Tarot Suit Of Cups

by Douglas Gibb on June 1, 2009

The suit of Cups is associated with emotional matters, educational matters and the appreciation of beauty.

Ace of Cups, Two of Cups, Three of Cups, Four of Cups, Five of Cups

Ace of Cups
Primordial Water; love, celebrations, a proposal of marriage; I can also see this card as Psychism;
This card can indicate falling completely in love with somebody else; with or without those feeling being reciprocated. Perhaps a need for realism is asked for?
Two of Cups
Meeting a new lover, friendships, partnerships; support and affection.
I’ve often noted that in Tarot readings it indicates a meeting up of two people, perhaps over coffee. As is common, one person tends to like the other more. Caution should be applied when interpreting this card. As a contrast, I have actually seen people falling in love with the 5 of Swords, 9 of Swords and Death card present.
Three of Cups
A celebration, a wedding.
Four of Cups
Boredom and frustration, but not in the classical sense of the word, rather it indicates the person who has happiness but seeks more;
“…the jewels cease to sparkle, the gold looses its lustre and the throne room becomes a prison” (Conan).

Five of Cups
Loss; feeling let-down or betrayed; help is available.
Six of Cups, Seven of Cups, Eight of Cups, Nine of Cups, Ten of Cups
Six of Cups
Pleasure, memories.
In general, this card will come up just before a family gathering or a reunion of old friends where people reminisce and laugh about old times.
Seven of Cups
Far too many options, a daydream. Addiction.
Eight of Cups
A fair haired woman may change the client’s life for the better soon.
This card usually indicates that better times will soon be on there way. However, for the moment, things are miserable.
Nine of Cups
Marriage; feeling happy; the ‘wish’ card
Ten of Cups
Family happiness.
Court Cards
Page of Cups, Knight of Cups, Queen of Cups, King of Cups
Princess or Page of Cups
Exams, study and research; a lazy, gentle youngster who might be artistic or psychic.
Prince or Knight of Cups
Good communicator; good company; selfish, unreliable; indicates a lover is approaching or leaving
Queen of Cups
Could indicate a good friend. It’s a good indication in questions concerning love.
Knight or King of Cups
Warm hearted, cares deeply for those closest to him.

(Theoretically) Related Posts:

14 comments… Let's discuss

Sheri October 21, 2009 at 10:59 am

Hi Douglas,

Can you please explain the 9 of Cups card to me? I understand that if it lands in the outcome position you are suppose to get your wish, but does that mean it over rules every card in the spread if it comes out in the outcome?

I’ve been doing practice readings using my friends’ relationship situation. The question I asked was, Does he want her? I pulled-Situation:King Wands (R)/Obstacle:Fool (R)/Action:Queen Cups/Outcome:9 Cups.

For the King (R) I figured he’d be available to her, but won’t go out of his way to see or speak to her. For the Fool (R) I’m thinking maybe there is a need to discriminate between fantasy and reality? But for whom? Him or her or both people? If he’s “there for her”, as the King suggests, but won’t make a move in her direction or try speak to her I think he’s just playing games. Or maybe he’s unsure of himself with her. The Queen in the action position I believe indicates they could be good friends if the King would make his move, but again that King isn’t budging, non-verbally saying I’m here but you have to come to me…so in the Outcome Position how does the 9 of Cups fit?

I tried another spread and asked the question differently to try it from another angle. I asked, Will he come back to her? I pulled; Situation:Priestess/Obstacle:Knight Swords /Action:Knight Cups/Outcome:2 Swords

The Priestess, again for this couple isn’t giving up her secrets, but I was thinking because the Knight of Swords next to her was bringing swift changes, she might let us know soon. Maybe someone new is entering her life, or as the Knight of Cups is a lover, maybe her old lover is returning? I’ve got all of this action and then along comes the 2 of Swords in the Outcome position and it all comes to a halt.

I can’t figure out if they’ve reached an agreement or not. The Knight of Cups is throwing me way off. Actually, both knights are because what if the Knight of Swords is suggesting another man coming into her life as an obstacle and scares off the Knight of Cups?

Also, the 8 of Cups in the R. Waite deck reminds me of someone walking away from their life, or a situation in their life, without looking back, so I don’t understand the meaning or description you have above. On my card it shows 3 cups stacked on top of 5. Is the person leaving because the celebrating in the 3 of cups was too much for them and they are now brooding over the loss from the 5 of cups? Can you please help with that, too?

Thanks so much!! I’m understanding so much better since I found you!!! :)

The Knight of Cups also confuses me. How will i know if a lover is entering a person’s life or leaving? Sometimes I just don’t see it in the spread. I’ve had it land in the action position and then had


Douglas October 23, 2009 at 4:47 pm

Hi Sheri,

Do you know that most readers would find it hard to tell you what any of the cards mean? Don’t get me wrong, we all know what the Divinatory definitions are, but that doesn’t mean we know what the cards mean. Before I give any Tarot reading, I wouldn’t be able to tell you what the cards mean. This is natural.

The meanings of the cards only become clear by their relationships to other cards. These relationships change with each reading. Sometimes the 9 of Cups can be a great influence, sometimes it will barely manifest in the client’s life. We can only determine these things by taking each reading as a unique process of interpretation. Try to avoid “set” or “fixed” meanings for the cards. Instead, concentrate on the relationships the cards have with each other. Consider each Tarot spread to be one big image, with each part making up the whole. Each reading will paint a unique painting, each part will contribute in slightly different ways each time.

In answer to your question: Yes the 9 of Cups can indicate that a wish will come true. But does life itself ever really have a defined outcome?

Part of the skill we all need to remind ourselves with (this counts for everyone) is the art of objectivity. It’s an art form because there’s no “fixed” way of achieving objectivity.

If we enter into a reading with a bias – in other words, we expect that someone is a certain way, then we will only interpret the cards to reinforce our own bias. By remaining detached, objective, and as best we can, without bias, then we can better understand what the combinations of cards indicate.

Your ability to read the cards is not in question. Your comments have shown that you already know how to read Tarot cards. What you need to do, in order to feel comfortable with your readings, is to try and maintain an objectivity. This will have several benefits:

1. You will more likely see information in the cards that you would other wise miss.
2. Your confidence in your own ability will grow.
3. You will be freer to experiment with different Tarot spreads, decks and styles in order to find a method that works well for you.

Remember, the Tarot is an art form. It’s something that we continually refine. By remaining open and free to experimentation then you will find yourself rapidly becoming a confident and skilled Tarot reader.

One thing I would recommend for you, is to use more Tarot cards in your readings. The more cards you use, the more you can understand their relationships to each other. Try experimenting with The Celtic Cross or The Horseshoe Spread. This will provide you with more information which should help to offset any confusions or doubts that you have with your predictions.

Finally, I would recommend you read A Tarot Reader: How To Go From Beginner To Expert In Three Easy Steps.


Sheri January 28, 2010 at 2:10 am

Hi Douglas,

I have two books that give two very different meanings for the Knight of Cups reversed. One book says: “Besotted with Love”.

The other book says: “The message you hope for has been delayed or may never arrive. The relationship you yearn for may be based on deceit or superficiality on the other person’s side. You may be obsessing about someone who really doesn’t care that much about you and who will never make a commitment, even if he has lead you to believe he is sincere. This person is fickle, likes to flirt, but belongs to the ‘love ‘em and leave ‘em’ school of romance”.

My question is this; how do I know which definition to use in a reading? I asked, “Does he love her? How deeply does he love her?” I pulled:
King Wands/2 Cups/Knight Cups (R). I just don’t know how I should go about reading this one. Usually, I just ask the question again and pull more cards, but I want to stop doing that.




Douglas Gibb January 29, 2010 at 2:44 pm

Hi Sheri,

Both interpretations are valid.

The key to understanding which to use is to figure out the nature of the question.

For instance, “Besotted with love”, is an emotion. In this case, the divinatory definition is focused on the emotional aspect of the card. The second definition is focused on the Knights role as an “event”. In this case, the definition hints at a delayed event – it then provides several possible reasons for the delay. The reasons provided are psychological in nature – lack of commitment, someone who doesn’t care for the client and so on.

When we break this card down, we can see that the two definitions are both valid. It all depends on what role the Knight plays in the reading. Does he play an “emotional” role? Does he play an “event” role? Does he play both?

It’s perfectly possible for the Knight to represent both of these qualities. What if the Knight has strong feelings for the client (the emotional role) but, for whatever reason, is unable to commit to moving the relationship forward at this time (event role).

It doesn’t always have to be due to negative psychological traits that are directed towards the client – such as a lack of concern for the other person. Rather, it could indicate that the Knight is finding it hard to cope with certain areas of their life – perhaps work is very difficult for the Knight at the moment, and he needs to work through that issue before he can commit (event role).

In terms of the actual cards you dealt, the Two of Cups is more likely to support the Knight in his “emotional” role. If we factor in the other King, then we need to ask ourselves if this person has two different persona that are internally competing with each. Perhaps this person needs to resolve that before the Knight (as an event) can commit. The King would also suggest areas of the Knights life that are dominating him. Think about the King as an institution.

I hope that helps :D


Sheri January 31, 2010 at 7:53 am

Hi Douglas,

I get what you are saying about the Knight. That does make perfect sense after you explained him to me, but he’s my problem with the court cards overall…there isn’t really that much info in my books or online to help me figure them out.

You wrote “The King would also suggest areas of the Knights life that are dominating him. Think about the King as an institution.”

I would love to do that but the info I have doesn’t really say that about him. They say upright he’s “In command of bold new ideas” and reversed “Not ready for the challenge, vision still not taking shape”. The other info I have says that if this card’s not referring to a person then it can refer to a situation that is exactly as it appears to be with no hint of deception.” Or it can indicate “good fortune is coming your way.”

See why I couldn’t figure out this King? It’s like that with most books and any other info I can find. It’s very frustrating when I get stumped…lol.

Thanks for your help :)



Michelle April 28, 2010 at 12:42 am

Im after a little bit of help with interpreting the Death card and the Knight of Cups. These two cards keep jumping out of my deck as I shuffle, usually when Im thinking of an ex partner. Can you help??


Douglas Gibb April 29, 2010 at 5:12 pm

Hi Michelle,

Thanks for dropping by :)

If both cards keep jumping out of the deck you could interpret them as a combination or separately.

Connected to a relationship the Death card can indicate a few things. First, if you’re asking whether or not the relationship can improve, Death can often indicate that it won’t (like physical death it signifies a complete ending). It can also indicate (if other cards suggest this) that a major event will happen in November (Death has a connection to Scorpio which is associated with roughly that month).

The Knight of Cups, if it indicates an event, is usually very good for romantic meetings; if a person, then that person will approach you romantically.

Combined, it could indicate that romance will enter your life in November.

Interestingly, the Rider Waite imagery for the Death card and the Knight of Cups are very similar. Perhaps these cards indicate that the Knight is not willing to commit. Also, it does suggest that these two cards might represent a more Spiritual journey for you.


Michelle May 1, 2010 at 1:13 pm

Thankyou for the help Douglas. Both cards keep jumping out together several times as I shuffle. The relationship I had with this person is over and has been for a year now, however there is alot of unfinished business between us. It is a messy situation. Thanks again for the help though, Michelle.


Oni Ade April 29, 2010 at 5:49 pm

Hi my name is Oni.

I have been trying to understand the celtic cross and I need your help with my most rest spread. Okay…my situation is that for the past few months I have been going through alot emotionally. Due to situations I was forced to leave the US were I lived for over 3 years and I loved it there. I want to go back but everthing seem so complicated. Every time i open this spread I am hoping to get some insight into when, how soon and if I will be able to return soon. Here is my spread….

1 The Tower
2 Knight of Cups
3 6 of wands
4 nine of wands
5 six of swords
6 page of swords
7 the Pope
8 nine of pentacles
9 ten of pentacles
10 Queen of Swords.


Essie December 13, 2010 at 1:14 am

I also made a Celtic Spread..Crossing card was Fool (he is lot younger than me,about 9yrs) near future was Hanged man (in which situation or feeling i have now) far future was Knight of Cups,also describe the guy i asked for…

While i can guess what does it mean,i am still not sure how to interprete .
The funny thing is i made two readings with two different deck but the result (10th crd) was the same in both readings : Knight of Cups.

What do you think?


Douglas Gibb December 13, 2010 at 1:19 am

Hi Essie,

The Knight of Cups traditionally means new love entering your life. The Hanged Man would suggest that this will take time before this new start (Fool) happens :)


Essie December 13, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Well..i hope so.. :-) but do you think is this about the guy i asked for ? or someone else…he wasn’t my bf neither lover..Just strong attraction and then he run away :-)
Would you mind to suggest any spread for relationship?
I just found out “Relation spread” with 15 cards.Worked for many friends i read for but i prefer something maybe more Ancient,you know what i mean.

Looking forward to read some more articles here by you.I just started to read the rest.

Best Rgds and thank you for your kind reply


Colleen February 7, 2014 at 4:44 pm

What does the absence of cups in a reading mean..?


Douglas Gibb March 1, 2014 at 3:18 am

Hi Colleen,

It could mean several things. At the most abstract, it is a lack. A lack of comfort, or intimacy, or creativity or anything else the suit of cups represents. This abstract way of interpreting the absence of the suit of cups also applies to the other suits. First, determine the suit that is missing and then consider it a lack.


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