The King of Cups sits atop his watery horse exploding out of the ocean. In one arm, he holds the trident of Poseidon, showing his powerful command and leadership. In his other hand, a cup with a crab emerging from the top, showing the zodiac Cancer and the intensity of water it brings. He is the strength and energy of water, the rain and ocean itself.
When you see the King of Cups, it is an invitation to observe the ways in which you respond and react to the world around you. The Cups element is emotional, and thus an internal focus, however, the King brings fiery willpower into the mix. What emotions cause your inner fire to spark? Often, the King has trouble reflecting upon himself, because his actions (like the ocean and rain) are most often observed from the surface levels, and it is not seen what lies beyond their depths.
The suit of cups represents emotions, creativity and our subconscious. Usually, the Royal Arcana relate to people, places, events, inner aspects of yourself, or calls to action in your life. And so, the King of Cups is the balance between our emotional body and our spiritual will. He is the center between creativity and intuition, and the conflict which can arise when we are strong in both of these things.
The King of Cups is an incredibly sensitive character, and in this he is quite reactive as well. Volatile might be the right word to use, perhaps this is where the Prince gets that trait from. The King has a great deal of emotions but not a lot of depth; his fiery nature keeps his consciousness mostly on the surface of the ocean, and the intensity of falling rain.
When you pull this card in a reading, it asks you to check and see if are you balanced within your life? Specifically, how do you react to situations that take place all around you? Are you in control of your emotional body?
The King of Cups reminds us to look at the relationships in our lives, and see where we allow our emotions to get in the way when interacting with others, or how we might be acting shallowly in our emotions and not engaging with them as full as we could. This patch character is generally observed as charming, but not very deep.
As it relates to others, this could symbolize a person whose actions are ruled by their emotions, tremendously kind and generous, but often needing a lot of reassurance due to a low self esteem.
When you pull this card, it can be a reminder to stay calm; signifying a time to grow emotionally and act maturely when dealing with negative situations in life. Don’t be afraid to allow yourself to feel all of the feelings, and share them with those who are there to listen when the time is right. The King of Cups is all about staying level headed in the confusing waves of emotional waters.
The King of Cups reversed describes a personality which has become miserable, and potentially even manic due to turbulent emotions, but without any sense of comprehension about what they are feeling. In this they are very unsteady, and can be very easily seduced or swayed by another who knows how to manipulate their energy – for good or for evil.
Due to this extreme state, the King of Cups may even become a bit of a liar, and act dishonestly whether they know it or not, generally out of fear or another mask of the ego which blocks their insight to truth. To others this trait would appear as if they were simply ‘not being real’, ‘shallow’; or put even more simply: false.
To turn this reversed card upright, we must recognize that we are likely moving way too fast for our own good, and because of our heightened speed we are becoming more shallow and disconnected. By acknowledging this, we can take action on it and channel our focus and energy into slowing down. In doing so, and some real reflection on ourselves, we can honor who we really are, and let that more authentic version of ourselves to shine through in our actions moving forward.
The Book of Thoth
The Golden Dawn
The Tarot Handbook
The King of Wands ⬩ The Queen of Wands ⬩ The Prince of Wands ⬩ The Princess of Wands ⬩ The King of Cups ⬩ The Queen of Cups ⬩ The Prince of Cups ⬩ The Princess of Cups ⬩ The King of Swords ⬩ The Queen of Swords ⬩ The Prince of Swords ⬩ The Princess of Swords ⬩ The King of Disks ⬩ The Queen of Disks ⬩ The Prince of Disks ⬩ The Princess of Disks