It is a beautiful, bright spring morning—the birds are chirping, the dew is still fresh on the grass, and the sun is shining down gently on the new life stirring in all corners of this verdant landscape.
High overhead, we see a stunning, vibrantly iridescent rainbow stretching itself wide across the sky. This rainbow seems to glimmer and glow with the gold of the 10 cups contained within the bands of vibrant color on display in the clear blue sky.
This rainbow stands suspended over the rolling green hills, the gently meandering creek, and the cozy, comfortable cottage that is home to the happy family we see here in this card.
We see a husband and wife embrace each other while they raise their hands to the air in an expression of joyous celebration.
To the right of this happy pair, we see their son and their daughter have taken each other by the hand, and are happily dancing around in a circle, unable to contain the happiness and joy they feel together on this beautiful spring day.
Interpretation of the 10 of Cups
When the 10 of Cups comes up in a reading, it often can signal a deep sense of emotional satisfaction and joy.
This card reflects being in a loving and supportive environment, where one’s emotional needs for connection and closeness with others are easily met.
The 10 of Cups also speaks to a deeply felt sense of both inner and outer harmony. When this card appears, it can indicate a feeling of serenity in one’s home life and closest relationships.
This card may signal an appreciation of the simple joys of a peaceful and simple life, one where harmonious relations are cultivated and valued, not only between individual people, but also in relationship to the earth and the natural world of which we are a part.
The 10 of Cups often speaks to the quiet moments of intimacy and connection we experience with our loved ones. It is rooted in qualities of honesty, emotional openness, and a sincere recognition of the underlying value, autonomy and worth of those we care about and are closest to.
When this card comes up in a reading, it is often asking us to remember that happiness and joy is not just about what we have, but about who we choose to share it with.
In the image on the card, we see a plump man sitting contentedly on a stone bench. He sits with legs spread wide, clearly relaxed and at ease here. With his hands comfortably folded across his chest, he seems to lean backwards with a leisurely attitude of contentment, comfort and satisfaction.
Behind him stands a high banquet table covered in rich blue cloth. Upon this table are nine cups, each of them filled with one of the delicious beverages which have been prepared as part of the celebratory feast that the man is about to enjoy with his friends and loved ones.
The man in question appears to be as happy as could be. Everything is ready, the party is about to begin, and he is ready to relax and have fun.
He welcomes this abundant banquet as a well-deserved reward for all of the effort he has put in. He knows without a doubt that he deserves all the good fun which is soon to come.
Interpretation of the 9 of Cups
When the 9 of Cups comes up in a tarot reading, it usually portends good news. Known by many as the “wish” card, it will often indicate desire fulfilled or some hope realized.
Many times, this card relates to a situation in which we have the opportunity to enjoy the finer things in life. It can mean feeling secure in your resources, being surrounded by abundance, as well as also potentially having access to certain luxuries.
It refers quite often to the enjoyment and appreciation of sensual pleasures: this can be savoring a delicious meal with friends and family, eating delicious food, drinking fine wine, enjoying the sensation of sumptuous velvet fabric on one’s skin, and in general partaking of the many pleasures life has to offer.
Additionally, the 9 of Cups can signal a feeling of deep satisfaction and contentment, which extends not only to our material possessions, but even to our sense of self, as well.
Looking again at the image on the card, we can see the deep confidence, self-assurance and satisfaction that seem to exude from the man at the center.
At times, this may well indicate a healthy sense of self-esteem and pride in oneself and one’s abilities. However, in some contexts this may manifest itself in a more negative way and be expressed as a sense of superiority or grandiosity.
Although the Nine of Cups is typically a sign of good fortune and celebration, there are also some less positive manifestations which we may need to watch out for.
When this card appears, we will likely have the opportunity to indulge and enjoy life, but we should take care not to overindulge or to be extravagant or wasteful, as this card can at times be accompanied by a certain reckless extravagance that we may come to regret after the party is over.
In the image on this card, we see a darkened sky, at the moment when the moon moves to cover up the sun in a solar eclipse.
Underneath this portentous planetary conjunction, we see a rocky coastline, where rocky green cliffs meet shallow, watery tide pools beneath.
It is the moon which pulls on these tides, stirring the waters of the earth and the blood of our bodies; sometimes, it prompts sudden changes of heart and then the inevitable movement toward newly envisioned desires that call out to us to be embodied more fully.
Directly before us stand eight cups standing stacked neatly in two rows. In the space left by a gap in the top row we catch sight of a figure wearing a striking crimson cloak and boots. In tarot, the color red typically stands for the power of our desires, feelings and emotions.
We see that this person has turned away from us, setting out with the intention to find a more satisfying life for herself. It is likely due less to any logical reasoning than a deep seated desire which spurs her to action.
Interpretation of the 8 of Cups in a Reading
When the 8 of Cups shows up in a tarot reading, it often refers to a situation where we have chosen to leave behind something which still gives us some measure of satisfaction and joy, in order to seek out something better or more fulfilling.
It is interesting to note that, in contrast to the 5 of Cups we saw earlier, all of the cups in this card still remain standing. Nothing here has been lost, and on some level, there still remains a considerable amount of potential for happiness here.
As a result, the 8 of Cups can often mean leaving behind the known, and embarking on a journey of self-discovery to find what is more fully aligned with the true desires of your heart.
In addition, the eclipse of the sun we see in this card can guide us to seeing some of the deeper meanings at play. The Sun represents the solar mode of conscious, rational awareness. In turn, it is being covered by the Moon, which represents the lunar mode of subconscious, emotional awareness.
This indicates that we are being prompted to trust our “gut feelings,” and allow our intuition to be our guide into what could be a more promising future for ourselves.
As a result, the Eight of Cups in a reading can mean disregarding our typical left-brained rationalizations which tend to encourage us to follow the more conventional path, the part which expects us to fall in line with what society expects of us as the only “reasonable” choice.
Instead, this card asks us to take a chance and follow the promptings of our hearts instead.
Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you truly love. It will not lead you astray.”
In the image on this card, we see the dark figure of a man illuminated from behind. He is lost in thought, caught in a reverie as he ponders the various virtues of each offering displayed before him.
From a nebulous gray cloud of fog we see seven cups suspended in mid-air. The man struggles to focus; instead, his gaze flits from one shimmering golden cup to another, and then to the next. Each is utterly captivating, alluring and enticing in its own unique way.
Which of these would he most desire to have for himself?
There’s the tall, elegant and imposing castle which rises up from the first cup on the left—the perfect residence, more than enough luxury for him to enjoy, plenty there to inspire his neighbors to envy, to assure himself of prominence in the area in which he lives
Or perhaps the glittering mountain of jewels, overflowing, exceeding the bounds of this next cup—more wealth than he would know what to do with! He pictures luxury without end, he dreams of the power to purchase whatever his heart may desire.
But suddenly, a mysterious, charming figure catches his eye—he feels the magnetic pull of desire and of lust inspired by this most beautiful of all women, Helen of Troy. To spend a night with this most gorgeous of all queens seems to promise pleasure beyond compare…
Now his eyes are drawn away again, this time by a laurel wreath. This leafy crown could bestow upon him the recognition and respect he has always felt he should command among men. He has dreamed of this often: of distinction, privilege, honor, and above all, power. The capacity to command his fellow man, to be esteemed above others, to influence, and to sway the minds of masses–all of this could be within his grasp, could it not?
His eyes move back and forth from one cup to the next. Which shall be his? What is worthy of his attention? Which desire calls out most loudly to him, demanding to be fulfilled?
The man seems unable to pull himself out of his fantasies. He continues to dream, lost in thought, unable to move or take any action. Instead, he remains, enchanted by his visions, lost in a reverie too charming to let go of…
Interpretation of the Seven of Cups
When the 7 of Cups appears in a tarot reading, it can indicate that we may be caught up in fantasies or illusions. We may be spending our time lost in thought, preferring to daydream about all the various possibilities which drift like clouds before us in idle minds.
In a reading, the 7 of Cups may mean that we are wasting our time chasing illusions. This card can serve as a warning that we are living in a false world of fantasy that is unrounded in reality and lacking in the potential for material realization.
However, there are also positive potentials implied by the 7 of Cups, as well. This card will often appear when we have many equally desirable opportunities. It can also refer to the initial stages of planning and weighing your options before taking action.
If we can manage to bring these dreamy energies into our conscious, rational awareness, we can then potentially use these ideals to transform the material and physical realities of our lives. The energies of the 7 of Cups can be highly potent and powerful, as long as they are grounded in reality through concrete action in the material world.
All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.”
“It is not that uncommon for the deities of one culture to be reinterpreted as the demons of another. Lilith is likely a rare case of a demon from one culture being reinterpreted as a deity of another.”
That’s not the whole story though. Before Lilith was a demon, she is thought to have been a deity from other goddess-worshiping cultures in the Mediterranean/Middle East, one where worship quite often included fertility rites and sex magick/rituals.
She was literally demonized by the conquering patriarchal Jewish religion which came afterwards. She is not truly a demon being wrongly glorified by deluded feminists. Instead she can be seen as a case where a “demonized” deity is in fact simply being returned to her original position.
In the Jewish tradition, Lilith has long represented things such as infant death, miscarriage, impotence, etc. However, she is also seen as representing the female desire for sovereignty (erotic and otherwise), and the dangers to society this has represented over the years.
As a result, she is not meant to be “endearing.” She is not a sweet, loving goddess but instead one who is sure of herself and willing to stand by her convictions no matter what the cost. She is meant to be powerful, strong and yes, maybe even a little bit terrifying (especially to those who would seek to control her).
Just because she is a female deity or mythological figure doesn’t mean she should be sugar and spice and everything nice. In fact, that’s exactly the point of reclaiming Lilith. For women, to reclaim Lilith means reclaiming all the parts of themselves which have been silenced, oppressed and erased: their desire, their rage, their capacity for self-determination.
I have worked with Lilith in ritual before and I do not worship her–I work with her. I evoke her strength of character and capacity to defend herself, her ability to feel righteous anger at oppression, and her belief in herself as a person with integrity and a right to have and express her desires, wants and needs.
As a woman in a patriarchal culture, it’s something I’ve struggled with over a lifetime. When I work with Lilith, I meditate on what she represents and thank her for reminding me that I have a right to self-determination and self-expression, no matter how “demonically” selfish others around me might think that to be.
In the image on this card, we see four cups standing in a row in front of us. The remaining two cups are set at different points in the card, effectively dividing the scene in two halves with important different meanings.
On the right side of the card we see a boy who holds out a golden cup with a white lily inside of it to a very young girl, likely his sister. The two children, standing on the bare, uncultivated earth in front of a warm and welcoming cottage behind them.
They are dressed in bright colors, vivid reds and blue and yellows, all intense primary hues which indicate the uncomplicated purity and vitality of the emotions they so freely express.
The last and final sixth cup has been set upon a short pedestal which marks the dividing line between the two halves of the card, as well as the two main parts of our lives, childhood and adulthood. Underneath this cup we see a shield marked with an “X”, as if to warn us: once we cross this line, there is no turning back.
Interpretation for the 6 of Cups in a Reading
When the 6 of Cups appears in a reading, it often speaks to the pure and uncomplicated feelings and emotions we experienced as children. It reminds us of the innocence we once possessed, before life imposed greater demands and expectations upon us as adults.
Beyond that, it takes us back to a time before we had known the pain of a broken heart, to a time when we were still unscarred by betrayals or disappointments we experienced as we reached maturity.
The 6 of Cups tends to speak to an attitude of innocence and simplicity in our way of relating to others. The children pictured here give and receive affection and share resources with each other without any calculation or guile. They are able to enjoy the simple pleasures of each other’s company without any apprehension or expectation.
This is in stark contrast to the adult world of relationships that most of us experience during our later years. For too many, navigating relationships can feel like a war of subtle strategies between “lovers,” a game where score is fastidiously kept and every hurt is cataloged, and every slight, punished.
This guardedness and suspicion is represented here on the left of the card: here, we see a heavily armored man bear a spear as a weapon. In contrast to the children, he walked on a ground paved with heavy stones toward a tall fortress with only the narrowest of windows breaking its high walls.
This represents how as adults, we tend to be more closed off to genuine feelings, often hiding our true emotions and suppressing our sincere affections. Unfortunately, most of us have built up defenses similar to this fortress, and will hardly let anyone get past the heavy armor we wear to protect our still tender hearts.
When the 6 of Cups appears in a reading, it sometimes asks us to take a moment to pause and reflect on where we might be similarly guarded. This card reminds us of the sweetness of life that could be available to us if we are able to let our guard down and risk vulnerability with another.
In a relationship reading, the 6 of Cards is typically a highly auspicious card for romance and connection. It indicates sincerity, good intentions, and a willingness to show up with the openness, honesty, and real vulnerability that true love requires.
As the fire (and other signs) progress through the wheel of the zodiac, they take the original energy of that element and go on to develop increasing complexity in how it is expressed.
It is thought to be an expression over time (as expressed spatially across the wheel of the zodiac). It is also the result of combining the signs element (fire) with its modality (cardinal, fixed, mutable).
So for the fire signs this would mean that Aries (a cardinal sign) could be considered the most “pure” expression of fire. It is outward reaching (as fire rises), it considered passionate, willful, quick to anger (as fire is hot), etc. Also, Aries is known for being concerned with the self and having a very strong ego.
The same strong ego drives and outward expression are present in Leo (a fixed sign), only at this point in the zodiac they have become a bit more tempered or sophisticated. Rather than being concerned with will, aggression, and dominance, Leo tends to show its fiery side with more of a focus on self-expression, creativity, and play.
Ego elements are still there, of course: Leo’s are known for being very proud. But the focus is more on creativity and self-expression rather than ego dominance.
By the time we get to Sagittarius (a mutable sign), that fiery energy has been tempered even more. This sign still possesses the fire element qualities of outward directed expansion, which is why it is so heavily associated with ideas like travel, adventure, and exploration. This also includes the themes associated with exploring new horizons in ways that are mental or spiritual (for example, through religion, philosophy, etc.).
In the image on the card, we see a man draped in a long, black cloak, his head down in an apparent gesture of grief and sadness.
Three empty cups lay on the ground in front of him, their contents spilled all over the floor at his feet. The man looks down at the floor, and there is a sense of regret here, indicating that he could possibly bear some responsibility for the losses he grieves.
However, it is important to note that there are a total of five cups pictured in this card. There are full cups standing behind the man which he has yet to notice.
As a result, this card signifies not only loss, but the hope that yet remains even after experiencing failure or defeat. This hope is also indicated by the symbol of the bridge which rises in the distance.
This bridge links the man in his current situation to the future which is still possible for him. The house we see on the left of the card tells us that when he is ready, there is still plenty of potential happiness, satisfaction and security that he can one day come home to.
Interpretation of the 5 of Cups in a Reading
When the 5 of Cups comes up in a tarot reading, it often means that we are facing some kind of a loss in our lives. We could be in the process of grieving what we once had, but which remains no longer.
The 5 of Cups encourages us to honor our emotions: our sadness, disappointment, and grief.
However, it also challenges us to a task that is seemingly opposite: it asks us to also recognize what it is that remains.
In the image on the card, we see that the man in the black cloak is facing forward towards the three cups which have spilled their contents on the ground. He is unable to see the two full, upright cups which still stand behind him.
However, although they remain unseen, it is interesting to notice that they are located even closer to the man than the ones he has lost.
This is a reminder that all too often, when we focus on what we don’t have, we miss out on the very real goodness that is available to us in ourselves, that still remains to be discovered.
This is not to say that we should gloss over our pain or our loss–there is a necessity to grieve what is gone if we are to properly move forward with our lives. It is necessary, but it is only the first step.
Once we have worked through our pain and processed our emotions, we must have the courage to lift our heads and see all that still remains for us, if we are willing to see it.
This morning I woke up from a very difficult dream. I had spent most of the night crying in my sleep. Here’s what happened:
In my dream my dad and my brother were going to all these different events and giving speeches about everything that was wrong with me and why I deserved to be rejected. I sat at all of them, trying to plead with them and convince them otherwise. No one listened to me, and I cried as I saw them give speech after speech on everything that was “bad” and “wrong” about me.
Oddly enough, my mom was by my side at every one of these events with me. Sometimes in their speeches they would briefly mention how bad and wrong she was too, although the focus was mostly on me.
When I woke up, I felt very upset and saddened by what I had experienced over the course of the night.
What really stood out to me, though, was how my mom was on my side at every point during this dream. It’s really not like her to stand by me (in fact, she would have been the most likely of any of them to give a speech like that attacking me).
So I had to ask myself, what could this apparently small detail mean? I was sure it was significant.
Pretty quickly, it occurred to me that maybe it was my unconscious trying to show me the way my anima and animus related to each other.
The anima/animus was a concept developed by Carl Jung which in a sense, describes the anima as the part of our psyche which can be thought of as being “feminine.” The anima is associated with the unconscious, the body, and our feeling and emotional states, as well as our desires and needs.
The animus, on the other hand, is believed to be the part of our psyche which analytic psychologists associate with the masculine. The animus is thought to relate to our conscious mind, our rational thought processes, as well as order, reason and logic.
Although most of us within a given culture will tend to have these basic conceptions of what our anima/animus are like, the way that they actually present themselves within a given individual’s psyche is highly personal, dependent on life experience and unconscious psychic material.
I think this dream was trying to show me the way that my inner masculine or conscious mind relates to my inner feminine, or emotional/feeling part of me.
I saw how my masculine side was in fact very abusive to the feminine parts of me. The “rational” conscious side tends to dominate and hurt the emotional feeling side. It has all of these unrealistic expectations about how things “should” be, and it punishes and hurts the parts of me that refuse to comply.
I began to see how I have internalized the roles that I saw my mother and father play. I introjected their beliefs and patterns of behavior, and in turn had my inner masculine/feminine adopt the same roles within myself.
One of the unhealthy ways in which this has manifested for me has been that I have very little ability to care for myself. I refuse to listen to what my body is telling me, or to accept what I am feeling.
Instead, I tell myself: “No. You need to work harder. You don’t deserve to rest until you’ve done better. You don’t deserve anything until you’ve achieved what I tell you to. Not until you stop being bad.”
This usually results in me forcing myself to do what I don’t want to do. I hurt myself this way because I’ve long believed that’s the only way to “discipline” the parts of me that are “wrong” and “bad.” These bad parts are always the feeling parts, that part of me which has needs and desires and wants to rest and feel okay.
I’m starting to understand that my animus does not necessarily possess some kind of truly evil intent toward the anima. The attitude of my animus, in fact, reflects the very same beliefs which my father has held toward my mother. He has always tried to “help” her, but in a way that reflects some pretty toxic underlying beliefs about her (and possibly about women in general).
My mother has been perceived, in his eyes, as being: unintelligent, even stupid; incompetent and incapable; crazy, confused and irrational; and even bad, wrong, and unwilling.
This, in turn, is perceived as requiring his need to act to control and dominate and coerce her into “seeing the truth” and accepting the superiority of his more rational and “right” values and ways of being.
Even though this is obviously insulting, selfish and even maybe abusive, I can see that there is a genuine belief that he is doing his best to “protect” and “provide” for her. It is based on a perceived inferiority on the part of the feminine in general and my mother in particular.
Just as my father treated my mother, my “thinking” conscious self now treats my unconscious (my body, my feelings and my desires) in very much the same way.
It seems to genuinely believe in the fundamental “wrongness” of my feminine or feeling side. As crazy as it might seem, it wants to protect it, and it does so the only way it knows how: by bullying it into doing what it thinks is “right.”
The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside as fate. That is to say, when the individual remains undivided and does not become conscious of his inner opposite, the world must perforce act out the conflict.”
I’m starting to understand how this impacts my relationships, as well. If I can’t have my inner parts of myself relate to each other in a way that is positive and healthy, I’ll never be able to have a relationship that is any better.
If I don’t do anything to shift the roles inhabited by my anima and animus, then I will continue to recreate these same roles in all of my romantic relationships that I may enter in the future.
This dream seemed to be the way my unconscious was trying to get me to see what I needed to change in myself before I could move beyond these patterns in my life.
I can see now that I must begin to make these changes starting from within. I know and trust from experience that if I can do this, then the problems I’ve experienced in the outer world will begin to shift naturally as a result of the changes in my inner world.
In this card, we see a young man sitting by himself underneath a tree. He appears to be lost in thought, caught up in his own internal world. Perhaps he is daydreaming, indulging in idle fantasies of what he hopes could one day be.
What seems more likely is that he is reflecting on the past, deeply focused on the moments of his life that have come before this one, and which still affect him now. In this case, the three cups laid out before him could very well stand for the emotional memories he holds within himself, which perhaps he has not yet become willing to let go of.
This could explain why he seems so disinterested in the cup being offered to him from a floating cloud (likely from the very same hand which we saw in the Ace of Cups). This hand is attempting to offer him the gift of a new experience, one which could potentially bring a change to his circumstances, which holds the possibility for new happiness and satisfaction.
However, it seems that the youth’s attention remains focused on his internal world so much that he now rejects the present and all the gifts it offers us.
Interpretation of the Four of Cups in a Reading
When the 4 of Cups comes up in a reading, it sometimes means that we have lost our connection with the outer world, and turned our focus inward instead.
It can speak to being caught up in our own thoughts, and perhaps ignoring the reality that exists outside of ourselves.
The 4 of Cups can also refer to a sense of dissatisfaction with our surroundings, as well as a potential rejection of the opportunities which are currently available to us.
This card can also indicate an inability to think creatively, to come up with new and different solutions to our problems that may be unfamiliar to what we have done in the past.
At times, the 4 of Cups in a reading can also point towards an area where we need to have stronger boundaries.
Just as the young man in the card says “NO” to the cup being offered by the cloud, we ourselves may need to decline what is being offered to us.
The 4 of Cups reminds us that sometimes we are better off rejecting something that is not suited to us, in order to make space for what we truly deserve.