pentacles that appear with the Eight of Cups in a spread, for further interpretation.

Health – Negative circumstances are affecting one’s health, be it physical or mental (or both). The querent should be an active participant in their own health.

The Eight of Cups Reversed

Oriented in reverse, this card can prompt the querent to consider what they may be refusing to let go of, which is ultimately not in their best interest. They may be tempted to consider the situation intellectually, but this card suggests it may rather be best to “go with the flow” of instinct.

Alternately, it could show a situation where the querent has failed to see the blessings and abundance in front of them, instead choosing to focus on the allure of greener pastures or the angst prompted by looming challenges. The individual may have outright rejected what a situation has to offer, refusing to see or believe what good things they have going for them, or could be indulging in escapist tendencies.
It could also indicate abandonment and confusion as others hastily move on from a partnership or situation, as well as uncertainty and restlessness.

Love & Relationships – In these situations, this card implies one may be holding on to a relationship for the wrong reason: fear. If the querent is single, this card can reflect that behavior based on a lack of confidence or fears of being alone is pushing potential romantic partners away. It is important to address these feelings of self-doubt in order to move forward.


Again, fear of change is at play here. The figure may be settling for less than what they desire. The Eight of Cups challenges them to take a leap of faith in order to improve circumstances.


Hand-in-hand with career choices, this shows that the instability caused by leaving or changing a situation or dynamic will translate into one’s finances. However, it is a temporary situation, and earnest follow-through will pay off.


Here, the Eight of Cups centers on the individual’s participation in their own health, and role in making changes for the better, whatever that may be.

Past, Present, Future

In the ‘past’ position of a spread, the Eight of Cups expresses a situation that has impacted your current self. It could indicate that instead of addressing potential conflict directly, one instead chooses to leave a situation or move in a different direction.

When representing the ‘present’ position in a spread, the Eight of Cups sheds light on a situation that requires an important decision to be made regarding a relationship or partnership. Indeed, the querent has likely already made a choice and has only to follow through with their decision.

When situated in the ‘future’ position of a spread, this card can represent a warning to alter one’s current trajectory – staying the course will lead to burnout and exhaustion, without bringing the querent any closer to their goals and dreams or fulfillment. It could also possibly portend a period of travel or exploration, whether it be physical, mental, or spiritual.

Important Card Combinations

The Eight of Cups often represents difficult choices, and the cards it appears with can offer additional clues to discern the appropriate course of action.

Eight of Cups and The Fool

The Fool and the Eight of Cups bear several metaphorical similarities.  Both of these cards can represent the initiation of a new journey or taking a new direction in life. They both can represent an individual’s comfort and familiarity in a life situation, and explore the promise of potential by stepping into the unknown.  Appearing together, this can indicate that the path one is following (or forging, as it may be), offers more benefit, appeal, and excitement. However, to others, the decision may appear to be opportunistic or otherwise ill-considered.

Eight of Cups and Ace of Cups

The Ace of Cups can portend emotional fulfillment as well as cause for celebration, particularly regarding a love relationship. Paired with the Eight of Cups, it represents leaving a bad situation (perhaps one where the querent is not valued or appreciated) in favor of a better one, finding happiness and contentment in a new relationship or creative pursuit.

Eight of Cups and Five of Pentacles

The suit of pentacles represents material possessions or belongings, and the primary principle of the Five of Pentacles is loss. Combined with the Eight of Cups, this can imply poverty or financial hardships due to the instability caused by leaving a situation or setting out in a new direction. However, in many cases, the card is more representative of the fear of financial or material hardship rather than true loss. It could also suggest that one has been forced to sell or pawn some possessions, or will need to soon.

Yes or No

This card can represent vacillation in a choice – a tug-of-war between fear of change, the comfort of familiarity, and the desire for more. Overall, the association of negativity, inhibition or avoidance, and dissatisfaction identified with the Eight of Cups indicates a ‘no.’