Tarot Cups According to A. E. Waite
The 14 Cards of the Tarot Cups Suit in Divination
Here is what the occultist Arthur Edward Waite, co-creator of the Rider-Waite Tarot deck, had to say about the Cups Minor Arcana suit in divination.
This book presents all the 78 Tarot card images and their allegorical symbols. Several divination spreads are also explained. The book will help you find your own intuitive way of making inspired Tarot card readings. Click the image to see the book at Amazon (paid link).
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The waters are beneath, and thereon are water-lilies; the hand issues from the cloud, holding in its palm the cup, from which four streams are pouring; a dove, bearing in its bill a cross-marked Host, descends to place the Wafer in the Cup; the dew of water is falling on all sides. It is an intimation of that which may lie behind the Lesser Arcana.
House of the true heart, joy, content, abode, nourishment, abundance, fertility; Holy Table, felicity hereof.
Reversed: House of the false heart, mutation, instability, revolution.
Inflexible will, unalterable law.
Reversed: Unexpected change of position.
A youth and maiden are pledging one another, and above their cups rises the Caduceus of Hermes, between the great wings of which there appears a lion's head. It is a variant of a sign which is found in a few old examples of this card. Some curious emblematical meanings are attached to it, but they do not concern us in this place.
Love, passion, friendship, affinity, union, concord, sympathy, the interrelation of the sexes, and — as a suggestion apart from all offices of divination — that desire which is not in Nature, but by which Nature is sanctified.
Favourable in things of pleasure and business, as well as love; also wealth and honour.
Maidens in a garden-ground with cups uplifted, as if pledging one another.
The conclusion of any matter in plenty, perfection and merriment; happy issue, victory, fulfilment, solace, healing.
Reversed: Expedition, dispatch, achievement, end. It signifies also the side of excess in physical enjoyment, and the pleasures of the senses.
Unexpected advancement for a military man.
Reversed: Consolation, cure, end of the business.
A young man is seated under a tree and contemplates three cups set on the grass before him; an arm issuing from a cloud offers him another cup. His expression notwithstanding is one of discontent with his environment.
Weariness, disgust, aversion, imaginary vexations, as if the wine of this world had caused satiety only; another wine, as if a fairy gift, is now offered the wastrel, but he sees no consolation therein. This is also a card of blended pleasure.
Reversed: Novelty, presage, new instruction, new relations.
A dark, cloaked figure, looking sideways at three prone cups two others stand upright behind him; a bridge is in the background, leading to a small keep or holding.
It is a card of loss, but something remains over; three have been taken, but two are left; it is a card of inheritance, patrimony, transmission, but not corresponding to expectations; with some interpreters it is a card of marriage, but not without bitterness or frustration.
Reversed: News, alliances, affinity, consanguinity, ancestry, return, false projects.
Generally favourable; a happy marriage; also patrimony, legacies, gifts, success in enterprise.
Reversed: Return of some relative who has not been seen for long.
Children in an old garden, their cups filled with flowers.
A card of the past and of memories, looking back, as — for example — on childhood; happiness, enjoyment, but coming rather from the past; things that have vanished. Another reading reverses this, giving new relations, new knowledge, new environment, and then the children are disporting in an unfamiliar precinct.
Reversed: The future, renewal, that which will come to pass presently.
Reversed: Inheritance to fall in quickly.
Strange chalices of vision, but the images are more especially those of the fantastic spirit.
Fairy favours, images of reflection, sentiment, imagination, things seen in the glass of contemplation; some attainment in these degrees, but nothing permanent or substantial is suggested.
Reversed: Desire, will, determination, project.
Fair child; idea, design, resolve, movement.
Reversed: Success, if accompanied by the Three of Cups.
A man of dejected aspect is deserting the cups of his felicity, enterprise, undertaking or previous concern.
The card speaks for itself on the surface, but other readings are entirely antithetical — giving joy, mildness, timidity, honour, modesty. In practice, it is usually found that the card shews the decline of a matter, or that a matter which has been thought to be important is really of slight consequence — either for good or evil.
Reversed: Great joy, happiness, feasting.
Marriage with a fair woman.
Reversed: Perfect satisfaction.
A goodly personage has feasted to his heart's content, and abundant refreshment of wine is on the arched counter behind him, seeming to indicate that the future is also assured. The picture offers the material side only, but there are other aspects.
Concord, contentment, physical bien-etre; also victory, success, advantage; satisfaction for the Querent or person for whom the consultation is made.
Reversed: Truth, loyalty, liberty; but the readings vary and include mistakes, imperfections, etc.
Of good augury for military men.
Reversed: Good business.
Appearance of Cups in a rainbow; it is contemplated in wonder and ecstacy by a man and woman below, evidently husband and wife. His right arm is about her; his left is raised upward; she raises her right arm. The two children dancing near them have not observed the prodigy but are happy after their own manner. There is a home-scene beyond.
Contentment, repose of the entire heart; the perfection of that state; also perfection of human love and friendship; if with several picture-cards, a person who is taking charge of the Querent's interests; also the town, village or country inhabited by the Querent.
Reversed: Repose of the false heart, indignation, violence.
For a male Querent, a good marriage and one beyond his expectations.
Reversed: Sorrow; also a serious quarrel.
A fair, pleasing, somewhat effeminate page, of studious and intent aspect, contemplates a fish rising from a cup to look at him. It is the pictures of the mind taking form.
Fair young man, one impelled to render service and with whom the Querent will be connected; a studious youth; news, message; application, reflection, meditation; also these things directed to business.
Reversed: Taste, inclination, attachment, seduction, deception, artifice.
Good augury; also a young man who is unfortunate in love.
Reversed: Obstacles of all kinds.
Graceful, but not warlike; riding quietly, wearing a winged helmet, referring to those higher graces of the imagination which sometimes characterize this card. He too is a dreamer, but the images of the side of sense haunt him in his vision.
Arrival, approach — sometimes that of a messenger; advances, proposition, demeanour, invitation, incitement.
Reversed: Trickery, artifice, subtlety, swindling, duplicity, fraud.
A visit from a friend, who will bring unexpected money to the Querent.
Beautiful, fair, dreamy — as one who sees visions in a cup. This is, however, only one of her aspects; she sees, but she also acts, and her activity feeds her dream.
Good, fair woman; honest, devoted woman, who will do service to the Querent; loving intelligence, and hence the gift of vision; success, happiness, pleasure; also wisdom, virtue; a perfect spouse and a good mother.
Reversed: The accounts vary; good woman; otherwise, distinguished woman but one not to be trusted; perverse woman; vice, dishonour, depravity.
Sometimes denotes a woman of equivocal character.
Reversed: A rich marriage for a man and a distinguished one for a woman.
He holds a short sceptre in his left hand and a great cup in his right; his throne is set upon the sea; on one side a ship is riding and on the other a dolphin is leaping. The implicit is that the Sign of the Cup naturally refers to water, which appears in all the court cards.
Fair man, man of business, law, or divinity; responsible, disposed to oblige the Querent; also equity, art and science, including those who profess science, law and art; creative intelligence.
Reversed: Dishonest, double-dealing man; roguery, exaction, injustice, vice, scandal, pillage, considerable loss.
Beware of ill-will on the part of a man of position, and of hypocrisy pretending to help.
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I'm a Swedish author. In addition to fiction, I've written books about the Tarot, Taoism, astrology and other metaphysical traditions. I'm also an historian of ideas, researching ancient mythology. Click the image to get to my personal website.