General Book of the Tarot
TRADITION: Table, first as the symbol of the bearer of food, alimentation, etc., then also as 'table of the law'; catalogue, tabulation; the Holy Table. Meal, feast, gala, and invitation for the same. Hotel, restaurant, etc. Picture, painting, image, description. Production, fertility, abundance. Stability, fixity, constancy, etc. Reversed: Mutation, change, transmutation, inconstancy, etc. Buying and selling. Metamorphosis, reversal, revolution, translation, interpretation. Another version says:
"House of the true heart, joy, contentment . . ." (W.) Reversed: "House of
the false heart . . ."
THEORY: The Cups, representing the element of Water, Jovian and lunar by nature, start their cycle on the Ninth house, the house of Sagittarius, ruled by Jupiter, the lawgiver. The element Water has its two polar effects in the soul, so we need not look for particular 'weak cases' to demonstrate a more or less benefic and malific effect at the same time. The house of Sagittarius, however, does not bring much evil to the soul and is generally uplifting, inviting, pushing towards progress and development, journeying and hospitable reception of strangers. There is little or no stability or fixity in it, but on the contrary always a good deal of 'mutation'; also the magic power of the true transmutation. Further we find a tendency to teach, to translate, guide, interpret. It may, too, lead to extravagance as regards dissipation or at least spending. There is sanction or even holiness in it, inspiration, idealism. The latter, of course, may lead to more or less well-directed actions.
CONCLUSION: Sanction, permission, inspiration, idealism, enthusiasm, blessing. May denote a leader, teacher, guide or any influence of this nature. Legislation, direction, instruction; hospitality and sympathetic
reception. Driving, hunting, travelling; planning for the future. Invitation, convocation, appeal. Mutation and transmutation. Translation and interpretation.
Two of Cups
TRADITION: Love, passion, inclination, sympathy, attraction, concord, friendship, the inter-relation of the sexes; Reversed: Lust, cupidity, jealousy, wish, desire, but the card may also give, says W., "that desire which is not in nature, but by which nature is sanctified."
THEORY: The Water of the soul on the house of Capricorn, the Tenth house of the act, the deed, manifestation. The two souls find each other here in an act, which of course must be that of meeting in the body. Soul-union, ending in bodily attraction. So the traditional rendering appears once more to be fairly correct. It is the outcome of idealism,
indicated by the ace, shared by two souls. It is anyhow not the sexelement as a curse, but as a blessing in practical life. The card may further denote any sort of friendly act and sympathetic encounter. We should say, as regards 'love,' it is to be rather defined as love-making, courting.
CONCLUSION: Love-making, passion, friendship, attraction, concord, good action, hospitable meeting or reception, the interrelation of the sexes, desire. In the weaker aspect: lust, cupidity, 'cupboard' love.
Three of Cups
TRADITION: Success, happy issue, lucky solution, victory, accomplishment, cure, healing, fulfilment. Matter in plenty, perfection, merriment. Reversed it is said to denote: Expedition of affairs, dispatches, achievements, end, conclusion, etc.
THEORY: The Water on the house of friends, the Eleventh, must bring concord, etc. Friendship, but on this airy house more platonic than that of the foregoing card. It is the house of surroundings so far mastered by the Ego and on this account 'friendly.' So the soul-life in surroundings that have been mastered will enjoy desirable and 'good' conditions and feel 'happy.' There is no feeling whatever of being hampered or thwarted, or depressed. All goes well and the general sensation is cheerful. It is the sign of a good time, good luck and general satisfaction. As the eleventh house also rules the blood, it is very favourable for health and eventual recuperation. Moreover this house has to do with commerce and business, and the card favours them beyond a doubt, giving a good understanding of opportunity and of the character and wishes of those with whom we have to do, so that we can supply what they ask.
CONCLUSION: 'A good time,' favourable opportunities, commercial and intellectual friendship, success, good issue of everything; good health and eventual recuperation, healing. Being in good relations with people. Lightheartedness,
Four of Cups
TRADITION: Annoyance, aversion, disgust, affliction, discontent (with his environment), satiety; blended pleasure. Reversed: News, presage, new light on things, novelty, new acquaintances made, etc.
THEORY: The Water of the soul on the Twelfth house, which rules many changes, and adverse influences and, in general, the surroundings so far as they are not yet mastered, and therefore inimical. Indeed this house brings much affliction in matters of the world; materially it is anything but successful and in this respect will certainly bring annoyances, but on the other hand new knowledge of Nature's wonders is revealed in this house. Discontent with environment, certainly, but at the same time it shows the querent throwing his future on the waters of new adventure,
leaving home and family to wander forth towards new experiences, enlarging the horizon of his views. There may be some ailment of the soul, however, in this house and in very weak cases alienation even.
Sentiments not reciprocated, nor understood. A feeling of being outside one's proper environment.
There may be encounters with strangers or foreigners, and discoveries, as results of discontent or dissatisfaction with present conditions. So in relation to these conditions it may mean: failing to understand or to appreciate things as they are, estrangement of the world, which may lead to seclusion; secluded feelings.
CONCLUSION: Discontent with present conditions or environment; estrangement, unrest, aversion, troubles, disgust; discord, failing to understand people or to make oneself understood. New discoveries, researches in unknown countries or territories, meeting with strangers. Instability, changes, generally for the worse in a material sense, but having some distant aim. At war with current opinions. Better to keep
silent than to talk, because one will certainly be misunderstood. There may be "imaginary vexations." (W.) Seclusion; alienation.
Five of Cups
TRADITION: Inheritance, legacy, succession, gift, testament, transmission, tradition; all of them "not corresponding to expectations; with some it is a card of marriage, but not without bitterness or frustration." (W.) Reversed: Family, forefathers, ancestry. Liaison, alliance, affinity, acquaintance, consanguinity. Race. "It is a card of loss." (W.)
THEORY: The Water coming on the First house, the ascendant, and water having to do with the family, we may conclude, that family matters will come naturally to the querent in this case, just as they were swept from him or evaded by him in the preceeding one. Still we cannot see, that the card should denote the members of the family in particular, as
mentioned by P. and others. Now 'family-matters' may include inheritance as well as marriage, but so many other things may also be included that it is difficult to enumerate them, and none of them is indicated particularly. So we do not think it wise to say anything more definitely about this. The water of the feelings coming on the ascendant indicates sensitiveness and emotion, which may bring sorrow A or pleasure, but generally mixed experiences and not without care. There may be material losses in consequence.
CONCLUSION: Family-matters, care to be taken of them, sorrow or pleasure, emotion, material difficulties; there may be some advantage and some loss at the same time. News is certain to arrive. Subject to influences from the surroundings and apt to react too quickly thereon.
Six of Cups
TRADITION: The past, memories, looking back. Antiquity, ancient things,
etc. Reversed: Afterwards, regeneration, resurrection, renovation, etc.
Another version says: "Happiness, enjoyment, but coming rather from
the past . . ." (W.) Sometimes "new relations, new knowledge, new
environment. . . ."
THEORY: The Water of the soul on the house of Taurus, the Second, house of exaltation of the Moon. The latter is no doubt responsible for the addictions concerning memory and the past. The rest of the traditional descriptions, however, are rather rudimentary. There is more to be said of this house: it is full of meaning, as we already have seen, in the line of art, economy, etc. It relates to the country, and in connection with the latter the card will indicate rustic pleasures, enjoyment of country life and restoration to health by residence on the land.
Happiness is surely a characteristic of this card, but we should say particularly in a simple and country life. Further we ascribe much artistic value to it, especially in painting, love for the picturesque. It means receptivity for beautiful impressions in general. On the other hand it may denote a love of good cheer and feasting. Good health and good
humour are certainly results of this combination. On account of the Taurian qualities it will impart the tendency to collect objects of art and of antiquarian value; also an instinctive understanding of the same, so it promotes dealing in such objects. Appreciation of music in the lighter style, love of the theatre, but love of Nature above all.
CONCLUSION: Happiness, feeling of riches in oneself, joy, enjoyment, love of Nature and country life; the picturesque, painting, instinctive knowledge of art and antiquarian value; love of the lighter sorts of music and theatre; good health, good cheer, feasting. Receptivity for beauty. The only drawback may be the tendency to dissipation. Taurus, the everlasting, may indeed produce impressions of the past as well as of the future.
Seven of Cups
TRADITION: Thought, soul, spirit, intelligence, idea, memory, imagination, conception, meditation, contemplation, reflexion, deliberation, views, opinion. Reversed: Project, intention, desire, wish, resolution, premeditation. Another version has: "Fairy favours . . . things seen in the glass of contemplation; some attainment in these degrees but nothing permanent or substantial is suggested." (W.)
THEORY: If we eliminate 'soul . . . spirit . . . and desire,' words too far apart from the original meaning, we find in tradition a very pure rendering of the effects of the Water of the soul on the house of Gemini, the Third, the house of the changeful concrete mind and thought in which indeed nothing is permanent, and everything is passing, ephemeral. These effects must be very varied, including the most fantastic plans and conceptions, and 'fancy' is the most fitting word for this card. It will denote many intellectual proceedings and has to do with travelling for short distances, sight-seeing, considering, gathering impressions, etc. The word 'reflexion' is really quite appropriate in its place here, because the card represents the conditions of mind in which the surroundings are simply reflected in the soul. There may come seductive and suggestive images, some of which may be realised, but others will remain just fancy. The description which is given by W. is very accurate and points to the fact, that under the third house come naturespirits
and genii, who will eventually help, guide or mislead man.
CONCLUSION: Thoughts, intelligence, ideas, imagination, plans, suggestions, fancy, fantasy; reflexions and opinions, deliberations and intentions. Much in this card will not come into physical reality. Short travels, sight-seeing, impressions, views. Changefulness, unstable conditions. Promise and surprise, but always much more promise than fulfilment. 'Fairy favours.'
Eight of Cups
TRADITION: Fair girl, honest, practical girl, honour, modesty, timidity, fear, sweetness, mildness. Reversed: Happiness, gaiety, great joy, feasting, public rejoicing. Also preparations and dispositions. W. says it means, "Deserting the cups of his felicity."
THEORY: On the Fourth house the Water of the soul will be in its own element, so to speak, and will consequently rejoice in its existence, swimming in agreeable sensations, the family and the memory, as far as the personal life goes, playing important rôles in the life of the querent.
The lunar and Jovian element passing over this house will almost certainly cause the home and family-life to be forsaken or relinquished; this perhaps may account for the interpretation: "Deserting the cups of his felicity." We should prefer to substitute for "felicity" his family or intimate circle. Changes in home-life, be it for the better or for the worse.
There cannot be much of order or rule in this combination, and disorder or chaos is threatened. The strong Cancerian peculiarities, such as shyness, timidity, prudishness, etc., may appear here, but we can see no reason for addictions like 'great joy, feasting,' etc. Feelings, sentiments, wishes have very little chance of becoming reality in this house, and this
may be called the true reason for 'leaving the house.' The latter seems to us to be the proper meaning: either leaving the safe and comfortable home, or losing the chance to realise more ambitious projects. Being the eighth card of the suit, it may denote a girl, and cups are said to be related to the fair or 'blonde' type.
CONCLUSION: Leaving the house or home; changes in the family(-circle). Little chance to see one's wishes and ambitions realised. Shyness, timidity; disorder and waywardness. Despondency, despairing of success. Mixed sensations, no strongly preponderant feeling, unless it be that of dissatisfaction. May be fair-haired girl.
Nine of Cups
TRADITION: Victory, success, advantage, gain, triumph, superiority, etc. "The heart's content." (W.) Reversed, the card seems even better: Sincerity, truth, loyalty, good faith, frankness, ingenuity, opening the heart, liberty, familiarity, etc. Concord, contentment, physical well-being.
THEORY: Many of the addictions are very suggestive of the influence of the Water on the house of the heart, the
Fifth; and we can only say, that they are fairly exact and to the point. The card must signify the realisation of hopes and wishes lying in one's own power or destiny, making one enjoy the fulness of life, and adopting the philosophy of Epicurus. There is no evil in it. It shows goodness and a jovial disposition, not only contentment and happiness in one's self, but also, owing to Leo-influence, the love of bestowing hospitality on other people and helping them.
CONCLUSION: Happiness, contentment, the fulfilment of wishes, bestowing benefits, hospitality, the heart's content,' loyalty, liberality, the joy of life, love of children; concord, well-being; success, advantage, satisfaction, etc. Joviality.
P.S.--In the more profane branch of divination this card is called the 'nine-months-card,' owing to the belief that it means pregnancy and expectance of childbirth. The latter is significant of the fifth house, the former confirms our idea, that the cups have to do with months in time.
Ten of Cups
TRADITION: The town, native land, living place, residence; also citizen(ship). Reversed: Agitation, irritation, indignation, anger. Another version gives: "Husband and wife . . ." "Contentment, repose of the entire heart"; and "A person who is taking care of the querent's interests." (W.)
THEORY: It is the Water on the Sixth house, where it meets with Virgoinfluences. Now what about the town or city? Virgo is "the city which killed the prophets"--Jerusalem--and the addiction originally will have indicated the physical, sensual embodiment of the soul, in which the spirit is 'buried' or 'killed' as the mystic formula has it. This card may
therefore be called, with truth, the indication of 'the city of God' which, by analogy, becomes the physical body, as well as one's residence or native land. It means the physical and sensatory possession or ownership. Consequently it has to do with the agreeable sensation of being 'at home' and 'at ease,' having possession of what is wanted. It must also mean being fully acquainted with one's work. Good health and wise living. This house rules servants, food, health.
CONCLUSION: Well-earned security, wise living, husbandry, being at ease, feeling safe; "a person who is taking care of the querent's interests" may be correct and actually present, e.g., in the shape of servants, shopmen, purveyors. The city, birthplace, physical constitution. (Tabernaculum.) Medicine of body and soul. Organic life in the body and in the community, viz. practical social conditions. In weak cases the house of Virgo may cause irritability and agitation, etc.: a weak nervous system must avoid the full sway of emotions.
King of Cups
TRADITION: Fair and honest man; man of business, law or divinity; responsible, disposed to oblige the querent; probity, equity, art and science, and those who profess science, art and law. Reversed: Honest or dishonest man equally (?); thief, brigand, rogue. Vice, corruption, scandal.
THEORY: This king is the chief of the kingdom of the soul, coming on the Ninth house, and consequently must indicate the teacher, prophet, man of law and divinity; the professor, inspirer and great traveller; sometimes a hunter, a wanderer, or a sailor, a yachtsman. Honesty and probity will be generally his characteristics, but some fantasy may be mixed with it and he may be less particular in details or accuracy. He may be exuberant or even excessive, and this may cause some excitement, but we see nothing of 'scandal, vice,' thievishness or anything of that kind in this card. There is a lively sentiment of justice in it and the person indicated by it will certainly be disposed to render justice to the querent,
whether he be connected with the law or not. If the querent is himself a weak or vicious individual, the card may indicate the judge before whom he has to appear. At all events it may represent the idea of judgment of the querent's actions or business. Further there is less of 'science' in this card than of philosophy, which is quite another department. There is the idea of promoting, inspiring, pushing. There lies promise for the future and likeliness of monetary advances in this Sagittarian card.
CONCLUSION: Honest man, philosophical or idealistic, doctor or professor, teacher, man of the law, traveller, promoter, inspirer, hunter, wanderer, sailor, etc. The querent's actions, business or wants will be judged and brought to light. There may be some exaggeration, fantasy or want of accuracy, but there is certainly hope and promise for the future. Perhaps travelling on the sea.
W. rightly observes under this head: "The implicit is that the sign of the Cup naturally refers to water, which appears in all court-cards" (i.e. of this suit.)
Queen of Cups
TRADITION: Fair woman, good honest and devoted; virtuous and one who will do service to the querent; another version says: "Loving intelligence, and hence the gift of vision; success, happiness, pleasure, also wisdom, virtue.
" (W.) Reversed: Vice, corruption, scandal, etc. A rich marriage.
THEORY: The personification of the soul on the house of Capricorn, the Tenth, manifesting into the world that which it carries. As such this queen is to us the image of the married woman and the mother and of all that which woman can give to man and mankind, by her virtue both of soul and body. So the card must also mean the realisation of hopes and
wishes, consequently success, etc. The 'wisdom' is here more of the practical blend, usefulness, knowing how to act with care and prudence.
The card may represent a woman, or an impersonal power or authority, whom the querent has to obey, or to whom it will be to his advantage to submit. It expresses a tendency to go out into the world and make a name and position for oneself, and indicates the right moment to do so. It is fairly certain that it will ensure some publicity, renown, fame, or
even glory or theatrical success, but of 'scandal' we see no indication whatever in the card itself, though of course 'publicity' connected with very evil influences might end in something like that. In such cases, however, we must not ascribe the effect to the card, which means publicity, but to that of the evil influences. It is a mistake, which we very often meet in the traditional interpretations, to ascribe effects, resulting
from certain combinations of influences to one card which is only one of the composing causes.
CONCLUSION: A good, intelligent, active and practical woman (may be fair), whom the querent will do well to obey and who deserves his full esteem. Type of the married woman and mother. Careful and attentive, of much use to the querent. Loving intelligence; and practical wisdom. Success, pleasure, happiness, virtue. Natural growth, promotion in the world, position and name, fame or renown.
Page of Cups
TRADITION: Fair young man, studious. Work, application, reflexion, occupation, observation. Profession, employment. News, message; has to do with business. Reversed: Tendency, inclination, attraction, attachment, friendship, desire, engagement, invitation, seduction. Flattery, praise, cherishing, etc.
THEORY: The Page or servant, messenger, of the cups suit comes on the Eleventh and on the Seventh house, and has to do with friendship and relations, e.g. marriage. He must be the friend who brings inviting messages, seductive proposals, if not of formal marriage, perhaps of some love-affair or jolly gathering, sportive meeting, or intellectual
entertainment, lecture, etc. It is not quite impossible, that the idea of 'seduction' is connected with it or at least a strong sense of persuasion. If it relates to news, there is emotion in it, news that will affect the feelings in some way or other. Relations will be of a passing nature, but may be very pleasant. The combination of the Water with the Air generally adds much to the instruction, development or education of people So there
must be much of all this in the Page of Cups. The effects do not always bear the characteristic of reliability, nor of permanence.
CONCLUSION--(On the eleventh house): Friendly message, good news, invitation, proposal and the bringer of the same. A young man of a democratic turn of mind, brotherly feelings, international relationship. (On the seventh house): Proposal of marriage or love-affair, intellectual entertainment, lecture, demonstration. Proposal or invitation to a position or employment. Solicitation. The outcome of this card is still uncertain and must be derived from the neighbouring cards. Change of relations and connections, sympathies. Tendency to please and to make things and
certain persons appear better than they are in reality, either to flatter them or to seduce the querent. It may also be that the querent will be flattered. Praise and persuasion. A man very much open to sex-influences.
Knight of Cups
TRADITION: "The higher graces of the imagination" (W.). Arrival, approach, advances, proposition, demeanour, invitation, incitement, reception, comparison. Reversed: Trickery, fraud, duplicity, subtlety, swindle, artifice.
THEORY: The Water of the soul on the Twelfth and on the Eighth house. The double influence of water makes the emotions and feelings prominent, relates to the imagination, to deeper experiences and strong reactions of the soul, processes of psychic life, which may end in wonderful success or in less desirable phenomena. It is sure to indicate
much relating to the subways of human life and the human soul. This is not always favourable or pleasant, of course, but is in almost every instance intensive, though the cups never go to anything like hatred or crime or real malice. Their weakness is in being unreliable or incalculable with regard to things of the exact world or matter. So in the worst cases this card may indicate everything connected with swindling from sheer mental instability. But it may also be, that the term 'swindler' (charlatan) is wrongly given to people who are standing apart from the common herd and are more or less occultists. The "higher graces of the imagination."
There may be certainly a considerable degree of falsehood expressed by this card: false interpretation, misjudgment, tendencious or fantastic narratives, exaggerated complaints, imaginary wrongs, pathos and what the world calls miscarriage. On account of the eighth house all this may be connected with sex-questions or intimate and private affairs. The card may express indiscretion committed and slanderous reports, secretly promulgated. It has to do with secrets and the divulgation of secrets. But there may be also a higher sway in the emotional realm: devotion, sacrifice, charity.
CONCLUSION--(On account of the twelfth house): A stranger, sailor or naval officer, man coming from far away. It makes one forget troubles, perhaps intoxicates. Wine or strong liquors. Merchants of same. Narcotics. Imagination, vision, dreams, poetic turn of mind. Occultism. Devotion, sacrifice, charity. (On account of the eighth house): Strong sexual tendencies, but the power to master them, and extract from them the element of happiness and health: transmutation of inner forces. The latter may also be translated as: changing his aspect of life wholly: going from
one state of life into a quite different sort of existence. In some cases: falsehood, venomous reports, slander, blackmail, trickery, fraud, subtlety, swindling, artifice. The evil influences may cause the reasons for the said change of life, which in itself may well prove benefic after all. There is much occultism in this card; this Knight may be unknown or anonymous but a very important messenger (to the soul?) At its best he is Saint George, killing the dragon, the Rosicrucian brother.