Suit of Cups: Tarot Card Meanings

By Lauren Williams
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The Suit of Cups, representing the emotional and intuitive facets of our lives, delves into the depths of feelings, relationships, and inner introspection. Encompassing everything from romantic endeavors to personal growth, this suit provides invaluable insights into how we feel, connect, and evolve on an emotional level. As you embark on this journey through the Suit of Cups, you’ll uncover its rich history, diverse interpretations, and profound significance in the tarot.

Suit of Cups Meaning

The Suit of Cups, intrinsically connected to the element of Water, delves into the emotional and intuitive aspects of our lives. It’s not just about sentiments and reactions, but it also touches on relationships, connections, and spiritual encounters.

Connection to the Emotional Realm

The Suit of Cups acts as a window into our emotional world. It highlights our feelings, interactions with others, and our personal relationships. These cards often reflect our emotional responses, depths of compassion, and the bonds we form or break.

Beyond Surface Emotions

While emotions are a primary theme within this suit, the Cups also explore the deeper layers of our psyche. They draw attention to our dreams, intuitions, and spiritual connections. The Suit of Cups prompts us to consider not just our immediate emotional reactions, but the profound reservoir of feelings, hopes, and fears that lie beneath.

Relationships and Intuition

Cards from the Suit of Cups frequently appear in readings that revolve around love, relationships, and personal connections. They bring forth issues of trust, loyalty, joy, and heartbreak. Additionally, with their tie to intuition, they guide us towards understanding our innermost feelings and gut instincts.

Card Descriptions and Interpretations

Delving into the cards of the Suit of Cups, we uncover a tapestry of emotional narratives and stories of relationships. Each card, with its unique imagery and symbolism, reveals facets of love, intuition, dreams, and spiritual encounters.

Ace of Cups

Representing the dawn of emotions, feelings, or relationships, the Ace of Cups often heralds a new emotional experience. It could signify the beginning of a new love, the rebirth of an existing relationship, or a fresh start on an emotional level. Read more about the Ace of Cups: Tarot Card Meaning.

Two of Cups

A card of mutual feelings and partnership, the Two of Cups signifies harmony, union, and emotional balance. It often indicates a strong bond between two people, be it romantic, platonic, or familial. Read more about the 2 of Cups: Tarot Card Meaning.

Three of Cups

Celebration, friendship, and joy are the hallmarks of the Three of Cups. It emphasizes communal happiness, gatherings, and shared successes, pointing towards a time of emotional upliftment and rejoicing. Read more about the 3 of Cups: Tarot Card Meaning.

Four of Cups

While the imagery of the Four of Cups may denote withdrawal or contemplation, it calls for introspection. This card highlights feelings of discontent, missed opportunities, or a need to re-evaluate emotional priorities. Read more about the 4 of Cups: Tarot Card Meaning.

Five of Cups

Focused on the themes of loss, grief, and disappointment, the Five of Cups reminds us of the impermanence of feelings. While it stresses on mourning and sorrow, it also subtly points towards the remaining cups, suggesting hope and future emotional recovery. Read more about the 5 of Cups: Tarot Card Meaning.

Six of Cups

Nostalgia and memories from the past dominate the Six of Cups. It speaks of childhood memories, past acquaintances, and the innocence and joy derived from reminiscing. Read more about the 6 of Cups: Tarot Card Meaning.

Seven of Cups

The Seven of Cups is a card of choices, dreams, and illusions. Confronted with multiple options, it suggests that not everything is as it seems. It calls for discernment, warning against being lured by unrealistic dreams or fantasies. Read more about the 7 of Cups: Tarot Card Meaning.

Eight of Cups

A journey of emotional self-discovery is hinted at with the Eight of Cups. The card signifies moving on, leaving behind emotional baggage or unfulfilling relationships, and embarking on a quest for deeper meaning and fulfillment. Read more about the 8 of Cups: Tarot Card Meaning.

Nine of Cups

Often referred to as the “wish card,” the Nine of Cups exudes contentment, satisfaction, and emotional abundance. It points towards a time where desires are realized, and one feels a sense of emotional fulfillment and gratitude. Read more about the 9 of Cups: Tarot Card Meaning.

Ten of Cups

The Ten of Cups embodies the pinnacle of emotional happiness, harmony, and family joy. It often depicts a scene of familial or communal happiness, suggesting a period of emotional security, lasting joy, and domestic harmony. Read more about the 10 of Cups: Tarot Card Meaning.

Page of Cups

The Page of Cups heralds an intuitive, sensitive, and possibly somewhat dreamy individual or phase. It can suggest the onset of a new, tender phase in one’s emotional life, possibly marked by romantic gestures, creativity, or the start of a new friendship. Read more about the Page of Cups: Tarot Card Meaning.

Knight of Cups

Representing the quintessential romantic, the Knight of Cups can indicate gestures of affection, invitations, or the arrival of a person who is in tune with their emotions. This knight is compassionate, artistic, and often follows his heart, sometimes to a fault. Read more about the Knight of Cups: Tarot Card Meaning.

Queen of Cups

The Queen of Cups represents a figure who is emotionally intuitive, nurturing, and deeply in tune with her feelings and the emotions of others. Often perceived as the embodiment of compassion and understanding, she brings forth a calming and healing energy. When this card surfaces, it might hint at the need for empathy, the importance of trusting one’s intuition, or the presence of a caring, maternal figure in one’s life. Read more about the Queen of Cups: Tarot Card Meaning.

King of Cups

Emotionally balanced, wise, and diplomatic, the King of Cups is a master of his feelings without being repressed. He denotes emotional maturity and control. His presence can suggest a situation where emotional intelligence plays a key role or the influence of a person who exemplifies these traits. Like a calm sea, he maintains his composure, making him a reliable counselor, partner, or leader during tumultuous times. Read more about the King of Cups: Tarot Card Meaning.

Cups in a Reading: Positional Meanings

Interpreting the Suit of Cups requires more than just understanding the inherent meaning of each card. Context and position play pivotal roles in revealing the intricate layers of each reading.

Past Position

When a Cup card appears in the past position, it typically alludes to emotional experiences, relationships, or intuitive insights from the querent’s history. It might reflect past romantic involvements, moments of deep emotional connection, or intuitive decisions that have paved the way for the present.

Example: The Five of Cups in the past position could signify a past disappointment or loss that continues to cast a shadow on the querent’s current emotional well-being or relationships.

Present Position

A Cup card in the present position emphasizes the querent’s current emotional landscape, relationships, or intuitive nudges. It can shed light on present emotional dynamics, the state of current relationships, or feelings the querent is navigating at the moment.

Example: The Two of Cups in the present position might highlight a budding relationship, partnership, or a mutual emotional bond that’s at the forefront of the querent’s life right now.

Future Position

When a Cup card is drawn in the future position, it often hints at forthcoming emotional experiences, relational dynamics, or intuitive revelations. This can be in the form of new relationships, deepening emotional connections, or moments of intuitive clarity.

Example: The Page of Cups in the future position could suggest an upcoming message or offer related to emotional matters, or a newfound surge of intuition or creativity in the near future.

Interaction with Other Suits

The harmonious dance between tarot suits paints a multifaceted tale in a reading. Here’s a breakdown of how the Suit of Cups, a symbol of emotions and intuition, resonates with other suits:

Cups and Wands

When Cups’ emotional and intuitive waters merge with Wands’ spirited fire, it can signify fervent emotional expressions, instinct-driven actions, or the passion behind decisions.

Example: The Queen of Cups paired with the Three of Wands might hint at intuitive guidance propelling one towards expansive opportunities or journeys.

Cups and Swords

The union of Swords’ intellectual clarity with Cups’ emotional depth brings to light the balance between heart and mind. Such combinations often suggest analytical discussions about emotions or the cerebral aspects of relationships.

Example: The Three of Cups alongside the Seven of Swords may indicate a celebration or union being clouded by deceit or hidden motives.

Cups and Pentacles

When Pentacles, emblematic of the material world, come together with Cups, the narrative often revolves around the emotional significance of tangible possessions, financial decisions rooted in feelings, or the sentimental value of achievements.

Example: The Nine of Cups next to the Four of Pentacles might point to the emotional contentment derived from financial stability or safeguarding possessions.

Cups and Major Arcana

Major Arcana cards, representing profound life lessons and archetypes, deepen the context when paired with Cups. They either enhance the emotional and intuitive motifs or provide grander insights into the heart’s tribulations and joys.

Example: The Eight of Cups combined with The Hermit could signify a journey of introspection, where one seeks solitude to heal and understand their emotional needs better.

Using Cups in Personal Growth and Meditation

The Suit of Cups, brimming with emotional and intuitive energy, can be a profound tool for personal growth and meditation. Tapping into this suite’s essence allows individuals to navigate and understand their emotional landscapes better, fostering a deeper connection with their inner selves.

1. Emotional Exploration

Cups’ cards can act as mirrors, reflecting the myriad of emotions one experiences. By meditating on specific cards or the suit as a whole, individuals can uncover suppressed feelings, heal past traumas, and acknowledge their emotional truths. For instance, meditating on the Five of Cups might help someone process feelings of grief or regret, leading to acceptance and healing.

2. Enhancing Intuition

The Suit of Cups is closely linked to intuition and psychic abilities. By integrating these cards into meditation practices, one can hone their intuitive skills. Visualizing the Page of Cups or the High Priestess alongside Cups cards, for example, can enhance one’s receptivity to intuitive messages and gut feelings.

3. Deepening Relationships

The relationship-centric nature of the Cups suit makes it invaluable for understanding and deepening personal relationships. Reflecting on cards like the Two or Ten of Cups can guide individuals in strengthening bonds, appreciating moments of connection, and recognizing areas in relationships that need attention.

4. Guided Imagery Meditations

Using the vivid imagery of the Cups cards as a foundation, one can engage in guided visualizations. Imagine walking alongside the calm waters seen in the King of Cups, or exploring the various chalices in the Seven of Cups, each revealing a different aspect of oneself. Such visual journeys can lead to profound self-discoveries and emotional revelations.

Historical Background

The Suit of Cups, as we recognize it in the tarot, carries a lineage intertwined with various cultural and esoteric traditions. Diving into its historical roots provides a richer understanding of its symbols and meanings.

Origins in Playing Cards

Before the tarot’s emergence as a divination tool, it was primarily used for card games. The Suit of Cups traces its lineage back to these playing card traditions, especially those from the Mediterranean regions like the Italian ‘coppe’ and the Spanish ‘copas’, both translating to ‘cups’.

Alchemy and the Element of Water

In the realm of alchemy, the cup or chalice was often a symbol for the element of water. Given water’s association with emotions, intuition, and the subconscious, it’s fitting that the Suit of Cups in tarot has become emblematic of these themes.

Sacred Symbolism

Throughout history, the cup or chalice has held sacred significance in various spiritual traditions. From the Holy Grail in Christian traditions to the cauldron in Celtic myths, the vessel often represents divine femininity, receptivity, and the mysteries of the subconscious.

Evolution of Imagery

As tarot decks evolved over centuries, so did the imagery of the Suit of Cups. Early decks from the 15th century depicted simpler designs, while later decks, especially during the Renaissance period, began to incorporate more intricate and symbolic imagery, enriching the narrative of each card.

Common Misconceptions about the Suit of Cups

Like any profound and multifaceted tool, the Suit of Cups in tarot is often subject to misunderstandings and misconceptions. Addressing these can help clarify the suit’s true essence and deepen our connection with its messages.

1. Solely Romantic Cards

One of the most common misconceptions is that the Suit of Cups only relates to romantic love. While many cards do touch upon romantic themes, the suit broadly encompasses all forms of emotional experiences, relationships, intuition, and inner states.

2. Negative Cups Are Bad Omen

Some readers or querents might dread seeing cards like the Three or Eight of Cups, associating them solely with loss or emotional distress. However, each card in the suit, including the seemingly challenging ones, offers guidance, insights, and the potential for growth.

3. Always Passive and Soft

Given its association with the element of water, the Suit of Cups is often deemed passive. While many of its cards reflect introspection and receptivity, it doesn’t mean they lack the potential for action. Cards like the Knight of Cups can signify a proactive approach driven by emotions.

4. Only Relevant in Personal Readings: 

Some believe that the Suit of Cups should be limited to personal or relationship readings. However, its insights can be valuable in various contexts, including career, projects, and broader life decisions, especially when addressing one’s emotional well-being or interpersonal dynamics.

Suit of Cups FAQs

The allure and emotional depth of the Suit of Cups often give rise to questions. Here are some frequently asked queries that help further elucidate this captivating suit.

What does the Suit of Cups mainly represent in a reading?

The Suit of Cups primarily delves into the emotional, intuitive, and relational aspects of our lives. While many cards touch on feelings, relationships, and intuitive insights, the entire suit provides guidance on our inner emotional landscape and how we relate to others and the world around us.

Is the Suit of Cups predominantly positive or negative?

No suit in the tarot is inherently positive or negative. The Suit of Cups encompasses the full spectrum of emotional experiences, from joy and love to grief and disillusionment. Context, card position, and surrounding cards play a pivotal role in determining a card’s message in a reading.

How does the Suit of Cups differ from the other suits?

While each suit in the tarot addresses different facets of human experience, the Suit of Cups is especially linked with emotions, intuition, and relationships. In contrast, Wands might deal with actions and passions, Pentacles with material matters, and Swords with thoughts and communication.

Can the Suit of Cups help in making career or financial decisions?

Absolutely. Though the Suit of Cups is emotionally centered, its insights can be invaluable in various areas, including career. For instance, a reading dominated by Cups might suggest making decisions based on emotional satisfaction or considering interpersonal dynamics in a professional setting.

What should I focus on when a Cups card appears reversed?

Reversed cards in the Suit of Cups might suggest suppressed emotions, emotional imbalances, or a need to reassess one’s feelings about a particular situation. As with upright cards, context is crucial. A reversed Cups card may highlight areas where emotional clarity or healing is needed.


The Suit of Cups, deeply rooted in the tarot, symbolizes the vast realm of emotions, relationships, and intuition. From its historical lineage in ancient playing card traditions to its profound role in meditative and personal growth practices, the Suit of Cups offers rich insights into our inner emotional worlds and how we connect with others. Addressing common misconceptions and queries surrounding this suit deepens our appreciation and understanding, making the Suit of Cups a powerful tool in tarot readings and personal introspection.

Lauren holding a crystal ball in her hands.


Lauren Williams
Lauren merges ancient wisdom with modern insights, offering a fresh perspective on life's mysteries. She's passionate about guiding individuals through the world of astrology, lunar cycles, numerology, and tarot. When she's not charting the stars or reading tarot, she enjoys getting out in nature, hikes and yoga.