10 Lessons from the Minor Arcana: The Suit of Cups

 10 Lessons from the Minor Arcana: the Suit of Cups and Cups Tarot Cheatsheet!

This post is part of a blog post series exploring the tarot card meanings through storytelling. 

For the major arcana, the story is told from the point of view of the Fool who is undertaking his journey through the arcana. The rest of the posts are from the point of view of another character who has heard about the Fool's Journey and goes on a journey of her own.

If you've already read the previous posts in this series you'll know that we've already completed our fictional Fool's Journey through the major arcana and we're continuing our journey through the land of tarot with a new protagonist, the Traveller. 

By now, we've already journeyed through the Kingdom of Wands!

Today, Traveller will explore the Kingdom of Cups! 

Posts in the series include:

If this is your first time here, start at the beginning. The major arcana, minor arcana, and court cards can also be read as stand-alone sections as well but for maximum benefit I recommend going in order.

Otherwise, welcome back and let's continue with our journey!

Keep reading to get your FREE Tarot Cheatsheets!


The cups kingdom is one full of very reflective people: artists, poets, and romantics. That’s cups and when you see cups in a reading it reflects those areas of life: your relationships, your dreams and intuition, and how you feel about things. 

Cups and the Element of Water

As before, before we dig in to the story proper, I want to take some time out to talk about the energy of the suit of cups and what it's all about.

The four suits and major arcana in tarot correspond to five elements: earth, air, fire, water, and spirit. The major arcana represents the element of spirit, and larger, universal life forces and last time we talked about how wands is related to the element of fire.

What about cups? Well, cups represents the element of water. What qualities do you associate with the element of water or water signs in the zodiac? 

  • Emotion

  • Intuition

  • Subconscious

  • Relationships

  • Connection

The cups kingdom is one full of people that embody these qualities. Think of a place full of very reflective people: artists, poets, and romantics. That's cups and when you see cups in a reading it reflects those areas of life: your relationships, your dreams and intuition, and how you feel about things. 

Now let's dive back in to the story and see what our protagonist is up to!

DOWNLOAD THE FREE TAROT CHEATSHEETS!

If you're having trouble remembering the card meanings and want a quick reference to look them up when you need to, download my free printable cheatsheets for the majors, all four suits, and the court cards to help you learn!

Ace of Cups


Lesson of the Ace of Cups

Approach life with a sincere and open heart. Allow yourself to feel love, joy, and happiness to the fullest.

 Ace of Cups Tarot Card Meaning

You left the Kingdom of Wands a few weeks ago and had been making your way towards the Kingdom of Cups.

You wouldn't be able to explain to a stranger but lately you've been feeling an irresistable pull coming from the direction of the Kingdom of Cups. You trusted your intuition to guide you and off you went.

Only now you weren't so sure you'd be allowed it. Last time the Wands Guardian visited you in a dream and give you the wand that allowed you to enter. There was no dream this time. 

Well, there was nothing to be done except to see where this pulling sensation took you. You felt it even now, as if there were some invisible rope tugging you forward, guided by some invisible force.

The feeling was getting stronger though, you realised. You were close now, very close.

You continued walking through the forest for a few minutes until you emerged next to a lake. Right there in the centre, there was a massive silver chalice. It floated on the surface of the lake, surrounded by beautiful pink lotuses. Water flowed over the brim of the chalice, like a waterfall. 

"Welcome, traveller, I am the Guardian of the Kingdom of Cups. I am your emotions, your hopes and dreams, the small voice in intuition and I offer you the gift of water" said a soft, gentle, female voice. "Are you ready to trust your heart to guide you to emotional fulfilment?"

You didn't know why, but you felt overcome with emotion, as if it was you flowing from the cup down into the water. You felt the truth of the guardian's words and saw a vision of the kingdom of the waterkeepers. A place full of art, poetry, and raw emotion. You longed to see this place. 

"Yes, I am" you said. "I am honoured, and I accept your gift"

"Very well, traveller, with this cup, I grant you passage into my domain" said the chalice. 

Suddenly, you felt an object appear in your hand and looked down. It was a cup, just like she said! You looked up to thank the guardian but she was gone. 

Two of Cups


Lesson of the Two of Cups

Open yourself up to the possibility of love. Set the intention to attract the person who makes you feel whole and in perfect balance.

 Two of Cups Tarot Card Meaning

You walked along the edge of the lake southwards until you saw what looked to be a group of people gathered for a celebration of some kind.

Curious, you walked up to them and saw that they were celebrating a wedding! This spot, overlooking the lake under the bright mid-morning sun, was just perfect. 

You looked around seeing faces full of joy and genuine happiness for the bride and groom. How wonderful! I hope I can have this someday.

Just then, people began to take their seats. It would look weird to be the only person standing up and you wanted to see more. You didn't know the bride and groom but you hoped that they wouldn't mind you crashing the wedding.

Luckily, there were enough chairs for everyone and some extra. You took one of the extra chairs situated at the back. 

Music started to play and the bride and groom each went down the aisle. They both looked so radiant and in love. They were standing in front of a crowd but had eyes only for each other. What a perfect union!

But, wait. Weren't there supposed to be bridesmaids and groomsmen? Come to think of it you didn't see any. This was interesting.

Both the man and the woman held a cup in one hand. A white robed priestess stood in front and began to bind the couple's hands together with it. Oh, this is a handfasting. You had heard about this practice being performed in the Kingdom of Cups but didn't make the connection until just now. These two were newly joined lovers, and with this ceremony, they agree to be committed to each other for a year. 

You watched the couple make their vows to each other. You couldn't help but admire the intense connection that they shared with each other. It was plain for anyone to see and it warmed your heart.

The woman brought her cup up to the man's lips and he drunk from it and then did the same with her. After that, they turned to the crowd and raised their cups with big smiles. Looks like the ceremony was over.

The couple then held hands and walked down the aisle. You stood up and cheered for them along with the guests, genuinely wishing them a happy union.

Three of Cups


Lesson of the Three of Cups

True friendship between kindred souls is the greatest gift you can have. Seek out your tribe.

 Three of Cups Tarot Card Meaning

With the handfasting ceremony over, the guests proceeded a short ways down the river that the lake drained into, to a lush flower garden located by a waterfall. The couple mingled around with their guests and people broke off into small groups. 

You felt a little awkward, seeing as you didn't know anyone here and you had crashed the couple's wedding, so you made a beeline for the bar. You poured yourself a glass of the famous Cups Red and took a sip.

"You there! You alright, honey? You look a little lost" called out a voice.

You looked around and spotted a kindly woman, dressed in blue, standing with two other woman. She appeared to be addressing you. 

You pointed at yourself and she nodded. "Come on over and join us!" said the one dressed in green with a big smile on her face.

Wow, these people sure are friendly! You walked over to the three women. 

"So how do you know the couple? I've never seen you before" asked the one dressed in pink.

"I...um..." man, this was really awkward. "Well, actually, I don't..." you began. Seeing the confused look on their faces, you decided to elaborate. "You see, I'm a traveller. I'm visiting your kingdom to learn about and experience your culture. I was just granted access by the guardian and happened to pass by the celebration"

"Oh how interesting!" said the one in green.

"A traveller, how exciting! Tell us all about yourself" said the one in pink.

"Please forgive my sisters, we don't get many visitors in these parts. But we are happy to have you and would love to hear more about you!" said the blue one, with a smile.

You hadn't expected to be welcomed with such open arms! You smiled and started to relax a little. You told the women your story and they loved the idea of your journey. They told you about themselves and you found that you had a lot in common with these women!

You talked, laughed, gossiped a little bit, and drank wine together all afternoon.You were overwhelmed with joy at having finally met a group of kindred souls. You could honestly say, this was the most fun you had in a long while!

Four of Cups


Lesson of the Four of Cups

Opportunities will pass you by quickly if you don’t pay attention. They are everywhere when you begin to look.

 Four of Cups Tarot Card Meaning

The sisters you had met at the party graciously let you spend the night in their home. You were reluctant to leave your new friends the next day, but you had to continue your journey, and promised to write to them with all the details of your adventures.

You followed the river downstream for a couple of hours until you came upon another smaller waterfall which poured into a pool of water.

At the edge of the pool sat a young, dark haired boy, who looked to be around 8 years old. The boy sat under a tree with his arms crossed and he was staring dejectedly at three empty cups. 

You approached the sad-looking boy. "Hey, little man, what's up? You look upset"

The boy completely ignored you and kept his eyes focused on the empty cups. Time to try a different approach "If you don't tell me whats wrong, I can't help you. I'm a traveller and I've been to many places. Perhaps I could help you" you said.

Finally, the boy looked at you. "Mom said that there were mermaids here at this pool so I came to look for them. But she lied to me! They aren't any mermaids here!" The boy began to cry. "My mom is sick and needs the magic water of the pool. Only the mermaids can save her"

"Psst" you heard a voice. What was that? It sounded like it was coming from the pool. You looked at the pool behind the tree and there she was, clear as day. It was a mermaid! She held out a cup filled with water.

You gently placed your hand on the boy's shoulder. "She's right here. Your mermaid is here with the water you need"

"No! There is no mermaid! Stop lying to me! Adults always lie to me! You're probably not even a traveller!" the boy pulled away and continued to weep.

"Yes, I am, look I got this from the Guardian of the Kindgom of Wands" you pulled out your wand from your satchel and presented it to the boy. 

He looked at the wand and stopped crying. "You really got that from a guardian?"

You smiled at him gently. "Yes, I did. There is magic everyone once you know where to look"

He looked at you sceptically. "There is no mermaid. I've been here for hours!" You glanced at the mermaid and saw her preparing to leave. You were running out of time!

"Well, I'm here now and I can help you. Now, close your eyes and wish for the mermaid" The boy did as you suggested. "Good, now, look behind you"

The boy opened his eyes and finally looked behind. He gasped. "Mermaid! You're here! Now I can save my mom!" The boy approached the mermaid, took the cup from her hand, and thanked her profusely. 

He then ran up to you and surprised you with a hug. "Thank you, traveller! You saved my mom!" You smiled and hugged the boy gently. 

"Now, how about we go give the healing water to your mom?" you suggested. The boy nodded and the two of you went back to his home together.

Five of Cups


Lesson of the Five of Cups

Every cloud has a silver lining. Accept your losses, take what you have left, and move forward.

 Five of Cups Tarot Card Meaning

The boy's mother was very grateful for what you did for their family and allowed you to stay with them for a few days. They were a wonderful family and lived in a small home by the coast.

You were now enjoying a peaceful walk along the shore. The sun hung low in the sky and you hoped to catch the sunset. There was just something about being near water, about the sound of the ebb and flow of the waves, that felt so cleansing to you and stirred your emotions.

You continued walking for a few more minutes, lost in thought, until you were broken out of your reverie by the sound of a woman gently weeping.

You followed the direction of the sound and found her. It was a mermaid! Perhaps the same one who brought the healing water to the boy the other day. 

"Excuse me, are you alright?" you said.

"Leave me be" said the mermaid. She wiped her tears and looked up at you. A look of recognition flashed across her face. "Oh, it's you. I saw you with the boy the other day didn't I?"

"Yes. The water you gave the boy healed his mother. He wanted to thank you and even went back to the pool but couldn't find you" you said.

"I'm glad to hear that but I can't heal any more people!" she exclaimed, her voice full of sorrow. 

"I don't understand" you said.

"I am one of the waterkeepers, you see. It's my responsibility to collect the sacred water from our temple beneath the waves and bring it to any who need it. I'm only allowed to bring five cups a day and I've spilled them! Those people need healing and I've as good as doomed them!" she buried her face in her hands and started to weep once more.

You looked down and saw some cups lying on the sand. Three of them had fallen over, their water spilling onto the sand. Those ones were lost but it looks like two cups were still standing. You looked into them. They were still full! Had she perhaps not noticed?

"All is not lost, gentle soul. You have two cups still standing" you said, pointing to the cups.

The mermaid shook her head. "It's not enough! So many people from across the kingdom request for healing every single day. Many of them have terminal illnesses and may die at any moment. It's not enough!" she said, sadly.

"Maybe it isn't but what's done is done. Look at it this way, you can still save two people. Yes, three others may die but they may not and come back tomorrow. You are allotted five cups a day right?"

The mermaid looked at the two cups still standing for a long moment and then nodded. "I suppose you're right. The best thing to do to salvage this mess is to take what I have left and just keep moving" she said, finally.

"That's right!" you said with a smile, glad to have helped her.

"Thank you, traveller! I shall not forget you" she said. She picked up the cups and swam away.

DOWNLOAD THE FREE TAROT CHEATSHEETS!

If you're having trouble remembering the card meanings and want a quick reference to look them up when you need to, download my free printable cheatsheets for the majors, all four suits, and the court cards to help you learn!

Six of Cups


Lesson of the Six of Cups

Happiness lives on for as long as you keep in alive in the perfection of memory.

 Six of Cups Tarot Card Meaning

The next morning, you packed your things and bid the boy and his mother farewell. You didn't want to impose on them and you were eager to continue your journey. 

You headed northward, following the path of another nearby river that also drained into the coast. You were now walking through a beautiful green river valley. A cool breeze caressed your face and you enjoyed the relatively lower temperatures of the morning. 

You continued for a while until you could make out what looked to be a small village in the distance. Perhaps this would be a good place to stop for a while. You walked towards the village.

As you got closer you saw two children playing by the water. You stopped to observe them for a moment. They were so cute! They were chubby cheeked little follows, probably younger than five years old. 

You smiled as you watched them play. There was a little girl and a little boy playing with six flower-filled cups. They shared their cups with each other and laughed as they enjoyed each other's company.

Their innocence touched your heart. You fondly remembered all the times you spent playing in the fields with your childhood buddy. You were out of touch now but those were good times. You hoped to see your friend again some day.

Well, best not tarry here for too long. You didn't want to disturb the children or give their parents cause for worry so you decided to move on and head for the village.

Seven of Cups


Lesson of the Seven of Cups

Reach for your dreams not by building castles in the air but by making choices and acting on them.

 Seven of Cups Tarot Card Meaning

You found yourself suddenly floating in the air, high up among the clouds. What's going on? Why aren't I falling? Am I dreaming?

The next moment, 7 cups popped into existence out of nowhere. "Holy gods!" you stumbled backwards.

You took a closer look at the cups. They floated in front of you and each cup held something different. How strange. You extended your hand to touch one of the cups, only for it to dissolve into mist. As soon as you pulled your hand back, the cup reappeared.

"Alright, what am I supposed to do with these cups?" you asked no one in particular.

"Choose" said a man's voice. You looked around and saw a wizened old sorcerer approaching you. He wore bright blue robes embroidered with astrological symbols woven in gold thread.

"Who are you?" you asked.

"I am a figment of your imagination" he said. So I am dreaming. That explains the absurdity of this situation.

"Okay" you said. So I am dreaming after all. That explains the absurdity of this situation. "And what am I supposed to do with this, figment of my imagination?"

"Choose" he said, again.

"Between what?!" This was so frustrating.

The sorcerer sighed. "Isn't it obvious?"

"Not really" you said.

He gestured to each of the cups. "Each one holds one of your goals, hopes, or fears: love, family, sexual desire, wealth, ambition, fears and doubts, and anger" said the sorcerer. "The question is, what will you choose to focus on?"

"I can't decide!" you said, looking between each cup.

"Each one is a possible future. You must chose one to act on. You're not going to achieve anything just by standing here and staring like a fish!" said the old sorcerer. "Choose" he said again.

"Alright, alright, I'll choose" you said. You studied each cup in detail and then held out your hand towards one. "I choose love" As you said that, six of the cups disappeared leaving only one, the one you had chosen.

"Great, now you must open your heart to it and start looking for your partner. Maybe you can get to know some of the boys back in your home village better when you get back" said the sorcerer.

You looked at him incredulously. "What, that's it?"

"Well, yes. What did you expect, for a man to just pop into existence the moment you chose? Get real. Once you have made a choice, you need to act on it!" he said with a chuckle.

His voice faded into the distance and you woke up in your bed. What a strange dream.

Eight of Cups


Lesson of the Eight of Cups

Let go of what does not serve you and move forward to the next chapter of your story.

 Eight of Cups Tarot Card Meaning

There was just something about that strange dream with the seven cups that rattled you a bit. That wizard made you feel like you really needed to act and not sit on your ass, dreaming up all the possible places you could go next. 

Just pick and direction and take a chance. Later that evening, you decided to leave the village and continue your journey.

Normally you would feel a little wary about travelling after dark but this time you just didn't feel like lingering there for too long. Hopefully it would all turn out alright.

You walked along the riverbank, continuing northwards. It was a beautiful cloudless evening and the moon had already risen in the sky, bathing the river in a glimmering silver light.

You heard some rustling in the distance. Your hand went to the dagger you kept in your belt and your heart thudded in your chest. I'm going to be killed out here by some foul beast! Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to travel at night.

But then again, it may not be a monster. You decided to slowly approach the noise to see what it was. As you got a closer look., you sighed in relief and put your dagger away. It was just a girl.

The girl was carefully stacking eight cups one on top of the other, in two neat rows. 

You approached her. "Excuse me, can I ask what you're doing out here with those eight cups? Are you from the village?"

At first the girl was startled by your interruption but quickly recovered herself. "Yes, I'm from the village" she said, eyeing you warily. "Who are you and what are you doing out here?"

"Relax, I'm just a traveller. I was staying at the inn in the village. I'm travelling to my next destination" you said.

"At night?" she said, raising an eyebrow.

"Well, I could say the same of you! Shouldn't you be at home?"

"Fair point" she said. "If you must know, I'm deciding whether to go back home or leave forever" 

Gosh, that sounded pretty dramatic. "Can I ask why?" you said.

The girl sighed. "Honestly, I've lived there my whole life, I have a wonderful family, I have friends, and I have these eight cups here"

"What's the problem then? Sounds like you have a comfortable life there" you said.

She shook her head. "That's just it. I don't want to live a life that is simply comfortable" she looked up at you, her sincerity shining in her eyes. You could see that this was important to her. "You wouldn't understand" she looked away.

You sat down next to her. "Try me" you said.

"Alright, well, my father wants me to marry the mayor's son. We're friends but I don't love him. I want to explore the world and be independent and none of my family or friends understand that. I should be perfectly content. Many girls would jump at the chance to marry the mayor's son but that life feels so stifling for me" said the girl.

You smiled. "My situation may not b exactly the same as yours but I also had a comfortable life in my home town. I too heard the call to adventure and left to begin my journey. And now here I am" you said.

"That's what I want too! I want to travel, like you, and build a home for myself" she said. "But my family..." She glanced at the eight cups.

"Look, if your life is no longer bringing you joy and fulfilment, then its time to let go and move on to the next part of your journey. Going against your instincts and trying to make it work would only bring you and those around you sorrow" you began. "Besides, if they truly love you they will understand"

"I guess you're right" said the girl, standing up.

You stood up as well. "Are you ready?"

She nodded. "Yes"

The two of you walked away without looking back.

Nine of Cups


Lesson of the Nine of Cups

Anything is possible. Wonderful surprises await those who reach for the stars.

 Nine of Cups Tarot Card Meaning

You remained with the girl, your new friend, for several weeks. You had left her at the biggest town in that region of the Kingdom of Cups and left to explore on your own for a while.

Two months had passed and you had the opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture of this place. What was common to all residents was that they were all very emotional people and placed great importance on their relationship with others and behaving in accordance with their intuition.

That reminded you of that girl you had met, your friend with the eight cups. She too had decided to take an important life decision based on her emotions and intuition. You wondered how things had turned out.

You went back to the town where you had left her and entered the shop where she had worked. Only, she wasn't there. The shopkeeper told you that she had recently quit and handed you her home address.

You were now walking through what looked to be an affluent neighbourhood. This wasn't the nobles district but if she was living here, she wasn't doing too bad!

You reached the address and knocked on the door. A few moments later, the door swung open.

"Traveller! You're back!" said your friend with a wide smile, as she gave you a hug. "I am truly glad to see you! Come in!"

You walked into the house. It was a very cozy, homely, looking place. There were knick knacks placed on the shelves and it just felt like a warm, comfortable, home. "Wow, you have a lovely home. Looks like you've done well for yourself" you said.

"Indeed I have" she said, happily. She led you to the kitchen and sat down, gesturing for you to sit by her. On the table, there were nine cups and an assortment of fresh fruit. She poured you a glass of wine and one for herself. 

"I have to thank you because if it weren't for you I wouldn't be here" she said, sipping her wine slowly. "And now I have everything I wished for: a home of my own" She seemed so relaxed and satisfied. Her face was radiant with joy and contentment.

"I am truly glad for you, friend, you deserve it!" you said with a smile. You couldn't believe it. It had only been two months since you left her and now she has everything she wished for! 

It was an inspiration and made you feel like anything is possible. You were so glad you came to see her.

Ten of Cups


Lesson of the Ten of Cups

You deserve and can cultivate your happy ending. All you need to do is believe.

 Ten of Cups Tarot Card Meaning

You spent the day catching up with your friend and enjoying her company. It had been a while and you truly did miss her.

In the evening, more surprises awaited you. It turned out that she had married someone, a merchant, while you were away! He had three children by his first wife but your friend loved them as her own.

Initially, you didn't want to impose on her new family but they all welcomed you with open arms and encouraged you to stay for as long as you'd like.

It had been a few days since then and you were now enjoying a picnic out in the field with your friend and her family. It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, the sky was clear, and there was even a rainbow!

Your friend and her husband only had eyes for each other. They were so happy and comfortable with each other. The three children played with each other not too far from where you were sitting. Their faces were full of joy.

It was truly an idyllic scene, full of love, joy, and emotional fulfilment  You were so glad that your friend had found true happiness. What more could anyone want?

DOWNLOAD THE FREE TAROT CHEATSHEETS!

If you're having trouble remembering the card meanings and want a quick reference to look them up when you need to, download my free printable cheatsheets for the majors, all four suits, and the court cards to help you learn!

What a nice way to end our journey through the cups kingdom, right? Of the four suits, cups and pentacles have the happiest endings. 

Did you enjoy the story? Hopefully, going deep into each card this way and thinking of them as moments from real characters' lives will help you to understand the card meanings a little better.

In the next instalment, our protagonist sets out on her journey to the Kingdom of Swords and explores the element of air.

Continue to next post >>

Tarot Card Images: Witches Tarot by Ellen Dugan, Mark Evans © 2012 Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. 2143 Wooddale Drive, Woodbury, MN 55125. All rights reserved, used by permission.