5 of Cups: Tarot Card Meaning

By Lauren Williams
Last update:

5 of Cups Keywords


  • Grief
  • Loss
  • Disappointment
  • Despair
  • Regret
  • Sorrow
  • Focus on past


  • Acceptance
  • Forgiveness
  • Moving on
  • Personal growth
  • Hopeful outlook
  • Healing
  • Positive perspective

5 of Cups Essential Meanings Snapshot


The upright position of the 5 of Cups tarot card often signals feelings of disappointment, sorrow, and loss. This particular card suggests a state of mourning for what’s been lost, symbolising regret about past decisions, or expressing grief over what could have been. However, it’s essential to remember that amid all this, the card seeks to remind us that not all is lost, and there’s still potential for replenishment and renewal.


In the reversed position, the 5 of Cups indicates personal acceptance and healing from past turmoil. It embodies the transitional phase from negativity to hope, showing a process of moving on from past grievances and disillusionments. It can also signify forgiving oneself and others, thus releasing the emotional baggage carried around for so long. This card reversed can be seen as an indicator of recovery and emotional growth.

5 of Cups Description

The 5 of Cups card displays a scene of disappointment and contemplation. It portrays a figure clad in long, dark cloaks, symbolising grief, isolation or depression.

They stand with their back turned to us, peering down at three overturned cups on the ground before them – cups that can be understood to represent lost opportunities or missed prospects. Behind the figure, however, two cups still stand upright, often unnoticed by many first-time observers.

A figure in a long dark cloak, stands facing away, looking down at spilt cups as the 5 of Cups tarot card.

In the distance is a river, representing emotional currents or flow of life, leading up to a bridge further beyond. The bridge has connections to transitions and overcoming obstacles. This forms a pathway towards a castle or home, shrouded by the gloom of the overcast sky. The entire scene possesses a somber and melancholic ambiance, indicating the heavy emotions associated with this card.

Beyond the Surface: Symbolic Meanings

When interpreted beyond the overt depiction, the symbols in the 5 of Cups card carry profound implications.

  • Spilled Cups: Signifying loss and disappointment, the three spilled cups represent setbacks and the emotional impact they exert. They symbolize unfulfilled wishes or expectations that have fallen through.
  • Upright Cups: The remaining two upright cups signify hope and remaining opportunities. Despite the emphasis on loss, these cups remind us that all is not gone, and there is still something to appreciate and be grateful for.
  • Black Cloak: The black cloak that the figure on the card wears signifies mourning and sadness. This represents a period of introspection to come to terms with the sadness and disappointment experienced.
  • River and Bridge: The river in the background signifies emotions, its flow indicating the continuity of life’s experiences. The bridge symbolizes transition and the potential to overcome obstacles and move past setbacks.
  • Distant Castle: The far-off castle suggests the possibilities awaiting exploration and the potential for new beginnings. It stands to show that the present situation is not permanent, and a brighter future is possible.

In sum, the 5 of Cups urges you to focus on potential new beginnings and opportunities rather than dwelling on past disappointments and sorrow. Engage with this card on a deep emotional level to find your path forward.

Dual Perspectives: Upright & Reversed

Upright 5 of Cups

When the 5 of Cups card appears upright in a tarot reading, it typically signals disappointments, despair, or a sense of loss that one must confront. This card prompts an acknowledgment of sorrow caused by change or loss. However, it also encourages one to focus on what’s left rather than what’s lost; as demonstrated by the two upright cups in the card artwork. This is a chance to learn from the past, accept change, and move forward, providing an opportunity for growth and emotional maturity.

Reversed 5 of Cups

Conversely, the reversed 5 of Cups suggests a shift in perspective towards a more positive outlook. This card often comes up when one is starting to realize that it is essential to let go of past regrets or disappointments. The reversed position suggests a change in mindset from sorrow to acceptance. This can be a moment of anticipating new beginnings and showing that healing is possible. It encourages the releasing of negative emotions, paving the way for forgiveness, recovery, and ultimately – hope.

5 of Cups in Life Scenarios

The 5 of Cups, symbolic of grief, regret, and disappointment, yet hints at hope, can be interpreted in various segments of life. The Cup’s placement in a reading illuminates the context and the intensity of its impact. Let’s explore some of the key scenarios where the 5 of Cups can be observed.

Growth & Self-Discovery

The 5 of Cups in the realm of personal growth resonates with feelings of loss and remorse. Perhaps you’re mourning a missed opportunity or struggling to release past regrets. However, this card implores you to redirect your focus from what’s been lost to what remains and the potential for growth. This shift in perspective fosters resilience and emotional maturity.

Career and Creativity

Professionally, the 5 of Cups could signify a phase of disappointment. Perhaps a project fell through or you’ve faced a career setback. Nevertheless, it reminds us not to wallow in despair. There may still be opportunity despite the loss. Harness the emotional energy into productive action or creative inspiration, changing the narrative of disappointment into a story of opportunity.

Relationships & Bonds

In context of relationships, the 5 of Cups often indicates a time of heartbreak or disillusionment. You might be dealing with the end of a relationship or a betrayal by someone close. Yet, it also suggests that not all is lost. You are called upon to let go of past hurt and to open up your heart for new relationships and fostering stronger bonds.

To read more about the 5 of Cups in the context of feelings, read our 5 of Cups as Feelings article.

Choices & Life Decicisions

When it comes to life decisions, the 5 of Cups advises caution against dwelling excessively on past mistakes, as it can cloud judgement and impede decision-making. The card’s occurrence here is a reminder to learn from the past, but not be defined by it. It pushes one towards embracing their potential and making choices that will lead to healing and growth.

Remember, the 5 of Cups invites us to find the silver lining and make the most out of our circumstances, however bleak they may appear at first glance. It encourages to look beyond the obvious, transitioning from focusing on the spilled cups to appreciating the cups that are still standing.

To read more about the 5 of Cups when making decisions, read our 5 of Cups: Yes or No article.

5 of Cups from Past to Present

The Five of Cups, like other cards in the tarot deck, originates from the 15th century, drawn initially as a regular playing card in Northern Italy. Older decks acknowledged its lower nature, emphasizing disappointment and sadness without the hint of potential remedy in later versions. Over centuries, the visual manifestation of Five of Cups evolved parallel to changing societal beliefs and spiritual awakenings.

As tarot started being used for divination in the 18th century, the image of the card changed dramatically. It came to represent a figure shrouded in black, observing three spilled cups with two cups upright behind him. Later, the Rider-Waite deck depicted a river, a bridge, and a castle in the background, adding to its complexity.

Historically, it has been closely linked to human responses to loss and regret. The Five of Cups encourages the exploration of grief and the process of healing. It transformed from a mere depiction of loss into an embodiment of growth and self-rediscovery through hardship, emphasizing the balance between emotional distress and personal growth.

Today, the Five of Cups remains a vital card in the Tarot deck, conveying the important lesson that there is always something left to appreciate, even in the face of despair, hinting at a future potential of reconciliation and hope.

Synergistic Card Combinations

Understanding the synergy between the 5 of Cups and other Tarot cards can provide a deeper context to readings and offer more profound insights. Each combination has unique connotations, depending on the influence and underlying themes of the supplementary cards in the reading. Here, we explore the interactions of the 5 of Cups with a selection of other Tarot cards to help you decipher their amalgamated messages.

5 of Cups with The Tower

When the 5 of Cups is combined with The Tower card, this synergy suggests an intense emotional turmoil. The Tower card signifies radical change, upheaval, or destruction, which significantly magnifies the loss and grief denoted by the 5 of Cups. This combination may indicate the emotional fallout after a shocking or unexpected event and the subsequent stages of grief.

5 of Cups with The Sun

The interaction of the 5 of Cups with The Sun offers an uplifting message. The Sun, symbolic of joy, success, and optimism, helps to alleviate the sorrow of the 5 of Cups. In this combination, The Sun encourages a shift in perspective, hinting that despite current loss, brighter and happier times are on the horizon.

5 of Cups with Six of Swords

A combination of the 5 of Cups with the Six of Swords connotes a journey towards healing. The Six of Swords represents transition, movement, and escape from difficult circumstances. Paired with the 5 of Cups, this suggests the process of overcoming grief and moving towards recovery, even though the emotional scars of the past might still be healing.

5 of Cups with Three of Cups

When the 5 of Cups meets the Three of Cups, it suggests the possibility of consolation and support from friends or community. The Three of Cups represents collective joy, friendship, and festive gatherings. This combination suggests that despite the emotional blows represented by the 5 of Cups, you can find comfort and solace in social connections.

5 of Cups with The Hermit

The relationship between the 5 of Cups and The Hermit signifies the need for introspection and solitary reflection. The Hermit card symbolizes solitude, introspection, and soul-searching. This combination indicates an opportunity to confront your feelings of loss, pain, or disappointment, and embark on a deeply personal journey towards healing and acceptance.

Introspection & Meditation

In your spiritual journey, the 5 of Cups tarot card often calls for introspection and meditation. This card’s message is predominantly about coping with loss and disappointment, teaching us to shift our focus from the past to the present.

Meditative Practices with 5 of Cups

Drawing from the symbolism of the three spilled cups on the card, one excellent meditative practice is to imagine each cup as an aspect of your life that has caused sorrow. As you meditate, visualize these cups spilling, signifying the release of these troubling emotions. This analogy aids in the process of letting go of past hurts and moving forward.

In another meditative practice, focus on the two upright cups behind the figure in the card, which symbolize hope and future potential. In this reflection, you explore what still stands in your life, the unexplored or neglected, encouraging a shift in focus towards potential good.

Personal Reflection on 5 of Cups

In self-introspection, 5 of Cups prompts you to ask: “What am I mourning, and why?” and “What healthy, untouched aspects of my life have I overlooked?”. Journaling these reflections can be a cathartic exercise as it allows you to process your feelings and gain conscious understanding of your state of mind. This introspective work paves the way towards emotional healing.

Overall, through meditative practices and personal reflections centered around 5 of Cups, you are brought towards a deeper comprehension of your emotional self, fostering self-growth and emotional wisdom.


The 5 of Cups tarot card signifies feelings of disappointment, sorrow, and loss, yet hints at hope and renewal. It urges individuals to focus on new possibilities rather than dwell on past regrets. When reversed, this card signals personal acceptance and healing, indicating a transition from negativity to hope.

Symbolically, spilled cups represent setbacks, upright cups signify remaining opportunities, the black cloak indicates mourning, the background river signifies the continuity of life’s experiences, and the distant castle suggests potential for new beginnings.

Throughout personal growth, careers, relationships, and life decisions, this card invites us to find the silver lining and make the most out of circumstances.

The 5 of Cups transforms from merely depicting loss into an embodiment of growth through hardship, maintaining a balance between distress and personal growth.

What Next?

Explore more insights with our detailed guides:

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.