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Ace of Cups

Key word: spirituality

The Ace of Cups is the root of the powers of water. It is the magical tool of the west, brought from the mystical city of Murias and appears in the various guises as grail, cauldron and hollow of water. The suit of cups corresponds to the element of water and the season of autumn. Its station on the wheel is the autumn equinox which marks the harvest and the completion of the vegetation cycle of the year, as the days begin to grow colder and the light declines. It is the time of fullness and maturity. The  rose symbolises mystical or divine love, here depicted as ripe rosehips hanging over the cup. The rainbow represents  hope and  the eternal spirit, the pathway to the afterlife.

Divinatory Meanings:

All of the aces indicate a burst of raw energy, with the Ace of Cups this relates to an overwhelming rush of feelings and emotions. When the Ace of Cups appears in your spread it  indicates a time of great spiritual fulfilment and contact with the Source of Being. Your soul feels its connection with the cosmos and is nourished  by Divine love. You are aware of a free flowing of energies and your spirit is healed and bathed in joy. It may be that you receive spiritual healing or become aware of your own healing powers. You may receive guidance from the Higher Self or contact guides and spirits. This card is also strongly associated with the home and with the love and contentment to be found there.  It portends a happy relationship, perhaps marriage and motherhood.

Reverse Meanings:

When the Ace of Cups appears reversed it points to feelings of unhappiness and isolation. You feel that you have lost your way and you doubt things that you were once sure about - your direction in life and your spiritual beliefs.

Two Of Cups

Key word: harmony

Here the raw energy of the Ace of Cups becomes polarised. The two cups depicted are equally balanced and maintain an equilibrium by pouring the water they contain back and forth. Water in a tarot card always represents the emotions and the subconscious mind. Here the water is clear and free flowing. The magpie is also symbolic of balance. It  has contrasting plumage, black and white.

Divinatory Meanings:

The raw emotional energy of the Ace of Cups now begins to make itself manifest in the world in the Two of Cups as one person interacts with another. This card calls on you to recognise that there is harmony in polarity- male and female, night and day, summer and winter and that that these opposites are necessary to existence and have equal value. When the Two of Cups appears in your spread it heralds a phase of harmony and co-operation in the area of relationships.  Quarrels and differences in existing relationships are resolved  and you may begin new friendships or even a new romance. Success will come from working with other people, you will be able to bounce ideas off each other and come up with something new.

Reverse Meanings:

The Two of  Cups reversed indicates quarrels and misunderstandings mar relationships, even  separation and divorce are possible. According to surrounding cards it can be warning you that a partner is being unfaithful, or that your love is not returned in equal measure.

Three of Cups

Key word: resolution

The harvest is the completion and resolution of the farming year. It began at Lughnasa with the gathering of the first fruits, and carried on until around the autumn equinox and Harvest Home.

Divinatory Meanings:

The threes represent an initial completion of the first stage of a project or life cycle, and though this can be celebrated, there is more to come, just as the completion of the harvest marks the end of one cycle and the start of another. When the Three of Cups appears in your spread, it indicates that affairs come to a happy conclusion, according to surrounding cards this may be the success of a project, the start of a love affair, a marriage, the birth of a child or  recovery from an illness. It is time for celebrations and you will entertain family and friends and be given hospitality in return. You will feel vital and alive, this is a time of great emotional and spiritual growth. All differences and quarrels will be resolved and relationships will be loving and trusting. Spiritually, this is time to give thanks for blessings received.

Reverse Meanings:

You have been excessively and destructively self indulgent, whether eating too much, smoking too much, drinking too much,  taking drugs  or engaging in selfishly promiscuous sex, with no thought for the feelings of others.

Four of Cups

Key word: discontent

The four cups depicted in the card are neglected, they have become rusty and dull. They stand in front of a yew, a tree with sinister connotations. The yew is generally seen as a tree of death, but it is also a tree of regeneration arising from death. The yew reminds us that out of any kind of death or ending, a new life begins.

Divinatory Meanings:

All of the fours indicate some kind of discontent. This card demonstrates that you are feeling discontent on an emotional level. The Four of Cups indicates that difficulties within a relationship have lead to unspoken resentments and a lack of emotional fulfilment. You are bored and dissatisfied with your life, you feel apathetic and uninspired. You may be tempted to relieve this with excessive indulgence in materialistic pleasures, but this will soon pall and will not fill the gap you feel. Your way of life does not provide you with goals to reach for, you are not stretched or sufficiently stimulated.

Reverse  Meanings:

You have been trying to gain  transitory satisfactions in life from seeking ever greater novelties and excitements, but in reality these have brought you little pleasure. Contentment can only come from within, from being happy with yourself. You need to achieve something you can be proud of, not merely entertained.

Five of Cups

Key word: regret

The card shows two cups, wrapped about with bindweed, which have fallen over, spilling their contents, while three cups remain standing, and full of liquid. Bindweed strangles anything that it climbs around and is a symbol of dangerous obstinacy.

Divinatory Meanings:

When the Five of Cups appears in your spread it indicates that you are wallowing in regret for something you have lost and ignoring what you still have left, which may be more valuable in the long run. This card often indicates a marriage or a love affair gone wrong, leading to unhappiness and perhaps separations, but in this card the situation is not terminal, there is something that can be retrieved.

Reverse Meanings:

The Five of Cups reversed indicates and unexpected and rapid change, overturning your whole way of life. This is the source of much anxiety. However, this change is paving the way for a new kind of life, with different expectations and new friendships.  

 Six of Cups

key word: nostalgia

The six cups in this card are ephemeral, since they belong to the past - they are a memory. They appear against a background of cypress trees, trees of mourning and a reminder of the inevitability of endings of all kinds. However, it is an evergreen tree and reminds us of the incorruptible nature of the spirit.

Divinatory Meanings:

You are trying to escape back into the past, which you are remembering as being  happy and beautiful.  Instead of wallowing in nostalgia use the knowledge you have gained from the past to realise your ambitions in the present. Depending on the surrounding cards, the Six of Cups can mean that an old friend or lover comes back into your life, and though you cannot regain what you had before, you can begin a totally new and different kind of relationship.

Reverse Meanings:

You absolutely refuse to let go of the past. You try to cling to old customs and habits when they no longer have any meaning or benefit. It may be that the memory of your past glories and successes is preventing you from achieving anything now.

Seven of Cups

The seven cups of this card  distort and dissolve  and may be illusory. They are shown against a background of hops, which are used to make beer, sometimes the cause of more delusions.  

Divinatory Meanings:

You are deceiving yourself, you might think you are achieving something, but you are not. Not only are you lying to yourself, but you are treating your friends badly, breaking promises and being unreliable. You might have committed yourself to too many things to achieve any of them. You need to look at your situation more realistically, a lot of opportunities surround you, but you cannot keep all the options open forever.  Spiritually, you might think you have had a mystical experience, but you are confusing fact with fantasy and wishful thinking. Do not follow the path of illusion, it is a dead end. Illumination cannot be obtained by short cuts or drugs, it cannot be bought.

Reverse Meanings:

You have been relying on the false promises of others.  Do not be carried away by the over enthusiasm of so-called friends, or you might be drawn into a situation which is difficult to escape. According to surrounding cards this can relate to  alcohol or drug addiction. What is it that you are afraid of in the real world?

Eight of Cups

Key word: abandonment

The card shows eight discarded cups, abandoned and entwined with ivy and cinquefoil flowers. The background is a mountainous region in Killarney, Ireland in autumn. Mountains represent the aspirations of the soul, with the spirit at the summit. The ivy which binds the cups has the power to change consciousness, to facilitate an inward journey.  During the Middle Ages cinquefoil was used in the legendary 'flying ointment', which facilitated journeys to other realms.

Divinatory Meanings:

Sometimes it is necessary to recognise that a bad situation cannot be changed or resolved and must simply be abandoned and left behind. This may involve a change of residence or a period of travel. Often the ending of such a situation is accompanied by depression and regret, but this letting go is the beginning of a change  which is necessary to bring something new and fresh into your life, a turning point in your life which will bring you new friends and experiences.

Spiritually, you may be called upon to leave behind material success for something higher. The ivy of the card represents  the change of consciousness that takes place at initiation, bringing with it the gifts of prophecy and vision.

Reverse Meanings:

The Eight of Cups reversed indicates the reckless abandonment of a carefully constructed and well-founded way of life in a misguided search for an ideal, whether this is a person or a concept.

Nine of Cups

Key word: stability

The nine cups of this card are well looked after and reflect the prosperity and stable circumstances of their owner. They are surrounded by poppy flowers, sometimes said to be the ‘mother of the corn’.  The four leafed clover represents the four directions and the four elements.

Divinatory Meanings:

The Nine of Cups is sometimes called ‘the Wish Card’ and heralds the fulfilment of a dream. It shows that difficulties have been overcome and that all your efforts and steady commitment will be rewarded. This is a time of emotional and material stability, good health and great happiness, though this situation may only be temporary. Spiritually this card is telling you that you must take time to assimilate what you have learned and must work on balancing the elements within yourself to create a firm foundation before you try to progress further.

Reverse Meanings:

You are being very selfish and self indulgent, using your friends and abusing their hospitality. You are spending money that you don’t have and this will lead to financial difficulties, if it hasn’t already. Relationships are founded on give and take, if you want real friendships and real love, you must learn to give as well as take.

Ten of Cups

Key word: reward

The ten cups of this card are full with the various good things of the harvest, the culmination of all the efforts of the farming year.  They represent achievements of various kinds. The fruits depicted all have various symbolic meanings and energies, and play their part in our harvest celebrations.

Divinatory Meanings:

You are now reaping the rewards of all your efforts. It is a time of great happiness within the family and you will experience the joy of true friendships. This situation has firm foundations and will be long lasting.

Reverse Meanings:

Your well ordered environment will be disrupted in an extreme fashion, perhaps by the birth of a child or by a troublesome teenager. This card heralds family quarrels and the loss of friendships.

Page of Cups

Key word: reflection

In Celtic legend nine hazel trees of poetry overhung Connla’s well. All the knowledge of the arts and sciences were given to these nine trees. The salmon was regarded as a store of ancient knowledge and wisdom by the Celts and was one of the five oldest animals. The spotted salmon, by virtue of having eaten the hazel nuts, both contained and were symbols of all knowledge

Divinatory Meanings:

The Page of Cups represents the first impulse of the element of water, the initial development of the capacities of feeling and intuition. The pool he gazes into represents the soul, reflecting back the image of the true self. Reflection is the opposite of action, and leads down into making contact with the muse. This card may herald a time of great perception and awareness, a time of spiritual development and understanding.  On a personal level, this card is telling you that a hurt in the past damaged your self esteem and self confidence. You have been through a period of withdrawal and self pre-occupation but you are now learning to value yourself again, and beginning to feel capable of loving once more. This card can herald a new relationship, or a new level in an existing relationship. Spiritually, passive meditation will prove to be of the most benefit to you at the moment.

A court card often indicates the entrance of a person into your life, or a friend or acquaintance who proves important. The Page is a philosophical young person, interested in religion and the fundamental questions of life and death, but his views are his own, and influenced by no-one. He does not care what others think of him and if you ask for his opinion he will give it with brutal honesty, not caring if he hurts your feelings.

Reverse Meanings:

If the Page of Cups appears reversed in your spread it indicates the appearance of a  selfish and bitter person in your life, who reacts to small or imagined injuries with furious hatred and schemes of revenge. This person can harbour a grudge for years. Alternatively, the Page reversed may be telling you that it is time to let go of  grudges or feelings of bitterness before they poison you.  

Knight of Cups

Key word: movement

The Knight of Cups represents the changeable nature of the element of water, which is like the stream he stands in, constantly moving and shifting. This chivalrous Knight is scouring the earth in search of his ideal of beauty and truth, the holy grail. The otter which surfaces before him often appear in legend as a guide to those undertaking voyages or quests..

Divinatory Meanings:

When the Knight of Cups appears in your spread, he may be telling you that it is time to open yourself up to the feeling of being in love, a heady romantic relationship is on its way to you, you may even receive a proposal of marriage. On the other hand, you may receive a proposal of an artistic or creative nature from a man, or an invitation or a message. Opportunities which should be seized as they will not present themselves again.

Spiritually this card relates to the lessons of the otter. Otter teaches the way to go beyond the surface of a particular teaching or tradition to reach the core of truth that lies within it. Otter catches the Salmon of Wisdom by being fluid and swift, not serious and ponderous.

The Knight of Cups may mark the appearance in your life of a man who is creative and artistic, charming and good natured. He is a romantic with high ideals, he can always be counted on to champion the under-dog- the very model of the chivalrous knight. He values beauty and truth above all else and searches for perfection. He often hopes to find it mirrored in a partner, and should she fail to match up, he moves on, constantly hopeful of finding his soul mate. Should the magic feeling of ‘being in love’ fade into the mundane, he will leave. Though the knight is gentle and kind,  he can leave many broken hearts in his wake when human women fail to match his ideals.

Reverse Meanings:

The Knight of Cups reversed is warning you about an untrustworthy man in your life. He is idle, selfish and incapable of telling the truth. He is too lazy to actually achieve anything, he just dreams about it and talks about it, telling himself that he is preparing himself for when the opportunity arises. If you are not careful he could obtain money from you on false pretences. Or perhaps the above is describing you?

Queen of Cups

Key word: intuition

The woman of this card is the Grail Maiden, who holds the sacred chalice of enlightenment. The kingfisher is an elusive bird, rarely seen except as a bright, brief flash of blue over the water. It represents a moment of magic, a brief but significant connection with the Otherworld.

Divinatory Meanings:

The Queen of Cups represents the stable dimension of the element of water, contained within the still pool, the deep well, the cup or cauldron or the depths of the psyche. She embodies the mystery of the feminine, exerting a seductive power which has nothing to do with physical beauty, in fact, the Grail Maiden was not beautiful, her beauty was an inner one, a perfect spirit. The feminine mystery is connected to the secret and subconscious power of feelings. The Queen of Cups is attractive because she reflects back to the observer their own inner desires. Because she is unknowable, men find her all the more seductive, as she can reflect their own fantasies. The appearance of the Queen of Cups in your cards heralds a time of discovering new qualities and depths within yourself, with an active and healthy inner life. Water is the element of intuition and psychic skills, and these are abilities you possess and should learn to trust.

The Queen of Cups  can indicate the appearance of a woman in your life. She may appear rather languid and dreamy, a fragile creature, easily hurt. She is highly imaginative and artistic, intuitive and possibly clairvoyant. She appears to have great mysterious depths to her psyche which are unfathomable to the observer. She is compassionate towards her fellow beings, and can be very motherly. She will help you in a crisis, but will probably wait to see if anyone else will do it first.

Reverse Meanings:

You are out of touch with your feelings. Perhaps you are trying to block them off to prevent yourself being hurt. Conversely, perhaps you are overwhelmed by your emotions, making yourself ill with worry and anxiety. If this does not apply the Queen of Cups reversed may be warning you about an unreliable woman who cannot be trusted or depended on.  Her opinions change swiftly and without logic or just reason, one minute she might seem to be your best friend and the next your worst enemy.  

King of Cups

Key word: water

The King of Cups  is Lord of the Powers of Water. Water rules the emotions and feelings, intuition and psychic abilities. It is associated with the season of autumn, fullness and maturity, twilight and the direction of the west. In this card the King of Cups is depicted sitting on a throne overlooking the sea. All types of water are symbolically related.  Water represents the life force in its fluid state. It is the first principle from which form arises.

Divinatory Meanings:

The King of Cups represents the quintessential powers of water. He is calling on you to develop the watery part of yourself,  to explore the depths of your feelings and to be willing to show your emotions. He is the only one of the kings to have acknowledged the feminine side of his nature, his capacity for nurture, affection, empathy and intuition. His dog is a loyal and loving companion and has lessons to teach.

The King of Cups may make his influence felt in your life in the shape of an actual person, a mature man, intensely concerned with relationships who often seeks to help others come to terms with their own emotional problems as a social worker or therapist. He will always be willing to talk and help you explore your feelings and come to terms with them, but if you need support of a more practical nature it might be best to look elsewhere.

Reverse Meanings:

You have too much water in your make up, a propensity to an overindulgence in sensuality and idleness - the card may indicate alcohol or drug abuse. You may have great enthusiasm for new ideas and projects, but never follow them up, or you dabble in various things without completing any of them. You want spiritual awareness, but are not prepared to work at it, flitting from one idea to another. Alternatively, the King of Cups reversed may be warning you not to take advice from a well intentioned but hasty friend. He has your interests at heart but is not reliable.

Sacred Circle Tarot Suit of Cups

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