8 of Cups: Abandonment
(c) Cheryl Lynne Bradley 2005-7

Morgan Greer Tarot:  8 of Cups

Once I had a friend who was a lovely quirky woman and she had a favourite expression. She would throw back her head, laugh out loud, put her hand in the air and say, "I'm so out of here!" With a shake of her head and a lively bounce, she would be gone. It was comical. The 8 of Cups in the Tarot always puts me in mind of her.

Imagery associated with the 8 of Cups often shows a downtrodden figure, usually female, moving towards some higher ground in the distance. Is she moving on her volition, abandoning her position? Has she been forced to go due to circumstances beyond her control such as an unexpected loss? Has she been abandoned? Is she leaving hardship to move towards safety? Is her time merely up in this place where she has been? Has she been rejected or is she doing the rejecting? Is she running away from debt? In short, is she the abandoned or the abandoner or, maybe, a little of both? There is usually no doubt that there is some kind of a heartache associated with the situation represented by the 8 of Cups, but is she the one leaving with a broken heart or the one leaving broken hearts behind her? Since the Suit of Cups represents the element of water, it begs the suggestion of emotional flooding. This leads me to my last question, just how high is the water?

Existentialist thinkers value the concept of abandonment. The nonexistence of God means that human life has no objective value or meaning. This leaves humanity abandoned in a world where we, and we alone, are responsible for all of our choices. There is no one to petition to have our problems fixed if things aren't going well. They espouse that this world is all that we get, so get on with it.

Abandonment is also an ascetical and mystical experience. In the spiritual sense, abandonment is the surrendering of self completely to conform to God's Will. It is considered to be the first stage of the union of the individual soul with God. It is the prelude to the contemplative stage of awareness. This idea of abandonment of the self implies the purification by all trials and tribulations, which come from from God, to return our souls to Him. It can be a powerfully desolating period because the soul must give up everything it holds of value in people, giving up anything which comforts it, in order to seek God. The soul must deal with the accompanying loss of the feelings of faith, hope and charity, characterized by lack of devotion and prayer. Abandonment has many qualities associated with a dark night of the soul.

In the legal sense, abandonment is the voluntary, intentional and absolute relinquishment of rights or property without giving them to another person. Abandonment in a marriage is willfully leaving your spouse or your children with no intention of returning without the consent of the other(s). Abandonment in military law is leaving or not arriving at your place of duty without leave. A seaman who abandons his ship without leave is liable to damages and forfeiture of his wages. These are all different representations of the abandonment of one's position - suicide is probably the most drastic expression of abandoning and abandonment. Death as the ultimate in "I'm so out of here".

Death is often a prescursor for feelings of abandonment associated with grieving and loss. Abandonment and fears of abandonment can express themselves as a vague feeling. It can manifest from feeling isolated or alienated within your relationship to the devastation of being the one left behind when a relationship ends. Divorcees; adoptees; the widowed; parents who have lost a child; children who have lost parents; empty nesters; people who are dying but are struggling to accept that their time is up in this place; young children with a new baby in the house; people struggling with sexuality issues; people who have lost their careers through downsizing; people who grew up in an unloving and unnurturing environment; people who are staying in an already emotionally abandoned relationship that they long ago should have abandoned physically; will all deal with with these issues. It is a widely varied experience with many triggers. There is a very strong sense of being alone or marginalized but not by our own choice or doing - it is disempowerment at a high level. Is is no surpise to know that this leads to problems in future relationships and life situations in which we will experience strong feelings of the fear of further abandonment. If you feel marginalized you need to reconsider where you think the center is.

These feelings can manifest with physical symptons not unlike a full blown anxiety attack. We can experience difficulty breathing, excessive perspiration, nausea, a sense of loss of control, feeling detached, unable to speak or think with clarity, trembling, irregular heart beat and the fear that we are dying. It can also impact the way we interact with others and affect our behaviours. We can develop patterns of self-sabotage and indulge in the excess of food, wine and sex. We may use getting into debt or lending money as ways to avoid abandonment. If you owe someone money, they certainly aren't going to forget about you and if you are the lender then you have a reason to make contact and be connected. We may be or become difficult and demanding in what we expect from our family as if testing their love to the maximum. We will acquire personality traits that anger or drive people away from us. We may refuse to have any type of relationships, as caring creates feelings of fear of losing that person.

The thought of opening up for a rejection is emotionally crippling. We become clingy or needy, the insecurity definitely shows and then the fear is realized when the other does lose interest and leave us. We may pursue someone with great ardour and then run or lose interest when they reciprocate the feelings. We may appear to be interested in someone but will usually choose someone who is unattainable or not emotionally available to us. This enables us to avoid real feelings of attachment and love. The fear overcomes the courage to let deep love grow over time - how high's the water now?

The reality is, we have abandoned our own self, or maybe we are the one who has created or misunderstood these feelings in another person. Identify these feelings in yourself and find a way to articulate this grievance. Turn your negative thinking into more positive and constuctive thoughts and start treating yourself in a good way. Abandonment is an issue of the spirit and its deprivation, find something to nurture your spirit. We need to work on our personal belief system so we can stop hurting ourselves and the people who love us, even if we cannot accept that love, or it is the love that walked away from us and never looked back. Love isn't love until it's returned and you are always better off alone than badly accompanied.


This page was created April 7, 2005 and updated 2007-5-14.