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78 Weeks of Tarot: 3 of Cups


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For information on what these threads refer to, see this thread;


78 Weeks of Tarot - Informational Thread


The above linked thread gives suggested dates for the cards as well as links to the individual topics.


Some of us may be working through the study in a different order and using different decks. If you have general questions or comments regarding the 78 Weeks of Tarot study group, please post in the topic in the above link.


Have fun.

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Deck: Fairytale Tarot


Card name: Three of Cups


First impressions:


Three men from the Robin Hood era are in what looks like a large park, maybe part of a palace game park? They are facing away, on a path. One rides what looks like a wolf. There are several exotic animals, including a bear, a lion and a warthog. The men are conferring about which way to go. One holds an arrow. The park has a lot of trees and green grass. You can see blue sky through the treetops.


It looks like this will be a story of friendship and cooperation.

After reading the story:


This was a strange story. There isn’t a lot of joy in it, which I associate with this card. What it does have is loyalty, and a feeling of one for all and all for one. The three princes look out for one another. That’s how I see the connection to the Three of Cups. I really hated how women are portrayed in the story.


From the book:


Keywords: Working together; celebration; mutual support; the joy of being part of a harmonious group; community and cooperation.


The three brothers are unusual in a fairy tale because they take care of each other, rather than being rivals. When this card appears, it’s useful to consider who our kindred spirits are and how we can best enjoy and use their companionship.


Also, as shown by the treatment and behavior of the step-sister, it can be useful to remember that every clique or close circle sets some people outside of it.


The original story


The Three Princes and Their Beasts, a Lithuanian Fairy Tale, in The Violet Fairy Book, by Andrew Lang

Traditional meanings (from TarotElements.com):


Joy; abundance in love; being in love; giving love freely; feeling love from others; gatherings and celebrations; success with great satisfaction; feeling good; celebrations & family gatherings. In its negative aspect: excesses; gluttony; over-indulgence; feeling ostracized; ruined party plans; sadness.


From 78 Degrees of Wisdom, by Rachel Pollack:


The Threes show an appreciation of the meaning and value of the suit. The Three of Cups indicates joy, celebration and above all sharing the wonder of life. Also sharing of experience in bad times as well as good.


My impressions of the card/story combination:


I like that the card shows the beginning of the story, when they are just setting out on their adventure, like this deck’s 3 of Wands shows the beginning of Sindbad’s adventures. I also like how it shows that they are all working together. I like that the image of the card is seen from the backs of the three princes, so that we are setting out on their adventure with them. As I said, I didn’t really like the story all that much, but I can understand why it was chosen. And this image shows a scene that doesn’t present any problems for my understanding of the card.

My take (what I make of it/what I might see in a reading where I drew it)


I believe I would see cooperation and companionship, working together to accomplish something. I think now I might also be aware of the dangers of exclusivity.


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Everyday Witch Tarot (D.Blake & E.Alba 2017 Llewellyn)


Three of Cups


Description; What action is going on:

This is the classic RWS three-women-dancing depiction of this card.

Except that the three women seem to represent the Maiden, Mother and Crone.

Three cats are catching butterflies (or fireflies?) and fish are jumping from the river or pond the witches are standing in. When fish are jumping like that it usually means it is very warm and there is not much oxygen in the water. The fish look like carps, Koi, that are an Asian fish used for decorative purposes in ponds.

The women are raising their chalices in celebration. Full moon is shining in the sky.


Symbolism, Colours:

-Looks like the redhead is meant to represent the Maiden dressed in blue (water), the Mother is wearing green (Earth) and the yellow dressed (Air) Crone is in the middle.

-Koi (Common carp): Asian good luck symbol. Also symbol of good fortune and prosperity. In Japan orange coloured koi means the mother of the family. Maybe the orange colour also represents the Fire element?

-Full Moon is of course a Goddess symbol, Goddess as Mother: Selene, Diana.


Traditional meanings (J. Bunning):

-exuberance; celebrating, bursting with energy

-friendship; sharing, trusting others

-community; working together, being neighbourly


Rachel Pollack (Tarot Wisdom, 2008):

-Three is the Great Mother, and this card is closely aligned with the Empress

-deep bonds

-overflowing emotions


From the EW book:

-friendship, sharing, celebrating, joy, dancing

-in Divination: group of women, the book suggests these witches stand for real people in your life



-These ladies are like the three Muses or the Three Fates (Graces, Moiras, Norns)

-Why are they standing ankle deep in stagnant water where the fish are jumping in distress? The artist probably meant to depict rejuvenating qualities instead?

-The witch trio can also be seen in the Sun card and in the Five of Swords of this deck


Some further ideas to interpret this one:

-siblings or family, close friends

- the need to talk about the emotional component of the situation

-speak what needs to be said with feeling

-saying what you see

- take emotions (of yourself and others) into considerations before making any decisions and communicating these

-unveil your heart to others

-reproduction, babies; when two becomes three and then there is celebration

-A slightly darker meaning (fitting if they are seen as the Three Fates) is from AT forum. I have not encountered this interpretation elsewhere but I recently had this card come up in this kind of position: "One of those 'cut-throat' events where everyone is being superficially 'nice' but everyone knows that each is manoeuvring for position, maximum advantage."


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Three of Cups – The Hermetic Tarot by Godfrey Dowson

Lord of Abundance




Significant Symbology and Meaning

  • Number 3
  • Element Water
  • Symbols for Mercury and Cancer
  • Names of Rahael & Yebomayah
  • Three Cups
  • Lotuses and water lilies
  • Waves

The card shows three cups hovering in mid-air. The top cup is being fed water through the centre of the flowers growing from a central flower protruding from the clouds below. The flowers growing out of that cup then continue the pattern by feeding water to the cups below it in simple streams. The lowest two cups then feed water back in the form of an overflow, to the central flower allowing it to use that energy to continue growing. It seems to point to a cyclical kind of replenishment. They also contain flowers that spill water to the waves below the clouds. The water in this card falls in orderly streams that feed the more active water below. This may be representative of the active dark waters from which creation stirs, the force of the sefirot before it moving to a more organised calm system. This is in contrast to the Two of Cups, where the reverse plays out with the playful and powerful splashes above fall to calm waters below. 


The symbol for Mercury and Cancer appear in all four corners of the card, and the names of Rahael and Yebomayah are noted above. Mercury is often seen as a kind of messenger, and his 'gifts' are part of what is overflowing in abundance through the feeling and intuitive Cancer. This is more obviously reinforced in other decks by Golden Dawn members that reference a caduceus form in the spiralling vine of the flowers, which is interesting but I don't feel it is especially visually strong here. 

Astrological Aspects

2nd Decan of Cancer, Mercury in Cancer typifies a kind of communication that is focused on emotion and intuition. It is a sensitive energy that has the ability to connect with the unknown, subconscious, or similar hidden realms through the art of feeling. It’s reflective and thoughtful nature is well placed in Briah, as the emotional and mental worlds play together somewhat here.



Exploring the Tree of Life position

Binah (Understanding)


Binah is in Briah, hence the influence in the mental world. With the cardinal water associated with Cancer and its rulership under the moon, the dark undercurrent of the unknown in Binah is very well represented here. The sea is not characteristically calm as would be expected, and the streams of water moving from cup to cup do so without much disruption or fuss – the idea of Binah being the organiser and compensator seems to be symbolised in that balance. The three waves seem to reinforce that link to the three of the 3rd Sephirot which is Binah, and the compensatory action of chaos below for the above order. Where there is destruction, there is creation. As Binah is restriction, the will to form seems to move from the sea of force of Chokmah. Above, the order of formation is abundance and direct regeneration. Below, we return to a more primitive potential.



Overall meaning LWB

From the LWB:

Meanings: Abundance. Success. Pleasure. Healing. Problem resolution. Good luck. Sensuality. Fortune. Love. Gladness. Kindness. Bounty.

Reversed: Overabundance. Excessive pleasure. Loss of prestige.

Edited by Grace
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I'm enjoying your interpretations and explanations on this deck. You're making sense on a deck i would otherwise find impossible to read. 

On this card the astrological aspect really connects. Mercury in cancer: communication through emotion and intuition leading to overflowing abundance. (I hope I got that right, because I finally saw one that spoke to me). You're doing great, looking forward to more.

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Thanks @6xscorpio! You pretty much got it in a nutshell. Looking forward to seeing some other cards too - decks that have gone with the Charites option bring a slightly different feel, so it will be interesting to compare them.

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I’m trying to catch up! 🙈

Three of Cups



Deck: Forest of Enchantment

Name of the card: Three of Visions


Description: In this card there are three bears dancing together and they are obviously happy. They have blackberry garlands around them and one of them is holding a bramble. On the ground there are wood violets and a stream. The background of the card is green like in most of the cards in the deck.


First impressions: This card reminds me of the more traditional versions.


Meaning at a glance according to the guide book: Friendship. Pastime with good company. Playfulness. Laughter. The delights of companionship.



Wood violets - gentle kindness

Stream - beginning of life, calmness

Bear - strength, family, health, courage, freedom

Blackberries - sorrow, bad omens, healing, good fortune

Dancing - joy, celebration, possession by a higher power, motion


(I looked for the symbolism of blackberries from different sources and they were telling quite different, even opposite things. I listed few.)


Three bears... Many of the cards in thee deck are based on a story or a fairy tale one way or another. This card of course makes me think of Goldilocks and the Three Bears that was originally titled The Story of the Three Bears. In the original version there were no ”Mama”, ”Papa” or ”Baby” bear.


Traditional meaning:

Upright: celebrations, good conversation, happiness, abundance, family, friendship

Reversed: neglected social life, cheating, gossip, frustration


Numerology: 3

Youthful, positive, creative, communicative, charming, naive, unfocused, shallow


The suit: Visions (Cups)

The suit of cups is is intuitive, emotional suit. In a tarot reading, the cups often represent one’s emotional states and can refer to people, relationships and how you react towards others and your environment.


The element: Water

Water is a feminine element and symbolizes fluidity, feelings and emotions, intuition, relationships, healing and cleansing.


Astrology: Mercury in Cancer

Artistic, good at listening, intuitive, emotionally intelligent, illogical, overly sensitive

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Hello @Kati and @Grace, I am happy to finally join you in this thread.  What a great card!  Talk about a card that doesn't really seem to have a shadow side!  Mine are very different from each other this week (as they are so many weeks).  Here goes!



Margarete Three of Cups:  “Partying - celebrating - sharing. Not to abandon, but to step out of the intimate, familiar confines of the two. A bridge to new contacts is celebrated with parties. Shed everyday inhibitions and expand yourself. To not be limited by worries, but rather to forget them. A new beginning, flowing present-ness. Images and roles are transformed. Party, play and dance, communicate lightly and loosely with others. A party opens and purifies. Heavy, earnest feelings can be renewed and transformed in lightness and friendship.”


At last a straightforward card and a straightforward interpretation.  Let’s party!  The joy of community.  Not without its subtleties - the suggestion that sometimes we need a break from the confines of partnership, if we are part of an old married couple.  As someone who has seen a lot of my spouse during 2020, I admit I am craving a night out on the town with my girlfriends.  I always love to see this card in a reading, and frankly it’s a relief to see Rider Waite Smith meanings, like a familiar voice in a crowd of strangers.  I hadn’t realized how much I rely on RWS to guide my readings.  I seem to have two modes - either pure intuition based on imagery, or RWS.  I think when I reach the halfway point with this study I will attempt some readings with this deck, trying to follow Margarete’s personal interpretations.  I expect this to be very challenging!


Ironwing Three of Coils


“The energy of the Two, spiraling back and forth in partnership, creates a sacred whirlpool Source and hatches the means to carry and share its power.


“A three-sided dipper and a three-legged cauldron wait beside a sacred well.  Bubbles float in the dark water under windows in the well cover, between a triskele of coils that forms a handle.  The water is alive, creeping through fractures in the rock, the hidden flow echoing under hollow hills, then rising and bubbling into the light through a hole in the stone.  The well is the source of life and community, a reminder of the people’s dependence on nature and each other, and a metaphor for an inexhaustible source of healing to which anyone can return at any time.  The cover protects the water, the dipper brings it up for use, and the cauldron allows it to be used and shared.  The two triskele spirals are offerings to the well, recalling the Iron Age iron rings and other votive objects found in European bogs.  Water is not drawn from the sacred well without making a gift to its source.  Keeping this balance is one of the shaman’s tasks.  When she offers her healing skills to others, she allows elemental power to flow through her without draining her own strength.  Later she returns alone to her personal source of healing to rededicate herself.”


Again a marvelous mix of shamanism and science.  I admit I’ve never thought of the source that feeds a well before, but of course the well is a potent symbol of ancient community, and of course a scientist would wonder how the well becomes a well.  It all makes sense, if you think like Lorena, but how many of us think like Lorena?  I hope by the end of this study that I will think a little more like her.  As with so many of her cards, there is a kernel of traditional meaning, the treasure of community, but she takes it in such a different direction.  She honors the well as the source of life and healing, and gives thanks for Nature’s gift.  This morning as I was washing my face I found myself offering gratitude for the luxury of running water inside my house.  People in other parts of the world have to carry the water from wells or streams, and we are so lucky to have an inexhaustible supply.


Ah, that word “inexhaustible”.  Nature of course is NOT inexhaustible.  People in California must ration their water, even if they don’t have to go to the local stream to collect it.  I love that Lorena believes Nature can offer us inexhaustible healing, but I think we all need to think about Nature the way Californians think about water, as something that needs to be used only with sparing intent.  And with gratitude.  To bring the topic back to community, I think it’s a communal shift in consciousness we need, to share our resources with greater cultivation of responsibility and respect.  I hope I can be part of that shift.


It feels good to be digging back into this study after my multi-week hiatus.  I think I just needed to recharge my batteries.  I am going to try to catch up over this holiday weekend - anyone care to join me?


Edited by Gardener
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