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Court Cards: King of Cups

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I'm a professional tarot reader with 23 years of experience. For me, tarot is a fascinating system that reflects all human life.

The King of Cups. Rider-Waite tarot deck

The King of Cups. Rider-Waite tarot deck

Tarot Kings: Heads of the Royal Household

Each suit in tarot represents one aspect of the human experience. The suit begins with the powerful Ace and proceeds upwards to the four 'people' cards, the Courts. The head of the court is the King. Kings represent the pinnacle of achievement in their particular suit. They are not perfect beings, by any means, but they have learned their life lessons, from whispers of potential, through challenges, and ultimately completion to embody the wholeness of their suit.

Kings are outward-looking; they invite you to examine your own life through their perspective—to see where you need to backtrack to deal with old issues, or lessons. They are extroverted and active, whereas the Queens are intuitive and passive. They set an example to be the best you can be and are the leaders and pathfinders.

This article is an in-depth look at the King of Cups.


The Rider-Waite King of Cups sits on a throne, surrounded by quite choppy water. To his right, we can see a leaping fish; to his right, a ship with bright red sails is coming into view. It is unclear whether the throne is floating or is placed on a plinth that is sunk deep into the ocean. The throne is quite plain with a small amount of carving. The King of Cups is turned very slightly to the left. He wears a light blue robe and light green and red cloak. He holds an unembellished gold chalice in his right hand and a scepter in his left.



Emotion, feelings



Creativity, wisdom



Navigating emotions


Blue robe

Serenity, healing


Yellow cape

Enlightenment, optimism


In a Reading

When the King of Cups appears in a tarot reading, it can often represent a real person—a gentle, intuitive, and kindly one, or it can mean that the seeker needs to take on some of the characteristics of the King of Cups in order to deal with their current situation. Sometimes, it may point towards the seeker themselves, or perhaps another person who has a lot of influence over the seeker.

This King is usually a man, but not always. It is important to remember that the Court cards can represent either a man or a woman. However, in my years of tarot reading, I have found the cards are pretty much true to gender.


Kings are the outward expression of the culmination and mastery of their suit, therefore the King of Cups represents the ideal human state of balance between emotion and logic. He recognizes that feelings are an essential part of the human psyche and should be given as much weight as intellect. However, he never allows his feelings to become uncontrollable or dominant. He is able to step back and ponder all the options, giving his emotional response due consideration.

He is compassionate, kind, considerate, polite, softly spoken, and temperate. He is wise, sensitive, and able to express his gentle side. He is diplomatic, steady, calm, and somewhat reserved, preferring to listen and observe rather than force his opinion onto others. He is an excellent mediator, being able to see a situation from many angles.

The Reversed King of Cups

The reversed (upside down) King of Cups is another kettle of fish altogether. He uses emotions to control and manipulate. He can be either over-assertive or weak and subject to depressive states. He often has an addictive personality (drugs, alcohol, sex, or gambling) and can have violent tendencies. He is unstable and unreliable.

Songs for the Journey Home: Wave Resolving aka The King of Cups

Songs for the Journey Home: Wave Resolving aka The King of Cups


The King of Cups makes a wonderful partner (as long as you haven't got the reversed type!)—he is the perfect combination of masculinity and emotional balance. He adores his wife and family, without being overly soppy. He is capable of reading the people around him and responding accordingly—therefore when you need a steadying hand, he will provide it. When you need romance, he will be your Prince Charming. When you need a hug, he is right there. He will be your rock, your touchstone, your harbor in a storm. Take a look at the image to the right—this is 'Wave Resolving' from the wonderful "Songs for the Journey Home" deck, and is the perfect illustration of how this card makes me feel safe.

If the King of Cups appears in a reading about relationships, then it could mean that the perfect partner is on the way - or perhaps he is already part of your life.


The King of Cups doesn't really care about money, although being a King he always has enough. He finds it hard to whip up enthusiasm for business dealings, though if he is in the right business for him—an area where he can use his talent for diplomacy—then he will be extremely successful. He also fares well in the caring professions, such as the medical arena or mentoring of some sort. Bear in mind that it is his love for his work and not a passion for a financial reward that motivates him.

This King is generous with his cash; spending on those he loves is one of his greatest pleasures. He has to watch that his generosity does not cause him to get into debt.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: What does the 6 of Pentacles with King of Cups mean?

Answer: I cannot interpret your court cards. The reasons being: I don't know the question or the situation. I would say, in a general way, the combination of those two cards represents a kind person, generous in words and practical help.

Question: What tarot cards would indicate a therapist-patient relationship?

Answer: That's a great question. It would be a particular combination where the reader would pick up on a mentor/guide student/ traveler vibe.

Good cards would be the Hierophant, Hermit, Temperance or King/Queen of Cups for the mentor. And maybe the Fool, Four of Swords, Four of Cups, Five of Cups, Eight of Cups, Five of Pentacles or Eight of Pentacles for the patient.

To be honest, it might come out in any number of cards and combinations. It's all about the energy they convey.

© 2012 Bev G

Do You Have a King of Cups in Your Life?

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on December 27, 2012:

I am so glad you like my tarot hubs, Anastasia. I am going to try and get the Court cards done as quickly as possible :)

Anastasia Kingsley from Croatia, Europe on December 26, 2012:

I really liked your Hub about looking at two Tarot cards to see where your life is currently and where it should be. The seeker "Anne" needed to be in the Empress position. I had a lot of fun with Tarot Cards about 20 years ago, and gave very accurate readings, gave it up, and am now looking into it again. Really enjoying your Hubs, style of writing and so on. Cheers, Anastasia

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on December 24, 2012:

Thank you ECAL. I'll do the Sun in the New Year. Have a lovely holiday!

Anastasia Kingsley from Croatia, Europe on December 24, 2012:

Simply wonderful and somehow very reassuring. That King of Cups is a nice guy to have in your corner, I must say! This was a Hub that I have been hoping to read for some time. Will you be doing one on the Sun anytime soon? Best to you and happy holidays, ECAL

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on December 24, 2012:

Thank you , my dear. I'm sure you would love to get back into tarot. I used to run a class, so feel free to ask me anything. Happy holidays!

carol stanley from Arizona on December 24, 2012:

I enjoy your hubs on Tarot cards...I am going to go some of the other ones. I learned how to read them a long time ago but gave it up...Thanks for sharing all of this.