Ace of Cups

expand our capacity for compassion and healing

Aces are offerings or opportunities of the highest potential of the suit.

Cups rule the domain of water, representing our emotional experiences and how we relate to others. Where fire rises, water descends, conforming to the shape of its container. This is the realm of feelings and relationships, but also the flow of the psyche in dreams, intuition, memories, imagination, and spirituality.

While compassion, self-acceptance, and healing fall in the higher realm of Cups, its challenges may include irrationality, hypersensitivity, fantasy. Cups are also often seen as the vessels for alcohol used to drown emotional hardship.

Historically, the four suits were associated with the four classes of society, and Cups or hearts represented the clergy. In modern classist or Marxist tarot, this remains clergy but includes those who provide spiritual or emotional services — such as therapists, social workers, nurses.

If we consider the four humours of the body and temperament as in Galen’s time, water correlated with phlegm and were therefore phlegmatic — kind, calm, and compassionate friends (but may be shy and uninspiring). As Jung’s cognitive functions go, the suit of Cups corresponds to Feeling, which is where our value systems are developed. Expanding on ‘feeling’ a little, Cups also relate to psychic feelings we may get, and spiritual endeavors.

from Sola Busca Revisited by Tarot by Seven

And so the Ace of Cups reminds us to expand our capacity for compassion and fulfillment in whatever situation is coming up (whether toward self or others). It offers us a chance to more deeply consider what we’re available to receive or take part in.

In resistance, we withdraw. Our heart isn’t available for connection with others, this new experience, or acceptance (again, whether socially or of the self).

In excess, we may hold unrealistic ideals in this new experience or relationship. Are we a little starry-eyed?

Questions that we may be prompted to ask when this card comes up include:

  • How connected are you with your subconscious parts? How can you better connect with and accommodate their needs ?
  • How connected are you with your spirituality or a higher power? What do you hope to cultivate in spiritual practice?
  • What parts of you feel the need to protect your heart?

But of course that’s just a beginning. How do you see this card? How has it come up for you? What is your favorite depiction of the Ace of Cups, and how are its shadow aspects portrayed?

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