In the minor arcana, the meaning of the number 8 depends on the suit. In the Suit of Wands, 8 is all about swift movement, whether literally, as in travel, or figuratively, toward reaching concrete goals or the realization of subconscious dreams.
|Robin Wood's Eight of Wands|
|Kris Waldherr's Eight of Staves|
|Barbara G. Walker's Eight of Wands|
Barbara G. Walker is sort of a throwback to the Middle Ages when everybody was dying left and right and you were lucky to get through the day without bringing out your dead or having your crops die of blight or getting whacked upside the head by a lord's cudgel. She does have a point, however. Sometimes, when things move too fast, or we push too hard, or have too much pride, we end up falling off our Pegasus (Pegasi?). Eight of Wands reversed, or upright in the Barbara G. Walker Deck, can indicate poor planning or excessive pride, like that of another famous wing-clad mythological figure, Icarus.
The keyword for Eights of Pentacles (or Coins) is learning.
Reversed Eights of Pentacles may represent an unwillingness to learn or work. It could also mean unrewarded or unacknowledged work.
Eight of Swords indicate entrapment, restriction, and oppression. However, the questioner should look closely at the cards.
Robin Wood's Eight of Swords shows a woman bound and blindfolded, marooned on a small strip of land, surrounded by eight swords. Again, the card shows a path. It is a narrow path. The questioner may have to grope his or her way out of this. There probably will be stumbles, and the questioner will feel helpless. However, the water on the sides may not be as deep or as rough as the questioner imagines. In fact, it rarely is. The path is there, and it is smooth. Go slowly and be gentle. Reversed, this could indicate very rough times ahead, in which case the other cards can be consulted for advice, or, it could mean that the rough times are ending. Use your intuition.
Kris Waldherr's deck shows Isis, the wife of Osiris, deep in despair as she tries to find her murdered husband's body so she can bring him back to life. If she stands, she can see that the swords are not unmaneuverable; she can tiptoe her way out of them. It may be, however, that she (and the questioner) may need to rest and have a good cry before she gets up and work their way out of the challenge that is bringing her such despair.
A battle-weary, weather- beaten crusader sits astride a gray horse, a symbol of death, on Barbara G. Walker's Eight of Swords. The shadows of the swords on the sand form the shapes of crosses, a symbol of death and loss (like grave stones). Is the crusader grieving his fallen comrades, or does he feel guilty? Look to your intuition, the other cards, and, if you are the questioner, your own feelings.
The key words for the Eight of Cups is disillusionment, disappointment, letting go, and moving on.
The girl on the Celtic Deck's Eight of Cups card tearfully flees a man in the background, running past eight cups artfully stacked. Her frustration and anguish is apparent.
Robin Wood's Eight of Cups shows a man leaving behind eight golden cups to venture out into the great unknown. The mountains, symbolic of enlightenment, are shrouded in mists of uncertainty, but he is not deterred. The Eight of Cups may indicate frustration and disappointment, but it may also show something wonderful coming to replace that which is outdated.
The goddess Kris Waldherr chose to represent the Suit of Cups is Venus, and she shows her looking back in indecision at eight cups. This leave taking may not be easy. There may be regret. But what is more regrettable--staying in an unfulfilling job/relationship/any life situation, or leaving for something better? The cups may be beautiful, but may be filled with something brackish. The Eight of Cups may be telling you to not stay in something that makes you unhappy for appearance's sake.
Barbara G. Walker's Eight of Cups shows what may be the only sad faun I have ever seen.
All Eight of his Cups are spilled into a pond. He leans against a dryad, or tree spirit. This is Pan, the Goat god, and Helice (the virgin form of Hecate, Greek goddess of magic, crossroads, the night, and necromancy) mourning the loss of their rites and their ways of life (Walker 22). Sometimes, the the Eight of Cups may indicate something taken from the questioner's life, not a voluntary leave taking, which is hard enough.
The Eights of Cups and the Eights of Swords may seem contrary to forward motion. It must be remembered that the oppression, fear, and despair brought on by loss is covers the changes that are happening deep in the questioner's life. These changes may be all but invisible, but as the clouds clear and light breaks through, there may be glorious surprises. I know. In the darkest time of my life, I once "woke up" (at around 8 p.m.) where I was and found incredible peace and joy. I don't know what it was, but I believe that something was working on me, slowing blowing a tiny, tiny flame to life inside my heart. Or maybe a seed was planted, and it was slowly taking root. Perhaps this has happened to you. I hope it has.
Source: Walker, Barbara G. Barbara Walker Tarot: Instructions. Stamford CT: US Game Systems Inc., 1986. Print.