The Wild Unknown Tarot - VIII Cups


This card seems very one dimensional to me and for that reason I'm not liking it.. I think that every card should have a range of meanings and this card seems so dark and one sided... It's not gelling with my interpretation of the 8s - maybe it's RWS based but even so, I see more of a range in that card than in this one.. There seems to be no hope there at all.
I'm trying to be fine with quite a few of the cards seeming to be very negative with not many positives but it's requiring a distinctive shift in the way that I read.

The card is mostly darkness and the darkness seems to take the shape of mountains silhouetted against the horizon. What looks like rain is just visible (or maybe it's not rain) and in the foreground are 8 broken glasses.

To me the 8s relate to Justice; they are about achieving balance, cause and effect. They show harvest, the result of previous actions.
So this card then says to me that the results of previous actions is emotional breakdown.. There are no feelings left, none can be salvaged from this situation as the glasses or cups are broken..
To achieve the balance shown in the 8s, the querant needs to move away from this emotionally broken place and look elsewhere, maybe over those mountains so the journey will not be easy (ahh.... I'm seeing the RWS interpretation here and maybe that will have to do)...

I do like the way that once I start to look at and describe a card, the possible meanings start to show themselves...


I see a change rather than happiness...with the change offering a new chance at happiness.
Sometimes it is relieving in a way to have something offers you a way out with no other option but to move on.
If you need a drink you aren't getting it from a broken cup.
(Interestingly this came up for someone who was trying to kick alcohol abuse, and wanted to go to rehad for it.)
How many of us keep something or someone because "it isn't broken so why fix it"...yet that very attitude leaves us stagnant.
This is negative in that it leaves no other option...but positive because like you said happiness could be right over that hill if we just move on.
This is another card I added color in the sky behind the mountains.
The mountains are perfect dark like that, but the gold gives you that lift, that feeling of hope.

On a more personal note...recently all 3 of my precious dogs died one by one of old age related has been a very sad 18 months for me, losing one after another, the last one in April.
I haven't felt like getting a new puppy, my mourning for their lose was to great...and it was just this November/December I started looking into buying a puppy.
When I went to the cards to see if I was ready this card came up...and I instantly knew that it ment a few things on different levels

* I was standing over shattered glass willing it to pull itself back together...wanting the old times back, and all my doggies here and things as they used to be.
That wasn't going to happen as sad as that was.

* Very old aging dogs no matter how much I loved them are a challenge and a burden of worry, vet bills, and energy....and on some level it was a releif they are all over rainbow bridge and safe until I could see them again.

*Yes, it was time to stand up look forward and go over that mountain to see if there is some new happiness and a puppy needing a home out there for me....

* But I had to search and search for months to find a reputable this taught me another thing about this card....the happiness isn't handed to you like in the 9 of is happiness you seek of you own free will and the desire for it propels you forward even when it is hard.
Like climbing a mountain.

So you can stand over the broken cups and cry, or go forward and see what other options there are out there for you.
I think I needed to do both and once I had cryed enough over the loss the healing began and once the healing begins you are ready to move forward.

I is a good card to express the stages of greiving.....many time clients come in who have lost a loved one....this card says they might be in the beginning stage of crying and denial, still wishing things were the same as before...but right on the brink of a break through...into seeing other possibilities.

I pick up my new puppy next I made it over the mountain. :)


I agree it is hard to see anything positive in this card, the best I could come up with was that there is nothing left here that is emotionally satisfying for the querant, so they need to move on, move forward to find what does make them happy.

Relating back to Justice I just wanted to make the point that it can be difficult to be fair and balanced in any situation that involves feelings and emotions. I know that hard as I try I cannot remain emotionally neutral in situations in which I care about the outcome, and that this can therefore lead to upset and troubles, and heartbreak. For me is demonstrated in the broken cups in this card. Broken friendships, broken hearts, broken homes...still not cheerful is it?!


Thank you both for your thoughts on this card, I think reading what you've said and actually writing my own thoughts about the card down here has really helped me with it.
I think I may be tempted to add a touch of colour to the sky as Lark has done too.. Just to give the card that bit of hope that it seems to be lacking with distinct lack of colour.

Awww and Lark, I'm so sorry that you've lost 3 of your beloved pets but yes, I can see how this card relates to that sort of feeling too... There is a definite feeling of needing to move on in this card.


I had an interesting experience with this card today. The querent is a friend of mine, over at my house for a bit of 'tea and tarot'. I am more or less teaching her so I mostly let her take the lead then add my comments.

She went through a bitter divorce and has struggled for the better part of two years, and is just starting to find her feet again these past months.

This card came up, and she said: "Knowing when you are at the bottom." We discussed it for a bit and decided it also meant deciding whether to stay and lie on broken glass and slowly bleed to death or walk off.

But for her the principal take was looking at those broken glasses and realizing that is it, it is really over.


Re-reading the takes above, I can see this starting to come together.


This card came up, and she said: "Knowing when you are at the bottom." We discussed it for a bit and decided it also meant deciding whether to stay and lie on broken glass and slowly bleed to death or walk off.

But for her the principal take was looking at those broken glasses and realizing that is it, it is really over.

I like that - 'deciding whether to stay and lie on the broken glass and slowly bleed to death'... That fits very well with the image and also shows a choice or decision that needs to be made.. That fits very well with my take on the 8s and how they relate to Justice.


I pulled this card in a reading for myself yesterday and it fit really well....

I saw the blackness as something really heavy weighing down - the result of lots of built up feelings, finally making the glasses break so that things can start feeling better...

I like the way the lack of a real 'picture' makes me focus on the element - this card really is about feelings, and being an 8 it shows the feelings that I have as a result of something else happening...


When I first laid eyes on this card after opening up my deck yesterday I was quite blown away.

I think this is a stunning card and its simplicity is striking and haunting.

This brought out a visceral reaction from me because it tapped into many of my personal memories and heartbreaking moments.

I think the card tells the querent that 'the time is now'. By that I mean, there is an immediacy in its bleak and matter of fact sadness. There is no joy or excitement from experiencing love grow as was previously experienced in the Two of Cups, Three of Cups, Six of Cups. That time is over. There is no more and now is the time to accept that this situation does not satisfy you anymore because all that is left is you and some broken glasses and the darkness.

The positive aspect of this is that you know you have hit that low point and that moment of realisation. There is a real honesty to this card when it comes to matters of the heart. It shows the querent what is left, and tellingly, none of these cups are salvageable. None of these cups can hold water anymore.

Other thoughts that came to mind:

- the metaphorical party is over and you are alone;
- what or more importantly who caused these glasses to smash and break?
- at some time these glasses were used to satisfy many and now they can't be redeemed
- one must move on, one has to move on, they are in a place where they could die or suffer a metaphorical death
- what does the darkness hold? It's impossible to say which makes it all the more frightening
- this card reminded me of many nights leaving a bar or drinking hole and there is broken glass, and you are tired, perhaps even tipsy and leaving alone - its disappointing but the quest for love that was attemped in that bar is just as depressing. Such a visceral image

I love how these images evoke memories and really create a gut reaction. What I feel this card makes very clear is that the querent must move on to survive. That is the positive feeling here, there is no room for debate or uncertainty. One must move on to sustain their life.



I love this card. But, as I've just discovered on reading this thread, I completely misunderstood it! It gave me such an unexpected, deep memory from very early childhood that I responded emotionally and didn't even see the RWS mountains! Nor even the 8 broken glasses!!

I saw towering pine trees ... a deep, dark forest in the twilight (as I saw from the child seat on the back of my late Dad's bike, as he pushed me slowly up a hill homewards after a country cycle ride & picnic. The gathering darkness was very atmospheric & potentially scary, yet my Dad made everything seem safe & comforting ... hence my feeling of comfort on seeing this image.)
The broken tops of the glasses, to me at first, looked as if they were intact and merely partly-hidden by hanging branches ... see what I mean? A couple of them were broken, but the sense of having to scale a hill amid gathering gloom still gives me a frisson of otherworldly excitement ... like many scenes in Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit.

Adventure beckons - to venture further, deeper, steeper, and face challenges as they occur. Rather like Life's journey. And even though I now see the jagged mountains and broken glasses as you do, that feeling remains with me in this card. I see the 8s as relating to Strength, which would also fit in.

It's interesting how people feel very moved by this image, even if for very different reasons!