King of Cups

Alt names: Knight of Cups, Father of Horns
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Range of meanings

Personality: The King of Cups can represent anyone who tends to control (King) emotional and spiritual responses (Cups). The King may also represent the tendency to be more sober than emotional, or the need to maintain order in the face of an overwhelming situation.

Light: Keeping a stiff upper lip. Being brave and clear in the face of adverse circumstances. Sharing experience as a way of comforting others. Making fair and empathetic decisions. Honoring the spirit, not just the letter, of the law.

Shadow: Allowing yourself to become rigid and unemotional. Making unfair decisions based on a hidden agenda. Making decisions without regard for their emotional impact on others. Abusing spiritual authority. Using emotional or spiritual leverage to exercise unhealthy control over others.

Questions to ask

  1. What wise person could be consulted for good advice?
  2. How can I make sure I’m being as objective and fair as possible?
  3. To what extent am I capable of keeping a 'stiff upper lip?'
  4. What might happen if you elevated yourself above your conflicting emotions and saw things more clearly?
  5. How might shutting out the source of emotional noise and doubt help you make contact with what you really feel?


Personal Growth: The time has come to assume a leadership role, using your experiences to guide others. Find a way to give back some of what you’ve been given. You have more wisdom than you know; draw on newfound maturity to come to the aid of a cause greater than yourself.

Work: When everyone is running in circles and screaming, someone has to step forward, exercise restraint, and draw attention back to the work that remains. Refuse to be drawn into rumor-mongering and petty disagreements. Remain neutral, fair, and focused.

Relationships: Without adopting a “poker face,” some situations call for a little restraint. Calm down. Consider the other side’s arguments. Walk in the shoes of your partner or friend. Give strong emotions time to subside before taking action you may regret later.

Spirituality: A deeper sense of Spirit should move us to greater service. Let wisdom guide you to a ministry that makes sense in terms of your life and your world. Consider taking on the role of a counselor or mentor. Use your experiences to help others mature.

Fortune-Telling: This card represents an older man with a gentle, sensitive presence, likely born between February 9th and March 10th, who is known for his fairness and tolerance.


Element: Fire

Fool's Journey: The main character must suppress or control an emotional response in order to complete a difficult task.

King: A King card in your reading makes things limited and certain but also delivers results that are more concrete, more absolute and of a longer lasting impact.

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.

Watery Throne: Many decks depict the King’s throne floating in water. Rather than sink into emotionalism, this King rises above it.

Turbulent Seas: In some versions of the 2 of Coins we see a rolling, unstable sea in the background -- a sign the juggler’s emotions are stirred as he struggles to get a handle on his dilemma.

Content generously licensed from Mark McElroy via