Knight of Cups
(The Two of Pentacles 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 Knight of Cups. We haven’t talked about the Knights at all yet, 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, acting as a representation of the family unit (“families” of all kinds) and individually representing particular personality 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. Thinking of Tarot cards as people, with each card having an individual personality, 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 show humans in the majority of Tarot decks.
Instead of numbers, Court Cards have rank. The lowest ranking Court Card is usually called the Page, the messenger or intern or apprentice who is still learning of life and living, but who is also good at dealing with the unexpected. Next comes the Knight, the card we are talking about this month, who is the representation of strong, focused and even excessive manifestations of his suit.
Both the Queen and the King 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. Some decks change the names around, but the meanings in the hierarchy of the Tarot Court are pretty standard.
We are talking about the Knight of Cups today, and we already know that our Knight will manifest his suit with strength and focus, even to the point of being excessive. Like his King, our Knight is concerned with results, but unlike his King, our Knight is not responsible for also caring for his people, only for obtaining those results.
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 Knight. In the Tarot Court, the suit of the card has an elemental correspondence, and the rank of the card has an elemental correspondence. Kings correspond with either Air or Fire (depending on the deck), Queens correspond with Water, Pages correspond with Earth, and Knights correspond with either Air or Fire (depending on the deck). For this column, we will assign the element of Fire to our Knight, making our Knight of Cups representing Fire of Water.
In its natural state, the element of Fire is hot and dry. It tends to bring spontaneous change or impulsive, energetic effects. Fire transforms everything in our world. Fire can sanitize or cleanse, and it can destroy everything in its path; Fire can warm us and keep us safe, or it can kill us.
The element of Fire can be seen as kinetic, or even electric. It has the power to create greatness (when we are inspired to be better than we think we can be), or destruction (when we believe we are greater than we actually are). Fire fuels innovation, but an imbalance or lack of Fire can bring austerity.
Water is passive and feminine in nature; it is cold and wet, and binds and adapts. Fire is active and masculine in nature; it is warm and dry, and separates and shapes. Combine the feelings, visions and emotions of Water with the intensity, transformation and energetic effects of Fire, and you have a good picture of Fire of Water, and of our Knight of Cups.
Like the other cards of the Tarot, Court Cards have astrological correspondences. Our Knight of Cups corresponds with the cusp of Aquarius and Pisces.
Aquarius is a masculine sign, which means its energies are active and outer in nature. Aquarians tend to focus on connections of all kinds, and are known for seeing the big picture and acting in the best interest of the group. They have humanitarian and philanthropic tendencies; they are intelligent and inventive and they work well with others, although they can be impatient, even temperamental, with those who disagree with their ideas. Even though Aquarians are happy to give, and they do give a lot, the giving is usually on their terms and within their comfort level, probably because Aquarius is a Fixed sign. Aquarians are also into technology of all kinds, and they use modern communication apparatus and social networking with ease.
Pisces is a Mutable sign, the twelfth sign of the zodiac, and it is also the final sign in the zodiacal cycle. Those born under this sign are selfless, spiritual, and very focused on their inner journey. Feelings and emotions define the sign of Pisces, and empathic talents are common among them. Pisces is also a sign of intuition and secrets, and of people who are comfortable in a world of illusion (and comfortable jumping between that world and reality). The symbol of Pisces is a pair of fish, representing the dual, yin/yang nature of this sign. Pisces is also a sign of the suffering that brings soul growth.
The Aquarius/Pisces cusp represents those who are full of compassion and creativity, and who can truly feel the weight of the world, whether for good or bad. This means our Knight of Cups embraces his dreams, but sometimes gets lost in his own mind. This Knight is highly intellectual to the point of being called eccentric, and action oriented, passionately sticking to his plan. He tends to absorb the feelings of those around him, often with good intentions but not always with good results. This Knight makes a good partner because of his ability to understand others, the empathy he feels for others, and the uniqueness he brings to any relationship. However, be warned; his mind tends to be in the clouds and he often looks to the future rather than focusing on today.
Because they are Minor Arcana cards, Court Cards also correspond with a sephira on the Tree of Life. The Knights 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. This is a perfect description of the Knight cards.
The Llewellyn Welsh Knight of Cups wears a cape that flows behind him, carries a Cup in his left hand, and rides a beautiful white horse through frothy waves, looking like a Hero riding in to rescue his Lady Love. They keywords of this card describe a romantic man who is considerate and loyal. He is creative, artistic, and empathic. This Knight could be an artist, a musician or a diplomat, and he can represent a marriage proposal or a positive collaboration. Reversed, he focuses more on his own ego and speaks of his own accomplishments.
The Shadowscapes Tarot Knight of Cups rides a white unicorn through surging waves, reaching for a beautiful Cup floating before him. The Shadowscapes Companion reminds us in its description of this card that only those that are pure of heart can ride a unicorn, a perfect description of this Knight. He appears to be reaching for the Grail, inspired by romance, music, art, poetry and love, without seeing at all the waves below him. His gaze is on the beauty of the Cup, and believes it is within his grasp.
The Thoth Tarot Prince of Cups is riding a chariot being pulled by an eagle and pushed by a crashing wave. Crowley describes this Prince as “completely without conscience in the ordinary sense of the word . . .” and sees the Prince of Cups as intensely secret, and not always in a good way. We should note here that Crowley saw the rank of Prince (the Thoth Tarot equivalent to the Knight) as Air of Water and representing the cusp of Libra and Scorpio, so the feeling of this card might be different from the Knights of other decks.
Ciro Marchetti, creator of the Legacy of the Divine Tarot, names the Knight of Cups “Lord of the Waves and Waters.” The image on the card is of a Knight’s helmet decorated with a pair of koi (representing love and friendship) rising from a sea filled with life, creating a huge wave. This Knight awakens the heart through the powers of Water, encouraging us to be in touch with our deepest emotions and our deepest motivations. But beware, for this Knight could be in over his head. It is possible that while likable on the surface, he fears emotional commitment.
The Cups cards of the Tarot Minor Arcana deal with matters of the emotion, intuition and feelings. When the Knight of Cups appears in a spread, we know that one aim is to conquer the heart and meet love head-on. The Knight of Cups tends to be well-intended, striving to protect and serve those he loves, a true Knight in Shining Armor.
Knights are seen as messengers, mercenaries, defenders of Court and King, and the arm of the law for the kingdom. They are able to move in different directions as they accomplish their tasks because their purpose is focused only on the accomplishment of those tasks. The appearance of the Knight of Cups could be indicating that events connected with dreams, visions or feelings might need to be looked into. However, remember that the messenger does not make the news but rather, delivers the news, so besides some quick-acting energies he adds, this Knight is addressing things already in play.
The Knight of Cups often falls in love at first sight. The emotions he feels are powerful and heady, and quick to manifest. The goal is to add in a bit of discipline with the aim of creating a lasting fire rather than a burst of instant flame that burns out quickly. This Knight will be a driving force in anyone’s life, always urging forward movement in relationships and encouraging creative progress. His actions all originate from his heart; he feels things deeply and strives toward reaching the highest ideals, and he is eager to bring you along on his journey!
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 Journal 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.