This is a card that is both mysterious and sorrowful. A figure 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 person turns to them, they will see the bridge that beckons.
In an excellent article in the Summer 2007 edition of the American Tarot Association Quarterly, author Anya Weber writes about the gender archetypes in the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot, and focuses on the few, but crucial instances of androgyny in the deck. This is one example, for, “The use of androgyny in these cards,” she writes, “seems to serve as a signal that these particular cards represent issues or ideas that are equally valid for both men and women.”
Indeed, the bitterness of loss, regret, and grief is universal to all. The Fives of the Tarot are always concerned with strife and sometimes suffering. Interestingly, we can view the three spilled Cups as the celebratory Three of Cups that precedes the Five, and the Two of Cups represented in the standing cups behind the figure in black. This may indicate that, perhaps unbeknownst to the grieving one, there is support nearby from a friend or lover.
Perhaps he or she has deliberately dashed the cups of love or happiness. Or has it been due to carelessness that the loss has occurred? The river of sorrow flows, and will bring healing, once the Hermit-like figure turns to discover the remaining Cups and the bridge that crosses the river of tears and healing. Once they have crossed the bridge, shelter and home await.
This is a card about facing loss, and taking the time needed for acceptance. This week, if you have suffered disappointment or pain, be honest about it, but do not hold onto regret. While you may need to grieve, all is not lost. Say your goodbyes, knowing perhaps that while you do, someone who loves you has “got your back.”
Then turn away at last, never giving in to hopelessness. For there are gifts awaiting your notice, only a hair’s breadth away from you, if you would but see them. They will lead you forward to a future filled once more with promise.