(The above image is a copy of The Ace of Cups card in a standard Rider-Waite Tarot deck. The 6 symbols pointed out above are explained below.)
The Ace of Cups begins the Cups suit. As an ace, the card is pure potential. Coming out of a cloud of smoke, the cup is a gift to all who accept it. The Ace of Cups begins many of the themes seen throughout the suit; namely, it encourages love and creativity while putting an emphasis on the subconscious soul.
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For more information about The Ace of Cups card, check out A. E. Waite’s description here.
Point 1 – HAND
As with all of the Ace cards, the Ace of Cups shows a disembodied hand emerging from a cloud of smoke, holding the minor arcana for the reader. This reveals that the cup is a gift. It isn’t something that you earn or are rewarded. It is already within you. It is your job to accept it and to wield it graciously.
Point 2 – CUP
If the wand represents our willpower, the cup represents our spiritual power. The cup is a vessel for our subconscious, for our intuition, feelings, and creativity. As it overflows with water, so our souls overflow with joy when we receive this card in our spread.
Point 3 – FIVE JETS OF WATER
Most scholars interpret the five jets of water to represent our five senses: vision, hearing, smell, touch, taste. It is our five senses that add depth to our life. As water nourishes our body, the senses nourish our soul.
Point 4 – TWENTY-SIX DROPS OF WATER
Suspended in the card are twenty-six drops of water. In this image, there is a paradoxical combination of air and water, resulting in a connection between divine space and our flowing soul. Some scholars have interpreted the twenty-six drops to represent the twenty-six letters in the English alphabet, symbolizing the communication of our soul.
Point 5 – DOVE
A white dove descends towards the cup, holding in its beak the Eucharist. This reiterates the divine connection in the suit of cups. Traditionally, a white dove represents the Holy Ghost, though some argue it could also represent the Jewish Sophia or the Greek Aphrodite. In any case, the dove gives the card a sense of peace and repose.
Point 6 – WATER LILIES
In the pool below the cup, there grows water lilies. In traditional tarot iconography, water lilies symbolize spiritual awakening and the divine soul. Other traditions, like Buddhism, suggest that the water lily symbolizes beauty in ugly environments, as water lilies tend to grow in swamps.
Like all aces in the Minor Arcana, an Upright Ace of Cups illustrates pure potential. It is love and creativity incarnate. An Upright Ace of Cups encourages you to use your talents for the sake of passion projects and for the good of other people. Never waste an opportunity to show someone else some kindness. Doing so isn’t just good karma for the future; it purifies your soul in the present.
A Reverse Ace of Cups encourages you to direct your love and creativity inward. Before you can care for others, you need to care for yourself. A Reverse Ace of Cups also suggests that you are withholding your emotions. If found in your spread, a Reverse Ace of Cups implies that you need to open up emotionally to those around you. Doing so will lead to a more fruitful internal life.
For more Tarot Card Meanings, check out our blog here.
About the author: John Taylor is a content writer and freelancer through the company Upwork.com. You may view his freelancing profile here. He has a B. A. in English, with a specialty in technical writing, from Texas A&M University and a M. A. in English from the University of Glasgow. You may view his previous articles about Tarot here and his LinkedIn profile here.