Tarot Talk

The Page of Cups

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

Back to the Court Cards! This time, we will revisit the Tarot “Royals” by examining the Page of Cups. We haven’t talked about Court Cards in a little while, so first we will review some basic information.

A Tarot deck has 78 cards. There are 22 Major Arcana cards dealing with broader and more far-reaching life experience issues, archetypes that are easy for us to identify with and connect with at some point in our lives. There are 56 Minor Arcana cards that are customarily grouped into four categories or suits that represent the four elements dealing with day-to-day issues.

The Court Cards are a part of the Minor Arcana that can act as a representation of the family unit. Individually, the members of the Tarot Court represent particular personality traits, traits of people, places and events in our lives. These cards can also tell us about our own personality, and how it is perceived by others. I think of my Tarot cards as people, with each card having an individual personality. This is particularly appropriate for the Court Cards, as they are the most human of all the cards in a Tarot deck. Even the illustrations for the Court Cards usually show humans in the majority of Tarot decks.

Generally speaking, there are three different ways that Court Cards can speak to us in a spread: they can indicate personality traits of our Seeker or someone affecting the Seeker; they can refer to actual individuals in the Seeker’s life, including the Seeker; and they can refer to the general aura or atmosphere of a place or situation. Court cards offer us these descriptions of personality traits and of different ways of being or acting, so we can make use of these styles or avoid them, whichever is appropriate. Of course, the trick is to know which message is being given in a particular spread!

Instead of numbers, Court Cards have rank. The early creators and users of the Tarot lived within a culture that was layered according to rank, so it makes sense that the Tarot Court shows a progression from low to high. We don’t live in a feudal culture any more, however our culture has its own set of rules and ranks and roles. The Tarot Court can help us to understand the roles of parent, teacher, manager, laborer, scientist, priest, and many others.

The lowest ranking Court Card is the Page, usually seen as the messenger or intern or apprentice (sometimes male and sometimes female, depending on the deck) who is still learning of life and living, but who is also good at dealing with the unexpected. Being the lowest in rank does not necessarily mean being the least important; something we should remember when thinking about our Page of Cups. Next comes the Knight, the representation of strong, focused and even excessive manifestations of his suit.

Both the Queen and the King usually represent mature adults. The Queen manifests her suit in a feminine or yin or inner way, and the King manifests his suit in a masculine or yang or outer way. This manifestation does not necessarily correspond to gender; a man can be represented by a Tarot Queen if he has a strong inner focus, and a woman can be represented by a Tarot King if she projects a strong sense of authority.

The suit of Cups corresponds with the element of Water. 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.

Feelings and emotions are the main correspondences of the element of Water, and the suit of Cups. Emotions flow and have currents, 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 through sadness or joy or anger, as physical manifestations of those emotions. Water also represents the Inner Voice and the subconscious, the dark and unknown depths hidden below the smooth reflective surface.

Water is not the only element that corresponds to our Page. In the Tarot Court, the suit of the card has an elemental correspondence, and the rank of the card has an elemental correspondence. Pages correspond with Earth, Knights correspond with either Air or Fire (depending on the deck), Queens correspond with Water, and Kings correspond with either Air or Fire (depending on the deck). Since we are talking about a Page today, we are also talking about the element of Earth.

In its natural state, the element of Earth is cool and dry. When amassed Earth has weight; it is able to bind together or shape the other elements. For example, Water and Earth bind together to make mud, and a lake is shaped by the Earth that supports it. Earth energies are tangible, stable, and practical, and they are slow to change.

Earth is about the physical, earthly world, our physical bodies, and everything we need in order to maintain those physical bodies, including health and exercise. The element of Earth represents fertility, prosperity, and the wealth that can bring both physical shelter and mental and emotional pleasure. The element of Earth can show a possible outcome or end result of our efforts, the product of our labors; it can give information about material manifestations of all kinds.

All Pages represent the element of Earth, as well as the element corresponding to their suit; this means that our Page of Cups presents an Earthy version of Water. Earth and Water share the quality of coldness and the tendency to be binding (and that can be positive or negative, depending on the situation and the other cards in the spread). They are each fertile, they compliment each other, and they encourage inspiration.

Like the other cards of the Tarot, Court Cards have astrological correspondences. Our Page of Cups corresponds with the season of Fall and the signs of Libra, Scorpio and Sagittarius. Libras are true team players concerned with creating balance, harmony, cooperation and partnerships, with fairness to everyone. Because Libra is Cardinal Air, this sign initiates through new ideas, and by being a balancing force among people.

Scorpio is a fixed Water sign, associated with a focus on achievement and on striving to understand the mysteries of the imagination, dreams, and passions. Scorpios are inflexible, stubborn, opinionated, loyal, intense and passionate, even if they appear quiet on the surface. Still waters run deep, and Scorpios love hard, and love forever.

Sagittarius is often seen as the wanderer, but remember, not all those who wander are lost. Sagittarius is the truth-seeker, the enthusiastic consumer of information who loves knowledge achieved by traveling the world and talking to everyone, and who desires to understand the meaning of life. This is a mutable Fire sign, and thus while exploration and adventure are a necessary part of life, procrastination is also a danger.

Our Page of Cups brings cooperation through emotions, and sees the world through rose-colored glasses at times. The Page of Cups reminds us of the pleasures of youth, and tells us that it is okay to have fun, to not take things quite so seriously.

Because they are Minor Arcana cards, Court Cards also correspond with a sephira on the Tree of Life. The Pages correspond with the sephira of Malkuth, along with the Tens of the Minor Arcana and the element of Earth. Malkuth is the bottom sephira on the Tree, corresponding with our physical world, and opposite of Kether at the top of the Tree, corresponding with the purest form of Deity, mostly unknowable by physical world beings. Malkuth is located at the bottom of the Pillar of Balance and is receptive in nature; it receives emanations from all the other sephiroth on the Tree.

Pages are often associated with the Ace of their suit; the Ace of Cups is the root of the powers of Water (not the manifested powers, but the beginnings of them), and the potential for those powers to manifest. The Ace of Cups tells us that we could be dealing with intangible feelings and experiences such as love, friendship, attunement and spirituality. Pages are also seen as representing a more immature version of the Queen of their suit; the Queen of Cups represents someone who is in touch with their intuition, sensitive to the emotions of those around them, finds joy in their connections to others, and can be both nurturing and practical. The Page of Cups offers us this potential and asks us to embrace it.

The Thoth Tarot Princess of Cups is surrounded by the ocean’s depths; she is dancing, with an expression of pleasure on her face and a scalloped Cup containing a turtle in her hands. Her dress is also decorated with scallops (the same motif found on the Ace of Cups of this deck). Her character is sweet, gentle, kind, tender, and voluptuous. She is about dreams and romance and rapture; she is able to manifest dreams and romantic ideas into reality and ideas flourish in her waters.

The Llewellyn Welsh Page of Cups is card whose image is filled with Water; unlike The Moon and its deep and silent lake, the Page of Cups stands precariously on a rock, surrounded by the spray and foam of crashing waves. Our Page stands steadily, holding up a Cup with a fish jumping above it. This Page feels safe here, trusting that the rock will hold steady and understanding the waves and the tides (and applying that understanding), and their push and pull. This is a card of cheerfulness and innocent optimism, of romance and playfulness and imagination and beautiful creativity.

The Hermetic Tarot Princess of Cups stands within a churning sea with white-capped waves, surrounded by creatures who live in or on the water: two swans, a dolphin and a turtle, and framed by what look like fronds of seaweed. The Hermetic Tarot sees this Princess in an upright position as representing sweetness and dreaminess, kindness and imagination.

The Legacy of the Divine Page of Cups is wearing gold silks with teal shells on his shirt, and wears a downward pointing triangle at his throat (representing the element of Water). He looks at us with an open and innocent expression and steady and kind eyes, and offers us with reverence his Cup, a container for emotions and intuition. He reminds us that relationships of all kinds are important, and he asks us to pay attention to dreams and the messages of our inner voice.

The Page of Cups is a dreamer, a messenger, a friend, and a student; our Page is concerned with connections, warmth and affection and offers us messages of love and connection. Some decks present the Page of Cups as being child-like and passive, but in other decks the Page of Cups offers feminine potential and the ability to look within ourselves without being misled or distracted by the prejudices that life experiences sometimes bring. The Page of Cups is Earth of Water, and thus all about feelings and sensations, particularly pleasant feelings and sensations. This is a card of soft and tender energies and of getting fulfillment through connections to others, and through innocent and simple joys The Page of Cups tells us to be open to our feelings, to say yes to the opportunity to connect with others, and to listen for our inner voice and value its message.

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