A new suit brings us new symbolism: Cups are the suit of emotions and spiritual experience. They describe inner states, feelings and relationship patterns. Cups are associated with the element Water. The energy of this suit flows inward, filling up spaces, sustaining and reflecting changing moods.
There’s some argument over whether Cups or Stars represent spirituality – in the end, I just assume both do. Cups are an emotional spirituality, while Stars has a more all-encompassing fire to it.
Ace of Cups
This is the start of the suit, and since cups is an emotional suit, the Ace of Cups is usually considered to be an emotion. The Ace is a positive sign, and so these are positive emotions: generosity, forgiveness, peace, honesty or simply letting your feelings show. Most of all, it’s taken to mean love, though love comes in many varieties. Thus, this card can represent the start of a new relationship, be it platonic or romantic. Once again, the Ace is a “root”, a foundation – there is no guarantee that this relationship is going to result in true love and happiness. What it does represent is a good start, a foundation for this relationship to grow on. This isn’t a solid, happy relationship, but it has the potential to become one.
The emotion here can also represent artistic expression, spiritual nourishment, or emotional replenishment. Whatever the case, it’s a sign of your heart being opened. The water in the cup, representing emotions, is fountaining up and pouring out – it cannot be contained, it needs to express itself.
(No, it is not fountaining out due to the curious and unique physical properties of water, all you science types.)
The Ace upright is a positive sign. Inversed, it’s not. Emotions are the sole source of human happiness and our reason for existing – accomplishment and hard work does nothing for us if we don’t find any source of enjoyment from them. So why is being “emotional” considered a negative quality by Western culture?
….okay, the actual answer to that is very long and involves an in-depth discussion of the cultural perception of manliness, as well as colonialism and slavery politics, but ASIDE FROM THAT – the point here is that emotions can make you act stupid. They can make you want things that aren’t realistic or that you can’t have. They can make you over-sensitive or hurt for dumb reasons. They can make you see things that aren’t there, either because you want them to be there, or because your ego is too easily bruised. They can, most especially, make you act selfish. Recall what I said back on the Lovers, love isn’t a moral emotion. The inverted Ace of Cups isn’t even necessarily love – it’s just an emotion that you’re feeling that isn’t really good for you. If you’re starting a relationship or a spiritual experience based on this emotion, you’re probably doing it for the wrong reasons. It’s not a guarantee that everything is going to crash and burn, but you’re going to have to work hard to get things set straight, or else it will.