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  • Emily Mundy

Dark Moon Musing: Grief, Water, and the Eight of Cups


In retrospect, if I could have seen myself through the eyes of a fly on the wall, the scene must have been at least mildly funny: I started the kettle and sat at the kitchen table—cried, crawled back into bed. I re-emerged from bed an hour later, actually made the coffee this time and drank a cup while trying to write—cried on the couch for a while. I spread out in the living room, moved through a yoga flow for an hour—finished practicing, cried again on my mat. I ate one stale Oreo and threw the rest away. Then I cried. Again.

We’re all privy to the deep sadness that is often entangled in sudden change. Sharp transitions, unexpected events or even realizations you come to that take you by surprise, and wise but grueling sacrifices can leave us literally overflowing, in a tidal state of grief, then breath, then grief again. We’ve all been kindred to the picture in the Eight of Cups—as if all of our limbs, no matter how strong, couldn’t possibly hold our pouring out.

The strange scene of unrelenting tears I couldn’t help but be led me to think about, and crave, the gamut of waters. If we regard ourselves as a well of sorts, it seems natural that we’d dip into our stores, and let our huge feelings spill out and over sometimes. If we do the opposite—tense up, restrict our flow of and bottle up our emotions—they will ferment. It’s then we’re in potential danger of becoming a well of sadness, in a cyclical state of souring. When grief washes over you, it is a clear sign that there is need for release. Feeling true and deep feelings can be a surge of power and movement if we allow ourselves to consider and honor it in that way. Much like creative surges and the energy of your muse, the ebullient nature of sorrow can conjure, up and out of us, a raw humanness, however gnarled and awkward.

In my intense process of processing, I took myself to the water three times: once, at night, to lop an object loaded with harmful memories into the sound; then, midday, just to sit by it quietly; lastly, to take a naked, cold swim at sunset.

Water has a wild, uncontained capacity. It can keep what you cast into it; it can hold your heaviness, while you just sit and look at the light glittering on its surface; it can cleanse you, skin shock and reorient, so you can just float and bob and sway with something much bigger than yourself for a moment. Literally flowing with our huge emotions is much like working with the muse—not pushing anything away, but opening, inviting, allowing it to take us over completely.

The picture of grief in the Eight of Cups acknowledges how difficult it can be to know you have to move on from a situation that is no longer contributing to your growth, wherein wellness and wholeness is lacking. Coming to realize that a once-fulfilling and life-giving state has changed despite your investment of spirit, and despite your desire for its goodness to remain, is a powerful but solemn experience. It will take time for you to move through what this means.

When the Eight of Cups appears however it does, it is a reminder to be gentle with ourselves. Remember that our tears are our water. They are a wild capacity, they are a cleansing mechanism. Rain begets growth. Waves erode heaviness. Our tears are our releases, yes, but also our reminders to embrace the vastness of our emotions, the deep wells inside us that hold capacity to hurt as much as we love—to acknowledge our bodies as a conduit for that spectrum.

Especially when the moon is dark and the light is drained from the night sky, we can embrace the undercurrent of energy embedded in our sadness. When we let it out, we clear the room for whatever, whoever, the you inside that is next.

Emily Mundy is the co-author of the Dark Days Tarot Guidebook.

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