Did you know that you can get cherry-flavored Manischevitz for six bucks? Because you can.


Anyhow! Back to Cups: the Deck of Good Times, Mostly.

Not so much for the Five of Cups, in which three of the cups have been overturned and spilled, typically, a red liquid. Probably wine, possibly blood, could be Kool-Aid. Use your own associations here. There’s a person, generally huddled in a cloak of some sort, brooding about them and ignoring two upright cups, which are either behind them or off to one side.

So obviously this isn’t great. The mnemonic meaning is “dark luck with emotions,” and, yeah. Generally speaking, nobody’s super thrilled about spilling their drinks–Cloak Person didn’t even get the fun of spilling them on someone obnoxious. Also, this card doesn’t say who spilled said cups, and the lack of another figure suggests that Cloak Guy is responsible. Spilling one beverage is a party foul; to paraphrase Lady Bracknell, spilling three looks like carelessness. Shit has gone ill, and either it’s actually your fault or you think it is.

Thaaaat said, not all is lost. Remember those two cups? They’re still there, they’re still upright, and frankly two drinks is enough for most people to go on with, at least temporarily.

This is a card about setbacks, and about how you approach them. It is totally normal and even necessary to be upset about the three spilled cups–that was some perfectly good wine/blood/Kool-Aid, and now it’s gone, and that’s harsh. But don’t lose sight of the fact that you’ve got two more cups waiting for you–and, you know, cups can be refilled and wine/blood/Kool-Aid is probably good for the grass.

Take a breath. Things suck, but everything doesn’t suck as much as you think.

Six of Cups

Since this is a quest for emotions, it’s one of the easiest places to go once you pick yourself up from the five–and like the six of pentacles, the quest with the six of cups involves other people. The card shows two figures, one of whom is generally a young girl (and the other is often not much older). One hands the other a cup with, often, a bunch of flowers in it.

This is a very pentacle-y cups card. It’s about emotions, yes, but it’s also about the past, and sort of about getting back to basics in order to go forward: finding simple joys, reunion with old friends or lovers or family, even rediscovering an old hobby or spiritual connection that brings out some emotional aspect you need now. It can also refer to nostalgia or to literal childhood, but mostly it’s about looking at your life, emotionally, and realizing what you want in it that you don’t have now.

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Cups Three and Four

Conversely, this is me on caffeine. Whee!

The Three of Cups has three young women dancing around, each holding a cup. Usually there’s a pastoral springtime background, and usually each of them is wearing a different-colored dress. Some cards give them the Charlie’s Angels triad of black/red/blonde hair.

As per the mnemonic, this is real growth in emotions. Given the image, we’re often talking about becoming a member of a community, or growing closer to one–it’s all very Golden Girls/Travelling Pants/Ya Ya Sisterhood, really. It can also mean celebration, and letting yourself have a good time.

Whenever three women show up in an image, someone is going to think of the various Three Fates or Maiden/Mother/Crone connotations. This doesn’t tend to come up for me, but if it does for you, cool–and within that framework, it could refer to a social group in which everyone has their role, like being “a Samantha” or “a Rose.”

Note: mythical groups of women tend to have three members, but those on TV have four, more often than not, and I’m not sure what’s up with that. (Little Women kind of has it both ways, where you have three actual girls and Doomed Saint Beth.) (Spoilers, I know.) There’s a bullshit MA dissertation waiting to happen here.

The Four of Cups is stasis in emotions, just as it’s stasis in material stuff for Pentacles. A dude’s sitting under a tree, staring broodingly at three cups. Our old friend Disembodied Cloud Hand makes a rare non-Ace appearance to offer him another, but he doesn’t seem to see it. (Occasionally, Disembodied Cloud Hand is nowhere in sight, and the fourth cup just shows up from the ether because what the hell, why not?)

Cups Dude is not as much of a dick as Pentacles Dude–being kind of a doofus about your emotions is not as directly harmful to others as hoarding material goods is. This card isn’t as entirely negative, either: the most obvious complex interpretation is the typical teen-movie foolishness of ignoring the best path because you’re too wrapped up in others, but it can also mean meditation and contemplation, and that taking some time to consider your options sometimes opens up an entirely new path.

You just have to, you know, turn your head and look at the damn thing.




Cups Cups Cups

I need to refresh my booze supplies, so this will be Inexplicably Sleepy Izzy Explains the Tarot, which should have much the same effect.

The Ace of Cups is, duh, a cup. It’s also apparently a rock band from the sixties, which I didn’t expect but when you think about it isn’t all that surprising. It’d probably be easier to count the occult symbols that didn’t become names for sixties rock bands. Many decks have said cup being offered by the traditional Disembodied Cloud Hand, and many cups have “W” on them, presumably for water but also maybe for wine or whiskey, I’m not judging.

(Note: reinterpretation of the four elements as Whiskey, Cigarettes, Rock, and, IDK, Pizza?)

(It’d work for Pentacles.)

Usually there’s some kinda glowy, frothy element at the top of the cup, and water streaming down. Often there’s a white bird involved. More New Age decks have dolphins, because of course they fucking do.

Simple meaning is, of course, new beginnings in emotions. Usually this is a positive, and that makes sense–there are other cards for grief, anger, or getting trapped–but in standard verbose interpretations, holy shit this card is bluebirds and roses. Aces are all positive (except for Ace of Base, who have no prophetic meaning as far as I’m aware) and I mentioned the general interpretation of cups as good cards last time, so the combination is…intense. (The Holy Grail thing does not help here, I’m sure.)

Love! Emotion literally overflowing! Joy! Fulfillment! Everything’s the best! Woo!

I would combine the two interpretations and distinguish this card from the other Super Happy Fun Cups Card (the ten, we’ll get there) by saying that this is the beginning of all that good stuff. It may just be starting to make an appearance. It may, depending on the reading, be an opportunity rather than a manifested thing.

In terms of jobs and relationships, this is definitely a honeymoon phase card. He’s so sweet and charming! They have free bagels on Thursdays! That’s not to say that those feelings are invalid, or won’t last, but this isn’t a card that says they will one way or another. It probably doesn’t point to anything false–the charm and the bagels do exist–but whether they’ll be enough to last during the long term, when you have a three-hour meeting and the guy really really wants you to watch his performance art, is not the business of the Ace.

The Two of Cups is like the Lovers minus five to ten levels–the Heroic tier to the Lovers’ Epic, if you played any 4E. The typical depiction is of a couple, each holding a cup, and often but not always a caduceus topped by a winged lion head between them on account of Reasons, and probably Alchemical Symbolism. Like, offhand I would say that the caduceus likely represents communication, transformation, trade/negotiation and the crossing of borders/boundaries between people, and the lion’s head with wings represents the fact that a winged lion head is totally metal.  Although it does parallel the Slightly Pervy Angel on the Lovers card nicely.

Unlike the Lovers,  these two people have their clothes on, which is sad, and symbolizes that they’re working as mortals in the mortal world rather than being cosmic forces. They’re also turned to face each other rather than the reader, which again suggests operating more within their normal sphere of existence. That plus the caduceus also implies that this is a situation they’re working out and talking about–this isn’t the insta-harmony of the Lovers, who either have a cosmic understanding or have already settled all that to the point where they can just chill in front of a tree.

The interpretations are…basically the Lovers, in the more verbose version: the willing union of separate or opposing forces. This can mean romance, friendship, partnership, or whatever; it leads to transformation, harmony, cooperation, and a whole that’s more than the sum of its parts. Symbolism suggests that this is a more fragile, guarded, and maybe newer such arrangement, but not necessarily wildly any of these qualities except when compared to the Lovers.

In the more simple interpretation, this is the potential for real growth in emotions–which goes along with the “newer” aspect of the Two. If the situation started with the Ace, this is where you start figuring out not just the details of how many vacation days you get and whose house you go to for Christmas, but how you feel about those details and why. You may find you feel more strongly about summers at your grandparents’ house than you knew, or that you actually don’t mind hanging out with your co-workers once in a while.

Two is a card of stability, but within that stability, it’s also a card of exploration. This is where you’re at. Now what?

Next week: Three and Four!