As part of the Tarot of the Old Path motif, the man in the forefront is dressed in the colors of water, with water droplet designs on his shirt as well. Thus we know the ruling element of the Eight of Cauldrons to be water.
He is well dressed and stylish, so it is implied he is wealthy and he is holding 5 cups, leaving 3 on the clearly defined path behind him. He is staring straight ahead, as the past holds none of his attention while he seems to know his way is well defined.
There are a couple behind him chatting away, suggesting leaving behind past relationships and moving forward into new ones.
The Tarot of the Old Path, Eight of Cauldrons, suggests the moving forward to seek something higher in life, such as, the joy of personal accomplishment .
The Thoth Tarot- 8 of Cups, is Indolence:
and/or The Lord of Abandoned Success. Attributed to this card is the Planet Saturn in the sign of Pisces. The Angels of the Decan: Vabaliah and Yeshivah.
Here, Hod, the ruler of the 8's, is in Briah, the Mental World. To reiterate, Hod is the concrete mind; However, with the planet Saturn in the sign of Pisces, the 8 of Cups and Pisces, being Water signs denoting emotion, doesn't balance Saturn's energy well. Saturn, most notably seen as " The Heaviness of Time", tends to poison the emotional moment, as lead does to placid water.
With Saturn, that is noted for "eating its own children", in a water sign, produces a certain amount of introspection, manifesting as disinterest with material conditions. The effect, is discontent or a decline in interest in anything. Thus, one's tendency is to abandon success, simply because of past failure's.
Hence, as previously implied, the Thoth Tarot interpretation of the 8 of Cups, is based on the fact that Pisces, is calm and stagnant water, that is completely deadened by the heavy influences of Saturn.
We know Water, is the Element of consciousness, so what is going on within one is a deadening of interest, a complete lack of wonder. Self-consciousness is a combination of intellect and emotion. The two are inseparable in the self-conscious, as air is to water and in this case of debauch, we have an intellect that is "wallowing" in past emotions without an stirring of the intellect to move on. "Living" in the past, is to deny the truth of now. This is where a person lives in phantasms of past reaction and fails to expand in the new day. Past reaction, to today's elements, is to not live today; it is a burial of emotional self identity.
Hence, the lotuses of enlightenment droop, for lack of sun (Bright Reason) or rain (refreshed emotions). The Sea of mind has become little stagnant pools, in poisoned soil. All the cups are old and broken, symbolizing "an old and worn out" way of thinking. The Sun of Spirit, is a pallid yellowish light barely shinning through the leaden clouds of indigo. Mind and emotions are on autopilot; A thought process that is not conducive to expanding and liberating the Life of the person. The blood in the body is moving like molasses. This person needs stimulation!
Not my favorite card, but this dullness of mind, is often necessary to warn us that it is time to evaluate our feelings and to remember that when one transforms "old emotion", from dread to beauty, one has released a lot of power to move forward. Being grateful for lessons learned, will help one drop the past dread, that chains down emotions, as they are realizing that the past hurts, pains, failures, that we have corrected, has granted us the wisdom to make viable the present success.
When the 8 of Cups is thrown during a reading:
When ill defined:
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