Tarot Suits : The Meaning of the Cups
This article is the second of a series of four that outline the meaning of the four suits of the tarot Minor Arcana. The suit of Cups corresponds to the West direction or wind; the Water element and the color, Blue; the Autumn (Summer to some) season; the Binah or Creative world of the Kaballah; the feminine yin energy; lunar and tidal cycles; and the Jungian function of feelings. It is also associated with the astrological signs of Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces. It has been correlated to the Holy Grail chalice, the stone Cup of Soma, Isis' Pomegranate Cup, the Persian Cup of Jamshid, the Blood Mysteries, and to the Christian Cup of Communion. It holds the deepness, the well of memory, the record of our existence. it also reflects artistic expression and a dallying in the arts in general, whether they be visual, literary, musical or physical.
A Cup is a CupLike the other suits, various tarot scholars have called the suit of Cups by other names. This can be confusing to the new tarot initiate, but openness to alternative perceptions and flexibility is good for the soul and imperative for the truly accurate tarot reader. If you read or hear someone talking about the suit of Cauldrons, Vessels, Goblets, Chalices, or Hearts - remember, that what they really mean, is the suit of Cups.
The Watery DepthsWhen you think of the Cup cards, think of the deep mysterious essence of water - an essential element of life itself. You will often see little images of water and flowing objects on any of the Cup cards. Cups represent emotions, psychic and intuitive arts, fantasy and illusion, fertility, emotions, spirituality, sacred sexuality, grace and serenity. They are the dreamy aspect of the Minor Arcana, a delightful addition to any spread. These cards even stimulate your ability to visualize and practice clairvoyance!
Inverse CardsOf course, every tarot card has a down side, if pulled in an inverse position from the deck. The general negative aspects of the Cup suit is the tendency towards moodiness, excessive appetites and susceptibility to addictions. All of the emotions that drag us down - self pity, sadness, melancholia, anger, rage, jealousy, envy, callousness, and so forth can all be found in the inverse cup cards. They can also represent someone or something that drains your psychic energy.
For instance, if one draws the Queen of Cups in an upright position, the card means: a sensitive, receptive and affectionate woman. Someone who is in close touch with her inner self, who can demonstrate great perceptiveness, intuition and will power when needed. If a man draws this card, it reminds him to connect with the "feminine" side of his inner self, and to open himself to life's whole spectrum of emotions.
On the other hand, if one draws the Queen of Cups in an inverse position, the card means: a woman who appears to be similar to the woman described above, but only superficially. Underneath, she shows fickleness, vanity, untrustworthiness, and is capricious and unreliable. She can be the source of great problems to anyone who allows her into their confidence. It is important to note the position of the card - upright or inverse - as you do a reading. It can make all the difference in the true meaning of the card cluster being examined.
(TIP: Click on the four Thoth deck card illustrations for larger view)