Friday 27 February 2015

Pisces in the Minor Arcana: The Eight of Cups

In the astrological correspondence system that I follow, Pisces is linked to the Eight, Nine and Ten of Cups. Today I’m going to look at the Eight of Cups, which corresponds to Saturn in Pisces – and to the first third of Pisces (18th-27th February).

Sharman-Caselli Tarot
Pisces is the mutable Water sign, so we’re looking at our emotional resources and how these might need to change.  Saturn sets limits – something that Pisces doesn’t like! – but also helps us to maintain our integrity. Combined with Pisces, it wants to transcend the restrictions that we find ourselves surrounded by so that we can ‘merge’ with others.  It needs to find a way to express its feelings in such a way that it still feels stable – but not stuck.

So how might this play out in the Eight of Cups?  Let’s start with a relatively ‘traditional’ depiction of the Eight of Cups – as illustrated by the Sharman-Caselli deck. Here we see a figure walking away from eight cups, neatly and carefully stacked.  Despite the care taken to place the cups in this pattern, the figure is abandoning them because they no longer provide the emotional security needed.  Notice the waning moon in the sky – something is drawing to an end.  There’s no sign of any life in the landscape, so there’s no hint as to what the figure is heading towards. 

Shadowscapes Tarot
Similarly, in the Shadowscapes, we see a mermaid diving down into the depths with a cup in her hand, seven others floating in her wake.  

The number ‘8’ is the number of death and birth (8th house themes, in astrology), cycles and recycling – time to let go of what’s no longer working, time to move forward to something new and (as yet) unknown (shades of the Moon card, associated with Pisces).  The mermaid and the cloaked figure are letting go of what’s no longer of use, searching for something deeper within or beyond.

If we don’t do this, stagnation looms.

Thoth Tarot
Stagnation is the theme of the Eight of Cups in the Thoth deck, showing us the other side of the coin, so to speak.  Here we see standing water, unmoving, at risk of becoming stagnant without the flow of fresh water to refresh the situation.  Saturn represents the needs to set some new limits, to learn to say ‘no’, to walk away from a situation or relationship – something that’s close to the heart - that’s no longer working, despite all the time and effort that’s been put into it. Things have run their course, the well is dry; it’s time to move on. Saturn in Pisces speaks of the need to change old patterns so that we don’t become stuck in an emotional rut, or stagnate.

Wildwood Tarot
The Wildwood's Eight of Vessels shows water flowing freely - but is it? The rocks place boundaries on the water, collecting it in pools before channelling it between rocks to keep it moving! 

Shadowscapes Tarot created by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law and Barbara Moore, published by Llewellyn
Sharman-Caselli Tarot created by Juliet Sharman-Burke, illustrated by Giovanni Caselli, published by Connections
Thoth Tarot created by Aleister Crowley, illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris, published by US Games Systems, Inc.
Wildwood Tarot created by Mark Ryan and John Matthews, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections

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