The Card of the Day: The Eight of Cups (Reversed)

“Seeking your authentic self.” 


The Eight of Cups represents taking the journey within, to the realm of your authentic feelings. Periodically you must go deep within yourself, to hear your Spirit, and reclaim strengths and abilities you forgot you possessed. Although the journey inward is of great value, it rarely feels easy to begin embarking on it. It is often accompanied by a period of depression, feeling crazy, or the sense that you've hit a patch of “bad luck." The Eight of Cups reminds you that you've probably made a similar journey before, just prior to a deeper revelation about yourself. Your instincts will once again, be your best guide.

When you are quiet, do you hear the call of your authentic self? Do you seem to go through periods of confusion, depression, or seeming "bad luck?" How has your life improved in the past, as a result of listening to your heart?

The man on the card is reminiscent of the Hermit. He is taking a journey alone, staff in hand, returning from the realm of water and shadows. He is walking toward the sea, representing his deep unconscious feelings. These feelings were not acknowledged in his daily life and were acting up in strange ways. At first thought he was crazy… then just unlucky. Finally, he realized his authentic feelings were not being respected or acknowledged. He wasn't being true to himself.

The moon is eclipsing the sun in the picture.  Thoughts about what he should do, or be, to gain the acceptance of others in his daily life (the sun), are now being eclipse by his instinctual self (the moon). At long last he has the courage to go within and reconnect with his real feelings. His authentic feelings are now his best friends, giving him depth and wisdom to persevere.

The moon has been associated with the instinctual since the dawn of humanity. It elusively pulls at our awareness, and yet it is easy to dismiss and ignore (just like our instincts). The Latin word for moon is la Luna, where we get our word "lunatic" from. If your instincts are chronically ignored, they can make you feel crazy. Like a neglected child, unheard emotions will "act up," if they are habitually ignored. This often manifests as periods of bad luck, sadness, imagined illnesses, or times where you feel utterly lost and powerless. Returning within will help you reclaim your authentic self and arm you with the ability to set everything right again. This journey can only happen alone, and in the dark places. The darkness is where the potential for healing happens.[1]

The Eight of Cups appears to remind you to let your instincts guide your path. The very fact that you are reading a tarot book demonstrates that you have the courage to listen to these unconscious feelings. The unconscious speaks in the language of pictures, myths, and symbols. Instincts do not adhere to the laws of a logical, organized, and rationalized world. Your deeper instincts can feel messy at times, and very confusing if you aren't used to acknowledging them. And yet, they must be acknowledged if we are to find our way through the barriers that thwart our progress (symbolized by the craggy rocks on the card).

The Eight of Cups is an image of deep healing. If you listen to your instincts and they will give you the power to overcome previous blockages. You can then return to the land of the sun with profound insight; less burdened and free.


When the Eight of Cups appears reversed calls you back to nature…your nature. You may have forgotten how to decipher the message being whispered to you through the rustle of leaves. The Eight of Cups highlights the inevitable feeling of hollowness that accompanies immersion in the artificial. All that glitters may not be gold. Sometimes the lessons of this card are revealed in a person or position you may be placing on a pedestal at the expense of yourself. Admiration is one thing, but believing you are “less-than” because you haven’t impressed this person or that, is just another way to hurt yourself.

The Eight of Cups reversed puts you into contact with the mental barriers you erect to tune out your deeper feelings. Sometimes this card can even highlight being in a state of denial. Have you been distracting yourself from the deeper call within? Plasticity will no longer cut it.

Your authentic self is calling back. It cannot be found in the external world of ego, position, image or validation from others. This card often appears when things seem to be "off," and may be accompanied by melancholy or even depression. When these feelings set in, it's usually a sign that some deep part of you is feeling neglected, and not heard. When it is not acts up.

Take the time to seek quiet. Bravely turn your attention inward, to any place within your heart that feels empty, insecure or unfulfilled. Self-investment will fill this empty place, not the attainment of something “out there.”

Breathe into your center and breathe out all the shallows that really don’t matter in the end. Gently turn your awareness inward and ask your heart what it really needs right now. It is the core part of you that has been on your side and rooting for you through your whole journey. The depth within you is repelled by the inauthentic. Be real. Take the time to acknowledge what you really need to feel whole. It won’t be a person, position or thing. You encompass far more.

If this resonated with you…

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[1] Jamie Sams and David Carson, Medicine Cards: Revised, Expanded Edition (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999), 245. The Black Panther totem featured in this deck alerts us to the healing potential found in the darkness of the unknown places within.

Elliot Oracle