The Suit of Cups | Minor Arcana

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The Meaning of Cups in the Minor Arcana

Cups, also known as chalices or flasks, are linked to the element water because of their use as vessels for liquids. They represent the idea of temperance, which is one of the four Cardinal Virtues. One reason water might represent temperance, meaning controlled actions, is because of the way it holds a constant temperature despite atmospheric fluctuations. Cups and water are linked to agriculture, to farmers who used water in a controlled way to grow their crops. Too much water would kill the crops as would too little; therefore, they must strike a balance. 

The Suit of Cups are considered feminine most likely because cups “receive” liquid and women are likewise seen as accepting. Also, wetness is connected to fertility, love, emotions, sexuality and sensuality. In seeking the origins of the cup symbol, some historians link the cup to the Holy Grail, the cup Jesus drank from at the Last Supper. The Cup has also been linked to the Dagda’s Cauldron, a tale from Irish lore in which the cauldron could resuscitate the dead. In both scenarios, Cups symbolize regeneration, spiritual realization, healing, and fecundity.

Cups and water symbolize inwardness, the deep unconscious, the womb, and the soul. Water represents feelings and psychological transformation such as baptism. Water changes shape; it flows or it stands still depending on its vessel and the forces acting on it. Our daily connections to water include showering and bathing, cooking, watering a garden, swimming, rain and storms, boating, wells, and tears. Additionally, all life generated from the “primordial soup” - in water lifeforms gestate and recombine giving birth to new creatures and ways of interacting with the planet. Water can be calming, but it can also be forceful and overwhelming.

The season associated with water is winter because winter is cooling and introspective. Additionally, it is a time when animals go into hibernation; one must stock up for winter and ration goods as well as energies. Water replenishes and also calms and is linked to the lower regions of the body: sexuality, fertility, and energy. When there is an imbalance associated with cups it can come from not taking care of oneself and being foolhardy with one’s energies. For example, a person might allow herself to be overworked, ruled by fear and stress, overcome by insecurity, exhaustion from too much activity of a sexual nature, or overuse of certain dietary items such as sugars, alcohols, or other ingredients with a toxic effect. This last note connects to the idea of “temperance” which also means to abstain from alcohol. 

The positive connotation of The Cup and water is growth and development, renewal, and an inner sense of agelessness. There is also a heightened sense of focus and listening associated with Cups and winter. One might imagine the sound of steam in the heating pipes, boiling water on the stove, or rain coming down on the rooftops. It is important to balance inwardness with motion otherwise a person can be overcome by fear and create obstacles to love, connection, and even experiences of joy. Too little water means drought and too much can mean a flood; balance is of utmost importance.

Ace of Cups

At a Glance

The Ace of Cups represents the beginning of our emotional wellsprings. It heralds emotional abundance as well as harmony.

If You Drew This Card…

Tarot cards offer a range of meanings to draw insight from. Both negative and positive aspects of each card can resonate with various aspects of your life.

Eight of Cups

At a Glance

The image on the card is that of a person turning away in disgust from the signs of his overindulgence, and interpretations of the Eight of Cups tend to be based around the end of a matter, even when the implications of that ending are more positive.

If You Drew This Card…

When looking into the card’s deeper layers of meaning, it helps to use both the imagery and the combination of suit and number to reflect on its meaning in context:

Five of Cups

At a Glance

The Five of Cups represents loss and the grief one feels for it. It can be a sign of coming changes and potential growth that accompany loss.

If You Drew This Card…

Tarot cards can contain a multitude of meanings that can apply to your life in varying degrees. The truest interpretation of the following messages can be the one that resonates the most and offers the best guidance for the future.

Four of Cups

At a Glance

The Four of Cups is symbolic of apathy and self-absorption. Drawing it can be a wake-up call that you are letting opportunities pass you by.

If You Drew This Card…

Every Tarot card offers a core message that can speak to you in many different ways. Being honest about the ways in which the following meanings are relevant to your life can help you get the true insight you seek.

King of Cups

At a Glance

The King of Cups is a Royal Arcane Tarot card that speaks of noble leadership and negotiation. It also carries respect for and knowledge of religion and spiritual matters, science and philosophy.

If You Drew This Card…

Tarot cards can be interpreted in multiple ways. However, the best way to think about card symbols that appear to you is to consider how the symbols fit into the context of your life and experiences.

Knight of Cups

At a Glance

The Knight of Cups rides alone, which can be a blessing or a curse for him. He is a sensitive and romantic soul, not given to fighting in spite of his profession as a warrior. A a member of the water suit, the Knight of Cups is more in touch with his emotions and intuition than other Knights, but he is no less of a Knight for that.

If You Drew This Card…

The meaning of a given tarot card varies depending on how it is oriented and what cards it is associated with. However, these are some things you can expect if you draw the Knight of Cups

Nine of Cups

At a Glance

One’s first impression is of gluttony, which is accurate, but the Nine of Cups serves as a celebration, not a warning. In the Minor Arcana, its role is to underscore the ways that gluttony or feasting expand both the mind and the body.

If You Drew This Card…

Consider the ways that satiety and abundance nourish creativity and growth, and look for the opportunities to apply this good fortune moving forward.

Page of Cups

At a Glance

The Page of Cups is a Minor Arcana Tarot card that could signify an upcoming renewal of creative energy. This card may also suggest that some type of youthful emotional experience may be upcoming in your life.

If You Drew This Card…

Tarot cards can have many different interpretations in your specific situation or life. Here are some ideas about what this card’s appearance may mean for you.

Queen of Cups

At a Glance

The Queen of Cups is a sensitive card that combines the positive water forces of the suit with the thoughtful and loving nature of the Queen. The cup that the queen holds is always closed, which means that the thoughts and feelings associated with this card emanate from within the subconscious.

If You Drew This Card…

Tarot cards do not have one set meaning. Their meanings vary depending on the surrounding cards and the orientation of the card when it is drawn. These are some of the meanings associated with the Queen of Cups.

Seven of Cups

At a Glance

A shadowy human stands in front of a cloud supporting seven golden cups containing treasures and emblems of power and success. One cup appears to contain a small human figure but the face is obscured by an opaque veil.

If You Drew This Card…

Success and attainment is at hand! Or is it? Consider these questions when the Seven of Cups appears in a reading:

Six of Cups

At a Glance

This optimistic card is a welcome rest in the midst of the emotional upheaval shown in the Five of Cups. A certain degree of stability has been regained, but will it be a lasting state of healing and restoration or a brief interlude before deeper work unfolds?

If You Drew This Card…

There are many symbols to prompt reflection on the meaning of this card. Here are some questions you can consider:

Ten of Cups

At a Glance

In the Minor Arcana Tarot cards, the Ten of Cups is one of the most joyful cards in the deck. Getting this card in your reading could mean you finally get your happily ever after.

If You Drew This Card…

The symbolism found in the cards can be interpreted in a variety of ways. Here are some potential outcomes you may be able to take with you when you examine this card.

Three of Cups

At a Glance

The Three of Cups represents happiness, connection and fruitfulness. It signals a time of emotional growth and celebration.

If You Drew This Card…

Like all Tarot cards, the Three of Cups conveys a message with a range of interpretations. See which of these meanings ring most true for your own circumstances.

Two of Cups

At a Glance

The Two of Cups depicts harmony and balance. It is a harbinger of peace and emotional stability, as well as important relationship decisions.

If You Drew This Card…

The Two of Cups is largely a positive card, especially for relationships. It can play a significant role in the emotional decisions you make.

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