Suit Of Cups
The Suit of Cups is associated with water, and the meanings of the cards are associated with emotions, relationships, and connections. Cups are romantic and vibrant. They deal with the full range of emotions, the good and the bad, the intentional and the chaotic. Cups are about the heart, displays of feelings, and emotions in relation to people in your life. Cups focus on intuition over logic: they suggest that you are, or that you should be, making decisions with your heart over your head.
Your Cup Overfloweth
Aces are potential beginnings, should you choose to take them. I think of each Ace as the hand of the universe, or God (if you are so inclined), offering you a chance. The Suit of Cups is about emotions, relationships, and connections. Therefore, the Ace of Cups is an emotional chance.
In readings, the cup usually represents a glorious opportunity being offered to you, but it is your choice to drink or not. The card will often come to us when we are close to a new experience that will grow our capacity for giving and receiving all forms of love and fulfillment.
The Ace of Cups is a great card for romance, but I encourage you to not narrow your ideas of an emotional opportunity to romantic relationships alone. Your Ace of Cups could be anything that enthralls your emotions: a new friendship, a pet, a project, or a community. Aces are just the beginning of a cycle with its own set of ups and downs, but right now, this one feels damn good. Take the cup.
The Long-Term Love Card
The Two of Cups is about love! Lasting love that is supportive and heartfelt. Above the two figures is a winged lion and intertwined snakes. The intertwined snakes reference the caduceus of Hermes (Greek messenger god, Roman Mercury), and symbolize peace and balance. The winged lion head symbolizes passion and fire energy. While many refer to the Two of Cups as the ‘marriage’ card, it does not refer exclusively to any permanent commitment. The love the Two of Cups speaks of is life-changing, but not necessarily forever. Forever is not a promise any card can make.
In a reading, this card is a great sign for any relationship, suggesting that your connection is genuine. Your partnership is special and fulfilling for both of you. Whether platonic or romantic, this relationship will fill your heart with joy and improve your life.
If you feel like your love cup is empty right now, chin up. Something or someone good is probably coming your way soon. Perhaps you are in unrequited love or recovering from a breakup. Even if your love affair ends in fire and ruin, there is a valuable lesson in the Two of Cups: you are capable of love.
The Party With Friends Card
Cheers to you and yours! This is a pure and powerful love card for you and your friends. These women dance, they toast each other, they celebrate. Your close friendships are precious. If this card comes up for you in a reading it is time to be with your squad.
Most often, the Three of Cups is telling you to party with your crew. This card can signify an accomplishment within your group or by someone close to you that deserves to be celebrated. Alternatively, it could just be a push to celebrate the friendships themselves. Just having people who truly care about each other is something worth dancing about.
Sometimes, the Three of Cups may come to you in a time of strife. In these cases, think of your friends. If you turn to them now, you will likely find the compassion and support you are looking for. It may be the case that you have been neglecting your friendships, either due to a romantic relationship or life stresses. Well, cut it out! Your pals are important, appreciate the hell out of them.
The Too-Busy-Self-Reflecting-To-Take-The-Dang-Cup Card
Hey! Buddy! Look around you. This girl has all these beautiful full cups just sitting in the dirt, but she’s too busy sitting there with her eyes closed to notice them.
In tarot, the cups are your emotions. Upright cups represent potentially fulfilling opportunities like friendships, romantic relationships, family, or pets. The cups in this card are good things in her life. They’re just chillin’ in the grass waiting for her, but she’s too busy meditating or pouting or thinking about herself to see them.
If the Four of Cups comes up for you in a reading, it’s time to snap out of it! You are likely stuck in a mental loop. Perhaps you are having a narcissistic moment, or you are secluding yourself for introspective reasons. Maybe you’re just a puddle of self-pity. Well, the Four of Cups wants you to look up. The cups being held out to you are most likely gifts. Notice them.
The Sad-Boy-Crying-Over-Spilt-Cups Card
Something bad has happened to the person in this card. His heart aches. Three of his cups lay before him, spilt, their contents lost forever. It is a loss he cannot get back. He is grieving. He is at an emotional low, and he doesn’t recognize the two full cups behind him. Across the river is a building, potential shelter, somewhere that could improve his life. A bridge in the background could get him to these greener pastures, but he makes no move to cross it. He’s too busy being miserable.
In a reading, the Five of Cups signifies that you, or a person close to you, is wallowing in disappointment. Often this card signifies depression. Despair has left you unable to recognize opportunities and good things still in their life. When you are ready, lift your weary head and see the two upright cups in front of you.
Alternatively, the card could be refer to someone close to you who is in this emotional state. They may need your help, or they may be beyond helping. You might be one of the upright cups they cannot see.
The Childhood Nostalgia Card
Two children plant a garden together on a fire escape. The Six of Cups has a deep connection to happy memories of childhood and the past. It is about naivete and joy that is harder to access as an adult. It’s about a sense of wonder.
When the Six of Cups pops up, it is often encouraging you to access this kind of delight again. Locate the kid inside yourself and look at the world with fresh, joyful eyes. In a more literal sense, the Six of Cups may be encouraging you to spend time with family or a specific friend from your past. When did you last feel child-like joy? Can you reach out to someone and reconnect? This card could also suggest engaging in simple wholesome pleasures, like potting flowers.
I am often reminded that the Six of Cups is a context-dependent card. If your childhood was difficult, the Six of Cups may signify that childhood issues are rearing their ugly heads for you again. Try to remember how you have grown since then. Perhaps you didn’t get to have much wonder as a child, but what’s stopping you now?
Frozen By The Fantasy of Options
The person in this card is confronted with exciting options, each with an unknown outcome. A graduate’s mortarboard—perhaps she will further her education? A bird’s nest of chicks—maybe she will start a family? A tiny house—to buy or build a home. A snake that stands for wisdom, a globe that stands for travel, a lotus that stands spiritual pursuits. A money tree growing out of a bed of coins that stands for… well… money. The options present varying levels of safety and danger, but she doesn’t pick one.
Instead, she remains in a dreamy state of indecision. If she chooses to pursue one of these options, is she leaving the others behind? Are all of these choices even real options? How will she choose?
If the Seven of Cups comes up for you, it’s time to stop daydreaming and start doing. This is a card of magical thinking, where the idea of doing something, or doing many things, is so wonderful that you never make a move. However, these options are not even real things; they are just ideas. Don’t let yourself become overwhelmed or stuck in the static delight of fantasy. Choose a direction, and start moving.
The “I’m Leaving My Cups Behind Me!” Card
This is a card about abandonment. It is a card of emotional exhaustion, burn-out, and the discovery that something you have worked hard for does not bring you fulfillment. Your emotional situation is not working for you. It is not fixable.
The person in the card has left their cups, and therefore their emotional entanglements, to pursue an adventure of unknown outcome. Some of these cups are shattered, while some are still whole. A situation is usually not entirely broken, but this person has determined that moving on is a better move than trying to salvage the situation. Because this is the Suit of Cups, it is likely that the thing you need to leave is a relationship. This is absolutely no fun, but ultimately the right decision.
If the Eight of Cups comes up for you, it may be time to abandon a situation or set of ideals that you have been holding you down. Alternatively, you may have recently left something behind, and you are on the right path now because of it. While the abandoned cups represent the sadness of leaving something behind, the mountains are a new journey to look forward to, free of previous burden.
The Happiness Card
Look at this happy dude and all his cups! He made these cups, he loves them, and now he is going to bask in their glory and enjoy them. I often wonder which comes first: happiness or gratitude. Are you grateful because you are happy or are you happy because you are grateful? Of course it’s not that simple, but you get my point. The man in the Nine of Cups is both. This is a card you really, really hope comes true.
Whatever you have been working for in your emotional life—your relationships, your hobbies, your home—it’s all here, and it’s beautiful. The Nine and Ten of Cups are both about happiness, but I see the Nine as about internal happiness. I drew the man in this card as a potter because he is creating his own joy. He carries his optimism inside him. He is aware of his blessings.
Sometimes the Nine of Cups heralds a dramatic accomplishment, but often it is simply about gratitude and appreciation. Take a deep breath and marvel at your life. Celebrate where you are and find joy in the moment.
The Happy Family Rainbow Card
A beautiful family basks under a rainbow of upright cups! The Ten of Cups embodies joy and fulfillment in your family and friendships. As a ten, this card is the grand finale of the ups and downs of your emotional life. The road may have been long and winding, but now you are here with your fam under this sick rainbow. Nice.
The Ten of Cups is about family, but the definition of family here is broad. Many people, especially queer people, find family outside of the one they were born into. Your family may be biological, chosen, or adopted. Your family could be friends, roommates, or your pet lizard. This card encourages you to think about who your family really is.
The Ten of Cups represents an external kind of happiness that comes from your life just sort of being really great right now. Bliss can’t last forever, though, so enjoy it. Stockpile those idyllic memories while you can. A familial relationship is never perfect and always in flux, but the Ten of Cups is a moment of love and gratitude for the people in our lives.
Student of Inspiration
The Page of Cups has found a fish, and they are driven to keep and nurture it. The Page of Cups is a person who truly feels everything as it is happening, fully, and without shame. They love and laugh easily. They emote. They never lost their sense of wonder, and they bring it everywhere with them.
Pages represent beginnings, and in the realm of Cups, beginnings are emotions before they have risen to full consciousness. I’m talking about dreams, inspiration, and strong-but-not-totally-understood, intuition. The Page is ready to take the Ace of Cups, but they don’t quite know what to do with it yet. As an emotional being, the Page lacks the experience of the Queen or King. If you are the Page of Cups, you are likely on an emotional path you don’t quite understand yet.
If the Page of Cups is a person in your life, you likely felt an instant and inexplicable connection with them. They may be a person who would benefit from your guidance and/or protection. They are also probably an artist of some kind. They might not fully have their feet on the ground yet, but the Page of Cups is often a joy to be around. They have an infectiously open heart.
The One Who Rides for Love
Summarized eloquently in Modern Tarot by Michelle Tea, “The Knight of Cups is in love with love.” (329) I interpret this in two ways. First, the Knight of Cups is enamored with romantic love. Second, the Knight of Cups represents sensitivity.
In both interpretations, the Knight of Cups is ruled entirely by the heart. If the Knight of Cups is a person in your life, you’ve likely already fallen for them. If your Knight seems mature and able to align their love of love with the real world, great! If this all feels too good to be true, then it likely is. Be wary of anyone who becomes emotionally intimate with you too quickly. Consider your Knight without your rose-colored glasses on. They may be all about the glamour of love, but are they up for the difficult moments too?
If you are the Knight of Cups, take a breath. Maybe you are swept up in a romantic whirlwind and ignoring the other aspects of your life. Maybe you are just too busy dreaming to live in real life. Perhaps you are more the pining type of Knight, in love with a love that isn’t giving you enough back. Snap out of it. Turn your love toward yourself.
Our Lady of Intuition
If land is the ‘real world,’ and water the subconscious, then the Queen of Cups has her throne set in both. She has a deep connection to emotional knowledge, but also possesses the ability to sculpt that inner world into outer reality. The Queen of Cups is very much like The High Priestess, except for the defining difference that the Queen of Cups is interested in other people. She believes that life is to be enjoyed and that joy comes from relationships and experiences.
If the Queen of Cups is someone in your life, you will get a psychic vibe from them instantly. I drew the Queen of Cups as my mom, because she is the kind of person who intuits things about you that you haven’t even figured out about yourself. She is rich in love, smarts, and creativity, and she has probably already figured out how you are feeling about any given thing.
If you are the Queen of Cups, it’s time to cultivate your intuition. If your gut is telling you something, listen to it. Respect privacy, and try not to freak everyone out with your witchy insights. Trust your heart over logic or obligation. Let love be your driving force.
Leadership Through Emotional Strength
There are multiple views on how to read the King of Cups, but here’s mine. Look at the water surrounding the King. It is tumultuous and stormy. In tarot, water represents emotions and the unconscious. This King certainly has a lot going on. But his face is placid. He is content. He is taking it all in stride.
I drew the King of Cups as my grandfather, in a dinghy where we made many happy memories together. My grandfather has Alzheimer’s. His short-term memory leaves him, a situation which he understands, but does not battle. He is aging with grace and cheerfulness that I can only imagine. He knows he is loved, and he is happy. The King of Cups shows true emotional strength in the face of difficulty. In this way, he supports the people around him.
If you are the King of Cups, you are likely being called upon to balance your emotions. Whether your choppy sea has to do with internal strife or outside forces, it is time to manage your feelings without repressing them. How can you listen to your unconscious without being overwhelmed by it? How can you best show compassion for your community while still taking care of yourself?