Archive - June 2017

Types of Tarot Card Decks

Different Types of Tarot Card Decks: Most Commonly Used Tarot Decks and Their Variations

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of variations of the modern tarot card decks. From its Renaissance origins as playing cards to its modern-day, mass-produced availability to appeal to every aesthetic or mood, each deck is unique. However, there are some general categories for decks. You can speak to 100 readers and get 100 different answers as to which tarot decks they like to use. From traditional Rider-Waite cards, to Oracle cards, to pagan cards, the possibilities may seem endless. For the person getting the reading, the most important thing is that your reader connects to their cards.

However, there may come a time where you sit down with your tarot reader and see a deck that looks strange to you. Or, you may simply be curious as to what type of deck they use and why. If so, learn about the categories of decks a reader has available.

Common Tarot Decks

Sola Busca Tarot: This is the earliest known published tarot deck, published around 1491 in Northern Italy, most likely Milan. The 22 trump cards, or major arcana, were ornately designed, while the minor arcana, or remaining 56 cards, were simpler in design, though designed nonetheless. The original entire deck is still owned by the Sola Busca family, though pictures can be seen online and at the British Museum. It’s unknown whether this deck was used for divination or not. However, the wheels of the universe were turning, as the symbolism in this deck inspired occultists centuries later. While it’s possible to do a tarot reading with reproductions of this deck, it’s a rare thing to find a reader who uses this one, especially since it wasn’t designed with divination in mind.

Rider-Waite and Rider-Waite Inspired Tarot: This is the most emblematic of tarot cards, and the one that most people recognize as tarot. These cards were drawn according to the specifications occultist and mystic A.E. Rider gave it to the illustrator, Gold Dawn member Pamela Coleman Smith. Rider meticulously described the symbolism for all 78 cards, including the major and minor arcanas. It was inspired by the Sola-Busca deck. In fact, some of the cards in the Ride-Waite Tarot, like the Three of Swords and the Ten of Wands, are a near-exact replica.

Most modern tarot decks are a revision of the Ride-Waite Tarot deck, with both similar graphics and interpretations as Rider-Waite tarot. There are hundreds of creative variations of the deck. Readers use whichever decks they connect with best. Some popular versions include The Deviant Moon, The Wild Unknown, the Wild Wood tarot, and the Thoth tarot. Since the ultimate purpose of the tarot deck is to interpret and intuit the messages symbolized in the pictures on the cards, it’s most important that the artwork resonates with the reader.

Since most tarot readers learn the symbolism of the tarot through the Rider-Waite deck, all decks that follow in this path generally contain cards that reflect the same meaning and general symbolism of the Rider-Waite deck. For example, a Magician card will mean the same thing throughout every deck, even if the illustration is different.

Oracle Decks: Like tarot decks, oracle decks tap into the wisdom of the universe to convey divine messages. Oracle decks are specifically used to contact angels or other spiritual beings. The reader concentrates on the question and chooses cards under the guidance of the angel or spiritual being. These decks may be smaller than the traditional tarot and do not have a major or minor arcana. The ones most commonly available contain about 44 cards of depictions of angels, goddesses, or spiritual creatures that represent an archetype or virtue. The reader interprets the past, present, future, or nature of the problem depending on the archetype or virtue of the figure on the card.

An oracle deck may be used in the same manner as a tarot deck, though they are also used as a way to connect with specific spirits or archetypal energies for wisdom and guidance. Those who use oracle cards may also rely on their psychic abilities to interpret the messages they receive. Thus, the tarot deck may be used as a supplement to medium work or spiritualism.

Druid/Pagan/Hermetic Decks: Practitioners of specific occult paths may use a tarot deck designed for their occult or religious path. These cards contain imagery that is sacred to these paths or particularly resonate with these practitioners. Generally speaking, pagans can work with any deck they choose, and most likely will work with whatever deck resonates with them the most.

There are pagan decks that resonate with every flavor and color of paganism, from Wicca to Heathenry to Druidry. Druid tarot contains specific Celtic and Earth-based themes that resonate with Druidism. The Hermetic Tarot is designed with imagery from the order of the Golden Dawn. It also works as a teaching device to help the reader further understand alchemical symbolism.  For some pagans, tarot readings are part of their magickal path, and may do these for themselves on a regular basis, before casting spells, or as part of holiday rituals. Wiccans may use decks that have imagery close to their particular beliefs or practices. They may use a goddess tarot, fairy, or other tarot cards that resonate with their particular religious practices.

Understanding Tarot Cards

Understanding Tarot Cards: Symbolism and Intuition

Tarot cards are rich in imagery that guide the reader to understanding tarot cards and not just the superficial meaning of the card, but all of the possible nuances and symbolism. Since nothing is life is two-dimensional, the meanings of the tarot aren’t either. Sometimes, when a reader pulls a card that seems strange or inappropriate, a closer look at the image on the card can shed light on the complexities of the situation at hand.

Just about every deck will come with an instruction booklet that will help the new user interpret each card and understand what the particular artist wants to convey on each tarot card. However, a reader must connect with the deck, and that means that the pictures not only speak to but converse with them. A reader wants to cultivate this connection with their cards.

While trying to cultivate a connection to the cards, these tips can help a new tarot reader or client understand tarot:

Look at the arcana: The tarot is split into the major and minor arcana. The major arcana, comprised of 22 cards, tends to reflect major changes or life passages. The major arcana is personal. These are things that happen within a person.

When these show up in a reading, the matter the card reflects is not only of great importance, but may be one that can impact the course of one’s life. A spread with a lot of major arcana cards indicates an individual who is going through a major personal transformation or journey.

The minor arcana, on the other hand, is comprised of 56 cards and reflects things outside the person, such as smaller events, objects, other people, and situations. These may be catalysts to major changes reflected in the major arcana. A spread with a lot of minor arcana cards indicates that the individual is dealing with a lot of different possibilities, activities, and circumstances. The minor arcana is split into the four suits of Pentacles, Wands, Swords, and Cups, reflecting the elements of Earth, Fire, Air, and Water, respectively.

Look at the suit. The suit of a card reflects how the person feels about whatever the card represents. For example, if the card represents the immediate past, the suit of the card tells how the person deals with the past. A Pentacles card reflects a monetary or material attitude toward the area of life the card reflects. A Wands card reflects something that the individual is very passionate about. A Swords card reflects something that the person rationalizes or deals with intellectually. A Cups card is something that a person deals with emotionally and through intuition.

So, staying with the example, a Pentacles card reflecting the immediate. past may indicate a person who worked hard for material gain. A wand card may reflect a person who thinks of the past as a tumultuous, intense, or creative time. A Swords card indicates that the person looks back on the immediate past with cool, rational detachment. A Cups card indicates a person who is very much emotionally connected to their recent past.


Look at number/court. Even the court or number on the card gives an indication of what the card represents.

Kings represent masculinity, authority, fatherhood, creativity, and enterprise. Queens represent femininity, beauty, nurturing, motherhood, and quiet wisdom. Knights represent a young adult: ambitious, energetic, courageous, and at times intense. Pages represent youth, children, teenagers, rashness, naiveté, enthusiasm, idealism, and excitement.

The numbers also have meanings, largely related to their occult/Kabbalistic meaning.


Aces mean newness, beginnings, and creation.

Twos mean balance, dilemmas, and extremes.

Threes mean unity, family, and completion.

Fours mean consistency, stability, and stubbornness

Fives mean power, instability, and domination/submission.

Sixes mean harmony, journeys to harmony, and contentedness.

Sevens mean imagination, spirituality, and the higher mind.

Eights mean limits, boundaries, and ambiguity.

Nines mean isolation, introspection, and epiphany.

Tens mean fulfillment, culmination, and totality.


Look at the picture itself. The pictures themselves have particular meanings. Some are more mysterious than others. This is intentional; as all things in life can be interpreted differently, and nothing is black or white, such is the tarot. Study the pictures themselves. It is best to get a deck with detailed cards if one is new to tarot so that the cards can be studied thoroughly.

For example, suppose a reader drew the Magician Card. This is number one in the major arcana. You know this is about the individual’ personal life and personal transformation. You know that the number one means newness, beginnings, and creation.

Now, looking at the card itself, the reader sees more symbolism. In many decks, the magician is working with a pentacle, a cup, a wand, and a sword. All the elements are represented and vital to transforming energy at will. He wears red robes. He is like royalty or clergy, but also neither. He reaches up into the sky with a baton his right hand. He points to the ground with his left hand. As above, so below. He shows and leads the way. He may have the infinity sign over his head. Energy never dies. It only changes. Roses climb all around him. Life proliferates; beauty proliferates. Beauty is balance. Infinity is balance. Four elements in balance. The sky and the Earth in balance. He has a snake biting itself around his waist. Infinity around him.

What does this tell you about what the magician represents? It certainly doesn’t mean that the individual is going to pull a rabbit out of a hat.


Is the card reversed? A reversed card has its own meaning. Sometimes, it’s clearly the plain opposite of the card when right-side up. Other times, it’s more nuanced. Usually, a card with a more nuanced meaning when right-side up has a more nuanced meaning when upside down.

For example, the four of Wands card means marriage, stability, happy home, and abundant happiness. The opposite of that can mean divorce, loss of home, and loss of happiness and stability.

However, a more esoteric card, like the Tower, already means death, destruction, chaos, and ruin. Reversed, it means the same thing, but that the individual is in denial or refusing to face the fact that something is over.


Let your intuition be your guide. When all is said and done, a reader’s best tool is their own intuition, developed over continuous practice. This practice helps the reader develop a connection to their cards. The more they practice, the more they use their cards, and the more readings they do, the stronger the connection. Thus, when someone is getting a tarot card reading, they’re actually getting more than a mere interpretation of where random cards lie. They’re witnessing the reader tap into universal knowledge using the special language of the tarot and receiving the gift of guidance from the universe.

King of Cups

King of Cups

Suit: Cups
Element: Water
Function: Emotions, love, spirituality, imagination

The King of Cups looks into the distance. He holds a cup in one hand and a wand or scepter in the other. His stone throne is like an island in the turbulent sea: as even fish and ships are tossed about in the rough waves, his thrones, and thus him the king, remains. There is a fish to his left and a red ship, the color of passion and magic to the right. This is a balance between the imaginative and emotional (fish) and the action needed to take inspiration and make it into something real (a red schooner). The king doesn’t seem to be bothered by any of this. Perhaps he is like Poseidon, the god of the seas, and is not tossed by that which he creates.

The King of Cups wears blue, the color of the spirit, yellow, the color of the intellect, and red, the color of passion. He’s balanced. He’s got all the potential and all the possibilities, but he’s calm. Even though the sky is overcast, and it looks as if it could get stormy, he is calm. The King of Cups has control over his imagination and his emotions. He has mastered these, and he can weather the storm. In fact, he may very well be the storm, since the King of Cups not only masters his emotions, but knows how to direct and use them to create.

The King of Cups does not loose his cool. He’s not in denial of how he feels; in fact, he’s very much aware of his emotions. He just doesn’t let them get the best of him. He doesn’t suppress them either. He knows their power, and he knows that they can move things. He doesn’t give them power over himself. In this sense, he’s a creative genius. Whatever he wishes, he can manifest in reality.

The King of Cups can give of himself freely, because others don’t threaten him. He’s fair, merciful, and diplomatic. He keeps others’ feelings in mind when making decisions, but he doesn’t let other people’s feelings sway him in a way he would not normally go. He is steady and calm in any storm, his own, or someone else’s.

When the King of Cups is Reversed:

When the King of Cups is reversed, the querent feels emotionally out of control. They may not know what they feel. Someone may be gas lighting them, and as such, the other person has control over them. They may not be able to handle other people’s emotions. They may take other people’s feelings personally, or they may lash out and squelch other people’s emotional expressions.

The King of Cups reversed may also mean that the querent struggles to empathize with other people without losing sight of their boundaries, and that they may confuse their emotions with other people’s. They may also lack emotional intelligence. They have an immature understanding of the world and why people do what they do. They may only be sensitive when it comes to themselves.

In a three-card reading, this card means…

Past: In the past, the querent gained some mastery of their emotions and imagination, which has brought them to the present.

Present: Currently, the querent is mastering their emotions, relationships, and imaginative powers, harnessing them for good.

Future: In the future, the querent will gain control over their emotions and imagination, mastering their inner lives and channeling that power outward.

Queen of Cups

Queen of Cups

Suit: Cups
Element: Water
Function: Emotions, love, spirituality, imagination

A beautiful, elegant woman sits by the shore’s edge, dressed in white and blue, the colors of purity and the spirit and mind, respectively, holding an elaborate chalice. It has angels for handles. Her stone throne has a giant scallop at the top, reminiscent of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, coming out of the sea. There are merchildren carved into her throne too, symbolic of the inborn imaginative and emotional powers we all bring into the world as people. The queen rests her feet on stones, for there is some foundation under her.

And what is in that cup? Unlike the others, it’s not open. Is there water in it? Is it empty? What is the mystery of this cup? Why does it enchant her so? Or does know what the mystery is and is inviting the reader to figure out what the mystery is, to sit and contemplate the meaning of this great chalice? The Queen of Cups doesn’t offer any clues. She just looks and watches. Perhaps only she can see the details that are so enchanting.

Perhaps what she’s doing is sending her thoughts and feelings telepathically into the cup, sealed but also honored in the golden chalice. Or perhaps she has actually imagined the cup into reality. Perhaps the chalice is not the container, but the whole of her thoughts, intentions, and emotions now. She imagined it into reality just as easily as one may come up with a thought. She knows that thoughts and feelings can become real with intention, and that to be imaginative, and to be creative, means to form something new, regardless of whether it exists in thought or in tangible form. And all creation and imagination comes from a desire to make something so. She cradles this cup in her lap; she loves this thing.

Thus, the Queen of Cups is like Aphrodite, the goddess of love. She creates out of love, and she knows that emotions have power to make things happen. She’s supportive of others, and she’s willing to lend her heart and her ear. After all, she has enough emotional power for all needs; she is the queen of the ocean, and will never run out of life giving water.

When the Queen of Cups is Reversed:

When the Queen of Cups is reversed, the querent has difficulty expressing their emotions, imagination, or creativity. They may not be sympathetic, empathetic, or able to care for others. They may either feel disconnected from others or their own inner selves. They may not actual see any importance to having a rich inner life.

The Queen of Cups reversed can also indicate a querent who doesn’t control their emotions. One who cannot control their emotions doesn’t understand them. The querent may be moody or take their bad feelings out on others. They may project their bad feelings and shortcomings onto others, too. They may feel unloved and manipulate others to avoid abandonment, thereby ultimately creating their own emotional void, their own emotional empty vessel.

In a three-card reading, this card means…

Past: In the past, the querent found emotional fulfillment and expressed their imagination freely, which has brought them to the present moment.

Present: Currently, the querent is indulging their imagination and creative spirit, and exploring their emotions.

Future: In the future, the querent will have an emotional Renaissance and indulge their imagination.

Knight of Cups

Knight of Cups

Suit: Cups
Element: Water
Function: Emotions, love, spirituality, imagination

A calm young man in shining, white armor rides a calm horse. He a cup in his right hand, either as an offering, or to drink from it. He has come to a stream. Perhaps he’s going to fill his cup? There are wings on his helmet, symbolizing transcendence. His armor is white, the color of purity, and there are red fish on his cloak, symbolizing passion and creativity. There are also wings on his ankles, like the god Hermes, the messenger of the gods who moves between the world of the divine and the word of the incarnate. The knight has a swift mind and an active imagination, moving easily between dreams and reality.

It appears that he’s come to a river in a valley. The only vegetation is the trees, making it appear as if he’s come to an oasis. The knight knows that he has a long road ahead of him, so he will fill his cup now. Or, this oasis is in fact his destination. After all, people do establish civilizations around oases. This may be him coming home, his finding the source of water that allows him to flourish. We know that he’s close enough to the oasis to know that it’s real and not simply a mirage.

The knight itself is a romantic image, and perhaps out of the four knights of the minor arcana, this one is the most romantic. It may be the one who is most idealistic, too. After all, no one just shows up at an oasis; it takes a lot of traveling the desert, without water, dying of thirst, before one gets there. The Knight of Cups can be deceiving like that, since it doesn’t show the journey to the oasis, the creative blocks, the insecurities, the rejection from others, and the loneliness of following one’s most sacred dreams.

Of course, the Knight of Cups can be the dream and the hope of finding the place where creativity flows, the most sensitive parts of our psyche, and our deepest imagination. The Knight of Cups is ready to drink from the wellspring of imagination and to be creative. It’s little known, but when knights were not involved in campaigns for their kings, they were landowners and farmers. Thus, the Knight of Cups is ready to take off his armor, be vulnerable, and grow good things.

When the night of Cups is Reversed:

When the Knight of Cups is reversed, the querent is uncomfortable or unready to focus on their deeply held creative desires. They may not think they’re creative, or they may lack the time, space, and support to be creative. They may also be so emotional that they can’t handle the possibility of rejection, and may run away from things that threaten their feelings.
The Knight of Cups reversed can also indicate a querent who thinks their emotions are the only ones that matter. They’re so enamored with their own feelings and emotions that they fail to take into account that others have feelings.

In a three-card reading, this card means…

Past: In the past, the querent found their inspiration and followed it to a place where they could make it grow, which has brought them to the present time.

Present: Currently, the querent is enamored with their own imagination and emotions, laying the groundwork for something bigger.

Future: In the future, the querent will follow their inspiration to a place where they can indulge their imagination and emotions.

Page of Cups

Page of Cups

Suit: Cups
Element: Water
Function: Emotions, love, spirituality, imagination

A young man stands along the shoreline, dressed in fine clothing is holding a cup with a fish in it, which appears to be talking to the young man. The young man appears to be listening. He wears a fancy blue hat, the color of spirit and the mind, that itself looks like a little like a fish. He wears a floral tunic with red flowers, symbolizing magic, red stockings, and yellow shoes, symbolizing intellect. He appears to hold up the cup in a toast, but right now, he’s engaged in conversation with a fish that just happened to show up in his cup.

The fish has long symbolized the beginning of creation, where the divine meets the material to create something new. There is no creativity without imagination. The fish in the cup symbolizes the creative and imaginative side of every person, popping up in an otherwise ordinary moment.

And this is perhaps the way that inspiration and creativity works: it comes when we least expect it, from the least likely of places. The page, however, is wise, and he takes time to indulge himself the moment to take the inspiration and listen to what the universe tells him. This isn’t too unlike artists and other creative people, who tend to see the world differently than the average person. They see things differently, and they can behold in a new way what we take for granted or assume can only be seen one way.

The Page of Cups is imagination and creative inspiration personified. There is something to the fact that the scene is a little ridiculous. For all we know, the fish isn’t a real fish, but a manifestation of the page’s thoughts. Either way, this doesn’t bother the page himself. For those on the outside, imagination and creativity can seem like madness or silliness. To be creative and imaginative, one may have to be alone in order to fully realize their vision.

The Page of Cups reminds people that inspiration is nothing unless it is seized, and unless the page listens to the fish, then it won’t learn what the fish has to say. Thus, listening to inspiration also means walking away from conventional voices and those who may tell you to be rational (and to stop wearing big, silly hats).

When the Page of Cups is Reversed:

When the Page of Cups is reversed, the querent may feel that their creativity or imagination is blocked. This card reversed can also indicate a querent who places too much value on the dreams and ideas than on making them reality. Or, they may be focusing their imaginative side less on productive manifestations and more on destructive ones, like drugs, alcohol, overeating, overspending, and other compulsive or addictive behaviors. They may also be sex or love addicted, wasting all their creative energy on relationships that are more distracting than fulfilling. The querent may thus be abusive or exploitative, expecting others to give them the best of themselves without giving much, if any, in return.

In a three-card reading, this card means…

Past: In the past, the querent was struck with inspiration and followed it, which has led them to the present moment.

Present: Currently, the querent is taken with inspiration and focusing their desires and mental energy on making their visions a reality.

Future: In the future querent will find inspiration and a renewal of their imagination and creative energy.

Ten of Cups

Ten of Cups

Suit: Cups
Element: Water
Function: Emotions, love, spirituality, imagination

The Ten of Cups looks like the happy ending after a film or musical. A rainbow of ten gleaming gold cups spreads across the sky. A man and woman, arm in arm behold the rainbow in praise, awe, and thanks. Two children, a boy and a girl, play together. The boy and girl are spitting images of their parents of the same gender; they’re even dressed the same. In the distance is a white house with red shutters on fertile land, and a river flows passed it. This all symbolizes wealth and success.

The man wears orange, the color of enthusiasm. He’s with a woman who wears blue and red, the colors of the spirit and passion, respectively. They have a big home, a happy family, plenty of land, water, and of course, each other. They’re happy, plain and simple. It seems that the universe is rejoicing with them, as it manifests the rainbow of cups. There’s red, the color of passion; yellow, the color of intellect; and blue, the color of the spirit. Everything together as one, a divine blessing.

The reader doesn’t know whether the people in the picture earned these things, or if they were inherited, or if they just got a lucky break. It really doesn’t matter, because they’re grateful and they acknowledge their good fortune. The Ten of Cups is about acknowledging good fortune and being grateful for it. And this isn’t just good fortune for the self, but for those we love, and for future generations, who, like the children dancing in the photo, will never have to know the same struggles or strife. In the United States, this is called the “American Dream,” the one that led immigrants to face the trials and tribulations of leaving their home country to start a new life in a foreign land.

The Ten of Cups doesn’t take anything for granted. The fact that the cups are in heaven means that the querent can’t grasp them, and that they belong to something bigger than one’s self. The cups are, in fact, dreams that have manifested their promises in real life. They are always there, even if they can’t be held. They’re not possessions, but rather, blessings. To have the ten cups is a blessing and a promise that things will work out in the end.

When the Ten of Cups is Reversed:

When the Ten of Cups is reversed, the querent may feel cursed, that they can’t get what they want no matter how hard they try. They may feel entitled to success, and yet, don’t recognize it when they see it. They may never be satisfied, and since they can’t recognize a small blessing, they can’t take that small blessing and find a way to make it a bigger one.

The Ten of Cups reversed can also mean that the problem is that the querent is looking for the wrong blessing. They may cry out to their god asking for things, but fail to recognize what blessings their god gives them.

In a three-card reading, this card means…

Past: In the past, the querent was blessed with good fortune and the good sense to recognize it, which has brought them to the present.

Present: In the present, the querent is grateful for all the things they’ve received and have, and are reveling in their good fortune.

Future: In the future, the querent will receive blessings, the answers to their prayers, and manifestation of their dreams coming true.

Nine of Cups

Nine of Cups

Suit: Cups
Element: Water
Function: Emotions, love, spirituality, imagination

Who could be more satisfied than the man with the nine cups? He’s the picture of pure satisfaction, sitting with his legs open and his arms crossed. He dares you to challenge him. He’s got nine cups in an arch around him and a smile on his face. And it’s more than material wealth: he has emotional and spiritual wealth as well. There’s nothing more he wants or needs. He’s figured it out, and he has true fulfillment.

He wears a red hat, the hat of a merchant. He has passion, and he earned his cups. He wears white, the color of purity. His contentment is pure; there is no pretense here. His shoes are yellow, the color of intellect. It is on his intelligence that he managed to get here. And the cups sit on an arch covered in a blue cloth, the color of the mind and spirit. His wealth cannot rust or rot, because his wealth is part of him. It’s of him.

His deepest desires have been fulfilled, and now all he has to do is be happy. He isn’t greedy. He’s got his cups out on a display, and he’s not holding them close. He isn’t afraid of being robbed. He wants to share his accomplishments. The fact that his cups are on a table that appears to lay them out for the taking and for admiration also brings to mind the natural generosity of those who have plenty and aren’t worried that their resources will run out.

Thus, the Nine of Cups is the contentment and satisfaction one has with life when all areas of life are going well: mental, emotional, spiritual, financial, professional, romantic, social, physical, and sexual. It’s the celebration and humble gratitude that things are going well, and that one has had to work hard to make them happen. Surely, things will go well when this card shows up, and what one wants, one will get.

The Nine of Cups isn’t fleeting pleasure, but real satisfaction with life, of getting what one truly wants. This isn’t gluttony or greed, though to some, it can look like that. In fact, how one feels about the Nine of Cups reflects how they feel about their ability to get what they want.

When the nine of cups is Reversed:

When the Nine of Cups is reversed, it can definitely mean that someone isn’t getting what they want and are disappointed. However, it moreover signifies that the querent either doesn’t know how to get what they want, has tried and failed, or that there is something actually get in their way other than themselves.

This card reversed can also indicate someone who seems to have it all but feels that something is missing. They may be poseurs of success, putting on airs, or they may have addiction or obsessions with one area of life. They may appear to be successful, but cope with the stress by overindulging in one area of life, to the detriment of all of the others.

In a three-card reading, this card means…

Past: In the past, the querent was successful in all areas of life, finding balance and contentment, and enjoying their good fortune, sure it would never run out.

Present: Currently, the querent is enjoying success and good fortune and is very satisfied with their lot in life.

Future: In the future, the querent will acquire all they dream of, and will take the time to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Eight of Cups

Eight of Cups

Suit: Cups
Element: Water
Function: Emotions, love, spirituality, imagination

Twilight is setting in, and the Moon and the Sun are meeting, looking down in sympathy at the man walking away from the eight cups standing at the front of the picture. He walks up rough terrain, surrounded by water. Where he’s going is uncertain, other than simply away from the cups. The cups are stacked in a group of five and three. Three cups are a celebration of gain, and five cups are sorrow at loss. Both the sweetness of gain and the bitterness of loss are in balance.

The man is keeping his head up, so we know he’s not in sorrow. In fact, he’s wearing red, the color of passion, and dark green pants, the color of life, muted. He’s going to be okay. In fact, he wants to move on. He’s using a walking stick, which looks like a wand. He’s got the motivation and the drive to just get away from it all and start over. It looks like he has a journey ahead of him, but he’ll be following the water, symbolizing his spirit and emotion, and forge a new, natural way.

The cups are neatly stacked in a group of five and of three, not spilled, not even filled. It’s as if the man stacked them up before he left them, perhaps to leave them neatly for someone else, perhaps as one last hurrah before he walked away.

The Eight of Cups is not about loss but about letting go. Seriously: what could the man do with eight cups? Is he really going to carry them all around in the darkness of night, as it sets in, as he’s all alone? What sense does it make to carry around all these cups? Thus, the Eight of Cups is about leaving behind one’s emotional baggage. The thoughts, feelings, and memories that keep up stuck in the past and unable to move on can simply be abandoned. No, there may not be anything to take their place, but maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe what matters right now is that there is separation, a lightened load, and the decision to break up and make room for new things ahead.

When the eight of cups is Reversed:

When the Eight of Cups is reversed, the querent refuses to move on. They may be forced to leave something behind, but they either refuse to emotionally let go, or they refuse to walk away from it even if it doesn’t do them any good to stay.

The Eight of Cups reversed can also mean that the querent is moving on, making a messy break. They’re not sure if they want to leave, but they’re doing it anyway. Of course, they may not have a choice in the matter, because they’re the one being left, or because of a disaster or some other circumstance that forces them to move on against their will or before they’re ready. They may be drifting away without a clue as to where to go or what to do next.

In a three-card reading, this card means…

Past: In the past, the querent cut their losses and left something behind to change the course of their life, which has brought them to the present moment.

Present: Currently, the querent has come to a decision to cut their losses and leave something behind in order to go into the future without it.

Future: In the future, the querent will make a decision to sever something in their life, leave it behind, and go into the future without it.

Seven of Cups

Seven of Cups

Suit: Cups
Element: Water
Function: Emotions, love, spirituality, imagination

The Seven of Cups is a mysterious card. A young person is taken by surprise by the appearance of a cloud bearing seven cups, each with a different offering. Right now, the person doesn’t seem to do anything; they’re in the throes of the initial shock of having these choices or possibilities. It’s not clear if they’ll choose one, or any of them.

These seven choices symbolize possible ambitions or life trajectories. There is dedication to love and a partner, symbolized by the female head, if he should find one. The middle, there is an illuminated person, with their face covered, representing spiritual enlightenment and transcendence. To the right of that is a cup with a golden snake, representing knowledge and power over people, and sex appeal. Below that is a cup with a dragon, symbolizing the power of intelligence and book learning. To the left of that is a cup with a laurel wreath, symbolizing victory and the esteem of others. There is a skull glowing on the cup, symbolizing that this glory often comes after death. To the left of that is a cup full of gold and jewels, symbolizing wealth and abundance. To the left of that is a cup with a tower, symbolizing stability, permanence, and political power.

Some of these choices are not so clear. The lover is transparent, meaning that the young person hasn’t found someone to love yet. The snake has venom and doesn’t appear willing to stay in its place, in the cup. The dragon looks poised to attack the young man, not too unlike the cutthroat world of academia. The glory and esteem of the world often only comes after death, meaning one often lives ignored or even derided by the world. The riches are so heavy it would take two hands to hold it, making room for nothing else. The Tower could fall over and out of the cup. No one really knows what happens when one achieves enlightenment. So, these aren’t gifts freely given so much as they are gambles and possibilities if one chooses a path, and these choices all come with drawbacks.

The Seven of Cups is about being spoiled for choice, but also about not fully knowing the consequences of those choices and what they actually entail. It’s also about wishing for things but not actually knowing how to get them or what it means to have them.

When the Seven of Cups is Reversed:

When the Seven of Cups is reversed, the querent is caught up in the fantasy of having choices, whether or not they actually have them or intend to follow through with their dreams. The querent lives in a fantasy world where they think they have more at their disposal than they really do, or more talent, or more skills than they actually do.

This card reversed can also mean that the querent is chasing a goal that won’t actually make them happy, to please others. They may have no idea what they actually want to do.

In a three-card reading, this card means…

Past: In the past, the querent was spoiled for choices but didn’t have a realistic idea of which choice to make, that has brought them to the present time.

Present: Currently, the querent is trying to decide between many life paths, none of which they really understand well.

Future: In the future, the querent will face many choices as to what to do with their life, unsure of which one to take.