|"You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em,|
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table.
There will be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done."
The Eight of Cups always reminds me of that Kenny Rogers song I used to sing when I was little. It describes someone who is down on luck, riding a train in the middle of the night to god knows where. The narrator meets a gambler that dies on the train that night, but in his final words he reveals some wisdom about life. Using the cards as a metaphor, the gambler speaks about knowing when to hang on and trust the situation verses knowing when to leave. He also says that in every hand dealt, there are winning cards and losing cards, so it's about knowing what to throw away and what to keep.
This is the spirit of the XIII of cups card. In the Wait deck you see the figure shrouded and ready to walk away from his cups and journey off into the distance towards the mountains. These mountains symbolize long-term goals, and perhaps the very reason the character knows it's time to leave. Sometimes we just know exactly when to leave the party, leave the job, leave the relationship, move away... These instincts are really important to listen to and it's important to follow through with these instincts in healthy ways or we'll just end up repeating the same situations over and over again. In the herbalist deck you see a similar image, only there's a ship sailing out into sea. Gravel Root is the plant depicted and is used medicinally to treat urinary tract problems and kidney stones. Read more here: http://www.tarotize.com/2010/03/8-of-cups-from-herbal-tarot.html.
In career readings this is a great card to get if you are leaving a job. It means that you have learned all you can learn professionally in that position. It's time to think about the future and grow in different ways while doing different types of work. Often this card will appear in a drastic career change, instead of a promotion in the same type of job. Because the figure is shrouded and there are cups involved, it often suggests that the separation isn't easy and there are a ton of emotional ties we have to sever. This makes the change heavy and makes us have moments where we doubt our instincts to leave. Ultimately though, we know deep down that the time is right. (Paired with the Justice card, a person may not have that inherent knowledge and trust in their instincts, but they will still choose to leave because they need to try something different.)
In readings about relationships, it definitely can symbolize a breakup, but more realistically, it represents the time after the breakup when someone actually lets go of the relationship and just knows inherently that it's time to move on. If this card is in a future position it can mean someone taking a trip or moving; they are gaining actual physical distance from the place that the relationship happened. Regardless of the position of the card, this relationship was big and allowed both parties to access feelings they haven't felt before. It's best to take these gifts learned and continue on in healthy ways. Look for card pairings with the Two of Cups, Five of Pentacles or Five of Swords. (Two of Cups means you'll be friends in the end, Five of Pentacles suggest that this person was unhealthy for you, and Five of Swords means you should watch how you cope with feelings of jealousy and defeat.)
Check out the next post for the “Stages of a Healthy Breakup...”