The Four of Cups shows a patch meditating upon his current situation, indicated by three cups which are embedded with the Flower, the Fruit, and the Seed of Life. Next to him, a friend holds out a cup with the Tree of Life on it, offering it to him. However this gift goes unnoticed, for the sitting patch is too focused on his meditation. The water in the cups begin to ripple with tension, for the water is no longer flowing, and finds itself becoming ill at ease. Water prefers to flow, rather than sit still.
When stability is applied to water, water becomes impatient and cannot sit still for too long without becoming stagnant. The Four of Cups is about your withdrawal; it is about being reserved and meditating upon whatever it is you need to contemplate. Do so, but be wary that in doing so the seeds of emptiness are planted. It’s okay to be here, but staying too long will lead to a drought. It’s best to take account of what is going on, and let it go; let it flow.
The Four of Cups applies even more structure to the flow of water, to the point that the water no longer flows, but ripples with dissatisfaction of the status quo. This card embodies the energy of contemplation, observation, meditation and re-evaluation. If the waters sit for too long, this card describes that we can easily enter into a state of apathy and disappointment, which often comes from not honoring or acknowledging the love that is already present in our lives.
In this image, we see a patch sitting in meditation under a tree with three cups laid out before him. Each holds a specific geometric symbol representing the four elements. The Flower of Life, the Fruit of Life, and the Seed of Life. The Tree of Life is being offered by another patch walking up to him. Yet, he does not see or accept this new cup because he is so deep in meditation on the cups he is focused on.
The water in these cups are not free flowing, rather they are contained, being reserved and held in stasis. When water is forced to stay still for too long, it can even go rancid; growing bacteria or other unwanted things within it. Water much prefers to be in motion, to change its state of being and flow wherever it will.
This card is presenting itself to you for a very specific reason. It’s asking you to take a step back and meditate upon your current situation. This card has a lot of connection with the status quo and feeling dissatisfied with it, this may even be a time where you’re closing off to love to feel safe in your being. This can be a very important thing to do, just remember that it’s best to take the time to meditate, and then open your heart once again. It also suggests not to become attached to holding onto your love, and keeping it for yourself. It may feel luxurious to bask and enjoy all of the goodness you’ve accumulated, but without sharing it only breeds genuine emptiness.
It’s important to reflect on our current life situation before taking any more steps forward. It’s equally important to allow the flow to come back, and not stay still for too long. This creates apathy and a level of disconnection within us if we cut ourselves off from those around us, refusing to give or receive new information or love.
If you find yourself becoming more sulky about a predicament, this card can be seen as a call to action. It may be time to spill forth the waters from your cup and create motion in your life again. Ultimately, tap into the feelings in your heart, and you will know exactly what needs to be done.
The reverse of the Four of Cups discusses the outright rejection of new opportunities that come our way, and a long term lack of motivation. Often this can manifest itself as a result of staying inside of our comfort zones due to fear of stepping into the unknown, and becoming possessive over our belongings or others in our lives in order to satisfy our egos desires.
When we cast such restrictions on ourselves or others, we run the risk of extreme depression and causing damage to our psyche and our network of friends and family.
To turn this reversed card upright, we must be aware if we are being aloof and saying no to something that deep down we actually really want, or if we are just too afraid or ashamed of letting others really see our true nature. It is important to acknowledge why we are saying no, but sometimes if you can see the thing you genuinely should be doing – and do it anyways, this “why” will reveal itself in the process of your new action. Staying inside of our comfort zones is comforting, however this comfort zone can quickly become a prison if we are locking ourselves up inside it, and not freely exploring this amazing and wonderful life! Staying too protective of ourselves doesn’t help us learn and grow and therefor won’t change anything in our lives, and so by reflecting on who we are and making changes where appropriate, we become greater versions of ourselves every time.
The Book of Thoth
The Golden Dawn
The Tarot Handbook