Tarot cups are one of four suits in the Minor Arcana in a tarot deck- these suits are Cups, Pentacles, Swords, and Wands. Each has a unique symbolism and association that helps the reader understand what the cards are saying. Whether you are learning to read tarot or you simply want more insight into the cards that were pulled during a reading, this is the place to start learning what the Cups have to say.
Tarot Cups are associated with water and the water signs of the zodiac (Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces). Many tarot beginners think “well sure, this makes sense because cups hold water!” But that really isn't what the symbolism means. I consider the original Rider-Waite deck to have some of the best symbolism.
Water is the sign associated with emotions, thoughts, and feelings. It’s the symbol of what’s going on internally with a person; the dialogue you have with yourself, the feelings you experience, and the way you interpret other people’s actions.
All of these things make up our psyche, which is the way we view the world and our beliefs about how the world works. It’s such a sensitive, integral part of our humanness that we can lose sight of how our psyche is driving our actions. We don't see where our feelings really stem from. In some cases we're afraid to confront our bad, hurtful, or shameful thoughts.
This great mystery of the psyche and how it affects us and our actions is why psychology (the study of how the mind works) is such an interesting and complex field of study. Two people can experience the same event at the same time and they will remember, and interpret, it differently. Scientists are always trying to figure out what makes people tick.
With tarot you have the ability to gain a little more insight into that mystery if you're willing to listen to the cards.
Insight into the psyche is what makes Tarot Cups such a useful tool. The Cups cards help us step outside of our normal thought process and view things from a new perspective. These new perspectives can be very helpful in getting us over a hump or out of a rut in our emotional lives.
Often you'll find tarot readers talking about how the cups relate to matters of the heart, love, and relationships and focus solely on that interpretation. It’s important to remember the vast range of feelings a person has and allow the cards to speak freely to all those emotions. Tarot Cups do not just focus on love (or lack of love). Tarot cards are extremely useful for reframing life and gaining deeper insight into ourselves and our situations but you must be open to those interpretations.
There are ten number cards and four face cards (also called the “Royal Arcana”) in the Suit of Cups. The suits always start with an Ace and end with a King, which feels familiar to a regular deck of playing cards.
The Ace is the first card of the suit and nearly always represents a new beginning. Generally, these are optimistic outlooks.
Next come the number cards 2-10. Each of these has specific meanings such as particular trials or successes. The Cup cards are laid out to progress from 2 to 10 in order to show a journey. As the cards move closer to 10 the journey becomes more arduous, has setbacks, and requires more fortitude from the querent (the person receiving the reading). By the time 10 comes up the journey has ended or is coming to an end very shortly.
Finally, the Royal Arcana ends the suit and consists of a page, a
knight, a queen, and a king. Each of these cards points more to a person
and their personality, or how they handle a situation, than the actual
situation itself. They are extremely helpful for realizing how others
see you. They also alert you to the people you should be looking for in
your life for guidance or who to avoid.
All the cards work together with a common goal of sharing the most information possible with you. Understanding each card’s role within the context of the suit, within the context of the deck, and as a solo card are necessary for a useful and enlightening reading.
Ace of Cups- The Ace of Cups alerts us to new beginnings and an
extremely optimistic and hopeful outlook for love, relationships, and
even fertility. This card is a positive card in any context but if it
comes up in a reading about a relationship it bodes extremely well. Read more about the Ace of Cups here.
Two of Cups- The Two of Cups shows many positive outcomes for relationships and highlights the balance in life and the mutual trust of partners. Life will have a general sense of harmony and balance and will overall bring contentment and happiness. Read more about the Two of Cups here.
Three of Cups- The Three of Cups is a very optimistic card for celebrations and happy events spent with loved ones. It is a time of merriment and making many fond memories with your social circle. Read more about the Three of Cups here.
Four of Cups- The Four of Cups is where the tarot cups cards begin to switch from positive to mixed outcomes. Your outlook is tinged with nostalgia, regret for missed opportunities, and apathy about changing things. This card emphasizes introspection and contemplation of ourselves in order to change our lives. Read more about the Four of Cups here.
Five of Cups- The Five of Cups is one of those feared cards because the omen is not so good. It represents loss, grief, depression, even anger. However a strong thread of hope runs through it too, so do not despair. Life can be rebuilt. Read more about the Five of Cups here.
Six of Cups- The Six of Cups is a card about childhood memories and nostalgia. Sometimes we bring behaviors with us from childhood that do not serve us in the present and this card reminds us to leave some things behind in order to live our best life. Read more about the Six of Cups here.
Seven of Cups- The Seven of Cups is a highly positive tarot cups card in between some pretty negative ones. It shows all the possibilities in the world. Anything you dream up, you can achieve! That is, if you take action. Dreams don't become reality without it. Read more about the Seven of Cups here.
Eight of Cups- The Eight of Cups is a card of disappointment in your current situation, a feeling of hopeless if things continue as they are, and the inevitable change you must make in order to move on. Read more about the Eight of Cups here.
Nine of Cups- The Nine of Cups is a card of happiness, victory, and dreams coming true. Expect to be a vision of success when you receive this card, because even the reverse meanings bring good things. Read more about the Nine of Cups here.
Ten of Cups- The Ten of Cups is ultimately a fantastic card and shows great happiness stemming from the deepest parts of your soul. Many good things await with this card. Read more about the Ten of Cups here.
Page of Cups- The Page of Cups is the first card in the tarot cups Royal Arcana, and highlights the personality attributes of a young person- idealism, naivete, and imagination. There is a strong association with psychic abilities and empathy, too. Read more about the Page of Cups here.
Knight of Cups- The Knight of Cups is all about positive outcomes for love, romance, and relationships. Passion in evident and the Knight will woo. Protection also features heavily. Read more about the Knight of Cups here.
Queen of Cups- The Queen of Cups represents a strong psychic ability and a wise, loving, caregiver. The opportunity to hone psychic skills and to tap into the unseen world is captured with this card. Read more about the Queen of Cups here.
King of Cups- The King of Cups is the ultimate tarot cups card and illustrates a strong mentor who values clear and helpful communication, who practices fairness in their dealings, and who prioritizes people over money. Read more about the King of Cups here.
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