The Eights are cards of Raidho, the journey, and Isa, the waiting. The eights are absolutely cards of “Hurry up and wait.”
Eight of Wands
I normally choose one card per suit in each of these articles, but I’m going to do something a little different for the Eight of Wands, because there is some disagreement between my Tarot decks on what this card means. I will include two pictures and talk about that disagreement.
More than half of my decks talk about this as a card of movement, like the Modern Witch Tarot on the right, which shows a witch on a motorcycle under the blue sky and flying wands. But I don’t think that it would be fair to leave out the sizable minority of my decks which appear to show people being stuck in pleasant ways.
ᚱ is the Rune associated with the image on the Modern Witch, Waite-Smith, Thoth, and other decks which think of this as a card of movement. To these decks, this is a card of moving swiftly from one place to another. They see the eight rods in the sky as moving either toward or away from something. In the Modern Witch, seen above, it appears that the eight wands are storm clouds, which the motorcyclist is trying to move away from.
At first glance, just looking at pictures like the ones shown from Wildwood Tarot deck on the left, you might think that this would be a card of ᛁ (Isa), cards of being trapped in a pleasant situation. The Wildwood Tarot even looks a bit like ᛈ (Perthro). But the actual rune that these Tarot artists and authors were thinking of was ᛃ (Jera), the Rune of hard work paying dividends. The party shown in The Wildwood Tarot above didn’t happen on its own: it happened because they had succeeded and earned a celebration.
When I first introduced the Suit of Wands, I talked briefly about the Celtic concepts of Land, Sea and Sky. This is the purest card of sky. You can see land and a river, but that is all in the background. The card is dominated by Sky.
Eight of Swords
I can’t talk about the Eight of Swords without mentioning the metal song by Huntress. Once this song is stuck in your head forever, you will never forget what this card means.
The Eight of Swords is a card of the darkest aspects of ᛁ (Isa): you are frozen in place by your own choices. You are bound and blindfolded, but your bonds are loose. You are in a cage of swords, but there are gaps in the cage. You can walk away any time. Now is the time for ᚱ (Raidho)! Get out of there! Pick yourself up, untie yourself, and go!
Eight of Pentacles
Can you get a purer ᛃ (Jera) card? This is a card about working hard and receiving the just rewards of your labor. The only way this card could be more Jera is if it were literally a farmer doing it. (Hint: On the 7 of Pentacles it was a farmer doing it.)
But you’ll notice that the man in the card isn’t doing anything new or difficult. He is working on the same repetitive task. This is part of his journey, but not where he wants to end up. That’s okay. We all need to put in the apprenticeship at some point, even if it feels like ᛁ (Isa) a slow progression to where we really want to be.
Eight of Cups
The cups have finally run dry, and now it is time to move, ᚱ (Raidho). This didn’t happen because of ᚺ (Hagalaz, disaster), as evidenced by the fact that the empty cups were neatly stacked when we left. No, those cups are empty because of ᛁ (Isa), we stayed too long and depleted the ᛜ (Inguz, fertility) that was here.
There is no ᛗ (Mannaz, community) here: the only person in the card is the wanderer. Unlike Odin on his quests for Wisdom, however, this wanderer isn’t planning to come back.
I chose the Everyday Tarot because it so prominently shows the waterfall, which is a fantastic metaphor for this card’s meaning. Once you go over the waterfall, you can’t go back. This is true of jobs, relationships, religions with only a single god: once you leave, you can never really go back.