The 8 of Cups is one of my "target cards" - those cards I always go to immediately when surveying a new deck to see whether I like it or not - so I was pleased when I received it as one of my Maninni III assignments. Actually designing the card was harder than I expected. I had the cups images picked out fairly quickly - but what to put with them?
In some traditions, the Eight of Cups signifies Abandoned Success. Others (including me) also see the related idea of "moving on" - leaving behind a comfortable situation and setting out on an journey or quest. I tend to take this card as a signal that it is time to turn away from - perhaps even rennounce - "outer" or "material" successes or comforts, and "take a different path" - that of spiritual or inner seeking.
Coming up with images of "paths leading onward" or "paths leading inward" turned out to be flatly impossible. I turned to my tarot journal for inspiration. There I found an entry where I had jotted down a reference to the verse which now appears in the upper left of the card. It is a fragment from Bilbo's Traveling Song, from Lord of the Rings. It seems that there can be no better example of "success abandoned" than Tolkien's inimitable hobbits Bilbo and Frodo - leaving their nice comfy hole and setting off on a Great Adventure. The text didn't come through all that well on the scan, but it reads as follows:
The cups images came from a "Favorites" catalog - I had to color-copy them to come up with the requisite eight. The background of the card is brayered water-color.Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet
And whither then? I cannot say.
I found the woman-turning-away image in a little art book. It comes from a painting which hangs in the Louvre, attributed to an artist commonly known as "The Master of Moulins." Apparently historians disagree on exactly who this guy was - maybe Jean Perreal, maybe Jean Hey, and maybe somebody else. Whoever he was, he painted a triptych in the Moulins Cathedral (hence the appelation) depicting the Madonna with Saints and Donators; the painting which hangs in the Louvre is a repetition of the wings of the aforementioned triptych. It dates from c. 1498. In the original work, the woman on the card is Mary Magdalen. Interested readers can learn more about the art and the artist at a great on-line gallery site, the Web Gallery of Art.
Just as I was about to finish this card, Monster.com launched their black-and-white TV ad with all the folks running around a city street quoting Robert Frost. It reminded me that "The Road Not Taken" was a favorite during my idealistic high school days; the nostalgia and the synchronicity hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. All of a sudden, I couldn't decide which verse to put on the card. Fortunately, for me at least, it turned out that there was room for both.
The fonts are: Wizard,
for the Tolkien poem; Pristina, for the Frost poem; and American
Uncial for the card title.
This page and its contents copyright Kimberly
S. Schwartz, 2000.