The grief of the Five of Cups


The Five of Cups used to give me a sense of foreboding. A long dark figure with his head bowed, three Cups overturned on the road before him, the Five of Cups is a universal expression of grief.

The Five of Cups is about being so upset or devastated by loss that you think it’s the end of you — not realizing that you can start again, lighter and freer.

Bunning says,

The Five of Cups refers to that time when the pain of a loss is most acute. This man is looking only at the overturned cups in front of him. For now, he cannot acknowledge the two cups that are still standing. Later, when he has healed somewhat, he will be able to see all that remains.

Reversed, the Five of Cups is about

  • Recovering from the past, not letting it linger in your mind as it so obviously could
  • Appreciating lessons learned, and learning to go on again

But it could also mean

  • Being trapped in the past
  • Not wanting to let go of the past (or using it as an excuse

Either way, it brings forth change. It necessitates change. For all the pain and loss the situation brings, the Five of Cups jumpstarts something better.


Throughout the day I tried to find situations that made me think of the Five of Cups, but I found nothing in my immediate vicinity. (That’s the problem with holidays, I guess; everyone stays home! Human interaction is limited!) But I found the Five of Cups anyway, while I was calculating my year card.

I’ve been trying to keep heavy emotions out of my tarot blog, but when I wrote about my goals for the year, and how much I wanted the change that Death promised, I had to talk about why I wanted it so much.

I didn’t explain the situation well enough — I didn’t want to give it more attention or power than it required — but giving a glimpse into it illuminated how strongly I cling to the past — how I let it define me.

I need to let go of the past and remember that I can learn from it. That starting again is as easy as picking the Cups up again and continuing on my way.

Daily draw for New Year’s Day, Friday, drawn at 9:00AM.


Questioning the constant

I know that the only thing constant is change, but I don’t want change. I want what is.

Today I’m going to write about a boy.

He isn’t just any boy, unfortunately. Nor is he someone I’m interested in. He’s a close friend, and just a friend, but recently, after years of being teased about being together and just laughing (because of what feels like compulsory heterosexuality, but that’s a whole other story), I’ve been worried that he likes me (forgive the implausibility and the fact that I’m assuming). And the thought of it fills me with dread.

Earlier this evening he sent me a message, asking if I wanted to talk on Skype, and immediately my thoughts went into overdrive: Why? Since the time we argued at a mall a few months back — when he insisted on talking about something I didn’t want to discuss, I lost my temper, and all my senses screamed at me to just leave and not talk to him anymore because he’d breached boundaries and that was not right — every opportunity he’s taken to say hello to me makes me nervous. Not that I’ve acted on it besides avoiding him when possible. But I’ve been off-kilter, and he notices, but he doesn’t know it’s about him.

Anyway, once I calmed down a bit, I settled down, put on some Shakuhachi Water Meditation music, shuffled my Waite-Smith deck, and rolled out a Consequences spread. The question, phrased awkwardly but still so familiar (like the time in college when he’d questioned my becoming more “masculine” and “aggressive” after taking up a sport because he’d missed my preppy girliness, and I’d taken it to heart and gone to a counselor to ask what was wrong with me and my short hair, even when I knew deep inside that nothing was wrong, I was perfectly fine, just not to him):

What is bothering me about this situation?

I know it’s phrased terribly, a few words away from asking myself why I don’t like him, why I can’t just let things progress and see where they go — the Cool Girl thing to do, you know? The “right” thing to do in an American-influenced society that cries about friendzoning and girls having all the power to reject well-meaning Nice Guys.

But that’s not what I mean to do. Tarot isn’t predictive or divinatory, not to me; it just helps unearth answers from deep within you, or the person being read. I can’t read what others think, just what I feel about what they may think. So the question is focused inward, because the answer is supposed to be within me, after all.

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