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78 Weeks of Tarot: Ace 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: Ace of Cups


First impressions:


Two children, a boy and a girl, sit on a low stone bridge over a river. The girl, dressed in red, waves at a beautiful swan who swims in the foreground, preening itself. There are beautiful yellow irises in the immediate foreground. Behind the bridge there are lush green hills and some green trees. The sky is blue with puffy white clouds.


On first thought, I'm not quite sure how well this works as the Ace of Cups.


From the book:


Keywords and phrases: Being open to new creative beginnings; bursting with life and passion; accepting love and affection; exhilaration about imaginative or creative projects.


Like all aces, the Ace of Cups is about beginnings and opportunities, so the idea of the swan awakening to a new spring touches on the heart of the card's meaning. All the Cups are associated with water and emotions, sensitivity and feelings. The story is very much about the Ugly Duckling's feelings over the course of a year, when he goes from hurt to despair and finally joy. When he realizes he's a swan and meets the other swans, for the first time he finds community, friendship and perhaps love.


The Ace of Cups shows us a moment of emotional openness and new beginnings. It's a card that signals the possibility of new connections. It tells us to accept rather than analyze these opportunities.


The original story:


"The Ugly Duckling," by Hans Andersen




Traditional meanings (from TarotElements.com):


Love in its purest sense; its connection to the divine source; increased psychic ability & intuition; mind, body & spirit in union; abundance; a new relationship; birth or pregnancy; sensual passion; inspired creativity. Negative aspect: loss of love; feeling unhappy; feeling sad and blue; feeling unloved; sadness in love.


From 78 Degrees of Wisdom, by Rachel Pollack


Ace of Cups is the emblem of love underpinning life. The immediate meaning is a time of happiness and love, a gift of joy. Just as fire makes the world, love gives it value. The allegory of the Knights of the Round Table and the Holy Grail tells us that the world does not function primarily by its laws or order or structures but by the spiritual basis that gives all these things meaning and protects them from corruption. Cups symbolize receptivity. Love - and life - cannot be seized, but only accepted.


In its negative aspect, it shows disruption, unhappiness, etc.


My impressions of the card/story combination:


Once again, after re-reading the story and reading Karen's explanation, I'm feeling more positive about the choices they made for this card. I'm not sure I agree with one of her sets of keywords, "bursting with life and passion," since that seems a lot more Ace of Wands to me. But that's nitpicky.


I really like the idea that the Ace of Cups characterizes the swan's second spring, the happiness that came after a year of misery. Since I like to think of the Aces as an opportunity to do or accept something, I find it fitting that in the story the Swan is given the opportunity to join the community of other swans.


Rachel Pollack made me think more about Cups as symbolizing receptivity. It requires having an open heart, which our swan kept, despite everything that had happened to him.


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


If I drew this card, I think I would see an opportunity to accept love or a connection to the divine or perhaps serenity. I might also see it as a chance to see oneself in a new, more positive light.


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(Note: I'm putting this up early as it's my weekend to work, and by Sunday I will be rushed and exhausted, and surely forget again!)

Ace of Cups




Card description and impressions: A hand emerges from a cloud over a plowed field, with a gold cup containing a castle balanced in the palm. The hand does not grasp. Beyond is a treeline, pastureland, and mountains in the distance. The sky is filled with yellow sunlight, and there is a red butterfly at the upper left of the card.


The castle points to the TdM/playing card interpretation of the home, residence, family, love, friendship, and happiness. It can be about things occurring in the home, indicated by surrounding cards. It might also allude to the beginning of an emotional phase, like a romance. But the hovering butterfly could potentially add a note of flightiness and instability, or alternately it could be a reminder that in this deck, Cups are the Air suit.


LWB: An engraved cup held on a hand thrust out of the clouds. The house and the family. To those who draw this card it means a happy home life full of joy and contentment. If it lies near the Queen it foretells good news. Upside down, it means your plan will be successful.”


Roots: Picard – “A cup engraved with the sign of Air (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius) containing a miniature castle. Above a butterfly flying away. This indicates the house (and family) moved by confused passions, with the aerial soul above.
Sign: the family, the home.”

Poinsot – “Will which will overcome. Near the Queen, happy news. Reversed, happy inspiration.”


Synthesis/core meaning: “Where you live”, i.e., home, heart.


Notes: In a box spread, it would be prudent to pay special attention to the card on the upper left diagonally (the “butterfly corner”), as this would indicate whether there was any threat to the stability of the situation. But it’s essentially a good card in itself, even when badly aspected.


The phrase "where you live" refers to the idiom "Hit you where you live".  So the card refers to both your literal home, and that part of yourself that is vulnerable to being affected on a personal or intimate level.

Edited by katrinka
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Ace of Cups – The Hermetic Tarot by Godfrey Dawson

Lord of the Root of the Powers of Water


Significant Symbology and Meaning


  • Number – 1 (Ace)
  • Element – Water
  • Hebrew for Kether inside the symbol for water.
  • Angelic hand from the clouds
  • Cup
  • Body of water
  • Lotus and lilies


In the down-turned cup shaped triangle, the Hebrew word for Kether resides. It is a trend that appears to follow in all the Ace cards of this deck. It is a reinforcement of the pure energy that the Aces represent in their various elemental forms. The imagery is simple but powerful.

An Angelic hand cradles the cup in presentation. It balances it in the palm of the hand with elegant stability. Water is streaming from the cup in abundance, like a huge mystical fountain. The water seems to have no beginning or end, though is appears to land in a pool with lotuses and lilies. While the top half of the image is full of the water’s energetic movement, the pond is still, calm, even tranquil. Though the image is in black and white, I can imagine the clarity of the water, the greens of the lily pads, and the pinks and whites of the flowers in the water. Though it is suggested the Golden Dawn coloured the lotus red to signify that the origin of the consciousness is in fire (something I will meditate, and elaborate on in the next section). The dramatic opening of the lotus is a representation of the unfolding of the divine consciousness.

While all Aces supply the energy to create in some way, water seems to provide the impetus to feel, to nurture, and perhaps even to balance. This card brings with it a feeling of inexhaustible opulence, and love, the infinity of Kether.



Astrological Aspects

There are no obvious correspondences as depicted in the card. However, the Ace representing the height of the water element – one could argue that the water signs may be linked (Cancer, Pisces, Scorpio). The Moon is also characterised by water – as it influences the tides on Earth. The moon is often connected to emotion, as are the water signs and the cups suit in tarot more generally.



Exploring the Tree of Life position
Kether (Crown)


This week I have been exploring the concept of a world within a world, in order to further understand how the Ace of Cups consciousness can be born of fire in a water card. Kether lives in Atziluth, a world associated with archetypes, emanation, pure divinity, the element of fire, and the suit of wands in tarot. But in the Qabalah, each sephirot contains the whole tree inside itself – and then presumably it goes on this way to eternity. The Ace of Cups, represents the creative world of Briah and its influence on Kether. I imagine the concept to be similar to the Ying Yang principle, where each half has a little of the other inside it. This idea is more pronounced in the Court Cards of the Hermetic Tarot, but it is interesting to contemplate here also.

The primordial Heh, is ‘enclosing’ and has fluid properties akin to water. Briah is the first world to be created from nothing, where as Atziluth was emanated rather than created. It is an important distinction to understand the Ace of Cups as a card representing pure divinity in the context of a creative energy that is just starting to be aware of it’s existence, or individuality as separate from God. It could now make some sense, that the suit was associated with the First Estate (clergy), as well as first emotion or feeling.


Overall Meaning LWB
From the LWB:
Meaning: Abundance. Fertility. Productiveness. Beauty. Pleasure. Happiness. Opulence.
Reversed: Alteration. Erosion in circumstance. Unrequited love.


Edited by Grace
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I'm early for once! Maybe I am inspired by the prospect of a blank slate that Aces evoke.


The Phantasmagoric Theater Tarot:



As with the Wand counterpart, this card is sparse. But it feels more active than the wand. This makes sense when one considers this is the suit of emotions. I see a couple of things when I look at this. First, I am reminded of the phrase "your cup runneth over". In this case, there seems to be too much water for the cup to hold. As the traditional meaning that it could be the beginning of a special relationship as indicated by a heart, I feel more drawn to the second interpretation. The water is showing the form of a wave. The wind is causing an upheaval, telling me that this relationship may be, or at least seem stormy. I actually see more of the Fool in this card than the actual Fool from this deck. Also, the cup is situated on the desert floor, which cautions the true power of the new relationship. Water in the desert looks more significant to a thirsty person than one in a lush environment. I feel a caution that the basis of the relationship is one of desperation, so caution is in order.

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Deck: Tabula Mundi

Card: Ace of Cups

Root of the Powers of Water

Throne: Princess of Cups

Rules: Libra-Scorpio-Sagittarius and Pacific


Thoughts on this card:
There is a very primordial feel to it. A tree rises from the water but the bark looks like reptile skin and an eye stares out near the base. It is suggestive of ancient, reptilian roots and the primordial soup which gave rise to life.
It is Binah, first Form and ‘Bright Fertile Mother’. The first Heh in the Tetragrammaton. It is the feminine counterpart to the Ace of Wands. Looking closely, you can see a faint outline of golden ratio circles - the guidebook states that this is an inverted version of the one used in the Ace of Wands. 
The point and crown are emblems of Kether and here we see a very clever depiction of them. A drop falls and creates a splash in the shape of a crown. 
The middle pillar is also hinted at by Malkuth in the roots of the tree, Yesod as the shape in the bark and Tiphareth as the eye. According to the guidebook, the dark space above the eye is Daath and the waters falling either side of the cup are supposed to be suggestive of the shape of Hé primal. 

The half-hidden gem (ruby or emerald) represents both the Grail and the Cup of Babalon.

It is a card signifying the beginning stirrings of love, joy, conception and beauty. It is the seed of fertility. I find it quite a calming card to look at and full of depth.



Edited by Flaxen
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Now we have a few posts up..... some thoughts....

@katrinka... Cups representing air? What a merry time of misrule this is! 🤣 That would take a little getting used to. I like the use of the 'butterfly corner' aspect influence in a reading.

@Contrascarpe... I love simple cards. They are always harder to talk about, but they seem to speak so much louder than more cluttered cards - with imagery vying for attention. It gives the Ace the purity it deserves. I especially enjoyed what I assumed to be a reference to the heart suit, and the interplay between the water and the barren environment. 

@Flaxen... I get quite excited when you post your insights as our decks straddle the same tradition. I agree the primordial feel is very strong in your card. And the middle pillar.... mind blown. That is so clever! The TM deck is on my wish list, but it might have just moved up a few places.


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13 minutes ago, Grace said:

@Flaxen... I get quite excited when you post your insights as our decks straddle the same tradition. I agree the primordial feel is very strong in your card. And the middle pillar.... mind blown. That is so clever! The TM deck is on my wish list, but it might have just moved up a few places.

It’s definitely a great deck and the guidebook is amazing. She writes with such clarity about the deeper philosophy. 

I’m finding your posts interesting too as I have that deck but always found the images too busy! You’re making them make more sense. :classic_biggrin:


I do love seeing all the different decks that people are using. There is such richness in comparing them all. 

@katrinka interesting that the Leng deck uses Air for Cups. I’ve tended to go for that when I read with TdM decks as the Cups seem most like the Sanguine personality which feels more ‘airy’ to me. 

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Ace of Cups



Deck: Forest of Enchantment
Name of the card: Ace of Visions


Description: There’s a swan swimming in a pond, looking at the viewer. On the surface of the water there’s a reflection of the swan but in that reflection she is wearing silver crown and a pendant. The reflection and especially the crown is glimmering. Behind the swan there are recfections of flowers (irises according to the book) in the water. On the upper part and the lower part of the card there’s long grass surrounding the water. On the lower part there are also small white flowers in the grass. The swan makes a small ripple on the water.


First impressions: The first thing that comes to my mind is that this works great reversed also. I feel that there’s much more to read from this card than the traditional RWS even though this, too, is a simple image. The two ”sides” of the swan, the jewelry, the crown, the plants...


Meaning at a glance according to the guide book: Serenity. Compassion. Spirituality. Kindness. A new way of seeing. A gift of love. Water element.


Swan - peace, tranquility, loyalty, strength, artistry, beauty, loyalty, motherhood, love, devotion, partnership, dreams, transformation
White (swan) - hope, promise, new beginnings, fresh start, pure potential
Water - emotions, dreaming, intuition, creativity
Reflection - truth, person’s soul
Crown - achievent of mind and body, halo, authority, power
Silver (necklace) – glamourous, graceful, sophisticated, elegant
Irises – connection between heaven and earth


Swan symbolizes many things depending from who you ask. It’s many times connected to devotion and partnership because swans mate for many years, sometimes for life.
The Celtic way to look at swans was in the context of movement. Celts noticed their transitory nature and the pattern of migration. The sign of the swan urged Celtic intuition to consider changes of mood (water) and heart (love).
In Celtic art, swans were many times depicted with gold and silver chains around their neck.

This swan brings to my mind the tale of the Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen from 1843. The ugly duckling is a child of a swan whose egg accidentally rolled into a duck's nest. Mislabeled as a duck, the baby bird was considered ugly. After growing stronger under the nurturing of kind humans, the duckling is set free and for the first time it sees its own reflection discovering its ”transformation” into a beautiful swan.


Traditional meaning:
Upright: happiness, fulfillment, new beginnings
Reversed: anguish, end of a relationship, bad news


Numerology: 1
Independence, self-sufficiency, self-determination, leadership, beginning


The suit: Visions (Cups)
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 associated with feelings, emotions, intuitions, relationships, healing and cleansing.


Astrology: Water signs - Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces
Water signs tend to be emotional, intuitive, artistic, sensitive and adaptable.

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1 hour ago, Grace said:

Cups representing air? What a merry time of misrule this is! 🤣 That would take a little getting used to. I like the use of the 'butterfly corner' aspect influence in a reading.

I need to find Picard's reasoning behind this. Or maybe just ask one of our French speaking members who might be familiar with his writings...


1 hour ago, Flaxen said:

 interesting that the Leng deck uses Air for Cups. I’ve tended to go for that when I read with TdM decks as the Cups seem most like the Sanguine personality which feels more ‘airy’ to me. 

It's probably something along those lines. Swords are water in this one, the Knight is literally swimming his horse across a river...he'd best stay on or that armor will sink him!

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Mermaid Tarot (by Leeza Robertson, Julie Dillon, Llewellyn 2019)


Ace of Cups


Description: Golden (or brass) chalice is filled to the brim with the miracle of life. The cup has been claimed by someone as its home and we can see living slimy tentacles coming out of it and harvesting sea water for occasionally passing prey. Colorful fishes and strong green kelp surround the cup. Many creatures are living their lives in this card – swimming, growing, multiplying, eating, and avoiding being eaten.


Book meaning: Are you using your gift to its fullest potential? The conditions are there for the cup to fulfill its true purpose. The cup is meant to be used. Make use of what has presented itself before someone else comes along and claims it!


Fishes: Things moving in the unconscious, creativity.
Kelp: Nourishment of excellent quality
Light shining on the side of the cup: It is daytime, sunshine comes through water. Conscious action is possible - or required even.
Sea anemone: More than 1000 species worldwide, many are venomous predators with great power of regeneration and plasticity. Shapeshifters. Many are threatened by pollution, some are eaten by humans as delicacy. I’m sure they would love to live in an abandoned brass cup, attaching themselves to it and waiting for passers by to drift a bit too close..
The Cup: It looks simple, there are no decoration or jewels on it. It is a human made thing but  - unlike most human made things – this one has almost become part of nature.


Embodying the card: Everything is moving and flowing continuously and silently. I can almost hear the silence in this card. Maybe a distant sound of waves occasionally from the surface.


Notes: There is no religious or traditional tarot symbolism in this card. No wafers, no doves or other winged beings hovering over the cup.
I checked some of my other decks for their Ace of Cup meaning. Tarot Mucha states its key ideas as: “Divine love, spiritual nourishment, peace and joy, an awakening of bliss” -none of which apply here, and I’m glad of that! Because for me, this card shows something much more serious. This cup is filled and surrounded with the core material of existence, with photosynthesis, DNA, oxygen, nitrogen and all the other basic ingredients of life.  Quite simple and yet incredibly complex, and for me this is the ultimate Holy Communion and Grail. There is danger and opportunity present. Eventually this may result in Divine love, on some level. Physical nourishment may make spiritual nourishment possible when the processes evolve from the Ace towards the 9, 10 and the Courts of Cups.

Ace of Chalices.jpg

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1 hour ago, katrinka said:

I need to find Picard's reasoning behind this. Or maybe just ask one of our French speaking members who might be familiar with his writings...

Maybe _R_ or Andy?

His book on the Tarot seems rare and expensive (it's not a big book too apparently), and curiously isn't in free access online even if it is old. You probably know the link at the end on Aeclectic but it's the only excerpts I found.

The excerpts on the Minors (someone offered a translation of the text in the same thread) don't exactly explain "why" but we can deduce that this comes from the Astrology that he practiced. For the meanings of the Cups and of the Swords I don't have the impression that this changes really something:

"La qualité fournit le côté concret et tangible du sens. Ainsi les deniers qualifieront l'argent et rien que l'argent; les sceptres, l'action; les coupes, l'amour, et les épées, la résistance, la lutte. "/ "Quality provides the concrete and tangible side regarding meaning. So the coins will qualify money and just money; scepters, action; cups, love, and swords, resistance, struggle."

So the Cups are Air but still love, and the Swords are Water but still resistance and struggle, nothing really revolutionary...


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Yes - it's just the elements that are switched, the Suits themselves are standard.
One of the AT threads was what led me to Poinsot, which IS affordable but only contains little bits of Picard.
Andy's never mentioned Picard that I remember. He could have read him at some point. _R_ might be my best bet here.

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This got me thinking about the differences between elemental systems in traditional medicine. Specifically, Ayurvedic (Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Ether) and Traditional Chinese (Earth, Metal, Fire, Water, Wood). There are a lot of similarities, and both concepts aim to explain the same thing, but the principles used to get there are different and can't always be directly compared.


So even though my first instinct was to try and translate Cups/Air through assumptions based on prior knowledge of Cup/Water and the characteristics that marry it, it doesn't always work that way. It will be very interesting to find out Picard's thought process here, but at least it seems the core concept is relatively unchanged - helpful for us! A fascinating topic.

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Hi Tough Cookies, this one was a tough one and I'm slightly late, but I made it. I find it still hard but I do enjoy making up the stories, but I need to be in the right mood, plus I need to be close to the deadline, I work better under pressure. 


The Morgan Greer Tarot - Ace of Cups




A hand comes out of a bunch of bright white clouds and holds a golden yellow chalice up. The chalice is full of water that overflows out of the cup in five streams. In the centre of the water on the surface is a white glowing sphere as if floating on the surface. Behind the cup is a white dove with its wings spread. The sky is bright and blue and clear. Underneath the cup there is a blue body of water, with green hills at the far shore in the back ground. On the water in the front of the card there is floating a singe light peachy pink lotus flower on a green leave, one lotus flower bud on the left and a dried brown seed pod on the right.


White dove - love, peace; spirituality (christian holy spirit as white dove); white dove of Innana-Ishtar (goddess of love, sex and war)

Lotus: purity, spirituality, opening of the heart

bud - flower - seedpod: chances still to come, already here, gone and missed

Shiny sphere: my inner light



Ooooooh! Check this out!!! Hot dang! There is a giant hand is holding out a bird bath - for me??? Whhooooaaaa? Well, there are no other birds around apart from me, so ... don’t mind if I do!

Hey hey: where is all the water coming from? It is overflowing all the time, the water keeps pouring out but I can see no source. It keeps flowing out of the birdbath never ending. It must be super deep? It just overflows and then cascades down onto the lotuses. One lotus is already done flowering, the flower must have long died off but now it is a big seedpod, how exciting, it will grow many more lotuses. Another one is just a bud and not yet ready to bloom and flower, but it will soon. And the third one is beautifully flourishing and blossoming. The water that pours Out of this birdbath and onto the lotus must be some kind and of special water because it has the shiny floaty in it and it makes the lotus flower. Damn right imma gonna take a bath in that! 

But wait a second, what IS that actually? That shiny floaty thingy in the middle of my bath? What the???!!! (dear reader, please imagine here an big white pidgeon looking astonished and curious at something shiney) It makes me feel so warm in my heart! It makes me feel happy, confident, so hopeful, so full of emotions, I can feel love in it, I can feel all the feels and they make me tingle inside all the way into the ends of my feathers.... Hang on: is it me? Can it be? I think it must! It is the reflection of my heart!!! I can see it now! It's my heart that gives the water the magic to feed the lotus to make it flourish! I can make the lotus flower blossom if I open my heart and listen to it!!! 

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Great cards everybody! I absolutely enjoy reading all your write-ups.


 @katrinka in M.K.G's 21 ways there is a footnote to the Cups being Air that Picard influenced several 20th century Spanish decks, especially El Gran Tarot Esoterico 1976 by Marixtu Guler - maybe there is some more information available about the change of element? I love your point to look at the card close to the butterfly, I never thought of reading that way, I'm a spread-using kinda girl 

add on: I just saw that somebody else notice that in a separate Picard thread already. I was too slow haha 🙂 


@Grace ooooh I wonder if my Greer and your Dawson knew each other, the cards look very similar apart from the dove and the colouring in....


@Contrascarpe oh I'm so in love with the wave in your coffee mug! I love the Sea, so your Ace of Cups somehow hits a spot. And it makes me think of Rumi's "You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop" (or in a mug in this case).


@Flaxen the deck is amazing! Is the water hitting the moon first and then from there drop into the cup?


@Kati  Loving the Swan's symbolic meaning in Celtic stories, I've never heard of it before.



On 9/25/2020 at 3:21 PM, Hemera said:

surrounded with the core material of existence, with photosynthesis, DNA, oxygen, nitrogen and all the other basic ingredients of life. 

What an amazing take on it!

Edited by Rupicapra
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@Rupicapra I love your stories. Good work getting it done, it is hard to find time in a busy schedule to sit with the cards. On top of which I found the Aces trickier to get started on, and had to come back to it a few times. But the persistence pays off. Looking forward to seeing everyone else's as they come through. And getting started on the next card!


7 hours ago, Rupicapra said:

@Grace ooooh I wonder if my Greer and your Dawson knew each other, the cards look very similar apart from the dove and the colouring in....

It's possible! The MG deck is a little more RWS, BOTA influenced but both those creators are affiliated with the Golden Dawn. I think our decks were created around the same time also, but I know very little about Godfrey Dowson so I couldn't say for sure. I might do some investigating! 

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I have Dawsons in the family, I wonder...I mean, I had to get this proclivity somewhere, and my known living blood relatives mostly consist of Bible thumpers (with the exception of a Playmate of the Year - why can't I look like that??? 😁) But I haven't found anyone into cartomancy or any of that.

It's probably THAT ONE UNMENTIONABLE relative...the one nobody talks about! 🤣

Edited by katrinka
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Deviant Moon Ace of Cups


Another angel this time an archangel.Does the higher rank make this a more important card than the Ace of Wands?

Again, unlike my normal reading of the aces, this angel will nurture. He says in his book on the deck:

“Through the transparent silk, the glimpse of a moon shaped nipple hints at the angels potential for motherhood,

along with her innate ability to nourish future offspring...”


There is a bats squeak of sexuality in this angel. Now I don't think of angels as having a sex so I find this difficult but interesting.


The archangels chalice is a cremation urn for a dead queen giving the theme of rebirth. The deck creator believes some of the images

in the deck are from his past lives.


The Deviant moon drinks endlessly from the chalice.


I nearly did the Mary-EL instead of this deck and I find her comments on her own ace of cups relevant to this one.

“The Ace of Cups is like the Moon. It is internal looking and cyclic. The emotions often associated with cups have a real

and important reason to exist; they are the messengers of the subconscious just like angels are the messenger of god”

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Hello everyone,

I just read the entire Ace of Wands thread two days ago and I was delighted with all the observations and stories. Such creative people in our group!  I am going to read all the Ace of Cups after I post my own, only a couple days late.  


Thanks to all your kind words about finding my goal in this 18 month, six season study, I am focusing down.  Grace is absolutely right that the spiritual connection with the card is my primary goal.  Also I want to explore a deck that is neither RWS nor Thoth nor Marseilles.  These two decks, Margarete Petersen and Ironwing, have Shamanic influences.  Well, Ironwing is Shamanic through and through, whereas Margarete combines many different spiritual systems.  I'm also going to add card from other decks from time to time.  You'll see this week's surprise at the end.


Ore of Coils


From the Guidebook:  Iron coils cradle the shell of a paper nautilus that holds a fountain splashing over bubbly-looking iron ore.  The first of the Water cards offers the gift of the divine presence and the swell of emotion, the ability to see connections and adapt, and the birth of empathy.  The paper nautilus is a squidlike deep sea creature related to the Spirula cephalopod shown on the Shaman of Coils card.  The paper nautilus is unique in that the males are tiny and have no shells, but the females secrete a large fragile white shell as a brood chamber for their eggs.  Broken shell fragments wash up on Atlantic beaches after storms.


I mentioned in another thread that I've been struggling with the Ace of Cups ever since TheFeeLion pointed out that the Ace of Cups reversed most likely represents a creative blockage.  I have many creative pursuits, but often they are blocks by one situation or another.  So how to turn that cup right-side up, and access all those lovely sparkly waters of my muse?  In this image the paper nautilus shell, like the cups of other cards, is the source of an every flowing fountain, most likely the fountain of spiritual love from the Universal Goddess for all her creatures.  But also the creative juices.  But I wonder if this shell, created by the mother to protect her young, also restricts the mother's movement.  She is caught up in her care-giving, and no longer as flexible as she once was.  She is constrained by duty.  Loving duty, but duty nonetheless.  So many people say - just open up to receive the flow of the Goddess' love, as though it were as simple as opening your bedroom door.  But I wonder if it might be more of an adaptation.  You grow the shell, you learn to live with it over time, through practices.


Here is the quote from Margarete's guidebook:


Clear, fresh water, the opening of the heart. The source of feelings. You are full of vitality, sudden inspirations in contact with your feelings. To share one's feelings. Pure love.

An opening-up to a new encounter with one's self and other people.

Natural springs in nature are considered holy places. There, water is especially pure and mineral rich.

The Lotus as flower of light and of purity is the source of all being. Symbol of renewal and of the opening heart.[end quote]


I recognize the lotus flower from some of the other cards in this thread (yes, I peeked).  There is no fountain here, but only the still waters of a lake.  Margarete's conception of the Ace of Cups is one of tranquility and calm, although again she has the concept of "opening up".  I think this card is beautiful in its serenity, but it doesn't give me complex feelings.  Peaceful feelings of harmony, that's pretty much it.


Notice that together they combine the symbolism common to many of the other Aces of Cups - the overflowing fountain and the lotus on the serene lake.  Is it better to have them combined, I wonder?




Now for the surprise.  All these water cards made me think of a card I've recently discovered in the Wild Unknown Archetype Cards.  


The River




From the Guidebook:

There is a reason so many rituals of change and rebirth take place in The River - it is forgiveness embedded in physical form.  Without asking anything in return, The River washes away what is no longer necessary, smoothing over sharp edges and accepting all our mistakes and grievances.  Once we step in, we are no longer in control.  The River carries us farther down the stream of transformation than we planned to go.  Its waters have a special gift for reflecting back to us a new and dreamlike vision.  Once the tears have passed, we see ourselves as we haven’t before: with a little more lightness, grace, and fluidity.  Keep in mind the you that stands within The River is the real you - full of deep emotion and potential, nothing to hide, nothing to judge.  May you drink in the sight of your true self.


From Heraclitus - “No man steps in the same river twice.” 


In contrast to the serenity of Margarete's Ace, The River is dynamic and pulls one into new territory.  But they have in common the healing powers of water washing away one's impurities, and bringing one closer to faith.  More than one route to the same destination.



Edited by Gardener
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That is beautiful @Gardener! I love Margarete's Ace of Cups especially... my cards are deprived of colours so I'm enjoying that aspect the most. It is so wonderfully moody, and even though you expect to see a lot of blues or aqua - colours that I automatically consider on the cooler spectrum - it feels more neutral and soothing. Very different feel to the Ironwing. And even though the colour palette is similar in The River, is brings something completely different to the table. It seems a little darker and dangerous, like you could drown there. And your insight is quite right -  rivers were used from everything to a water source for food and agriculture, to transportation, for cleansing and even a latrine and to wash away the dead. The reflection we get, is based on what we put in. 

@Kati's card has a reflection in it also. But the image reflected back is more glorious than the swans physicality, which brings some deeper ideas to mind about the nature of reality. To me the crown is a link to the symbol for Kether - where the Aces live. It's a very elegant card. 

@Hemera's card make me think of those things beyond the surface, some sort of unconscious energy. Similar to Flexen's TM card, with that primordial soup feel, which plays into the DNA, photosynthesis ideas.

Where as the Deviant Moon is always fun to me @surreal. All the moon references, motherly and moody. It's like looking at a more modern creepy Picasso, if he did cartoon type drawings!

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Better late than never. Here is my Ace of Cups from the Mythic Tarot.



This card shows the goddess of love, beauty, pleasure and passion,  Aphrodite. She is standing/rising from a rough and turbulent sea but it's only choppy where she stands. The rest of the scenery is calm and serene. Aphrodite has a pleasant look on her face and holds an immense golden goblet in her left hand. 


The suit of cups, for the most part, deals with relationships, partners, feelings and emotions. Aces are the predecessors to the start of a journey. The thought or idea behind that new chapter. As such, the ace of cups implies the potential for a new relationship that has not yet manifested. This could be an upswelling of emotion or an abundance of feeling indicating one is ready to start a new partnership or relationship. 

In the Mythic Tarot the suit of cups will illustrate for us the love story of Psyche and Eros, from its inception, stages of happiness and struggle and through the 'happily ever after'. But before there was a 'Psyche and Eros' there was Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty pulling the strings. Her appearance on the ace is two-fold: First as the love goddess to initiate the emotional charge indicated by this card.  Second, in the story of Psyche and Eros it is Aphrodite who acts first. In this case Aphrodite is jealous of the attention Psyche receives for her beauty and she sends her son Eros down to kill her. That ugly beginning isn't represented in the image of the card, but Aphrodite as the instigator, setting events into motion is. 

Edited by 6xscorpio
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