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The King 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 King of Cups wants to help the world become a better place. He uses abstract intelligence and emotional maturity to motivate those around him. He is an excellent teacher on all things creative.

The King of Cups wants to help the world become a better place. He uses abstract intelligence and emotional maturity to motivate those around him. He is an excellent teacher on all things creative.

The King of Cups

The King of Cups represents a person who has mastered their emotions with the aid of their thoughts. This person is mature, has a good relationship with their subconscious and conscious, and they're happy.

Those who master the suit of cups will find lasting happiness and success. The Page, Knight, Queen, and King all sip from the cup of success. The King is on the same level as the Queen. However, he is guided by air while she gets a double dosage of the water element. (In Tarot, Queens are considered support cards and Kings are considered action cards.)

All suited face cards have an additional element to them. Since they've mastered the numbered cards, they can then blend different elements together. The face cards have the following elemental associations:

  • Page = Earth
  • Knight = Fire
  • Queen = Water
  • King = Air

The King is a man of the heart. He appreciates the finer things in life and loves the arts, music, and creativity. He is taken by wonderful stories and people. He is seen as a generous person who is empathetic toward others. He listens to the troubles of others, offers good advice, and expresses gratitude for all the good things in his life.

Card Description

On the card, the King of Cups is depicted as a mature man with a beard and graying hair. He sits on a throne and holds a cup in his right hand and a scepter in his left.

His throne is made of stone. He wears a blue tunic and a gold cape. Blue represents his focus on emotional development and gold indicates that he is a master.

He wears a fish necklace, which is a symbol for creativity and the zodiac sign of Pisces. Pisces is the last sign of the zodiac, and it is considered the most mature and creative one. Pisces has the ability to understand all the other signs and get on their level. They're empathetic and generally make for excellent leaders, mentors, and—most importantly—friends.

Unlike the other court cards of his suit, the King doesn't look at the cup. He has mastered his emotional self, so he doesn't need to reflect on the cup. He is secure with himself.

The throne appears to float in the middle of a turbulent sea. A fish jumps out of the water and a ship sails into high waves. The King shows he can stay calm and composed despite the chaos of the world. He has learned to stay open to his emotions and unconscious impulses without those facets overwhelming him.

The King of Cups rules the element of water. He governs with compassion and grace. He is the perfect balance of air and water, thoughts and emotions.

The King of Cups rules the element of water. He governs with compassion and grace. He is the perfect balance of air and water, thoughts and emotions.

Card Alignments

Upright

Emotionally balanced, excellent mentor, composed, compassionate, diplomatic, good listener, patience, tolerance, kindness, sweetness, amicable, maturity, creative, artistic.

Reversed

Self-compassion, inner feelings, moody, emotionally manipulative, jealous, anger, bad manager, too restrictive, too demanding, wretched, threatening, rude, rage, lack of discipline, intolerant.

A Quick Summary

Upright

The King of Cups card will usually have associations to water, the element of emotions. The King rules over the arts. He likes abstract knowledge, the arts, sciences, and any school of thought dealing with creative intelligence. He doesn't like to be withheld by tight, fixated rules. He finds standardized tests and the like appalling, if not backwards.

The King of Cups is nurturing. He is an excellent guide and mentor. You're lucky if you have someone like this as your father. He is a giver rather than a receiver and responds to others with compassion.

His words hold a lot of weight and have the capacity to heal others. He is patient and tolerant.

Reversed

You don't want to cross the King of Cups. He is big on emotions, so in the reversed position, he can be angry, wild, and abrasive. For some Tarot cards, the reversed position isn't too different from the upright one. In this case, the Reversed King of Cups is a monster you want to avoid at all costs.

This is someone who is insanely selfish, like a toddler. All of their demands must be met, and they'll play you like a fiddle. They'll demand that they're in charge. This is someone who is manipulative and doesn't really love you. They use your emotions and resources for their gain.

Tarot Kings

The Kings generally represent a good mentor. The King of Cups will help develop someone who takes a shine to the creative arts. This King will be abstract with his children or students. He'll speak in metaphors and riddles, he'll try different things to get you to think, and he'll make sure you feel supported.

The King of Cups has an excellent relationship with himself, therefore he can have and support good relationships outside of himself.

The King of Cups has an excellent relationship with himself, therefore he can have and support good relationships outside of himself.

Tarot Suits

WandsPentaclesSwordsCups

Element

Fire

Earth

Air

Water

Color

Red

Green

Yellow

Blue

Represents

Free-will

The Body

Thoughts

Emotions

Animals

Land Mammals

Reptiles

Birds

Fish

The Body

Head, Heart, Thighs

Throat, Chest, Legs

Arms, Belly, Ankles

Hands, Root Chakra, Feet

Four Humours

Yellow Bile

Black Bile

Blood

Phlegm

Planets

Mars, Sun, Jupiter

Mercury, Venus, Saturn

Mercury, Venus, Uranus

Moon, Pluto, Neptune

Seasons

Summer

Spring

Winter

Fall

Yin and Yang

Yang

Yin

Yang

Yin

Poker Equivalents

Clubs

Diamonds

Spades

Hearts

Suited Face Cards

Knight

Page

King

Queen

Astrological Signs

Aries, Leo, Sagittarius

Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn

Gemini, Libra, Aquarius

Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces

Upright King of Cups

The King of Cups indicates that you are in control of your feelings. You do not let your emotions and creativity overwhelm you. You have excellent balance over your emotions, and this has turned into contentment for you. It would be hard to rock you off course.

You have acceptance of yourself and feel that your subconscious and conscious parts are working together. You don't feel divided against yourself or like two different people. This card indicates you're really emotionally healthy. Others wish they could have what you have: great alignment within the self. People lean on you for your judgement and wisdom.

You're really good at spotting illusions and cutting them down. You know that fame is a lie and that money isn't real. You know there is no such thing as the best. You recognize the merit of one's external activity and how that translates into your internal voice.

It is really amazing when you have come to a place where you can spot illusions and know how to break them. Kings know how to break things to help bring about authenticity. We need people like this in the world.

Your emotional maturity allows you to be flexible with any curve balls that are thrown your way. You understand that nothing is fixed in place, and you should show gratitude when things are good. You seek love and understanding during the bad times.

A person who is like the King of Cups will steer clear of drama. They're phlegmatic, not choleric. They're always looking for how to stay balanced and emotionally calm. People see the emotionally calm as wise.

Card Lessons

Continue staying true to your emotions and feelings. Do not allow others to steer you off course or steer your course for you. An emotionally mature person isn't manipulated easily.

The King of Cups makes good decisions because he understands his central beliefs and morals and stays true to his character. This is the way you're meant to be.

What's amazing about the King of Cups compared to the other Kings is that he has the perfect balance of thought and emotion. He is ruled by both air and water. He can think beautifully, but he also has an amazing heart. You want this person on your team, in your family, and in any situation. Someone who has brains is a major prize, especially if it's paired with compassion. These are people who try really hard to make decisions for the greater good.

On an individual level, if you're struggling to balance your thoughts and emotions, you should draw on the energy of this card. Realign yourself. Consider the lessons and power of the King of Cups archetype.

The King of Cups has excellent relationships with others. He doesn't take for granted the people in his life. He makes for a wonderful father because he knows how to be with his spouse and his kids and is brimming with lessons. Let him share his advice.

The King of Cups is compassionate, intuitive, and seeks healthy relationships. He isn't easily swayed by others. He is independent and confident.

The King of Cups is compassionate, intuitive, and seeks healthy relationships. He isn't easily swayed by others. He is independent and confident.

Reversed King of Cups

The Reversed King of Cups encourages you to focus your attention on your innermost feelings. You are avoiding time alone. The lessons here are very similar to the Reversed Queen of Cups.

If you want better control of your life and emotions, then you need to spend time analyzing who you are underneath it all. You will have better control of yourself and your situation if you take a break and spend time in quiet reflection. If the situation merits a closer look then get in touch with a therapist. You ultimately want to travel deeply into your subconscious mind.

The Reversed King of Cups indicates you are swayed easily by the emotions of others. You are prone to getting upset and may be thriving off drama. You're destructive because it gives you a thrill. You raise the temperature of the room because it gives you the power you crave and the attention you feel you deserve.

Because you're out of tune emotionally, you're opening yourself up to mood swings, depression, anxiety, and the like. Some of these mental health issues are chronic and a part of who you are chemically, but you need to learn coping mechanisms to put them at bay. Work with a therapist to gain better emotional control and insight.

When you're out of whack emotionally, you become unpredictable. You might be struggling to love yourself and be in a good relationship with yourself. Don't beat yourself up over small things. Seek to understand the root cause of your emotions and bring your conscious awareness to the impact your emotions have on your external life.

If you seek balance, you'll find calm and self-compassion. People may trigger negative emotions out of you, and sometimes intentionally. You get to decide how you react. Don't be swayed. Take control and stay composed under pressure. When you're alone, you can let it out privately and then manage the emotions.

The Reversed King of Cups may show that you're repressing your emotions rather than processing them. When we repress our emotions they'll hide in our body. We don't forget trauma and grief. Anger can make your body age faster and can turn into chronic pain or insomnia. If you don't handle your stress well, you can expect unpleasant physical manifestations in your body, from inflammation to serious back pain.

The Reversed King of Cups can represent someone who is vindictive in your life. They want to punish people. They have identity issues and complexes that would scare almost anyone. This person likely needs help, but that help shouldn't necessarily come from you.

A vindictive person makes you feel bad about yourself and wants you to feel unstable. Perhaps they'll blackmail you and find ways to get you in trouble. Worst of all, they'll make you think you're the problem even if you're not.

This card might not be about you but someone who is putting you through hell. If so, you need to consider how to separate from their controlling ways. Maybe you already have separated from them and need to continue the process of getting away from them and cutting off emotional ties.

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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