Cups (tarot)

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Cups are one of the suits in the Thoth Tarot deck.

The four suits of the Tarot are: Wands, Cups, Swords, Disks

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes are from Aleister Crowley's The Book of Thoth.

The Court Cards

Knight of Cups

  • Title: The Lord of the Waves and the Waters. The King of the Hosts of the Sea.
  • Astrology: 20° Aquarius to 20° Pisces, including most of Pegasus
  • Element: The fiery part of Water
  • Tree of Life: The Path of Shin
  • Description: "He is clothed in black armour furnished with bright wings which, together with the leaping attitude of his white charger, indicates that he represents the most active aspect of Water. In his right hand he bears a cup from which issues a crab, the cardinal sign of Water, for aggressiveness. His totem is the peacock, for one of the stigmata of water in its most active form is brilliance."
  • Interpretation: "He is graceful, dilettante, with the qualties of Venus, or a weak Jupiter. He is amiable in a passive way. He is quick to respond to attraction, and easily becomes enthusiastic under such stimulus; but he is not very enduring. He is exceedingly sensitive to external influence, but with no material depth in his character. When the card is ill dignified, he is sensual, idle and untruthful. Yet with all this he possesses an innocence and purity which are the essence of his nature. But he is, on the whole, so superficial that it is hard to reach this depth."

Queen of Cups

  • Title: The Queen of the Thrones of the Waters
  • Astrology: 20° Gemini to 20° Cancer
  • Element: The watery part of Water
  • Tree of Life: The Path of Mem
  • Description: "She is represented as enthroned upon still water. In her hand she bears a shell-like cup, from which issues a crayfish, and she bears also the Lotus of Isis, of the Great Mother. She is robed in, and veiled by, endless curves of light, and the sea upon which she is enthroned conveys the almost unbroken images of the image which she represents."
  • Interpretation: "Her image is of extreme purity and beauty, with infinite subtlety; to see the Truth of her is hardly possible, for she reflects the nature of the observer in great perfection...The characteristics associated with this card are principally dreaminess, illusion and tranquillity. She is the perfect agent and patient, able to receive and transmit everything without herself being affected thereby. If ill-dignified, all these qualities are degraded. Everything that passes through her is refracted and distorted. But, speaking generally, her characteristics depend mostly upon the influences which affect her."

Prince of Cups

  • Title: The Prince of the Chariot of the Waters
  • Astrology: 20° Libra to 20° Scorpio
  • Element:The airy part of Water
  • Tree of Life: The Path of Aleph
  • Description: "He is a warrior partly clad in armour, which seems, however, rather a growth than a covering. His helmet is surmounted by an eagle, and his chariot, which resembles a shell, is also drawn by an eagle. His wings are tenuous, almost of gas...In his right hand he bears a Lotus flower, sacred to the element of Water, and in his left hand is a cup from which issues a serpent...Beneath his chariot is the calm and stagnant water of a lake upon which rain falls heavily."
  • Interpretation: "On the one hand, elasticity, volatility, hydrostatic equilibrium; on the other hand, the catalytic faculty and the energy of steam...The moral characteristics of the person pictured in this card are subtlety, secret violence, and craft. He is intensely secret, an artist in all his ways. On the surface he appears calm and imperturble, but this is a mask of the most intense passion. He is on the surface susceptible to external influences, but he accepts them only to transmute them to the advantage of his secret designs. He is thus completely without conscience in the ordinary sense of the word, and is therefore usually distrusted by his neighbours. They feel they do not, and can never, understand him. Thus he inspires unreasonable fear. He is in fact perfectly ruthless. He cares intensely for power, wisdom, and his own aims. He feels no responsibility to others, and although his abilities are so immense, he cannot be relied upon to work in harness...To such people good will, sincerity, and right mating are the essentials of success; their danger is overweening ambition."

Princess of Cups

  • Title: The Princess of the Waters. The Rose of the Palace of the Floods.
  • Astrology: Rules another Quadrant
  • Element: The earthy part of Water
  • Tree of Life: The Path of 32-bis
  • Description: "She is represented as a dancing figure, robed in a flowing garment on whose edges crystals are seen to form. For her crest she wears a swan with open wings...She bears a covered cup from which issues a tortoise. She is dancing upon a foaming sea in which disports himself a dolphin, the royal fish, which symbolizes the power of Creation."
  • Interpretation: "She represents the power of Water to give substance to idea, to support life, and to form the basis of chemical combination...The character of the Princess is infinitely gracious. All sweetness, all voluptuousness, gentleness, kindness and tenderness are in her character. She lives in the world of Romance, in the perpetual dream of rapture. On a superficial examination she might be thought selfish and indolent, but this is a quite false impression; silently and effortlessly she goes about her work."

The Small Cards

Ace of Cups

  • Title: The Root of the Powers of Water
  • Tree of Life: Kether
  • Description: "Above the Cup, descending upon it, is the Dove of the Holy Ghost, thus consecrating the element. At the base of the Cup is the Moon, for it is the virtue of this card to conceive and to produce the second form of its Nature...Upon the dark sea of Binah, the Great Mother, are Lotuses, two in one, which fill the cup with the Life-fluid, symbolically represented either as Water, as Blood, or as Wine, according to the selected purpose of the symbolism. This being a primordial card, the liquid is shown as water; it can be transformed into Wine or Blood as may be required."
  • Interpretation: "This card represents the element of Water in its most secret and original form. It is the feminine complement of the Ace of Wands, and is derived from the Yoni and the Moon exactly as that is from the Lingam and the Sun...This accordingly represents the essential form of the Holy Grail." From LXXVIII: "Fertility—productiveness, beauty, pleasure, happiness, etc."

Two of Cups

  • Title: Love (The Lord of Love)
  • Astrology: Venus in Cancer
  • Tree of Life: Chokmah
  • Description: "...two cups in the foreground, overflowing upon a calm sea. They are fed with lucent water from a lotus floating upon the sea, from which rises another lotus around whose stem are entwined twin dolphins."
  • Interpretation: This cards refers "to Love, which recovers unity from dividuality by mutual annihilation...The number Two referring to Will, this card might really be renamed the Lord of Love under Will, for that is its full and true meaning. It shows the harmony of the male and the female: interpreted in the largest sense. It is perfect and placid harmony, radiating an intensity of joy and ecstasy." From LXXVIII: "Harmony of masculine and feminine united. Harmony, pleasure, mirth, subtlety: but if ill dignified—folly, dissipation, waste, silly actions."

Three of Cups

  • Title: Abundance
  • Astrology: Mercury in Cancer
  • Tree of Life: Binah
  • Description: "The Cups are pomegranates: they are filled bountifully to overflowing on a single lotus, arising from the dark calm sea characteristic of Binah."
  • Interpretation: "This is the card of Demeter or Persephone... There is here the fulfillment of the Will of Love in abounding joy. It is the spiritual basis of fertility... The good things of life, although enjoyed, should be distrusted." From LXXVIII: "Abundance, plenty, success, pleasure, sensuality, passive success, good luck and fortune; love, gladness, kindness, liberality."

Four of Cups

  • Title: Luxury
  • Astrology: Luna in Cancer
  • Tree of Life: Chesed
  • Description: "The sea is still shown, but its surface is ruffled, and the four Cups which stand upon it are no longer so stable. The Lotus from which the water Springs has a multiple stem, as if to show that the influence of the Dyad has gathered strength."
  • Interpretation: "...the energy of this element, although ordered, balanced and (for the moment) stabilized, has lost the original purity of the conception... this [card] implies a certain weakness, an abandonment to desire. This tends to introduce the seeds of decay into the fruit of pleasure." From LXXVIII: "Success or pleasure approaching their end. A stationary period in happiness, which may, or may not, continue...; some drawbacks to pleasure implied... Receiving pleasure or kindness from others, but some discomfort therewith."

Five of Cups

  • Title: Disappointment
  • Astrology: Mars in Scorpio
  • Tree of Life: Geburah
  • Description: "The Lotuses have their petals torn by fiery winds; the sea is arid and stagnant, a dead sea, like a "chott" in North Africa. No water flows into the cups...These cups are arranged in the form of an inverted pentagram."
  • Interpretation: "...disturbance, just when least expected, in a time of ease...the anticipated pleasure is frustrated... The triumph of matter over spirit." From LXXVIII: "...disappointment, sorrow and loss in those things from which pleasure is expected. Sadness, treachery, deceit; ill-will, detraction; charity and kindness ill requited; all kinds of anxieties and troubles from unsuspected and unexpected sources... Disappointment in love, marriage broken off, unkindness of a friend; loss of friendship"

Six of Cups

  • Title: Pleasure
  • Astrology: Sol in Scorpio
  • Tree of Life: Tiphareth
  • Description: "The lotus stems are grouped in an elaborate dancing move ment. From their blossoms water gushes into the Cups, but they are not yet full to overflowing."
  • Interpretation: "Pleasure, in the title of this card, must be understood in its highest sense: it implies well-being, harmony of natural forces without effort or strain, ease, satisfaction. Foreign to the idea of the card is the gratification of natural or artificial desires. Yet it does represent emphatically the fulfilment of the sexual Will. ...The idea of Pleasure-Putrefaction as a Sacrament is...implicit...in this card. ...[The Eucharist] is one of the master-keys to the Gate of Initiation. To realize and to enjoy this fully it is necessary to know, to understand, and to experience, the Secret of the Ninth Degree of the O.T.O." From LXXVIII: "Beginning of wish, happiness, success, or enjoyment."

Seven of Cups

  • Title: Debauch
  • Astrology: Venus in Scorpio
  • Tree of Life: Netzach
  • Description: "The Lotuses have become poisonous, looking like tiger-lilies; and, instead of water, green slime issues from them and overflows, making the Sea a malarious morass...The cups are iridescent, carrying out the same idea. They are arranged as two descending triangles interlaced above the lowest cup, which is very much larger than the rest."
  • Interpretation: "...a wholesome reminder of the fatal ease with which a Sacrament may be profaned and prostituted... the holiest mysteries of Nature become the obscene and shameful secrets of a guilty conscience." From LXXVIII: "Lying, promises unfulfilled; illusion, deception, error; slight success at outset, not retained."

Eight of Cups

  • Title: Indolence
  • Astrology: Saturn in Pisces
  • Tree of Life: Hod
  • Description: "Water appears no longer as the Sea but as pools; and there is no florescence in this card as there was in the last. The Lotuses droop for lack of sun and rain, and the soil is poison to them; only two of the stems sliow blossoms at all. The cups are shallow, old and broken. They are arranged in three rows; of these the upper row of three is quite empty. Water trickles from the two flowers into the two central cups, and they drip into the two lowest without filling them. The background of the card shows pools, or lagoons, in very extensive country, incap able of cultivation; only disease and miasmatic poison can flourish in those vast Bad Lands. The water is dark and muddy. On the horizon is a pallid, yellowish light, weighed down by leaden clouds of indigo."
  • Interpretation: "Pisces is calm but stagnant water; and Saturn deadens it completely." From LXXVIII: "Success abandoned; decline of interest."

Nine of Cups

  • Title: Happiness
  • Astrology: Jupiter in Pisces
  • Tree of Life: Yesod
  • Description: "...nine cups perfectly arranged in a square; all are filled and overflowing with Water."
  • Interpretation: "[This card represents] the most complete and most beneficient aspect of the force of Water... the wine is poured by Ganymede himself, unstinted vintage of true nectar of the Gods, brimful and running over, an ordered banquet of delight, True Wisdom self-fulfilled in Perfect Happiness." From LXXVIII: "Complete success, pleasure and happiness, wishes fulfilled."

Ten of Cups

  • Title: Satiety
  • Astrology: Mars in Pisces
  • Tree of Life: Malkuth
  • Description: "The arrangement of the cups is that of the Tree of Life. But, on the other hand, they are themselves unstable. They are tilted; they spill the water from the great Lotus which overhangs the whole system from one into the other."
  • Interpretation: "The work proper to water is complete: and disturbance is due." From LXXVIII: "Matter settled: complete good fortune."

Document Source

  • This page was originally sourced from Thelemapedia. Retrieved May 2009.