Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wildwood 8 of Vessels: Rebirth and the Cycle of Life

The Wildwood 8 of Vessels is the counterpart of the more traditional 8 of Cups in the Rider-Waite deck.  The traditional meaning usually suggests the pain in realizing that what you’ve worked to build may not be what will ultimately satisfy you.  It relates to feelings of disillusionment, and the desire for "something" more. Thus it speaks of moving on, leaving something behind (a relationship, an emotional attachment, a special project) and starting a journey.  The journey doesn’t necessarily have a clear destination or end-point.  In fact in many more traditional cards, the moon shines above, illuminating a path that leads through mountainous terrain; the journey is full of mystery and perhaps the traveler will stumble along the way…..and yet the journey is necessary.  There is a touch of mourning that comes with realizing that it’s time to move along, so the card is not without some sadness.

Wildwood Tarot
John Matthews, Mark Ryan, Will Worthington
Sterling Ethos, 2011

In the Wildwood 8 of Vessels we see a scene that is quite different from the traditional: a great vessel overflowing with water hangs suspended above a pond, with three smaller vessels pouring into it.  Below, four more small vessels sit along the edges of the water, receiving the overflow from the suspended vessels above, and in turn releasing their own excess into the stream that flows out from the pond.  The keyword on the card is “rebirth.”  This scene embodies many of the same understandings as the traditional 8 of Cups, but the message is encapsulated by the natural cycle of water.  In this image, the pond is simply a temporary pooling place for water heading from its past into its future.  It gathers for a while, but it can’t stay.  Once movement is extracted from the water cycle, it begins to stagnate (which in fact is the core meaning of the Thoth 8 of Cups “indolence”).  Stagnation means that growth ceases, the water becomes tainted.  And this is precisely what happens when we overstay our time in a relationship, in a particular phase of life, in a job we’ve spent time and energy nurturing and are afraid to let go of (and the list goes on). Release is necessary for rebirth, and rebirth is necessary for our spiritual and emotional health.  Rebirth is not supposed to be comfortable, but it always carries us forward to experience new things, to help us continue to bloom as human beings.  Rebirth is a never-ending part of the cycle of life, what ultimately gives depth and richness to each year that goes by.


  1. I find the Wildwood card more positive than the RW 8 of cups. Now it is a more a process; you out grow (literallly) a situation instead of intentionally choose to leave. It's just a subtle difference.
    I was once so amazed when I realized that we drink the same water as our ancestors. There is no drop lost and no drop added since the beginning of time. So it keeps on flowing :)
    I have to wait just a few days for my Wildwood Tarot!!!!

    1. Hey Ellen! I see what you mean. For me the 8 of Cups (RW) always gives me a sense of excitement...breaking away from something that doesn't work anymore, and embarking on an adventure. Of course that is simply not how it is for everyone - it can be a painful process. I think when people choose to walk away, it's often because they've realized that something no longer works in the way that it should, or could. But the concept of outgrowing a situation rather than choosing to leave does fit this card (both versions), and you're right, it does feel more positive in that way. I entirely agree about how amazing it is to think that we're even living on the same land as our ancestors did thousands of years ago, and beyond. That connection is so special. I think that's why I have always been so drawn to our indigenous roots!! :)