Five of Cups
Function: Emotions, love, spirituality, imagination
The Five of Cups clearly shows loss. The sky is gray, the color of sadness and the unknown. A person cloaked in black covers their eyes, weeping over three spilled cups. The liquid inside the cups was red, the color of magic and passion, and green, the color of life. The land is barren and in the distance, there is a house the same color as the dirt, but seemingly in an oasis. The person could get to the house if they would just go back and take the bridge.
Hell, they could refill those cups if they only took them to the river. They don’t even seem to notice the two cups still standing. In fact, this person seems to only know that the three cups have fallen, and not that they have good things around it. The cups are still there, and they can be filled again. All that this person has lost is whatever was inside them, so what they’ve lost is largely emotional or psychological. Even still, there’s a lot of pain involved in emotional and psychological loss.
The Five of Cups is the moment when one grieves a lost love, disappointment, failure, or loss. They may be feeling regret and self-pity. Thus, the Five of Cups isn’t about the later moments when they figure out that oh yeah, there ARE two cups left, and that there is a river nearby, and there is a bridge to a house where they can get comfort. It seems, from the reader’s point of view, that the person in the card has little to cry about, but the person in the card doesn’t see what the reader sees. They’ve only seen what they’ve just lost and only they know the significance of the loss.
The Five of Cups is the moment of loss and the sorrow over it. The sorrow, however, may not be warranted, given the size of the loss. However, this is from the vantage point of someone who isn’t experiencing the loss. The person in the card doesn’t have the point of view of the reader, and the person in the card isn’t yet ready to face what they’ve been left and what they should do next. This is the point of sorrow, not the point of making decisions, moving on, or compensating.
When the Five of Cups is Reversed:
The Five of Cups reversed doesn’t indicate disaster averted, but rather that the querent is past the point of sorrow and is getting ready to move on. They know they can’t get what they lost back, and they’re ready to turn around, pick up their other cups, and walk away. They’re not over it. They’re still sad, and they still feel the loss; they just accept that they have sadness and loss.
The Five of Cups reversed also indicates a person who is almost ready to try again. They’re not over it, but they’re wiser now, and they won’t let their previous foolishness cause them to make the same dumb mistakes.
In a three-card reading, this card means…
Past: In the past, the querent suffered a terrible loss and spent most of their emotional energy focused on it, which brings them to the present.
Present: Currently, the querent is in mourning over a loss and is entirely focused on their loss and sorrow.
Future: The querent is going to suffer a serious, all-consuming loss in the future that will take all of their emotional energy.