At the moment, due to Circumstances, I’m only altered by caffeine and whatever’s in this coffee cake. I feel good about it, though. Crumb toppings are full of spiritual insight.
The Eight of Cups:
There are eight cups, often stacked in towers, and a figure walking away from them, usually into some mountain-y, river-y wilderness area, doubtlessly full of emotional significance and probably mosquitoes. (I’m a little bitter about Nature right now.) Sometimes they’re going up a staircase instead.
Pretty much all meanings of this card can be boiled down to “fuck this noise.” Going by the numbers-and-elements system, it’s a significant challenge to emotions—but probably one in which the reader has some choice. This isn’t the Five, with cups knocked over and wine everywhere (there are a few decks with overturned cups here, but not many). Everything’s upright and in place on the Eight—it’s just that the figure in question doesn’t want to deal with it any more.
Mostly, this is good. Mostly, it doesn’t feel good at the time. You’ve got a lot of cups there, you’ve probably spent a lot of time acquiring the cups, and the wine, and stacking them into patterns, and now you’re coming to realize that you don’t actually want that (maybe the complicated patterns were procrastination to keep you from thinking too hard about it) but walking away from all of that? Into the rocky, bug-infested wilderness? Is that really the right choice?
It is, usually. (There are occasions where it’s not, like if you keep running away because you think something’s better waiting for you Over There, and it never is, maybe figure yourself out and stop being Don Draper.) Things end. People change. Over there in the wilderness is what you actually need, and there probably won’t be as many mosquitoes as you think.
The Nine of Cups:
A guy is surrounded by cups—sometimes other things, too, like a throne or a party—and looking pretty happy about it, bordering on smug in some decks. And why not? He’s got nine cups! That’s great!
It is. It’s not the greatest—nines are “almost but not quite” cards—but it’s still pretty awesome. You’re having a good time, you’re happy, and if you don’t have all the emotions you need for lasting fulfillment, or if emotions/water requires some balance from the other elements, that’s not a bad thing.
Likewise, the more book-derived meanings of this card usually are about parties, or wishes come true, and that’s all pretty great. The caution with the Nine is to remember that it’s not the Ten: getting what you want right now won’t necessarily make you happy in a month or a year. “Be careful what you wish for” is part of that, but part is the old hedonic treadmill, the stupid human ability to get used to a level of good fortune and start seeing it as just normal. (We fly through the air regularly, crossing entire continents in six hours, and complain about the food on the way.)
So everything’s great, and you’re celebrating, but keep your eye on the ball. Don’t screw over the other elements by, say, neglecting your work or your friendships or your own insight and power. Enjoy this moment, but eventually you’re going to need to figure out where to go from here—going back to the Eight and realizing that you’re in a different place now? Deciding that this is the spot for you and working for the sort of lasting situation (emotionally, if not temporally or spatially) that the Ten entails?
Enjoy the party. But don’t forget about the morning after. Maybe keep some Pepto-Bismol around.