Tarot Talk

April 1st, 2018

Two of Cups

(The Lovers Card is from the artist Ciro Marchetti http://www.ciromarchetti.com/)**

Last month we talked about the Major Arcana card called The Lovers. Perhaps it is fitting this month that we talk about the Minor Arcana version of The Lovers: the Two of Cups.

A Tarot deck consists of 22 Major Arcana cards with archetypal correspondences that deal with broad and far-reaching life experience issues, and 56 Minor Arcana cards that are customarily grouped into four categories or suits corresponding with the four elements (sometimes called “Pips” or “Pip Cards”) that usually deal with day-to-day issues. The Two of Cups is part of the Minor Arcana; as we have discovered, one effective way to understand a Minor Arcana card is to examine its number (or in the case of Court Cards, its rank), its suit, and its traditional image. In this case we are dealing with the number 2, the suit of Cups, as well as the traditional images associated with the Two of Cups.

We know right away that the message offered by this card will most likely be more immediate in nature, or will most likely be connected to more day-to-day issues. However, “day-to-day” does not mean insignificant or mundane, and we need to remember that the message of the card can also possibly be a symptom of a deeper or wider issue. Nothing in the Minor Arcana is in any way minor in nature, and while the image on the Two of Cups seems serene and uncomplicated, it is filled with unmanifested potential.

The typical image on the Two of Cups shows a man and a woman, usually dressed in fine clothes perhaps appropriate for a celebration of some kind, standing close to each other (sometimes embracing), each holding a cup. The sky is usually blue and clear, the ground is smooth and sometimes there is water nearby. In the distance are green hills; sometimes there is the roof of what looks like a comfortable home. Sometimes the couple is surrounded by roses or lilies or some other flowers. Many versions of the Two of Cups show the Caduceus of Hermes above and between the couple, with a lion (representing strength, courage, authority over the subconscious, sound judgment and prudence) between the wings at the top. The Caduceus of Hermes or Staff of Hermes shows a staff being climbed by two serpents (representing peace, rebirth, restoration and regeneration) entwined in the form of a double helix, and sometimes surmounted by wings. The Caduceus itself is a symbol of commerce, negotiation, a balanced exchange, and reciprocity. Of course, we also have the connection to Hermes the Thrice Great and the process of purification, transformation and perfection that is alchemy.

The suit of Cups corresponds with the cardinal direction of West, the color blue, the playing cards of Hearts, and the element of Water, and many Tarot decks use images of cups or chalices and water on their Minor Arcana Cups cards. In its natural state, Water is cool and wet. When amassed, it has weight, and it tends to gather or pool at the lowest place. Because of this tendency, Water creates its own roadways or channels, and it prefers to use those already-in-place channels if it can. Water is used for cleaning and purifying, and Water can be a carrier for other substances. For instance, we can dissolve salt or sugar into warm Water, and use that concoction for other things. A body of Water can be calm and deep, or it can be dangerously churning and filled with powerful currents.

The element of Water corresponds to our feelings and emotions. Emotions flow and have currents and eddies, a powerful wave of emotions can be cleansing, emotions can be hot and expanding or they can be bubbling upward, like steam, or cold and contracting and heavy, like ice, and our emotions can affect our physical bodies (which contain a lot of Water) and our health. Often, tears appear when we feel things strongly, as physical manifestations of those emotions.

Water also represents the Inner Voice and the mysteries of the subconscious. That calm body of water can reflect the trees and hills, and even the clouds and the sky around it, on its still surface and hide from our view the dark and cold depths inhabited by mysterious creatures. In order to explore those silent depths and discover the mysteries there, we must break the surface and enter this quiet and hidden realm.

When dealing with the Minor Arcana, another important ingredient is the number of the card. In the Tarot, the number 2 usually represents balance, polarity, comparison and the energy of “distance between.” The number 2 offers creative partnerships, duality, cooperation, and diplomacy; it offers both direction and connection, and can be considered a gateway. In the Tarot, this number represents the first time the element is manifested. Within the suit of Cups, we have the beginnings of strong emotions, a focus on creating, nurturing and protecting partnerships, particularly loving partnerships, and the potential for experiencing important dreams or visions and the ways the information provided within those dreams or visions should be manifested (all possibilities offered by the Ace of Cups and manifested within the Two of Cups).

On the Tree of Life, the Tarot Twos correspond with the sephira of Chokmah, the first actual manifestation after the pureness of Kether (Kether represents the cause or catalyst of manifestation). Chokmah is found at the top of the Pillar of Force/Expansion. It is seen as dynamic thrust, and as the Ultimate Positive, the Great Stimulator and the Great Fertilizer (one of the symbols of Chokmah is the penis), and thus this sephira is connected to the Wheel of the Year. It represents dynamic male energy and is the origin of vital force and polarity. In Chokmah, pure being becomes pure force (and thus, pure formlessness), and independence is possible. Thus, the Twos of the Minor Arcana show the full power of their element and correspondence, in the purest expression that is not yet influenced by anything else.

Astrology is a tool that can offer subtle effects for us to consider as we analyze the Two of Cups. The Two of Cups corresponds to the planet Venus when it is in the astrological sign of Cancer.

In astrology, Venus corresponds with love, romance and harmony in marriages, friendships and other emotional attachments, and unions of all kinds. Venus is a feminine planet, which means its energies are inner and receptive in nature. Venus is associated with feelings and well-being and gentleness, and an appreciation for art, social life, and beauty. In Venus, we find allure, refinement, and the urge to join or sympathize with or nurture others, as well as the ability to appreciate the people in our lives and the things we possess.

The astrological sign of Cancer, the Crab, is responsive, emotional and generous, but that hard shell can shield a person who is moody, insecure or sensitive, and is often affected by the environment and people nearby. Those born under the sign of Cancer, the 4th sign of the zodiac, experience strong feelings and emotions, and are very protective of those feelings and emotions. Cancer people tend to be attuned to the past, and like to have mementos of the times and people of their childhood. Cancer people place a high importance on family, both family of the blood and family of the heart. They nurture and protect those they love. Cancer people are hard workers, and that paycheck is important not only for what it will buy, but also for the security it provides.

The energies of Venus when in the sign of Cancer are filled with sensitivity, affection and the need to nurture and care for others. Together, Venus and Cancer create the possibility of greater intimacy, of sharing our self with others, and of creating and maintaining long-term relationships. They also enhance intuition, empathy and the ability to feel compassion for others.

The Thoth Tarot Two of Cups has the title of “Love” and tells of the perfect and placid harmony of the male and the female. This card is about love and connections, and a recognition or acknowledgement that a bond is beginning to happen, or is beginning to be restored after forgiveness is offered and received.

The Shadowscapes Tarot Two of Cups shows a male and female dryad entwined with each other, twisted together to form one trunk yet retaining their individuality. They hold one cup between them, each offering it to the other with love. The Shadowscapes Companion describes this card as “. . . the melding of water, earth and air, the alchemy of elements.” This Two of Cups is about making a connection, the bringing together of opposites. It tells us that relationships are like living organisms, growing and evolving.

The Llewellyn Welsh Two of Cups image contains the Caduceus of Hermes, and is about romance, love, the attraction of opposites, entwining energies, magnetism, and union. This card most often represents a romantic relationship, but it can also indicate a friendship, a strong alliance with an emotional component, or compatibility of a kindred polarity.

The Legacy of the Divine Two of Cups shows two hands arising from clear blue water, each holding a glass flute. Reflected in those flutes are the two faces from the Major Arcana Lovers card. Within the Gateway to the Divine Tarot it states that “. . . the success of our relationships depends in great part on how we see ourselves reflected in the eyes of our loved ones.” What better metaphor for deep personal relationships can there be? This card is about those deep personal relationships, as well as committed love, and the exchange of loving energies.

The Two of Cups offers contentment and a sense of commitment that comes through love combined with a deep understanding between two people. It indicates cooperation, friendship and mutual respect along with a meeting of the heart, and of being grounded in the heart rather than the intellect. We can interpret the Queen of Cups as a personification of the Two of Cups. Another way of understanding the Two of Cups is by exploring the harmony and balance of the Six of Cups, except that the Two of Cups usually focuses on only one other person.

The bonding, connections, partnerships and relationships of the Two of Cups show the result of the power of attraction. When opposites are drawn together, there is always the potential for a union of people, groups or ideas. The Two of Cups tells us that now is the time to encourage these unions and to reconcile any differences, for a new partnership is in the works that can bring love, passion, respect, balance and honor.

** This year we will be featuring the art of Ciro Marchetti as part of Tarot Talk.  You can view his work and Decks at http://www.ciromarchetti.com/ .

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About the Author:

Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot Reader and Teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher.  Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journey To Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.

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