The Beauty of Emotion: Six of Cups

A guide to the suit of cups in the Rider-Waite Tarot System


Image courtesy of Brandee

The woman sits on the marble floor surrounded by six cups. The archways in the grand marble room offer a view of the world of yesterday, a longing for a home away from present reality. The water surrounding the palace is clear and mystical, wading inside it will surely give you some answers, right? The figure ponders the same question and hopes that by choosing to cross the water toward the mountains which reminds her of home, there will be a glimpse of the happiness she once had during an easier time of her life. Pulling this card may become confusing and perhaps you associate yourself with the figure in the card, but this card is letting you know that Spirit or the Universe is guiding you toward happiness that doesn’t have to complicate the question you are asking. 

In this article, we will explore the following: 

  • The importance of the suit of cups and its astrological connections 
  • The significance of the number six within the suit
  • How to interpret this card in a tarot reading 
Tarot spreads can guide us through tough questions in life Image courtesy of Soulful Stock.

Understanding the cup suit & its astrological connotations 

The suit of cups is widely used in the Rider-Waite Smith tarot system alongside three other suits: coins/pentacles, wands, and swords. Astrological associations with this suit are the water signs: Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces. The cups are traditionally tied to emotions, feelings, and relationships. The cup suit is a part of the minor arcana in the Rider-Waite system. Cups can also correlate to the suit of hearts in playing cards. There is a connection between all of these connotations of the cup suit and its emotional connections. 

The suit of cups can be an integral part of your reading in a tarot spread for yourself or for someone else. An understanding of why this suit is choosing to make itself known at any given time is to call attention to the emotions surrounding events in your life. Combining tarot and astrology will make your reading more interesting and offer a deeper introspect into any situation. The word that is widely used in the tarot and astrology community when referring to the use of tarot and astrology is tarotscope. For the cups in particular, this means delving into the water signs and where they’re placed on your own astrological chart.

Whether your situation concerns a Cancer, Scorpio, or Pisces, or you relate to the emotions that water emotes and represents within the tarot deck, this card was meant to find you. It is also meant to remind you that in order to channel this innocence and longing for easier times, you’ll need to first look within. The card is asking you to channel your inner water sign and look at the situation from the perspective of the figure pictured in the six of cups. Knowing the astrological connotations give you the confidence to know this card is appearing for a reason, and can help you pinpoint the card to a place, person, or situation more easily. 

The importance of the number six in the tarot 

The tarot system not only has suits, but operates within a number system as well. Think of this system as a deck of playing cards. You have your suits and court cards, whereas here you have your major and minor arcana. All major arcana cards are numbered one through twenty-two, while the suit or “pip” cards range from ace to ten, page, knight, queen, and king. Numerology is a big part of the system that is used within the Rider-Waite deck. The number six is a number that brings balance to all numbers before it, and it relates closely to the idea of self-actualization. 

Six is a harmonious number and represents the perfect combination of both masculine and feminine energy. The number six is a card that indicates that transitions and changes will be handled smoothly. The six of cups show the nostalgic longing for a once-beneficial relationship. All elements brought together within the card are showing that this longing is okay and something we all may experience, but can also be a warning that this may lead to yearning for what has already been lived. 

The number six within the tarot system shows: 

  • Truth
  • Unity
  • Balance
  • Harmony
  • Union
Different tarot decks can offer different meanings to each suit Image courtesy of Alris Nikolaeva.

Working with the six of cups in a tarot spread 

There are many aspects that have been explored so far in this article, now how can you actually use and interpret the six of cups in a tarot spread? 

The Upright Position:

The upright position of this card will be associated with harmony, union, nostalgia, and cooperation. The card indicates a longing for a childhood memory, dream, or event that has been a big part of your journey so far. There is an increased energy of cooperation and harmony that has perhaps spilled into your romantic relationships, friendships, or relationships with your coworkers. This card is telling you to get in touch with your inner child and remember that it’s okay to have fun once in a while! 

The Downturned Position: 

The downturned position can mean the opposite of the upright position. When this card shows up in a tarot spread in a downward position, there is a disruption between the relationships you have been building recently, or your emotional energy is feeling blocked or stagnant. There could also be a childhood trauma that has come up and brought feelings of unworthiness, imbalance, and anxiety. It can also be a signpost for something that will happen sometime in the near future, this card can be a warning if it is in a downturned position. It could be that you are losing touch with reality and that daydreaming about the past is doing more harm than good. Time to make the choice to live in the moment instead of dreaming of the past!

Upright Love Interpretation: 

The upright position involved in a specific love or relationship reading can indicate that the relationship you are in is working as receiving and giving seem to be easy for both you and your partner. There is also a sense that this person can be a childhood sweetheart or someone you have always dreamed of being with. A person whom you have always wanted to be with is thinking of you and pursuing a relationship with you. 

This person may have the same values that you are looking for in a relationship. If you find yourself in a relationship already, there is a chance this card is telling you that you and your partner should do something you have both been wanting to do for a long time. Now is your chance to turn the daydream into a reality. 

Upright Career Interpretation:

The upright position when involved with questions about your career shows that you are heading in the right direction. There is harmony between you and your coworkers, or perhaps you and a supervisor or boss. There are new and creative ideas being brought forth because of your more childlike and carefree attitude in life. This opens you up to more opportunities, especially in the workplace. 

There will be prosperous collaborations between you and a specific coworker and it will create great opportunities for both parties. Teamwork is the most important factor here when the six of cups are involved. If there is an upcoming project, it is important to make sure that everyone's opinion is heard, and you will be the one to make sure that everything is running smoothly. 

Tarot spread can become a ritualistic practice and can help start out the day. Photo courtesy of Jen Theodore. 

Downturned Love Interpretation:

There will be trouble arising in your romantic relationship between you and your partner, or an ex-partner who will try to come back into the picture. This will disrupt the harmony in the relationship you are in or will create more issues for you while you try to navigate a potential relationship. The person who will come into your life is not in balance and will create issues. There could be a third party who is involved as well, and any ensuring issues need to be dealt with immediately. The card is serving as a warning of what you may not have noticed within your relationship. 

Downturned Career Interpretation: 

Within the workplace, there is havoc and an imbalance of power. This can also indicate that the work environment is stagnant and you are becoming bored and therefore no creative ideas are flowing between coworkers. This is a breeding ground for stale emotions and even anger. The card may serve as a push for you to look into creative ways to change up the stagnant feeling. There are many lessons to be learned with this card and it is up to you to change your mindset, not for everyone else, but for yourself. It could also indicate that your workplace is not serving you as well as you thought it would. It’s a reminder to think of what you want to get out of the experience. 

The lesson of the cups

The suit of cups is an essential part of the tarot system and it is there to remind us to keep our emotions in check with ourselves. This article has guided you through many aspects that just one card can hold, and it is your chance to interpret this in your own way. The cards are our higher selves telling us what we need at the time. What other interpretations have this card given you in your readings

Brandee Robles

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