The Suit of Cups | CULT Tarot Card Meanings

The Suit of Cups | CULT Tarot Card Meanings


13 minute read

The Suit of Cups Card Meanings

 Vampires and sex rule this emotional suit about relationships.

 

Ghosts and the undead rule in the most depressing of the suits.

Ace of Cups

Element: Water (Blood); vampires

+ My cup overflows with adoration; sex and love; home is where the heart is

– Denial; putting up walls to emotional connections; lack of a place to call one’s own, unstable

Vampires have been stalking the halls of our imagination for centuries. They are monsters who indulge in the hunt for food and sex, passionately consuming what they will for as long as they can avoid a stake to the heart. Like all monster myths they reflect what we fear the most—which I argue is a repackaged version of our own darkest impulses and desires. Our base instinct is to fear death but eternal life becomes its own punishment. 

Over time the vampire myth has exposed our fear of disease and foreign customs. Now the vampire is a Byronic hero of our current age, a brooding sexpot that allows us to embrace some version of sexual kink.

As a baby goth, the vampire was the brooding loner that I aspired to be—brimming with misunderstood creativity and emotions. They seemed to openly feel things so deeply but also remain powerful and in control —my teenaged self was incredibly jealous. Growing up in then rural Virginia, emotional honesty was rewarded with ridicule. Showing interest in things outside of narrowly defined parameters simply made you a target. Seeing the few brave openly gay people in my school go through harassment from students and teachers alike, I learned to hide my still unexamined queerness with great effectiveness. Taking the hiding to the extreme, I managed to be missing from at least three out of four high school year books, opting to jump through only the most mandatory hoops required to get out of town and never come back. It was the Doom and Gloom night as the local gay club that saved me while I still lived at home. Meeting people, who were doing their own hiding, come out once a week to just be ourselves and jump around on the dance floor was the community I needed. 

These vampires are a sensitive and sensual lot and this suit captures their unabashed passion and creativity.

 

Two of Cups

Pronouns: She, her (both)

+ That first crush or infatuation; a flirt; tenderness and togetherness 

– Bickering and fighting

Should I ever put pen to paper and craft a retelling of Dracula it would be Lucy and Mina together against Bram Stoker’s monster. Apologies to Jonathan Harker but his storyline was just a way into the Transylvanian castle. 

Lucy and Mina as the two of cups balance one another’s personalities and share an enviable bond. It’s this relationship that needs to be explored further. Their chemistry is especially evident in the 1992 film adaptation by Francis Ford Coppola.  Lucy is a bawdy flirt who brings out the good humor in shy and reserved Mina. They look over a book of what appears to be the Kamasutra (introduced to Victorian England in 1883) and tease each other about sex while preening. When Lucy becomes ill it’s Mina who stays by her side until being pulled into battle the vampire who targeted them. 

Mina is depicted here as a vampire with Lucy as her trusted blood donor.

 

Three of Cups

Pronouns: She, her

+ Joy; mission accomplished; orgasm

– Distracted; too many outside opinions

While company can be nice, there is a pleasure in entertaining oneself. Solitude is not always a punishment. 

This card celebrates when all the right ingredients come together and we are allowed to celebrate  life’s simple pleasures. Enjoying the little victories is arguably the key to enjoying daily living. 

While the vampire myth was born from fear and an obsession with death, the stories have evolved into ones about indulgence and romance. Our supine figure is blissed out and in repose but a new fire has been started—a loving relationship with the self.

The vampire myth has branched out and evolved beyond tales of fear and death to become a new genre of paranormal romance. I can’t help be see that as an embrace of what used to be cast out as “other” and is now a celebration of “us”.

 

Four of Cups

Pronouns: She, her

+ Copious amounts of sex or pleasure

– When too much of a good thing numbs you out; obsessed with the material and ignoring the emotional

The Four of  Cups reaches for the cup that’s spilling over for another drop while still experiencing the ecstasy of the last sip. For the figure in this card there is so much more left to be enjoyed and she is soaking it up. Her tattoo reads, Delicious as Hell.  

Like anything, it can’t last forever but while it’s here try and revel in it. Why not? Unlike the vampires of this suit, we don’t get to live forever. At times the existential pressure of this life and its fleeting nature can be such a bummer. This card can be a reminder that for every valley there is another hill to climb.

 

Five of Cups

Pronouns: He, him

+ Loss of life; mourning a passing; empathy for those who are suffering

– While time can heal the body doesn’t forget; living with past trauma; transgenerational trauma 

The five of cups features a brooding Byronic hero as vampire. The five cards mourns a loss or reversal of fortune and the Five of Cups marks that emotional toll. 

Vampires live forever and because they do not appear to age they carry the marks of loss somewhere deeper. As humans we carry a similar burden that is only now emerging in the social conscious—the legacy of transgenerational trauma. The study of this topic is still quite new but art (the release valve of fear and trauma across time) has been made about this throughout history. The path we are on was carved by those who tread before us and it isn’t a stretch to think this same path leaves an impression on the traveler. 

 

Six of Cups

Pronouns: She, her

+ Thinking of the past through rose colored glasses; holding on to nostalgia; satisfied

– A warning to not rest on your laurels

This young vampire is pulled directly from True Blood where newly turned “baby vamps” are all energy with a sever lack of foresight. 

She has accomplished her mission of feeding for the evening and in fact, she’s collected more than her share. She sits back and is “having a think” while looking off into space with rose colored glasses. 

This card is about nostalgia—a word that conjures equal parts sadness and fondness for the past. While it seems harmless, holding on to things can have an affect on our present actions. In a reading this might be perception check: “Was it really that great?,” “Is this having an impact on the present?”

 

Seven of Cups

Pronouns: None

+ Options; many paths ahead

– Inability to commit to a choice; hesitation

The Vampire Oracle of the Seven of Cups floats before you with options. You can take a sip from any one cup before you, the choice is yours and yours alone. Once you head down that path however, you can’t go backward. The indecision can make you sweat but the Seven of Cups is patient. The truth is, you are exactly where you are supposed to be. Instead of sweating about the choice, take your time, make a pro and con list, ask for help, and realize that no matter what, you are going to learn something.

Which path will you take?

 

Eight of Cups

Pronouns: She, her or They, them

+ When you’ve achieved that goal you have been working towards, what comes next? 

– Love on; even love ends

As we work our way up the suit of cups the explosive energy of the hunt and lust begins to taper. The Eight of Cups get downright reflective. Once the all the item on the list have been crossed out, what is next?

This is the moving on card. After the choice of the Seven of Cups is made, the next steep is to hit the road. 

Take note of the other cards around this one when it’s chosen. It seems like a solitary card but not so when in between two very different cards. Maybe it’s time to reflect before taking the next step or your are stuck in the middle of something and this is the reminder you needed to piece out. 

 

Nine of Cups

Pronouns: She, her

+ A skewed perspective

– Abundant; “I have everything I need”; mature enough to understand your strengths and content

This card meaning is flipped from the traditional orientation of the card in other decks. I changed it up to address head on how hard it is to get over ourselves. When the card is reversed, the cups are emptied out and we are left with ourselves and no other distractions. Without judgment, can you be left alone with yourself? 

Upright we are distracted by what we think we should be in order to attract sex, money, and power—whatever it is we’re supposed to be craving. It could be argued our culture trains us to think of our own bodies and thoughts as a distraction. 

Whether full-blown Body Dysmorphic Disorder or something less severe, talking to someone (including a mental health professional) helps to relieve the anguish caused and normalizes conversations about these topics.

 

Ten of Cups

Pronouns: She, her

+ Taking your comfort; indulging in a guilty  pleasure; going home

– Greed; obsession

It took me about 30 years to recognize this but it seems that any time something is marketed as “for girls” or “for women” this is code for “weak, silly, and stupid”. Look at any boy band or sparkly vampire book. Just the term “chick lit” lights up a comment section with ridicule unless it’s a protected space. The romance genre alone makes buckets of money and is dominated by diverse women from reading, to writing and publishing but is still belittled. 

What is someone supposed to assume when the things made for them are constantly belittled? This is why Bella here has a tattoo with her own name on it. She’s team Herself and clutches the heart of her enemy to her face—returning the gaze back on the world that has torn her apart. 

Like what you like, just don’t tear into someone else about it.

 

Page of Cups 

Pronouns: He, him

+ First time out on the town as a baby artist; a club kid is born!

– Beginning of the creative career; explosive creative energy that might need to be reigned in down the line

For the teenager or young adult of the cups, I chose a goth club kid about to trip on a wee bit of acid while at his first real party. The Page of Cups is a carefree creative ready to explore the boundaries of everything life has to offer. For those that are good at beginning things, it can be exciting and for the more timid it’s time to dip a toe in and try something different.

In my senior year of art school I was given the advice by a professor to not go out and party and to focus on making work. I did not heed this advice entirely. The thing is, if I hadn’t gone out to climb on the roof and stare out at the sky I wouldn’t have much to talk about. The Page of Cups is ready to take the first real sip of life and not worry too much yet about consequences.

 

Knight of Cups

Pronouns: He, him

+ Confident but not cocky; heading out to paint the town red

– Remember to keep an even keel

The armor donned by the knight of cups is worn by Gary Oldman’s character in Bram Stoker’s Dracula with a yellow faux fur bolero shrug. This fighter is on the precipice to both work and party hard. They have been training hard and building up to the moment where they can strike out on their own to cut their teeth in the real world. The moon is the curse of night. It is the only obstacle for the Knight of Cups and is a limitation he cannot control. Regardless he pushes though to conquer.

The Knight of Cups has the classic features of a vampire: a stunningly magnetic and youthful appearance that draws you in, otherworldly strength, a creative flair that ignites the imagination. He’s irresistible. 

 

Queen of Cups

Pronouns: He, him

+ The mature artist; in control of the creative flow

– Bitter and jaded artist

Thoughts and actions coalesce within this card. The Queen of Cups is an artist combining desire, passion, and skill into a distilled river of emotional byproduct. Whether it is artwork, writing, or some other creation, the Queen is a master of his craft. Being at the top of one’s game means that when plans deviate this queen can rise to meet the challenge. He anticipates that difficulties will arise no matter how well laid out the plans are and doesn’t get tripped up. 

In a spread this card could be a symbolic representation of the master craftsperson or represent an actual person. When building a narrative with the cards there are always several ways to read them and the royalty are extra flexible in this illustrator’s opinion. 

 

King of Cups

Pronouns: He, him

+ Withstands the test of time

– Still waters run deep, cool calm and collected leadership (violent storms)

Our vampire king is tired. Just like Louis de Pointe du Lac and Vampire Bill he has lived for so long and watched both kindness and suffering transpire over the decades. It has put things in perspective over time. The King of Cups is at his height of power but doesn’t need to put it on display. Instead he has developed an even temper that allows him to handle life with grace. 

This card is a conclusion or evolution of the cups suit. After traveling along a road of passion and emotional intensity, the king has discovered that the highs and lows cannot be maintained forever but embraces the life lessons have left their imprint. 

 

 

CULT Tarot Card Meanings | Major Arcana | Sword Suit | Wand Suit | Coin Suit | Cup Suit

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