The Eight of Cups

Third-to-last week of Pop Tarot, second to last guest post plug, last Cups card. On Friday, you get a guest post from my very wonderful oft-referenced sister and first tarot teacher, Bex Shubert. We talked about this card for an hour the other night, and it’s extremely cool how our interpretations are both divergent and harmonious, ioho.

Your mother wouldn't approve/ Of how my mother raised me/ But I do/ I think I do. In the Six of Swords, something was wrong, and you had to leave, and so you did. It was the leaving that mattered; the rest you’d figure out when you got there. The Eight of Cups is also about a journey, but this time it’s a journey to somewhere more than a journey from somewhere. In the Eight of Cups, you’re ready to move on. Something is calling you. Probably it’s something specific, like a new home or a new name, but it could be more abstract, like a new way of being in the world. When you pull the Eight of Cups, you’re being asked to be brave. Your future is there, and it means leaving your past behind, and that’s fucking scary. There are echoes of Death and The World. But also, your future is there! You weren’t ready before, but you are now. After the Eight of Cups comes the Nine (personal happiness) and the Ten (happiness in community). It’s time for you to start the process.


Killed myself when I was young/ With my fingers on a poison gun/ ‘Cause I had to come back new. I have a speech prepared for when people tell me that they’re considering hormones or surgery but are feeling conflicted, and it goes like this: you’re going to lose something either way. Stasis isn’t safe. It’s just easier to abdicate responsibility when you can pretend your choices are something that’s happening to you, as opposed to something you’re doing. (I say it more gently than this.) (Most of the time.) For me, loss is inherent in the Eight of Cups. Even if the thing you’re moving towards is absolutely perfect for you, even if you are completely ready to leave where you are now behind, you’re still not going to have something that you had before. That will always ache. But not all aches are bad aches. Sometimes, it’s nice to be reminded that you have a body.


She sang, bless your soul you crossed that line/ To Ohio/ Bless your soul you crossed that line/ To Ohio/ All the way to/ Ohio. A thing that I always forget about the Eight of Cups is that you actually have to, like, make the journey. In the traditional Rider-Waite deck, we see a figure walking along the edge of a river. Mountains are ahead. They are moving away from eight cups, which are stacked unevenly. (A common reading of the Eight of Cups is as abandonment or withdrawal.) It’s easy to forget about the journey part because it’s like not as important as the decision-making or the things you’re leaving or heading towards. 

But the forgetting can also happen because the journey is the most unknown and unknowable part of this whole thing. The Eight is very much about recognizing your own agency. When I think of a journey, I think of a road trip. (I can’t help it, it’s who I am.) One of the things I love best about distance driving is that there are no shortcuts, not really. Of course, you can speed, and possibly take actual physical shortcuts, but Ohio is 220 miles long. The Eight of Cups is a reminder that even after you’ve put the down payment on the new house and had your goodbye party, you still have to drive the U-Haul.


Your Best American Girl, Mitski

Killed Myself When I Was Young, A.A. Bondy

To Ohio, The Low Anthem


Pop Tarot will end in May so I’m not going to advertise subscription anymore, but get in touch any time for a tarot reading, tarot tutoring, or if have any questions, and you can tip me at @james0ctober on Venmo and Cash App and at jamiebeckenstein at gmail dot com on PayPal. Be safe, watch TV. <3