So I’ve been thinking about eights more. I once learned that four is the number of stability and work. So for me, eight is the number of either a lot more stability or a lot of conflict. It is also about hard work. One thing that occurred to me is the shape. On its side it is an infinity symbol. If you consider that each half of the infinity symbol has four points, then when the two overlap, one point is doubled in the center.
If you put yourself as that center point, you can see that you are the fulcrum between those two circles. Depending on which way you go, the balance will be shifted. Of course you could stand in the center for ever I suppose. But I doubt any of us could. In the Major Arcana, eight is often Strength. It makes the most sense to me in that you have to be strong to make a choice. Even a bad choice still takes strength to make it–not to mention strength to fix it!
For me, all the eights can be seen as some type of choice. For this exercise I will be using the World Spirit Tarot.
The Eight of Swords is an intriguing card for at first glance it looks like an awful card, doesn’t it? I mean she is bound and blindfolded. Her dress is tattered and torn. She is in a dark scary forest with swords all around her bare feet. But consider this. You are supposed to be where you can help others avoid this path that you yourself have been down more than once. This is the card of being a victim. She is nearly at the end of this path. There are two swords she can pick up. One is by the snake and is about revenge and paying back those who hurt her. The other is by the owl. This sword represents the wisdom she has learned on this path and the choice to do wise things for others. Your next step is to decide which sword is the one for you.
Now look at the Eight of Pentacles where you have someone learning, someone doing and someone teaching. You can be any one of those figures. It is your choice. You also have to choose what you will be learning. I often call this the card of the apprentice because of the learning nature. I am sure I heard that somewhere and absorbed it. After this many years studying, I am loathe to call any idea mine alone in Tarot. But the learner in this card stands at that center. Coming from student and heading towards mastering this craft, he is the focal point.
So the choice here is to remain a student forever or be strong enough to realize you have mastered that subject.
Turning now to the Eight of Cups, the choice is obvious. Walk away from that past baggage or continue to carry it. Simply really. Or is it? See that stick in that person’s hand? Are they really leaving the cups behind if that stick is still dragging along in the water that touches those cups? Strength again. Can they be strong enough to leave the past there? Or, do they need to be strong enough to turn back and deal with all that emotional pain those cups may hold?
So you still have choices. Walk away from the old baggage forever? Never leave your baggage alone? Or do the work to make it empty luggage you are leaving?
Now the Eight of Wands in this deck may not be as definable at first. All you see are eight comets hurtling towards the Earth.
Kind of makes you want to yell “INCOMING” as you duck and cover. But there is your choice right there. This card traditionally means a trip. Could be physical. Could be mental. Could be spiritual. But like it or not this card is about movement.
So your choice is to move or be moved. Sometimes the right choice is to be moved. It takes a definite type of strength to refuse to get out of the way. You know you might get mown down by the opposition. You know that they have numbers on their side.
So do you move your position or do you stand firm? An organization I belong to has been facing this very thing. Do we continue with our struggle to make our parent group see what they are missing? Or do we take our toys and start our own group?
Choices. Hard choices. Eights are about standing in the middle. Looking at both sides. Deciding which one is right. And with that, I can see where Justice could be the eighth card as well. Scales have this same image of standing in the center while you weigh things.
According to one of my favorite numerologists, Hans Decoz, those with the Life Path Number 8 should “be careful of becoming stubborn, intolerant, overbearing, and impatient.” He also notes that they have natural leadership qualities as well as a talent for management. He even calls them visionaries.
This goes hand-in-hand with my own thoughts on eights in Tarot as cards of choice. You have to be a visionary to see these choices. Being stubborn or impatient could bring the wrong energy to this choice. You can read more about Hans Decoz’s Life Path 8 examination here.
So what do you think? How do eights manifest in your readings and your life?
Note: Clicking on the images will take you to a larger version.
World Spirit Tarot Images copyright to Llewellyn Publishing 2001