July 8th is the International Tarot day, a day to celebrate the beauty of the Tarot without the constriction of a trademark and to recognise the Tarot as a tool of spiritual development.
A day for the Tarot community to showcase what a wonderful tool the Tarot can be to empower us in our everyday lives.
To celebrate such a grand event, the theme of the day was detective work. A forensic analysis of a card, taking clues and putting them together to understand a suspect.
With that in mind, a team of 37 International tarot “sleuths” were given a card to interrogate in order to shed light on their secrets.
I was assigned a card from the watery world of Cups. When I saw my assignment I had a kind of “meh” reaction. How boring was my assignment, why I had to investigate such a wet blanket?
Little did I know that my perception of my suspect the 4 of Cups was totally outdated!
Armed with clues from different sources, I embarked on a journey as an enthusiastic Inspecteur Clouseau (well, I am French aren’t I). Despite my apparently boring suspect I had to interrogate, I put all the clues together to draw a forensic profile of my case!
Below is the transcript of what the 4 of Cups revealed.
Possible meaning of the mysterious 4 of Cups,
When I finally located my suspect, from the Green Witch tarot, I was presented with a red-headed young maiden, sitting in a room, lost in her thoughts, her elbows on a table with 3 silver cups in front of her. A pot of dittany sat on her table; above the young maiden, a beautiful dragonfly hovering. The young woman does not seem to notice me (with my silver cup as an offering to talk to her) or anything else around her.
I felt that the maiden was dissatisfied with something, that the excitement of whatever she had come to enjoy before was now somehow lost. Her body language is of apathy, tinged with boredom, and I felt that although she had probably achieved so much (the 3 cups on her table), she was seeking more, and was questioning her life at the moment, reassessing her direction, and wondering where her “vavavoom” had gone.
I was concerned that she did not seem to realise that more excitement and fulfilment was within her reach and that inspiration surrounds her.
Meaning of the symbolism around the maiden.
I started to look at clues around her to construct her psychological profile.
I noticed straight away the 3 silver cups. Silver is the metal associated with the Moon and I discovered later on that indeed, astrologically speaking, the Moon was heavily involved in the whole picture. Cups are also associated with the Holy Grail . I noticed that the young maiden was touching one cup, as if trying to find inspiration or deep spiritual contentment or, maybe as a reassuring gesture? The cups in front of her were not identical in size or design. It made me think that she has had fulfilment and joy before from different directions and now, life was perhaps a little less exciting or a tad uneventful.
Also why 3 cups? My feelings informed me it was possibly linked to the Mind Body and Spirit and that she had found satisfaction on all levels before coming to a low ebb.
Had she been in love before or, the centre of attention as a bride perhaps (3 of Cups), but now the honeymoon was over and routine had set in and with that a sense of ennui ma chère?
The dragonfly above her crown chakra makes me think that somehow, inspiration and transformation is within her reach and needs to fly free if only she could concentrate on the future instead of looking or relying on the past. Joy, happiness and fulfilment are not lost, they could still be found again in a different way. The dragonfly is a divine messenger (another one) trying to reach her.
I noticed that the young maiden was glancing at the pot of Dittany placed on the table. Of course Dittany is a therapeutic herb used for healing and stomach complaints, but it is also a magical herb that was made famous in Harry Potter. Love potions with Dittany have been made since antiquity. If only she could reach the plant and prepare a potion, perhaps her spirit would be ignited again, her love of adventure and excitement would be revived.
Her red hair reminds me that passionate people (red-headed people are supposed to be more passionate with a zest for life?), have more problems adjusting to quieter times than other people. The fire within needs to have ways to express itself otherwise boredom and apathy will consume them, something I felt may have happened to the young maiden.
I thought that although clues were great to give me an idea of what has been happening, I knew that looking at the other side of the maiden’s personality (her shadow side) could also help me bring the case together.
Karl Jung linked the shadow side to creativity, armed with that concept I figured out that if the young maiden could free herself emotionally, kicking herself in the legendary “derriere”, she could let her creative energies flow more freely. Her passion (red hair) would then reignite once again and she will be able to use her intuition once more and realise more of her dreams.
New opportunities are within her reach and there are signs around her (the dragonfly and the Dittany plant) that life has new and exciting opportunities to take. She needs to open her eyes.
If the young maiden persists and wraps herself deeper into a world of inertia, then apathy will increase and she will find herself trapped in mind body and spirit, which in turn will lead to deep sorrow, poor health (mental, physical and spiritual) which will be the realm of her cousin: the 5 of Cups.
Which way will she go?
Element traditionally associated with the 4 of Cups and astrological association.
I was determined to unravel more clues to understand better the maiden, so I turned my search to the stars (astronomy and astrology) and found some very interesting clues.
To start with, the cups are associated with the element of water.
Water takes the shape of its recipient and is fluid. The expression “going with the flow” could be a great fit for the suit of cups/water.
Like any element, water needs to be in balance, a little stream of water in the countryside is beautiful and supports life. A river bursting its banks and flooding people’s homes is a catastrophe.
In the Golden Dawn system, the 4 of Cups is Moon (High Priestess) in Cancer (the Chariot).
Now things were taking shape, the silver cups were definitively a clue that the moon was involved in the emotional tides the maiden experiences. She, as a woman is ruled by the moon, but her emotional side lies in tatters due to her inability to move on. She retreats into her shell (Cancer).
Interestingly, the Celestial tarot attributes the 4 of Cups to the constellation of the Serpens, which is divided in two parts (two sides of the Chariot?) but is treated as one constellation (blending the opposite side of the head and the tail of the serpent which in turn can be interpreted as the black and white Sphynx in the Rider Waite Smith depiction of the Chariot). So far the clues were fitting together nicely.
The 4 of Cups can be seen as the serpent or snake (which incidentally, is a great symbol of healing as found in the caduceus of Hermes, symbol of our modern medicine and pharmacy), that will heal the wounded maiden. She needs to acknowledge her feelings of boredom in order to tackle them and to move on. Stagnation is never an option, as it can lead to difficulties and hardship (her cousin the 5 of Cups).
I started to feel that the maiden had so many allies and more so within herself, her own soul!
Numerology connection of the 4 of cups.
Whilst writing my thoughts about the planets and astrology, my attention turned to the number 4, a number associated with the four seasons (Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter), four elements (Water, Fire, Earth and Air), four suits of the tarot (Cups, Wands, Pentacles and Air) and four directions (North, South, East and West). It is the number for solid foundations and grounded energies.
Also, we often see someone which is not imaginative or spiritual as square (4 sides) minded or Cartesian.
We also talk of the 4 corners of the earth (despite the earth being round as we know, but try telling that to the creationists). And in French we often say “enfermé entre 4 murs” (lock between 4 walls) when someone stays for a long period of time indoors.
Cancer (The Chariot) is the ruler of the fourth house in Astrology and it is ruled by the Moon (number 2 which is linked to the High Priestess). I thought that it was déjà vu as the Moon/Cancer had been so prominent with the maiden.
The great ruler of number 4 is the Emperor, which I feel is probably the father of the maiden. As a number 4 the Emperor emphasises stability, strength, order, rigidity and control.
The Emperor has 4 children: the maiden from the watery world of cups, one departed child from the world of mental agility aka the Swords, one very grounded in his ways from the world of Pentacles, and one who is travelling and partying from the world of Wands.
Hum, perhaps the maiden’s past choices which she enjoyed were not approved of by her father leading her to feel bored and deflated? Could she feel that regardless of what she was trying to achieve it was never enough for her father, leading her to apathy, why bother? Perhaps some of her siblings were a little more exciting to be around or were they? Could it be something else?
Certainly, the constrictions of the four walls of her room (where I first met her) could create a false sense of security, giving up on what else could be out there?
I started to build an image of the maiden and her motivations in my head.
Mythology or folktales attached to 4 of Cups
Mythology or folklore is something that we sleuths can use to go deeper into archetypes in order to understand better any suspect from a tarot tribe.
I certainly thought of Aesop’s fable of the Heron, which did not want to eat what was presented to him, waiting for something more exciting and more to his taste but nothing came and he starved.
Psyche was renowned for her beauty and this was not unnoticed by Aphrodite which after all was the goddess associated with beauty and love. Enraged, she commanded her son Eros to kill Psyche. Instead he fell in love with her and hid Psyche in a valley, visiting her only at night.
Psyche never knew who her husband was, physically (never seen him as he always visited her under the cover of darkness and disappeared at first light) or emotionally. She grew bored and asked if her sisters could visit her to alleviate her loneliness. She was warned by Eros that her sisters will try to make her discover his true identity and if she did, he would leave her forever. Psyche promised Eros that she will never try to discover his true identity.
Alas, after a few visits from her jealous sisters, she was told that her husband was a monster that will devour her and the baby she was carrying. She was told that she should kill her husband before he kills her.
Poor Psyche was credulous and she agreed to kill her husband, but when she put a lamp to see his face, she recognised the love god Eros. The legend says that a drop of scalding oil fell on Eros and woke him. When Eros realised that Psyche had broken her promise, he flew away from her.
Psyche searched for her husband everywhere, praying to the gods and goddesses until finally she went to Aphrodite in her temple. The goddess treated her cruelly and told her to perform impossible tasks. Psyche was successful in completing all of them.
Eros missed his wife and pleaded with Zeus to make Psyche immortal. Zeus gave his divine consent to this and consequently, a baby girl named Voluptas (Pleasure) was born.
The story of Psyche and Eros is an allegory for the soul troubled journey through life.
If Psyche had not been so adventurous, she would have had a charmed life but, very stagnant. For her own growth and happiness, she needed to find out who her husband was.
The maiden was probably in a similar predicament; a charmed life in the countryside with everything she could wish for but, with an ever growing feeling of boredom. As opposed to leaving all behind and finding fulfilment in other realms, away from her father (the Emperor).
After researching the myth of Psyche and Eros, I wondered if the maiden had lost a love or if the love of her life was not what she had expected or, if indeed, her life was great but something was missing? Could it be that a sense of foreboding was something she needed to tackle in order to feel alive again? Would she go to her cousin the 5 of Cups and finally let go?
So many questions and yet the answers were within her!
Crystals associated with the 4 of Cups via astrological connections (Moon in Cancer)
After diving into the myths and folklores, I decided to investigate the crystal kingdom as I had heard on the grapevine, that crystals and stones have great power to heal not only physical ailments, but emotional and spiritual ones too.
The connection with Astrology and crystals is an ancient one, and planets have specific stones attributed to them. As I discovered, Moon in Cancer is the Astrological link associated with the kingdoms of crystals, plants and herbs allies and flower essences’ realms.
The traditional semi-precious stones associated with the Moon and the sign of Cancer are the Moonstone, Aquamarine, Labradorite and Pearl. Of course I was aware that more stones were also a good match, but for now, decided to investigate only these four (in keeping with the numerology).
Moonstone is as its name indicates, is the stone dedicated to the moon that pull the tides of our oceans. It is a great stone to help with dreams and aspiration.
Go with the flow, feel the tide of emotions, acknowledge them, reflect on past emotions and move on, I will ease the transition for you…whispered the Moonstone when I held it in my hand.
What a simple but powerful message!
Aquamarine is of course linked to the sea and can be a good match for the sign of Cancer.
It helps in the release of old patterns, to go with the flow and to restore peace of mind. Soothing and calming on the mind and spirit.
Another great stone that could help the maiden in the 4 of cups, is Labradorite, with its shimmering colours, a stone to help with grounding (number 4). It can give a sense of purpose and help to develop new ideas that can be explored with enthusiasm and joy. A great stone to promote positivity and protect against negativity!
Last but not least, the pearl, coming from the depths of an oyster. Precious and born in the ocean.
Symbol of spiritual transformation, self-acceptance, it is said to lift the spirit and promote emotional calm. It can help focus the attention on goals or tasks ahead.
As I wrote notes on these four beautiful stones and wondered if the maiden could wear a necklace with any of these stones to help her lift her apathy and move forward?
Perhaps I could suggest this to her when I meet her again?
Herbs, flowers or essential oils connected to the 4 of Cups via the astrological connections (Moon in Cancer)
Since time immemorial, people have turned to the wisdom of plants and flowers to help heal emotional, spiritual and physical problems. I knew that looking in that direction would provide some remedies to the maiden’s predicament.
The realm of the Herbal Tarot associates the 4 of cups with burdock roots. It is a plant that helps people to feel grounded (which number 4 stands for), and to ease emotional turmoil. It is often used in spells to ward off negativity and restore a positive outlook in life. If one feels stuck, taking some Burdock tincture will help to remove the apathy and inaction, looking at the present time instead of dwelling on the past.
Other plant allies such Aloe Vera for emotional burn out, Chamomile for emotional upsets, lemon balm for anxiety and parsley for digestion, could help the maiden to heal and to let go of the past in order to move on and create a more exciting future.
Another direction was to look at flower essences which, like the Bach Flowers remedies are specifically for emotional and/or spiritual problems. Hornbeam seems to be the remedy that the maiden could take to ease her “Monday morning” feeling. Of course, honeysuckle could also be added to help release the past.
I thanked the plant and flowers kingdom for their wisdom and healing and wrote a note that I then put on the maiden’s table for her to realise that nature has some solutions to her temporary loss of interest in life. The maiden did not seem to notice that I had left a note on her table, telling her that help was at hand.
If she reads the note, then I am sure she will be able to think about what she can do and who knows, she will probably try a few ideas and move on.
I reported back to headquarters with my forensic profile of the maiden in the 4 of Cups. This maiden was in no way or shape capable of villainy as she was stuck in her own mind.
What a journey it has been and I was so glad that my assignment turned out to be an interesting discovery of the rich symbolism that the maiden unwittingly made me discover.
Enjoy and Happy International Tarot day 🙂
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