Can I see another’s woe, and not be in sorrow too?
Can I see another’s grief, and not seek for kind relief?
~ William Blake
As we in the Northern Hemisphere approach the threshold of Winter, with the waning Moon leading us to the darkest of nights, we are visited this week by the Five of Cups.
This is a card that is both mysterious and sorrowful. A figure cloaked in black mourning is slightly turned away from us, face hidden in grief, gazing at three spilled cups.
While the sky is a non-committal gray, the river nearby is clear and relatively smooth. There are rolling hills and two cups remaining. Once the figure turns around, he or she will also see the bridge that crosses the stream, where shelter awaits.
The Fives of the Tarot are concerned with strife and sometimes suffering. And of course, Cups are concerned with our 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. Has the figure fallen from grace?
Could this mean, then, that the friendship and heart-connection of the Two of Cups is represented in the standing cups behind them?
Unbeknownst to the grieving one, is there is support nearby from friends or a lover?
Perhaps he or she has deliberately overturned the cups. What about the colors of the spilled liquids? Are they the orange and red of passion, and the green, perhaps of jealousy? Or has it been due to carelessness that this mishap has occurred?
Accepting the Dark
Soon we will be observing Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year. The green world has long since surrendered to the season of death, silence, and cold.
The word solstice comes from the Latin that means the “standing still of the Sun.” During this period, the steady reduction of daylight hours stops. The seasonal movement of the Sun’s arc seems to come to a halt.
This week, we, too, may be asked to pause, in order to understand the depth of some important loss. This stoppage is vital and necessary.
As I noted in my December Full Moon WINGS newsletter, the holidays can be especially stressful for those who have experienced heartbreak or bereavement. Despite all the glitz and festive atmosphere, there is definitely a poignancy at this time, especially when we think of dear ones no longer with us.
Be sure to take all the time you need, to come to your own intimate acceptance. Grieving rushed or buried is just as perilous to our well-being as despair or hopelessness.
The quiet figure cloaked in black portrays the wisdom of honoring what we truly feel.
Across the span of our own lives, as well as from person to person, we experience our losses differently. Although there may be loved ones who “have our backs,” like the two cups behind the figure, our journey in the lands of loss is essentially a solitary one.
But it must be made if we are to heal and move on.
The Spark of Hope
Yet with this honest acknowledgment of the loneliness of grief, there is still great hope in this painful-looking scene.
The Five of Cups shows that once we’ve come to the bottom of our sorrow, we need only turn away.
Echoing the miracle of the Solstice season, at the bleak heart of the darkest night lies the precise moment when the light is reborn. This is the great truth: all is not lost.
If you have suffered disappointment or heartbreak, be honest about it, but do not hold onto regret. If this is someone dear to you, what kind relief can you offer, once they indicate they are ready to accept it?
What wine of life still remains, waiting to be noticed?
While you may need to grieve, there is life still, and it points the way towards a bridge you may yet cross, of healing and hope. Say your goodbyes, knowing that while you do, the seeds for tomorrow’s rebirth remain.
At last, when it is time for you to turn away from sorrow, you will see that there are gifts of friendship, companionship, and perhaps even love’s great pairing, only a hair’s breadth away.
With infinite patience, they wait to welcome your return.