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The Ace of Cups in Tarot and How to Read It

Andrea has a background in Myers-Briggs and Western astrology. She mostly writes about relationships.

The Ace of Cups is the first card of the suit representing water and emotions. This suit deals with relationships, romance, social connections, charisma, and love. These are important parts of life that take maturity.

The Ace of Cups is the first card of the suit representing water and emotions. This suit deals with relationships, romance, social connections, charisma, and love. These are important parts of life that take maturity.

The Suit of Cups

The Ace of Cups is part of the Minor Arcana, which represents the suit cards in Tarot. It's generally seen as a positive card. The Suit of Cups deals with the element of water. In classical philosophy, water represents emotions. As the first card of this suit, the ace deals with new beginnings, especially in regards to one's social and emotional spheres.

Basic Card Information

  • The card signifies joy and inner peace with friends and family.
  • The five streams coming off the cup represent the five senses: touch, taste, smell, hearing, and sight.
  • The card is connected to the numbers four, 40, 400, and 4,000
The cup is sometimes referred to as the Holy Grail, which was the last cup Christ drank from before his crucifixion. The suit reminds us of communion and baptism.

The cup is sometimes referred to as the Holy Grail, which was the last cup Christ drank from before his crucifixion. The suit reminds us of communion and baptism.

Possible Meanings of the Ace of Cups

The Ace of Cups suggests that a seed of emotional awareness has been planted in your life, but you might not be aware of it. When the seed sprouts, it could take any form. This seed might represent an attraction, intuitive knowing, or a sympathetic reaction. It could also represent an offer, an opportunity, or a gift.

This card could also mean that love is the essence of a situation, though it may or may not be romantic love. Look at other cards in the reading to examine the situation further. The Ace of Cups signals that the person asking for the reading should consider ways to connect with others: Is there someone you need to forgive? Is there someone you need to reach out to? Or do you need to offer someone a helping hand?

Lessons the Card Teaches

  • Anger should be replaced with peace.
  • Negligence should be replaced with empathy.
  • Selfishness should be replaced with generosity.
  • Impulsiveness should be replaced with patience.
  • Materialism should be replaced with spirituality.

The Ace of Cups indicates that the time to express yourself is coming up.

Cups are the suit of the heart, while the Ace card is about victory, beginnings, renewal, and strong actions. Therefore, this card suggests that you need to trust your gut, listen to your feelings, and seek out paths that lead to your connection with Spirit. Note that spirituality doesn't necessarily mean worship, god, or prayers. It could mean you need a better appreciation for philosophy. The end goal of Tarot is the World card, which represents a balanced person who has matured in all four of the suits and has a deep love of philosophy (wisdom). Reaching this point is a very personal process, and spirituality looks different for each person.

Finding our way can be a difficult process. The Ace of Cups is a reminder to listen to your heart and learn to embrace love as a guide. Allow your emotions to mature and guide you, but don't act on impulse.

Card Alignments

UprightReversed

Abundance

Issues in love

Intimacy

Repressed emotions

Deep feelings

Fear of commitment/intimacy

Compassion

Issues in self-love

New beginnings (e.g., a new relationship)

Confusion

Creativity

Intuition

Satisfaction/success

Indiscernible

The Ace of Cups Is Generally About Relationships

The Ace of Cups can represent a new relationship or a deepening connection. It could also signify a strong friendship. When considering this relationship, trust in your feelings that are present. This card can signify a gift or opportunity that would be good for you.

Note that if the Ace of Cups is in the reversed position, it could indicate that the creation of a deeper connection to another has been blocked. You could be blocking the connection or an external force is blocking the connection. For example, a fear of intimacy could strangle a connection. If you fear intimacy, now is a good time to review your past and see what's there. Something is holding you back. Take time to examine your circumstances. Are other people, work, family, or hobbies getting in the way of developing a new relationship?

You need water to live. You cannot stay thirsty forever. The Suit of Cups reminds us what is essential for life. Remember: all our lives trace back to the ocean.

You need water to live. You cannot stay thirsty forever. The Suit of Cups reminds us what is essential for life. Remember: all our lives trace back to the ocean.

Card Symbolism

The cup represents your subconscious mind. The streams represent your five senses, abundant emotion, and a flowing intuition. These are all good things.

The cup may represent the Holy Grail, the last cup Jesus drank from before his crucifixion. The Holy Grail is a Christian symbol of Christ's sacrifice, the power of communion, and the teachings of the Last Supper. There is a legend that the Holy Grail was used to collect Jesus's blood at his crucifixion, and the object has become a symbol for eternal life. The term "Holy Grail" is often used to note an elusive object or goal that is sought after for its significance.

The hand holding the cup is sliding out of the clouds and is a symbol of awareness and spiritual energy. Below the hand is a vast sea covered with lotus blossoms, signifying the awakening of the human spirit. Lotus blossoms are a symbol of attraction. In several Eastern religions, the flower is a symbol of purity, enlightenment, self-regeneration, and rebirth. Lotus flowers connect us back to nature and grow in beautiful places like botanical gardens. They flourish from India to China.

A dove dives into the cup. It represents Divine love flowing through the subconscious mind to conscious awareness.

Tarot is about working on both the conscious and subconscious to live a more balanced and aware life. You want clarity and to be conscientious of others.

Upright Ace of Cups

In the upright position, this card often suggests that Divine love and compassion are with you. The Universe is doing what it can to help you realize your purposes. You need love in your life, so take the cup and accept it.

If this is true for you, then the Ace of Cups is asking you to open your heart. Don't be afraid to love yourself or someone. If they don't want your love, your love is for someone else. Don't take matters of the heart too hard.

Approach Love With Maturity

Sure, some of the sayings associated with this card sound cheesy. Try deepening the messages the card conveys. Try using your imagination to think about what the card personally means for you, and think of it in a positive way. Visualization will help you to understand your thoughts and emotions. You can use it to guide you onto a path that seems appropriate for you.

The Ace of Cups is a reminder to approach those you care about with unconditional love. Don't put people on a pedestal, and temper your expectations so that you can see people correctly. Don't demand that others be perfect. A terrible boss expects that their employees are 150% perfect. A demanding husband will expect his wife to always be presentable and ready for anything. A demanding parent won't expect less than an "A" from their child. These demands don't show love but fear.

The water in the card imitates the flow of emotions. You want your cup to be overflowing for you and others. In order to have healthy relationships, you must be generous. People don't want selfish friends, and no one wants to be in a one-sided relationship.

Invitations and Initial Feelings

The Ace of Cups is an invitation. Will you take it? Will you allow for a seed of love to grow?

The Ace of Cups doesn't always relate to matters of romance and relationships. It could also relate to a new business partner, taking a dreamy vacation, or meeting a new baby in the family. It's about new relationships and positive experiences.

The suit of Cups asks you to seek spiritual and emotional enlightenment. You get to decide if you want to seek these things.

This card appears when you are open to creative expression. You feel comfortable expressing your emotions and you might be inspired to start a new project. Perhaps this card mans you are comfortable with who you are and are happy to express yourself to others. You see potential in allowing your creative juices to flow. If so, let your imagination and talents run wild.

Parenthood

The Ace of Cups is also indicative of a conception, pregnancy, or birth. Look for other cards to confirm this. A person must prepare to be selfless if they want to be a mother or father. A new child can be scary and overwhelming, no matter what your gender. However, the Ace of Cups signals that you have the power to love, nurture, and charm.

One of the most maternal astrological signs is Cancer, the first water sign of the zodiac. Cancer is charismatic, flirtatious, sometimes shy, highly creative, emotionally advanced, and nurturing. They tend to make for great partners and parents. If an item from all the suits was placed before a Cancer, they would most likely pick the cup.

The Ace of Cups is like a seed. It is the initial attraction you feel for someone. It is the initial seed of love, and not necessarily in a romantic way, but for another person, creature, or even project.

The Ace of Cups is like a seed. It is the initial attraction you feel for someone. It is the initial seed of love, and not necessarily in a romantic way, but for another person, creature, or even project.

Reversed Ace of Cups

Just because a card is in the reversed position doesn't mean it's negative!

The reversed Ace of Cups predicts you're in a place where you can offer yourself more self-love. Before you send your love to others, send love to yourself.

Fill up your cup with positive messages in the following ways:

  • Stop negative self-talk.
  • Don't criticize your body.
  • Stop making fun of your mind.
  • Don't stand in your own way.
  • Stop with the self-sabotage.

When you love yourself, you can open yourself up to the possibilities of cosmic love. This will allow you to heal, to find your place in the Universe, and to find what matters to you. You need to allow love to be your guide. I can't repeat that enough.

A reversed Ace of Cups may mean you need to explore parts of your mind privately. Schedule time for yourself and stop letting distractions reign over you. If you're being busy for the sake of being busy, you might not actually be accomplishing anything.

This card also signals that there is a good chance you have repressed emotions. Perhaps you haven't had closure on something. Or you might be scared to express your emotions because you worry people won't respond well to you. Don't tell yourself those lies. Be comfortable conveying how you feel.

Relationships should be about cups in the upright position, not in the reverse position—you don't want water running away from you. In a relationship reading, the reversed Ace of Cups reveals you are not giving your relationship your best self because you're afraid of getting hurt. Perhaps you withhold because you're uncertain. If so, you need to work on trusting your partner if you want to move forward. If you continue to hold back, the relationship may eventually dissolve.

Other Possible Interpretations

In Feng Shui, an outside fountain is supposed to flow toward the house, not away from it. Water represents your prosperity, so water that is flowing away could represent that you are penniless or making bad decisions with your wealth.

Your decisions should positively impact three major categories in your life: your wealth, your health, and your relationships. When you have a good flow, these things should be boosted and reflect someone who is well-rounded.

A reversed Ace of Cups is a reminder that poor decisions are reflected in your wealth, health, and relationships. Your goal shouldn't be to be the greatest baseball player in the world, the actress with the most Oscars, or the like. These are vain and materialistic goals. People aren't necessarily happy if they achieve these things. This card is a reminder to keep it simple. You'll be happy if you live a balanced life that supports the things that are actually meaningful to you.

If you actually feel like you connect with the reversed Ace of Cups card, this might mean that you have some work to do to express your emotions. In order to enhance your ability to get in touch with your emotions, you might want to start making time for new experiences.

Ideas for getting in touch with your emotions:

  • Get creative. Write, paint, sing, dance. Do something to help you express yourself, especially when you are by yourself.
  • Listen to instrumental music and drink some tea.
  • Go into nature. Go for a walk.
  • Schedule therapy sessions.
  • Journal. Write about how you feel.

References

  1. Barber, Richard (2004). The Holy Grail: Imagination and Belief. Harvard University Press.
  2. Campbell, Joseph (1990). Transformations of Myth Through Time. Harper & Row Publishers, New York.
  3. Dummett, Michael (1980). The Game of Tarot. Gerald Duckworth and Company Ltd.
  4. Huson, Paul, (2004) Mystical Origins of the Tarot: From Ancient Roots to Modern Usage, Vermont: Destiny Books.
  5. Wood, Juliette (2012). The Holy Grail: History and Legend. University of Wales Press.

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.

© 2021 Andrea Lawrence

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