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The Seven 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 Seven of Cups encourages you to think before you make a decision. You could have wishful thinking and be tempted toward choices that will actually harm you in the long run. Seek the humble choice, and you'll have won the test.

The Seven of Cups encourages you to think before you make a decision. You could have wishful thinking and be tempted toward choices that will actually harm you in the long run. Seek the humble choice, and you'll have won the test.

Seven of Cups in Tarot

Each cup pictured on this card symbolizes a different opportunity or choice. Not all the cups are offering a good deal, in fact, some cups bring misfortune. In a nutshell, the Seven of Cups encourages you to think before you act.

Card Basics

  • The Suit of Cups deals with the element of water. The element of water represents matters of the heart and deals with relationships, emotions, and intuition.
  • Blue and aquatic animals represent water.
  • Water is considered a supportive or resourceful element. Earth is also supportive and resourceful, but with physical means. Fire and air are action or attack oriented.

Card Meaning

The Seven of Cups deals with wishing thinking. According to the Rider-Waite Tarot deck, the cups are considered "strange chalices of vision." They are all up in a cloud. These visions could appear from over-imagination or confusion. You're not entirely sure which path to pick. Your heart is pulling you in different directions. You're not in sync with your mind.

Some readers describe this card as self-delusion, choice, or temptation. In some cases, it could reveal spiritual transcendence that results in truth.

What Do the Cups Offer?

The seven cups don't always offer the same things from deck to deck. Here are some of the most common symbols:

  • A human head—it pokes out the top of one cup. It sounds graphic at first, but it symbolizes desire for a lover. You may feel pulled toward a person, and in an emotionally intense way. The head could also symbolize the face of the person doing the reading, because you're seeking answers from them.
  • A shrouded, glowing figure—the need for self-illumination. You want to be famous, a big deal, something others praise. Keep in mind fame is an illusion. Chasing after it won't take away all your problems. The shrouded, glowing figure could be an angel or the devil in disguise. Look for more clues before taking this cup.
  • A snake—think of the Garden of Eden. The snake offers knowledge but only if something is sacrificed, which is usually your innocence. The snake represents temptation and transformation. The snake also appears in the Magician card as a belt. The snake indicates you're being pulled toward something elusive. You desire change.
  • The laurel—you want victory. Think of the laurels put on Olympians. You want a challenge that's worthy of your time. Think of the palm branches that were waved for Christ on Palm Sunday. This cup is tricky. It could show your vanity, or it could show your humility.
  • A castle—you desire stability and a place you can call home. This cup could indicate you desire something nostalgic. You may miss your childhood home or your old stomping grounds.
  • A treasure chest—you desire rewards, status, victory, and honor. You want material gain. The skull on the cup indicates your materialistic vanity will end in ruin. Greed is a deadly sin.
  • Dragon—since many of the symbols on this card are related to Christianity, the dragon is likely a symbol of evil. This has to do with a severe amount of anger and envy. It may also deal with the supernatural or a deeply held fantasy. People who take the dragon cup want something arcane. They want to be cunning, they want immortality, and they want power.

All seven of these cups are inviting you to drink of them, but you don't have to pick any of them! Before you pick up any cup, you should think from your gut and get in touch with your intuition to make the right decision.

It is potentially better to receive the Seven of Cups in the reversed position. It indicates a period of clarity after a time of confusion. You feel as though you're in a position to make a proper choice.

In the reversed position, long term dreams and ambitions are getting overturned. Think of the items as falling out of the cups. The bad stuff is getting discarded.

The Seven of Cups reveals your desires. They live inside your subconscious. In time, you'll be drawn to one cup more so than the others. This cup will be revealed in your conscious.

The Seven of Cups reveals your desires. They live inside your subconscious. In time, you'll be drawn to one cup more so than the others. This cup will be revealed in your conscious.

Card Alignments

Upright

Opportunities, choices, fantasy, options, confusion, chaos, fame, temptation, overly imaginative, subconscious, whimsy, dreams, ambitions, desires, wishful thinking, illusion.

Reversed

Alignment, personal values, clarity forming, eliminating choices, waking from a dream, coming back to reality, developing discernment, transformation, overwhelmed.

Upright Seven of Cups

Some cups are considered gifts and some cups are considered curses. Often where we are gifted is in direct alignment with where we are cursed. Why might that be? If you're really gifted at something you're likely taking away from something else. You have a surplus in one spot and a shortage in another.

Let's put it this way: if you're fantastic at talking, you might be a terrible listener. If you have an impressive amount of intelligence, you might be socially awkward. If you have an amazing intuition, you likely don't live in the moment.

The Seven of Cups is about the subconscious state. You can't move forward until a choice has been picked in the conscious. This card is very elusive and mysterious and works heavily on symbols and myth.

You should be careful what you wish for or align with because it might not be all that it seems. Your conscious decision will come out of your wishful thinking. Be careful what you say sarcastically or whisper under your breath: those are things you're aligning with. Choices need to be made, but at what cost?

Try to give yourself realistic expectations. You may have your head too high up in the clouds to see things in a grounded way. You have an inflated ego: you're demanding things out of the world and getting caught up in materialistic traps.

You have many options on the table, but think and be patient before making a choice. You might be too tempted by your dreams and desires to make the right choice.

This card reminds me of the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. In the movie, Indiana is on a mission to rescue his father, a medievalist who disappeared while searching for the Holy Grail.

There is a scene in the movie where Indiana stands in front of a table of cups. He is asked to pick the holy grail. If he picks the wrong cup, he will die a horrifying death. He takes his time, and with some wit, he picks the right cup. The holy grail in the movie is a humble vessel. It isn't decorated in gold and jewels.

The Seven of Cups is just like that movie. You want to pick the right cup, which is probably the one that looks the most toned down and humble. You may be tricked by flattery or flashy things if you're drawn to the more extravagant chalice.

Remember: this card is a test of whether you can discern between virtues and vices. Grab the cup that's related to pride, greed, and lust, and you'll welcome disasters into your life. Pick the cup related to kindness, humility, grace, and fortitude, and your spirit will grow. You will become more conscientious.

My advice: evaluate all your options carefully. Consider what will happen if you pick each one. Consider the pros and cons, and eventually you'll find the one that brings you true fortune.

Struggling With Taking Action

This card can also indicate that you're flaky. You have things you think about all the time, but you never take action on them. This would be like dreaming you have a more fit body, but never exercising. Don't just idly dream your life away.

You also need to keep to your commitments. Don't keep canceling on people because something better came along. Canceling constantly will put tension on your friendships or connections. When you say yes to something, be hesitant to break that yes later down the road.

Chasing the New

Stop chasing after the next shiny thing. You have a problem of wanting the next best thing. You're too focused on the new to really take care of what you already have. Focus on one thing at a time. Don't rush things. Be cognizant and careful.

You may already have your needs met. You don't need to keep upgrading things. Not everything around you has turned obsolete. Stop impulsively buying things.

From the Subconscious to the Conscious

As you become more aware of your options and test them, a choice will form from the subconscious to the conscious. You'll eventually find clarity if you meditate on your choices. You need to give your mind and body a chance to formulate a sound opinion. Look to your highest wisdom, not your most base pleasure.

Your subconscious and conscious need to come in alignment. You need your waking self and your dream self to agree with each other and not feel like the halves of two different people.

The Seven of Cups is about trying to navigate virtues and vices. You are one choice away from picking something terrible or something empathetic. You also have the choice to pick no cups.

The Seven of Cups is about trying to navigate virtues and vices. You are one choice away from picking something terrible or something empathetic. You also have the choice to pick no cups.

Reversed Seven of Cups

A Reversed Seven of Cups signifies that you rely on your inner wisdom—not the wisdom of others. You use it to guide you to the best odds and to come up with criteria to help you make the best decision.

In the Reversed Seven of Cups, the items in the cups fall out. This will help trim down your options. Instead of having too much before you, you'll reach out and grab the most important cup.

Sometimes we need something like gravity to get us moving and to finally make a decision. Which cup would you protect if you knew all seven of them were about to fall?

The Reversed Seven of Cups means you're overwhelmed by your opportunities. You might need help coming to a conclusion. Reduce your options and focus on what is really important.

You don't need to keep searching for a really big idea—you already have what you need. Now you need to put action into your dreams. Stop living in a fantasy and start contributing yourself in the external world. The inner world is your mind.

Selecting Cups

If you select the cup of money, you are advised to use it for good. Be charitable instead of selfish. A cup of money can turn into a cup of poison if not handled correctly.

If you select the dragon then you are seeking the supernatural and arcane knowledge. You want to do more research, you want to go into the wild, you want to confront things that are challenging.

The dragon in the Chinese zodiac is the only supernatural animal. Luck will come his way, but it may come at the cost of having more responsibilities. In the Chinese Zodiac, the dragon takes the fifth spot in the great race. He comes after the rat, the ox, the tiger, and the rabbit.

The dragon was expected to win, but he broke off from the race to rain over a village suffering from drought. The dragon has the weight of the world on his shoulders, because he has the most potential to do good. People take advantage of the dragon and the supernatural for their own gain. Supernatural powers might not be all they seem. Supernatural power can also turn evil on a dime. (Think of the dragon as working with exponents and not just integers. Not into math? Then skip this metaphor.)

If you select the cup with the head or heart, you may be using the wrong criteria in your romantic pursuits. You may lust for a person or are in an unrequited romance. You don't want to make someone an object of your affection, that's simply objectification. Try to see this person as real and not idealized.

Poison or Ether?

Before you make your decision, it's important to test the contents of the cup. Perhaps you selected poison rather than a life-saving tonic. There are always ways to test contents to see if they're safe for consumption. Just the same, before you delve into anything have criteria to test it, check for scams, check to make sure things are not too good to be true.

The Seven of Cups is about enlightenment and is similar to the Wheel of Fortune card. In the Seven of Cups, you have free will to pick what you want. In the Wheel of Fortune, fate decides what you should be given to help you grow.

You could come to the Seven of Cups and decide you don't want to be intentional about it. You'll close your eyes, spin around three times, and reach for whatever is the closest cup. This kind of chaotic spontaneity means that everything stays on the table. You refuse to eliminate choices. You're accepting of bad or good outcomes. You like taking risks. You're also asking your subconscious mind to make the decision and to put a blind eye to your conscious mind.

This strategy could confuse the people around you, and maybe that's what you want. You don't want them to truly understand your desires. You want to mask it. If you reach for whatever cup then you are someone to be feared because you're far more open-minded than most. (You may also come off like Don Quixote.)

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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