Celebration! The Three of Cups

The Three of Cups is a happy card.  Just look at Robin Wood’s card:

You see? Just look at the pink-garbed blonde on the left! She’s thrilled! They all are so happy to see you!

The Three of Cups is all about celebration.  This celebration may be a get-together with friends, a family reunion, a cast party after a great run…anything you can imagine.  While the participants in the joyous occasion may be any gender, this card has a feminine feel to it.

The women are surrounded by green growing things, and flowers and fruit.  This is a time of growth for the questioner, but this is a happy growth.

The three women traditionally associated with this card are the feminine triad of Maiden, Mother, and Crone.

 

Here, Barbara G. Walker shows the three iconic women, and titles the card “Grace.”  The person for whom this card is drawn is graced.  He or she is blessed with contentment, joy, and good company.

 

You may have noticed that both Barbara G. Walker and Robin Wood have drawn a blonde, a brunette, and a redhead.  The blonde symbolizes the Maiden, the redhead the Wife or Mother, and the brunette the Wise Woman.  On a deeper level, this card is one of feminine power–the potential and purity of the Maiden, the fertility of the Wife/Mother, and the experience of the Wise Woman.  By ‘purity’ I don’t mean virginity, but something more like the mindset of the Fool.  Our Maiden here is open, enthusiastic, and curious.  By fertility, I don’t mean necessarily pregnancy, thought that is a possibility, but also the birth of new ideas and creativity.  The Wife/Mother is self-assured. She is the symbolic Wife/Mother of her passions–represented by the color of her hair.  She is generous, a trait that continues with the Wise Woman.  The Wise Woman has dark hair, alluding to her knowledge of mysteries, and her intuition.

The Wise Women is normally seen as an old woman with silver hair.  The Three of Cups shows three young women because this card is associated with new romances, new babies, and weddings (Cups are associated with romantic relationships and family), as well as coming-of-age ceremonies, particularly for young women.

 

 

Kris Waldherr includes an older women with silver hair in her Three of Cups.  This card looks like it could be depicting the young woman’s initiation.  There is a white gown, for purity, pink for love, and purple for royalty.

The Three of Cups for Julian De Burgh’s Celtic deck shows five people, the traditional three and a couple anticipating the birth of their baby. They have gone from the happy couple of the Two of Cups to the family of the Three.

 

Reversed, the Three of Cups may symbolize dashed hopes or disillusionment in the area of romance, a wedding, or the birth of a new baby.  Metaphorically, it could also mean frustration in a creative pursuit. On a less depressing note, it could mean that there will be a postponement or rescheduling in one of these areas. You may have to wait a little longer for that wedding, or the fertility treatments may take longer than you thought. Perhaps that art gallery opening or performance got pushed back.  Ask yourself if this, while frustrating, may actually turn out for the best.

The Eights

In numerology, the number 8 is associated with power and success, completion and progress.  It is a number that implies just rewards.  As you may recall, Justice is the 8th card of the major arcana in some decks, and it is a card of karma and support from the universe. In other decks, the 8th card is Strength–a card of power, success, stamina, and courage.

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.

Celtic Eight of Wands, illus. by Mary Guinan

In Julian De Burgh’s Celtic Deck, the Eight of Wands stampedes toward the viewer with a look of confidence, a wonderful sign for the questioner.  If this card were reversed (upside down), however, the rider would be bucked off the horse, or crushed under it.  

Robin Wood’s Eight of Wands


Robin Wood’s tarot deck shows Wands–the suit of energy and accomplishment–flying out of Earth’s orbit and shooting past the moon. In the background is what appears to be the planet Jupiter, which is the planet of luck.  Again, very auspicious if upright.  If reversed, it means that there is some crashing and burning going on, or else there’s not enough thrust to get off the ground.

Kris Waldherr’s Eight of Staves

In Kris Waldherr’s deck, the Eight of Staves is framed by seething, roiling lava. This fiery energy could imply inexorable movement that melts or burns away any obstacles.  In the background of the card is striking lightning.  That’s what the energy of this card can be like–it can be a tremendous bolt out of the blue, a stroke of good luck or inspiration.  It can also indicate messages, whether positive (upright) or negative (reversed).  Messages, opportunities, or ideas are things to watch out for when this card is received.

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.  


Celtic Eight of Pentacles

The Celtic Eight of Pentacles shows a young person minting his own money on a forge. Perhaps that is the message of the Eight of Pentacles–diligence, hard work, passion, and a willingness to learn (embracing of the Beginner’s Mind) will lead to wealth and fulfillment.  


Robin Wood’s Eight of Pentacles

Robin Wood’s deck shows a young boy happily engrossed in creating the Pentacle. The Pentacle’s five points stand for Fire, Earth, Air, Water, and Spirit.  Through this work and learning, the boy will become a well rounded “master of the elements”–a Magician.  The fog lifting from the mountains in the background could represent an obliteration of ignorance. 


Goddess Deck Eight of Pentacles

The Eight of Pentacles in Kris Waldherr’s Goddess Deck shows Lakshmi (the chosen goddess of the suit) creating not only abundance, but beauty. Lakshmi is surrounded by beauty, and the magnificent golden Pentacle is the crowning glory, made by her own hand. This card can represent genuine talent on the part of the questioner. Flowers, symbolic of abundance and fertility, frame the card.  


Barbara G. Walker’s Eight of Pentacles

Barbara G. Walker’s Eight of Pentacles depicts an initiation. The Red Mother aspect of the feminine triad lays hands on the White Maiden while the Golden Crone looks on in the background.  This card breaks the traditions of the others by showing an esoteric ritual, and I am now in the frame of mind to see it as encouragement to go off the beaten path in terms of learning, careers, and goals. It could also represent networking, and may be encouraging the questioner to seek others who share their interests and kind-hearted mentors. 


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.  


Celtic Deck Eight of Swords

The woman on the card for the Celtic Deck seems to be mourning a loss represented by the swords clustered behind her. She seems barred from what she needs, and is forsaken. What the swords are barring, and what the swords represent, are both up to the questioner and the reader.  There seems to be a smooth path in front of the woman. While it may be uncomfortable, lonely, and filled with despair, the new path may gradually lead to fulfillment and joy. Great things stem from forced change.  


 

Robin Wood Eight of Swords

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.