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    The Tarot Suite of Cups

    To best understand the workings of the Tarot in general, and the Suites in particular, one should have a comfort level with the underlying aspects of the divination technique. While it is workable to memorize meanings of the cards, one does not have a full appreciation of their workings if the archetypes and metaphysical symbologies are not understood. There are symbologies of numerology and elements present in the minor arcana. This set of notes will focus on the specific suite/element of Cups/Water.

    There are four traditional elements in the Western metaphysical world. These are: earth, fire, air and water. These elements are the basis of most every magical/metaphysical working and belief. So, it is not surprising that the elements are also present in the Tarot. The elements are directly embrace the Minor Arcana, with each suite representing an element.

    All creation starts from a single source, a seed. This is true in the use of the elements. The entirety of the universe represents the oneness of the elements. All the metaphysical expressions of the universe are presented by one, or a combination, of the elements. As thinking creatures, the idea of an infinite oneness is not palpable to us. It is said that to name a thing is to both know it and change it. At the risk of changing the oneness, mankind does name it, divide it into parts to create a thing that seems finite and understandable.

    The oneness of the Universe is then divided by two. A duality is created. The female division provides the creative potential of live and the male division provides spark that moves the creation forward. Below is a chat of symbolic roles:

     

     

    Female

    Male

    Lasting

    Short-lived

    In Charge

    For Show

    Covering and Hiding

    Revealing and Exposing

    Eternal

    Cyclical

    Passive

    Active

    Inner

    Outer

    Dark

    Light

    Roles of the Genders

    While it may seem that the genders contradict each other, they are actually complimentary. If a system is completely female, it becomes stagnant fuel/potential with no movement. If a system is completely male, it burns itself out with no fuel available to maintain the spark. A mixture of the two is needed to provide the fuel (female) and the spark (male) to the light of life.

     

    To properly read the both the minor arcana, and their associated Court Cards, one must have a grasp of these mystic associations of "male" and "female" energy. . Female energies are slow and steady. The price for this fixed state is paid through inability to quickly move in cycles of completion and readiness. We shall see later that the element of water/cups attests to this. The forces are fixed, remaining inherently inert and passive unless a male element is introduced.

    The genders are next split in two, creating four states of being in the elements. The split represents a duality of Inner and Outer. A male and female pair embraces an energy that is expressed inwardly, in ways associated with the single system or individual. The other male and female pair embraces an energy that servers or focuses on those things outside of a single system or individual. So, there is defined a "female-male" element, a "female-female" element, and so one. This is a very important differentiation, and should be understood.

    As the "female-female" element, water embraces all of the qualities of the female energies. The element of water covers a majority of our planet, hiding the face of the earth from the view of all but a very few. The surface of dark pond hides depths that are not known. The still waters can be a few feet deep, or hundreds of feet deep. An emotional analogy can be drawn to this image. Emotions are very difficult to judge by what is on the surface. Loves and hatreds can run very deep, and be very resistant to change.


    Divisions of Universal Oneness

    Traditionally the elements interact with each other using rigid rules: Fire and Water are enemies, therefore weaken each other. Air and Earth are enemies, and therefore weaken each other. The interesting point with this rule is that elements of the same "gender" don’t work together. Water and Fire are both female in orientation, and their combination leads to a passiveness that does not prosper. Likewise, Air and Earth are both male in orientation, and their combination burns out and does not prosper.

     

    Below is a chart focusing on the suite/element of Water/Cups:

    Element

    Gender

    Focus/Direction

    Duality

    Expression

    Traditional Meaning

    Water

    Female

    Inner /Self

    Female/Female

    emotions, relationships, love, and intuition

    emotions, feelings


    Now that we have an understanding of the origins of Cups, the element can now be correlated to its Tarot suite, and the suite will be examined in detail. After much discussion, now the Cups of the water element is presented:
    Suite
    Element
    Gender (Main)
    Gender (Secondary)
    Cups
    Water
    Female
    Female
    Table of Suite Correspondences

    EXAMINATION OF CUPS IN LIGHT OF "GOOD" AND "BAD" CARDS

    The association of a card as being good or bad is a distinction that I find to be based on a pessimistic approach to the cards. The dualistic tags of "good" and "bad" are relative sides of the same coin. It said that all good things must come to an end. When this end occurs, the "bad" side of the coin appears. The seeds of the "bad" are present in the "good", just as the full potential for "good" is present in "bad". When one operates on the basis of "good" and "bad" concepts, there exists no balance. There is always striving for what is not possessed, and sorrow for what is lost.

    I instead encourage a holistic approach to the cards that allows one to accept the "good" cards as a respite, and the "bad" cards as opportunities for growth and movement. The nature of the cards is not judged by relative labels of dualism. Instead, the cards are appreciated individually – moments of being where only opportunity is present. The idea of non-dualistic identification of the cards is challenging. To fully examine the philosophy behind the minor arcana, I will continue to use the tags of "good" and "bad". When you see these words, instead think "opportunity" and "opportunity".

    I feel that there are two kinds of "bad" cards: challenge and warning. The first category, those of challenge, contains those cards that indicate change and spiritual examination. The second category, those of warning, contains cards illustrating human short comings. Ironically, these short-comings are promoted when change or spiritual insight is not embraced

     

    Card #

    Pentacles

    Wands

    Cups

    Swords

    # of Good

    # of Bad

    1

    G

    G

    G

    G

    4

    0

    2

    G

    G

    G

    G

    4

    0

    3

    G

    G

    G

    B

    3

    1

    4

    B

    G

    B

    G

    2

    2

    5

    B

    B

    B

    B

    0

    4

    6

    G

    G

    G

    G

    4

    0

    7

    B

    B

    B

    B

    0

    4

    8

    G

    G

    B

    B

    2

    2

    9

    G

    G

    G

    B

    1

    3

    10

    G

    G

    G

    B

    2

    2

    # of Good

    7

    7

    6

    4

     

     

    # of Bad

    3

    3

    4

    6

       


    An examination of the "bad" cards in the suite of cups reveals the challenges of the suite/element.

    # Quality of Number Expression in Cups Analysis
    4 Foundations, stability, status quo apathy, boredom, ignoring the growth possibilities, status quo because of apathy

    The still, fixed state of water/emotions becomes assuming and unwilling to change even in the face of decay and need for progress

     

    5 Change, instability, volatile, necessary to adapt to unpleasant changes regret, pessimism about the future, difficulty of letting go, all is not lost can soon be rebuild, loss and sadness, relationship ending Change is never welcomed, and the cups are not an exception to this rule.
    7 Unexpected change, perception, insight, new awareness and perspective, change brought about by insight. imagination, lots of choices, fantasizing, may indicate confusion, mystical experience, positive visualization This card carries a warning that choices must be made carefully in the face of emotional changes. Emotions do not change easily, and when they do there is much force. A natural example is flooding water from an overflowing river.
    8 Control, power and mastery over a situation through self-reliance and autonomy, organization emotional withdrawal, writing on the wall, moving on Emotions, relationships, and loves cannot be controlled and mastered by a group or organization. The retreat from control is the emotional reaction to an attempt of mastery.

     

    Cups

    The minor arcana brings universal themes down into the practical arena to show how they operate in daily events. The Cup cards represent the concerns, activities and emotions that make up the dramas of our everyday lives.

     

    Symbolism/Interpretation: Cards in the suit of Cups generally represent relationships, love, and intuition, emotional activity, feeling, spiritual experience, the subconscious mind, beauty, desire, spirit, fertility, abundance, happiness, the emotional fulfillments life can offer. The downside of the symbolism is that it represents all emotions, including anger, hate, and fear.

    Cups correspond to the element of female water, and to the yin, or feminine principle. The shielding nature of a cup also associates it with things hidden, as true emotions usually are. A full cup is emotional fulfillment. A dry cup means emotional depression. A cup runneth over represents emotional abundance. A closed cup is lack of emotional expression.

    The element of Water adds emotions to the minor arcana. The cabbalistic association of water is that of the Creative World, the level of intellect, of the Archangels. Water is a substance that flows to the lowest places, and it can be calm or stormy. Water can be represented by shallow puddles or by bottomless oceans. Emotions take on all of these qualities. The shape and status of water is dependent on its container and temperature. The ability of water to flow and fill up spaces, to sustain and to reflect changing moods makes it the ideal symbol of the Cups suit.

    We refer to the water element as the force of Soul or Emotion. Soul is, in part, the element of human nature which provides understanding and compassion for the feelings of others. People who are extremely connected to the water element are extremely sensitive to human sentiment and artistic expression. They can seep into the subconscious of others and instinctually, if not intellectually, understand the motives behind other people’s actions

    Meanings of the Numbers

     

    Number

    Meaning

    Ones (Aces)

    New beginnings

    Twos

    Relationships, duality, balancing of two

    Cups friendship, romantic partnership

    Threes

    Synthesis, collaboration, self-expression, expansion, fulfillment – except Cups where this is missing.

    Cups: fulfillment (in love), harmony, good luck, celebration… harmony in love cause of celebration, pregnancy

    Fours

    Foundations, stability, status quo

    Cups: apathy, boredom, ignoring the growth possibilities, status quo because of apathy

    Fives

    Change, instability, volatile, necessary to adapt to unpleasant changes

    Cups: regret, pessimism about the future, difficulty of letting go, all is not lost can soon be rebuild, loss and sadness, relationship ending

    Sixes

    Assistance, idealism, perfection, and a change for the better

    Cups: pleasant memories from the past, children, ideals from the past, a gift

    Sevens

    Unexpected change, perception, insight, new awareness and perspective, change brought about by insight. Insight often spiritual in nature

    Cups: imagination, lots of choices, fantasizing, may indicate confusion, mystical experience, positive visualization

    Eights

    Control, power and mastery over a situation through self-reliance and autonomy, organization

    Cups: emotional withdrawal, writing on the wall, moving on

    Nines

    Completion and fulfillment of each suit, maximum intensity of each suit in the cycle, completion, fulfillment

    Cups: wish fulfillment, wish come true, emotional happiness, satisfaction and pleasure are on the way

    Tens

    Renewal through a new cycle. Many lessons have been learned regarding the suit in question – mastery.

    Cups: love, true love, happiness in person relationships, joy, prosperity, family life goes well

     

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