The Eight of Cups is primarily a card which signifies departures whether this is in a romantic or a work-related context.
In the imagery of the Rider Waite deck, a cloaked figure can be seen turning his back on a stack of 8 cups and making his way into the distant horizon. Since the suit of cups most commonly refers to the emotions, this can be interpreted as leaving a situation which has reached its full potential and is no longer filling the querent with satisfaction.
The cloak can be interpreted as a form of protection and indicates that for whatever the reason for abandoning something or someone, it is out of a sense of self-preservation. Note that the colour of the cloak is red, a colour traditionally associated with the planet Mars and as such reveals determination and passion to seek better and more worthwhile ventures. The mountainous terrain in the background is indicative that the path to success may not be an easy ascent but that the victory won at the end will be well worth it.
Generally speaking the Eight of Cups is seldom seen as a positive card to receive in a reading. The main thrust of the card is that it indicates a departure, but not only that, a departure after a lot of effort has been expended on a situation. In some circumstances it can be viewed positively. Maybe the querent is not prepared to give up on their ambitions and will settle for nothing less than they feel they deserve. Despite the fact that the overall message of the Eight of Cups is abandonment and relinquishing a situation, the flipside of this card is that it always signals new ventures and opportunities, if you have the persistence to pursue them.
In a work or educational context, this card forewarns you that you may be leaving your place of employment. This may not always be welcome news. However, there are other opportunities available to you and you can rest assured that your time in a certain place has reached its natural conclusion. If you are currently a student, the card represents finishing your studies. Whether or not this is with success, is determined by additional cards.
In a love context, the Eight of Cups is possibly one of the most negative cards to have in a reading. It shows that either you or your partner have abandoned hope of the relationship recovering and have emotionally disengaged from one another. It is only a matter of time before the final conclusion of your partnership is officially declared. This card is often seen when a querent has literally been abandoned and left in the lurch. The silver lining is that, despite your separation, you will both move on to things which give you a greater sense of satisfaction and that better times are to come.
Key Words: abandonment, searching for more fulfillment, leaving after a period of consideration, departure, relationship rupture, maturation process at its completion