The water is gone, the cups have dried out; the anticipation and expectations for pleasure has resulted in regret. The truth is out: Pain, loss, disappointment and realization have become manifest. Here there are feelings such as letting go of hopes, experiencing setbacks, breaking up, sorrow, and wanting to turn back the clock.
You have taken something for granted, and so it has left you with the feeling of emptiness. Solace can be found in the awareness that this is not the end, but a state of passing through. This too shall pass, and it will come with the rebirth of knowing that in order to receive love, we must give it.
The Five of Cups is what happens when we take the emotions of ourselves and our loved ones for granted, or build up attachments to outcomes that go unfulfilled; the water dries up completely. This card embodies feelings of great emotional pain, often in the form of disappointment and regret, and is the result of water being restricted for too long, causing the flow to be disrupted. You might also see it as holding onto something so tightly that it becomes ruined, leaving you in a space of loss.
The image depicts two patch people whose water has all dried up. The land is empty, the water has evaporated from the ground, leaving the earth a barren wasteland. Together, they sit in a state of regret for their actions, longing for what they used to have, wanting to turn back the clock but having no way to do so.
You may have taken something for granted, leaving you with this sense of emptiness inside. This card also signifies that you may have trouble letting go of something in your life, and the attachment to it is causing suffering within you. Just like the water in these cups, the things we are attached to must be able to flow freely, and if we hold on too tightly will force them away from us.
Practicing a state of acceptance and letting go is what will ultimately free you: body, mind, and soul. This is especially important for relationships and people in your life; when we hold onto someone, restrict and constrain them, this always pushes them away. When we exist in a free flowing state of allowing, then we truly free ourselves and those around us, and learning to love becomes a joy once again.
The Five of Cups is an emotionally challenging space; it is the draining of all the positive feelings. As uncomfortable and upsetting as this space might be, it’s fundamentally important to experience, for it shows us how and why we got there. It also allows us to build the strength to lift ourselves out of this mind set and move out of it with more knowledge and wisdom then we had before.
The reverse of the Five of Cups takes this feeling of regret and disappointment to a place of shame towards ourselves in regards to the experience, and we emotionally cave in on ourselves. Here there is bitterness that can even turn to rage if we are driven to it. Perhaps more likely, we might lose all sense of what is really meaningful, and descending into a dark spiral of endless sorrow.
This card reversed may also describe a long history of deep-rooted feelings towards challenges within one’s lifestyle that are causing grudges or unfulfilled expectations and problems, whether this information is conscious or unconscious.
To turn this reversed card upright, you must become clear on how you are treating yourself and others, and acknowledge where changes need to be made, and then take the actions required to fix these things purposefully and willingly. It is never too late to turn things around, but in order to do so, we have to humble ourselves and recognize how we are perpetuating the problem to begin with. By letting go of our attachments, moving on, holding love and forgiveness in our hearts, we can find so much more peace than if we lose ourselves to anguish, or purposefully seek destruction as a means of coping with our pain.
The Book of Thoth
The Golden Dawn
The Tarot Handbook