Inspiring Enchantment & Illumination with Tarot & Intuitive Guidance

Tarot Card of the Week: Aug. 10 – 16

The King of Cups
This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.
— His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyatso)

This week, we have our first ever visit from the King of Cups. The Kings of the Tarot are the overt, assertive personification of the suit’s energy. They are the builders, fathers, and rulers. They represent maturity, discipline, and mastery. They point to our own capacity to realize our full potential. And of course, the Cups preside over the realms of emotions, empathy, intuition, and love.

So of all the Kings, the King of Cups would the most gentle and compassionate leader. For instance, the Dalai Lama, a watery Cancerian, comes to mind. The leader of his nation as well as his ancient spiritual tradition, he embodies compassion and tolerance. Yet he actively opposes the injustice and oppression of the Chinese occupation.

The King of Cups is a gentle person (male or female) who has hidden depths and wisdom that are rare. While at times they can tend towards moodiness or even melancholy, as the King, they are successful, outwardly directed and possess great power in the more aggressive, assertive “real” world. This is in contrast to, say, the Queen of Cups, whose tender spirit can sometimes drift off into impractical dreaminess.

Even in the most hectic or stressful situations, the King of Cups is a person who radiates peace. If there is ever a crisis, this is the person you want to have around, lending a calm, loving hand. This person has an innate talent for cool-headedness, creativity, and balance.

The person with the King of Cups energy would be a very successful practitioner of the healing arts (either traditional or esoteric). A very sensitive soul, they also make wonderful teachers, counselors, spiritual leaders, and artists. They may also be found practicing law, or in advocacy for those who are unable to defend themselves, for their heart-centered orientation often compels them to seek justice. And their maturity, empathy and ability to go with the flow give them an edge in all matters of diplomacy.

Perhaps this is the time for you to seek such a healer, counselor, or wise listener. Who, in your current situation, balances both the cup of dreams and love in one hand, and the scepter of power in the other?

How might you be called upon to find this power in yourself? This week, consider how compassion may be required from you, especially in matters of great significance. In what ways are you called on to exercise mature restraint when emotions run high? Who is in need of your kindly, wise guidance? In gentleness, there is great power; with forgiveness, profound change is possible.

Lead from your heart, with love and kindness. For all of us, the world will be better when you do.

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  • August 10, 2009, 6:56 pm Thalia

    This isn't in real response to anything you wrote, but this

    This week, we have our first ever visit from the King of Cups. The Kings of the Tarot are the overt, assertive personification of the suit’s energy. They are the builders, fathers, and rulers. They represent maturity, discipline, and mastery. They point to our own capacity to realize our full potential. And of course, the Cups preside over the realms of emotions, empathy, intuition, and love.

    and this

    [A]s the King, they are successful, outwardly directed and possess great power in the more aggressive, assertive “real” world. This is in contrast to, say, the Queen of Cups, whose tender spirit can sometimes drift off into impractical dreaminess.

    reminded me of an idea I had once upon a time to do a Tarot deck with six court cards, King Queen Knight Lady Page Maiden, because it just isn't balanced. I know you put the caveat in that this card can refer to a male or female, and I know also that it is part of how the court cards are traditionally interpreted, but still, the bit about the King, because he is an archetype of maleness, being 'successful' and 'possess[ing] great power' in contrast with the Queen's female archetype who is 'tender,' 'impractical' and prone to 'dreaminess' is rather annoying me.

    So having a deck where the King and Queen both represent aspects of power and strength is appealing to me.

    I don't know; radfeministly grumpy as usual, I guess.

  • August 11, 2009, 6:50 am Beth Owl's Daughter

    Oh, I do know exactly what you mean, Thalia. And you are exactly right!

    Most pre-sixties Tarot decks are quite sexist. I am not fond of interpretations like overt vs. subtle, or aggressive vs. passive – being tied to one or the other sex.

    But because of their origins, the more "traditional" cards do this. (I use the Rider-Waite-Smith for my Card of the Week, because it is the common denominator and basis of so many modern, derivative decks).

    In my experience, it has little to do with gender, but more about certain traits and archetypes. (The court cards have some VERY interesting correspondences with the Myers-Briggs personality types, for instance)…

    Happily, in many newer decks, these qualities have been unbound from sexual stereotypes. For instance some have changed the pages to princesses, to make things more even, similarly to what you've described.

    In fact, many newer interpretations have also dropped the whole monarchy model, which is also quite antiquated and limiting in its own way.

    So these are important points, and I'm glad you brought them up!

    I hope you WILL make a Tarot deck sometime with your own viewpoint. It would be a great gift to the Tarot world, I know!

    – Beth

  • August 11, 2009, 4:47 pm Thalia

    Hmmm, looking that up I find that as an ISFP I am supposedly either the Page of Pents or the Page of Cups, neither of which particularly resonate with me. Which is funny because astrologically as an Aries I'm the Queen of Wands, with whom I am much more likely to identify. ISFPs always get the short end of the stick, it seems (some personality test sites go so far as to say we don't exist).

    I think that the reason three quarter of the Tarot courts have never resonated with me is because they are male. Sure, they can say they are either, like the Pages and Knights are said to apply to either males or females, but when they are depicted as males, well really, they aren't genuinely talking about me as a woman, are they?

    I'm not too keen on 'princesses' either, but that could just be the Disney-hater in me.

    In my theoretical deck with the six court cards (which lives in my head with several other theoretical decks, including one in which the genders are reversed), I would have them listed in the LWB (little white book) in their proper order: i.e. the 'masculine' suits like fire and air would list them as King Queen Knight Lady Page Maiden, while the 'feminine' suits, earth and water, would be listed Queen King Lady Knight Maiden Page.

    (Although, I am suddenly taken with the idea of Queen Consort Lady Knight Maiden Page. Hmmm. Because King will still read as 'higher' than Queen, even when the order is switched.)

    I mean that's still dualistic; but hopefully fairer. It's really hard, reconciling all the radical feminism I've been immersing myself in (which for the most part discounts gender in the pursuit of equality and equity) and Paganism, where the ideas of masculine and feminine qualities and archetypes forms the basis of it seems most of the religion.

    I should probably get off my ass one of these days and read some Starhawk. I'll bet she has some good ideas on how to reconcile the two.

    Just thinking out loud here.

  • August 12, 2009, 4:04 am Beth Owl's Daughter

    Starhawk is indeed good on this stuff; so is Thorn Coyle.
    – Beth