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Tarot Cups According to A. E. Waite

The Cups Tarot Suit.

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.

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Tarot Minor Arcana card: Ace of Cups

Ace of Cups


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.

Divinatory Meanings:
House of the true heart, joy, content, abode, nourishment, abundance, fertility; Holy Table, felicity hereof.

Reversed: House of the false heart, mutation, instability, revolution.

Additional meanings:
Inflexible will, unalterable law.

Reversed: Unexpected change of position.

Tarot Minor Arcana card: Two of Cups

Two of Cups


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.

Divinatory Meanings:
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.

Additional meanings:
Favourable in things of pleasure and business, as well as love; also wealth and honour.

Reversed: Passion.

Tarot Minor Arcana card: Three of Cups

Three of Cups


Maidens in a garden-ground with cups uplifted, as if pledging one another.

Divinatory Meanings:
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.

Additional meanings:
Unexpected advancement for a military man.

Reversed: Consolation, cure, end of the business.

Tarot Minor Arcana card: Four of Cups

Four of Cups


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.

Divinatory Meanings:
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.

Additional meanings:

Reversed: Presentiment.

Tarot Minor Arcana card: Five of Cups

Five of Cups


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.

Divinatory Meanings:
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.

Additional meanings:
Generally favourable; a happy marriage; also patrimony, legacies, gifts, success in enterprise.

Reversed: Return of some relative who has not been seen for long.

Tarot Minor Arcana card: Six of Cups

Six of Cups


Children in an old garden, their cups filled with flowers.

Divinatory Meanings:
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.

Additional meanings:
Pleasant memories.

Reversed: Inheritance to fall in quickly.

Tarot Minor Arcana card: Seven of Cups

Seven of Cups


Strange chalices of vision, but the images are more especially those of the fantastic spirit.

Divinatory Meanings:
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.

Additional meanings:
Fair child; idea, design, resolve, movement.

Reversed: Success, if accompanied by the Three of Cups.

Tarot Minor Arcana card: Eight of Cups

Eight of Cups


A man of dejected aspect is deserting the cups of his felicity, enterprise, undertaking or previous concern.

Divinatory Meanings:
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.

Additional meanings:
Marriage with a fair woman.

Reversed: Perfect satisfaction.

Tarot Minor Arcana card: Nine of Cups

Nine of Cups


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.

Divinatory Meanings:
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.

Additional meanings:
Of good augury for military men.

Reversed: Good business.

Tarot Minor Arcana card: Ten of Cups

Ten of Cups


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.

Divinatory Meanings:
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.

Additional meanings:
For a male Querent, a good marriage and one beyond his expectations.

Reversed: Sorrow; also a serious quarrel.

Tarot Minor Arcana card: Page of Cups

Page of Cups


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.

Divinatory Meanings:
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.

Additional meanings:
Good augury; also a young man who is unfortunate in love.

Reversed: Obstacles of all kinds.

Tarot Minor Arcana card: Knight of Cups

Knight of Cups


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.

Divinatory Meanings:
Arrival, approach — sometimes that of a messenger; advances, proposition, demeanour, invitation, incitement.

Reversed: Trickery, artifice, subtlety, swindling, duplicity, fraud.

Additional meanings:
A visit from a friend, who will bring unexpected money to the Querent.

Reversed: Irregularity.

Tarot Minor Arcana card: Queen of Cups

Queen of Cups


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.

Divinatory Meanings:
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.

Additional meanings:
Sometimes denotes a woman of equivocal character.

Reversed: A rich marriage for a man and a distinguished one for a woman.

Tarot Minor Arcana card: King of Cups

King of Cups


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.

Divinatory Meanings:
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.

Additional meanings:
Beware of ill-will on the part of a man of position, and of hypocrisy pretending to help.

Reversed: Loss.

More about the Cups Tarot suit

The Tarot Minor Arcana According to A. E. Waite

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