There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.
~ Francis Bacon
When I first pulled this card, my immediate reaction was, “Huh? What does this say, if anything, to the Magician/Uranus/ennui discussion we’ve been having?”
Indeed, the Six of Cups, by its nature, is a puzzler. As I have noted on its previous visits, many Tarot scholars interpret this card at face value, accepting its initial impression of simplicity, sweetness, childhood friendships, and fond sharing. It has even been called the Hallmark greeting card of the Tarot.
But a closer inspection reveals much that is unsettling and mysterious. For instance, Pamela Colman Smith, the artist of the Waite deck, was extraordinarily talented and knew perfectly well how to draw children. (Want proof? Look at the Pages, or the child in the Ten of Pentacles or Death, as a few examples.)
So why are the children in this scene so.. well… strange? Is the figure on the left an adult, an older child, or a dwarf? And is the person receiving the cup of flowers a young girl or a tiny grey-haired little old lady? Her proportions seem much more adult. And why is she wearing a large mitten?
The card is also complicated by the out-of-proportion perspective in the foreground and background. You can read more of my discussions about that here.
The sixes of the Tarot are usually about the restoration of balance and harmony, after the conflicts of the fives. They show us resolution that comes from connecting with others, community, and sharing through the exchange of the suit’s particular element.
How might your own heart connections begin to show you how to move forward this week of the Full Moon?
With Cups being about our emotions, feelings, and love, we can’t help but consider the bigger Six in the Tarot – The Lovers. Is this a younger version – an exchange between innocent children that is later fulfilled in adulthood?
Do you have a similar kind of friendship with someone? Did someone, perhaps from your youth, give you a gift that you need now?
Revisiting the context of our recent conversations here, we’ve been talking about our desire for launching in creative new directions, but feeling hampered, slowed, or made ambivalent by … something.
Whether it is just a Summer slow-down, Uranus retrograde, the shadow beginning of Mercury retrograde coming August 2, or some other Mystery, this visit from the Six of Cups points to something rather interesting.
As each of us here has shared our own experience of the strangeness of this time and the odd, sometimes conflicted emotions we are having, we have offered one another a gift. The gift of our true feelings, without tidying them up, drawing a conclusion, or even trying to fix things.
“Here is what is happening to me; this is how I am feeling,” we have been saying to one another, “and yes, it doesn’t make sense. But here it is just the same.”
And what a gift it is to realize that it looks that way to all of us!
In the wider world, which looks more like a fractured fairy tale every day, or as Robert Wilkinson so aptly calls it, the Grand Irrationality, one of the wisest, very best things we can do, is begin sharing with one another, heart to heart, as imperfect, unresolved and downright weird as it may be.
How might sharing or receiving an intuitive or emotional perspective, even if it seems off-kilter, be a gift this week?
As confusing or mysterious as things may get, the Six of Cups offers this: there is nothing here to be frightened of. In a world filled with ever more dramatic distortion, where what is real and what is false are increasingly hard to differentiate, the one true place to begin is to freely share our own strange beauty with one another. Even if things are slightly askew, when we give our best, with sincerity and kindness, the gift is beautiful.
And with open, childlike innocence, we receive whatever gifts of the heart that may come from our dear ones, without prejudice or fear.
In love, from love, we begin.