4 of Cups

Alt names: Luxury, Apathy
Keywords: Boredom, listlessness, lethargy, stability, ingratitude
View more versions
(password protected)

Range of meanings

Light: Maintaining your emotional stability. Refusing to give in to overwhelming emotions. Appreciating what you have and refusing to take it for granted. Seeing the value of long-term commitments.

Shadow: Being bored. Daydreaming at the expense of your work. Refusing to be engaged by opportunity. Taking people and relationships for granted. Ignoring romantic or spiritual opportunities. Spurning inspiration. Feeling everything should stay “just like it is!”

Questions to ask

  1. The figure already possesses three familiar, comforting cups. What emotional or spiritual resource are you fixated on to the point that they might blind you to other opportunities out there?
  2. How might focusing on pleasure yet to come help you deal with the less attractive, less engaging responsibilities you face today?
  3. How can I use this “downtime” to my best advantage?
  4. How can I show my partner that I don’t take him or her for granted?
  5. To what extent is my mood blinding me to new opportunities?


Personal Growth: Boredom and ingratitude blind us to new opportunities. Don’t fall into this trap! Alter your routine. Try new foods. Dress in different colors. Break the mold, and you’ll never stop growing.

Work: Bored? It’s time to ask for new challenges. When work fails to fulfill us, it quickly becomes drudgery. There’s always plenty to do. You can shatter inertia by just getting started. Take that first step; others will follow.

Relationships: Without adequate attention, even the best relationships grow stale over time. Reignite the spark. Rediscover what brought you together. If on your own and unhappy about it, don’t play the victim: get back in the game.

Spirituality: Unless you tap into a fresh reservoir, your spiritual well will eventually run dry. Replenish your Spirit with a dip into new experiences: meditation, drumming, fasting. Open yourself to new possibilities.

Fortune-Telling: A lover is getting restless. Find out what he or she needs, or new opportunities may lure your partner away.


Astrological: Cancer

Planet: Moon

Fool's Journey: For right or wrong, the main character refuses to re-evaluate his or her feelings about an important person or issue. Alternatively, the main character suffers from boredom.

The Number 4: The Status Quo: stability, equality, persistence.

Cups: One of the 4 suits of the tarot. Also sometimes called vessels, or chalices. Represents intuition, spirituality, affection, and motivation. As a suit marker, Cups suggest receptivity: they are vessels, waiting to be filled. Cups have long been associated with divination (remember the uproar caused when Benjamin stole King Joseph’s cup?) and, by extension, intuition.

Extended Cup: Remember the Ace with a cup held out by the Hand of God? Here again, opportunity knocks, but we may be too distracted or dull-witted to hear it. Or perhaps the opportunity just doesn't grab us in the right way for whatever reason.

Hand of God: On the Aces in Marseilles and RWS-inspired decks, a heavenly hand extends from the clouds, offering the viewer the suit’s distinctive marker. When opportunity comes your way, take advantage of it; the hand that extends an offer can always withdraw it.

Content generously licensed from Mark McElroy via TarotTools.com.