The message of the Eight of Cups is usually that our instinct is telling us to move on from a situation. To those around us, this course of action may not make sense, but we have a deep feeling in our hearts that the time has come to leave. This may be to withdraw for a time to focus on our own goals and inner self, or it could be to rejoin the world after a period in which we had removed ourselves from its hustle and bustle.
The card depicts the figure walking away from beneath a sky in which an eclipse is occurring. This symbolizes the outer awareness and experiences of the sun merging with the intuition of the moon and the unseen forces it represents: we know what we must do, and have the quiet resolve to make it happen.
Although there is sorrow in this card, there is not the regret of the Five. Nothing has been spilled, and no damage has been caused; in many cases, the Eight suggests that we know, deep down, that these things could be the result of lingering in a situation rather than moving on from it.
In most cases, there are two possible meanings when the Eight of Cups is reversed, and the reader’s intuition will come into play to determine the correct one. Firstly, it can indicate that we are not yet willing to leave a situation, despite what our heart and gut are advising us to do. Alternatively, the reversed card can suggest that our response in staying is the correct one: that although there may be calls - especially from the outside world, or the analytical side of our mind - to move on, that this would be premature, and that there is still the potential for joy in the circumstances in which we find ourselves.
Like the Seven, the Eight of Cups is also concerned with choices; unlike the former card, however, the Eight shows us that the decision, in our hearts, has already been made.