Oh heart, if one should say to you that the soul perishes like the body, answer that the flower withers, but the seed remains.
~ Kahlil Gibran
During this intense week of the Full Moon, and what astrologer Elisabeth Grace calls, “the supercharged energy of expansive Jupiter about to exactly square rebel Uranus at 3:14AM ET on Wednesday,” we are visited for the first time in four years by the Five of Cups.
This is a card that is both mysterious and sorrowful. A figure in black mourning is slightly turned away from us, face hidden in grief, gazing at the three spilled cups. While the sky is gray, the river is clear and relatively smooth, and there are two cups remaining. Once the figure turns around, they will also see a bridge that crosses the stream.
The Fives of the Tarot are concerned with strife and conflict. And of course, Cups are about emotions, love, dreams and intuition. One of the few Tarot cards in the R-W-S deck whose main figure seems deliberately androgynous, this is a reminder that the bitterness of loss, regret, and grief is universal to all.
Perhaps the three spilled Cups are the celebratory Three of Cups, now dashed. But then, the friendship and heart-connection meaning of the Two of Cups may be represented in the standing cups behind the figure.
Could it be that, unbeknownst to the grieving one, there is support nearby from friends or a lover?
Perhaps he or she has deliberately overturned the cups of love or happiness. Or has it been due to carelessness that the loss has occurred?
The river of emotion, the unconscious, and cleansing flows nearby. It will bring healing, once the Hermit-like figure turns to discover the remaining Cups and the bridge that crosses it. Once having crossed the bridge, shelter and home await.
One of the reasons I love the Tarot (and it is the exact same reason it is unwelcome to some), is that it does not shy away from the imperfections, ambiguities, and suffering of being human. The Tarot deliberately does not offer a relentlessly positive, affirming, shiny fluffy angel rainbow unicorn message.
This card is one of several I can think of that we might prefer not to receive. No, it is not happy. It points straight to the fact of loss, grief, and regret in the human experience.
Unlike popular fantasies of constant positivity, the Tarot reminds us that this, too, is life, and such times can be incredibly valuable if we will learn from them. Our challenges often shape us more deeply (and beautifully) than our pleasantries.
What loss has occurred in your life? How can you give yourself enough time to absorb and feel your feelings until you reach a state of acceptance? While you are processing your feelings, who “has your back?” What wine of life still remains, waiting for you to notice its presence?
If you have suffered disappointment or heartbreak, be honest about it, but do not hold onto regret. While you may need to grieve, there is life, and where there’s life there is hope. Turn and see what points the way towards your journey of healing. Say your goodbyes, knowing that while you do, the seeds for tomorrow’s rebirth remain.
There are heart gifts of friendship, companionship, and perhaps even love’s great pairing, only a hair’s breadth away from you, waiting for you to notice. When you are ready, you can accept them and move forward again.