Picking Up Your Broken Pieces: A Guide to the Five of Cups

The five of cups is a card that resonates with sorrow, disappointment, and dejection. How exactly do you navigate this card in a reading?

Photo courtesy of Varietats

There are a lot of depictions within the 78 cards of the tarot deck. Many of these depictions have been discussed and observed over decades, and there are times when you pick up a card and don’t understand the meaning of it right away. Tarot always uses symbols to paint a picture, but sometimes it can feel unfinished. 

Then there are the cards that you pick up right away and understand exactly what it means in a matter of seconds. The five of cups is a card you can pick up and immediately understand and feel its energy. What exactly is it about the imagery that captivates us and helps us understand right away what this card entails? One reason is the humanness of emotions that are shared by everyone in the universe, with shame and disappointment being one of the strongest emotions shared between everyone. Let’s take a look at this card more closely and dissect the five of cups in a tarot card reading. 

The numerology of five

First things, before we begin looking into the card, we must understand a few key elements beforehand. The way that this card is distinguished is by the number it bears on the card along with the title. In this section, we will be focusing on the number and numerology of the number five. There are plenty of associations between numbers and tarot cards. Let’s look at the tarot deck as a pack of playing cards. Many of us are accustomed to the suits and numbers of playing cards. Well, it’s not so different when looking at the major and minor arcana cards of the tarot deck. The major arcana cards can mirror the court cards in the playing deck and the suits can represent the minor arcana cards in the deck. 

The number five is ruled by the planet Mercury. In astrology, Mercury is the planet that rules over communication. The planet not only deals with the communication between you and others, but communication within yourself as well. The number five can also be associated with the star sign Leo, which offers a bold presence among the other astrological signs. The number five can also be connected to the desire to problem solve, specifically by talking about things rather than ignoring the issue altogether. There is somewhat of a sense of responsibility within the number five and it is a card of independence. 

The suit of cups 

As mentioned above, the minor arcana cards can be connected to the suits of a playing card deck. Let’s connect the suit of hearts with the suit of cups in the tarot deck. The reason this would make sense is that the suit of cups deals with the emotional consciousness levels of a person. These are often associated with love, feelings, relationships, and connections. The suit of cups is also closely associated with the element of water and the water signs: Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces. 

The reason it is associated with water is because of water’s “flow” and the naturalness of its flow. Not only is it beautiful and gentle, but it can also be ruthless and untamed. Water ebbs and flows just like emotions due throughout our lifetime. Most of our bodies are made out of water, and the energy deeply resonates with beings like humans. The cups suit can also be associated with divine feminine energy, which doesn’t specifically connect itself to the gendered expression of “woman,” but rather it is feminine because of its subtle but strong power. 

Historical attributes 

These historical attributes are mostly attributed to the Rider-Waite Smith decks and many of these are still relevant in readings today. The traditional associations with this card include things like dates, astrological signs, and optimal seasonal times. The traditional title of this card is “The Lord of Pleasure Lost.” Many of these traditional titles are exactly how they sound, the lost pleasure and the feeling that ensues afterward. The specific timing of this card is associated with October 21-30. The astrological sign on this card is a fixed water sign. This card is attributed to Mars in Scorpio and pairs well with the Death, Tower, and Judgement cards. The optimal seasonal time for this card is in the autumn. 

This card can be broken up into symbolic features: the cups, the figure, the sky, the water, and the position of these items. This is what creates an in-depth reading in a tarot spread. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

The five of cups keywords

  • Loss 
  • Grief
  • Mourning
  • Acceptance
  • Moving on
  • Finding peace 

The five of cups in a tarot spread

As with many of the other cards within the minor arcana, there can be a lot of reasons why this has come up in your reading today for you or for someone else. There are a few positions we will be discussing as well as different tarot spreads. These are a few of the spreads we will be going over:

  • Love tarot spreads
  • Career and finance spreads
  • Life journey spreads
  • Yes and no spreads

Upright in love spread 

Regarding this card in an upright position in a love spread, it can be conceived as something negative that has happened or will happen soon. The universal signifier is heartbreak with this specific card. Perhaps this heartbreak can come as a surprise from the other person, and this will make you feel very abandoned and alone. You could already feel this way and this is a sign that the relationship is failing and the ship is sinking. If this relationship is over, you are constantly thinking about it and wishing it would pick itself back up so that you can feel comfortable and safe again. 

If you’re single it could signify the immense isolation that has been going on for a while. This could be because of a past connection that has left you emotionally scarred. If you still have an attachment to something that didn’t work out, it’s preventing you from finding the person you’re meant to be with at this point in your life. Moving forward may seem scary, but it’s what needs to be done. 

Upright in career and finance spread

Since this card signifies loss, it could mean that you will be or have lost a job recently. Perhaps you missed out on a great opportunity and it will never come to you again. This could also mean a loss of partnership with coworkers, a supervisor or boss, or another company. This could come as a sign to halt projects that you have been thinking of pursuing in your job. You must understand this because if you continue with these plans, it’ll lead to major financial losses. During this time try and hold onto as many positive relationships and connections within your workplace.

This card can mean a large sum of money is owed and debt must be paid. This could come at a time when it’s inconvenient for you. Perhaps there is a lack of resources and this sets you further back from reaching an intended goal. Your financial situation and security are not stable at all and changes must be made. 

Upright in life journey

This is a sign that you need to understand that you have lost something and there needs to be a point where you have to move on. There is a lot of disappointment that is being felt within yourself and it’s dragging you down like an anchor on a ship. You may have missed a key opportunity that could have pushed you forward instead of staying stagnant. 

Many different decks can be used when working with the tarot. Choose a deck that speaks to you. Photo courtesy of Jen Theodore.

Downturned in love spreads

Whenever there are reversed cards in tarot spreads, we assume that these interpretations are negative. In this case, it’s a good thing to have this card in a reversed position. This card is the card of moving on and letting go. This card is symbolic of cutting the energetic ties you have with someone for your good. While you may have struggled to do this, it’ll be more than worth it in the end. If you and your partner have been going through a rough patch, this card means that you have both had some realizations that made it easier to understand why there was a rift between the two of you. This card recognizes that dwelling in the past isn’t good for anyone, there it’s congratulating you on moving forward. 

Downturned in career and finances

This indicates a time of ease when it comes to your career and finance. Remember that this card is all about losses, so if it’s in reverse there is a chance you can be gaining something from this situation. The five of cups is offering what you need to move forward with a career or loss of a job. This becomes a beacon of hope in a reading, especially if you’ve been struggling with these issues for a while now. This may signify a period where finances will begin to strengthen themselves and you will have fewer monetary losses. 

Downturned in life journey

You have overcome a lot of obstacles and it’s time you recognize what an amazing job you did when navigating these issues. There will be rewards earned from this period of trial and error. The process and road to recovery haven’t been easy but it’s worth it in the end. This can be the start of recognizing and acknowledging what has happened to you. Of course, you may not be there yet, but there is a big possibility that this will be coming up soon.

Yes or no

When this card is pulled, it is a solid no. 

Lesson from the five of cups

The tarot system can give us important lessons to understand and learn from in our lives. This card is not different from the rest but is nonetheless important in reading. What have you learned from this article and what other interpretations could you add?

Brandee Robles

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