Inspiring Enchantment & Illumination with Tarot & Intuitive Guidance

Tarot Card of the Week, November 9-15, 2020: Six of Cups

Things ain’t what they used to be and probably never was.
Will Rogers

As history turns the page from one of the most difficult and perilous American presidencies in memory, the terrible problems that have been exacerbated for four years close in like horsemen of the Apocalypse.

And so the narrative offered by the Tarot changes as well, taking us from last week’s painful Five to its gift for this New Moon week. Let us welcome the Six of Cups.

The Cups suit focuses on matters of the heart – emotions, dreams, intuition, and the mysteries of healing. And the Sixes offer balance and harmony after the upsets of the Fives.

And yet the Six of Cups is, by its nature, a puzzler. As I have noted on its previous visits, many Tarot readers interpret this card at face value, accepting its initial impression of simplicity, sweetness, childhood friendships, and gentle sharing. It has even been called the Hallmark greeting card of the Tarot.

And those are valid enough.

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 in the Death card, for example.)

So why are the figures in this scene so.. well… strange? Is the person on the left an adult, or an older child? And is the person receiving the cup of white lilies a young girl or a tiny 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. Either the perspective is quite wrong, or else the cup held by the boy and the one on the pedestal are very large, for they are portrayed as the same size as the ones lined up in the foreground.

Meanwhile, in the background on the left, a guard or soldier with a spear walks away beneath buildings that appear rather rickety and shabby looking.

As the season of Samhain wanes, I am reminded of this quote from Ranata Suzuki, first shared by my brilliant friend, Tarot reader Ellen-Mary: Perhaps the echoes of people we once loved still linger in the places we frequented with them and that is why we go back… Not so much to remember them as to feel them.

Many of you have told me how viscerally you have been experiencing contact with the Ancestors this Autumn. This season of endarkenment has certainly been a fraught time of political challenges and economic hardship, not to mention unprecedented pestilence and death stalking our lands.

I think the Old Ones have much to show us, since those beloved ones of our blood lineage, as well as our ancestors of spirit, have seen similar times.

We would do well to take some time to tune in, as well as to visit, at least in our hearts, those places where our memories of them still linger.

What stories are they offering for us? For here a Cup comes from a strange Child to the elder woman, all in a sort of distorted edge-world, where it is unclear what is “real” and what is myth or Faery tale.

Astrological Intensity Ahead

The astrology is going to be active this week, for as my friend Elisabeth Grace promised, the relative quiet of the planetary patterns last week would be giving way to more dramatic ones now, including Jupiter meeting up with Pluto in Capricorn for the third and final time this year.

In addition, on Friday, assertive, confrontational innovator Mars stations direct, after having been retrograde since September 9. It is in its own constellation of Aries, which is why Hare in the Moon’s Lorna Bevan cautions:

This post-election week is going to be a doozy for everyone, not just those in the US who are seeing their karmic Pluto return playing out in front of their eyes. Mars turning direct in Aries kicks up a Mars Max storm, the 3rd Jupiter/Pluto Conjunction in Capricorn takes everything to extremes, intensified by a seismic Super New Moon in Scorpio which opens the November 30th eclipse rabbit hole…

You have an opportunity to redefine how you respond to life’s challenges, through a makeover or rebirth of your self-expression in the world. Rather than unconsciously reacting in a fear-based fight-or-flight mode, it’s time to become audacious, brave, instinctual, passionate and focused. Find your individual centre of Self, Centre and Power and live from there.

In addition, Sunday’s New Moon is also a Super Moon (because it is perigee-syzygy). Lorna explains:

The Super New Moon in Scorpio November 15, 2020 is the 2nd Super New Moon in two months, accelerating endings and sowing the seeds of new beginnings. Its seismic window is potent from the 12th through the 18th. This is an extreme lunar alignment stirring up especially powerful tides in the atmosphere, seas and crust of our home planet…

The New Moon aligns with Jupiter, Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, all aspecting the karmic Node of Fate.

With the Sun and Moon in Scorpio, we are challenged to journey to the Underworld. This is an opportunity to dig deep, to “get to the bottom of matters. Mediocrity does not satisfy either. All that is hidden, taboo, secret, or suppressed interests us,” as Annie Heese tells us.

Another reason to pay close attention to the dream-like vision of the Six of Cups, for not everything is at it may seem at first glance.

Moving Back to Move Forward

After the Five of Cups’ grieving last week, we now turn away from what was spoiled and lost. We have made the turn, gathering in to our hearts the cups that were promised, and crossing the bridge. Could it be that we are now within the walls of the town we saw in the distance?

If so, perhaps we are being asked to consider how our own relationship with the past can direct us to move forward when Lady Luna renews Herself again on Sunday.

Just be mindful that while this card offers a remedy for the Five, its strangeness cautions that trying to recapture some kind of good old days, including the pre-Occupant, pre-pandemic past is just as fruitless as the “Make America Great Again” slogan.

Our cherished memories are dear to us, and important. But they are bound to be somewhat distorted, and do not represent the experience of everyone.

Take the gift of this card as a time-out of time, a much needed breather. But don’t expect to build a viable future out of a past that was never what it used to be.

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  • November 10, 2020, 6:38 am Jacqueline

    Huh… I had never really examined the card closely before, but now what I notice are that the flowers are shaped like stars and the shrunken older woman wears a mitten that makes me feel she is cold. The youth (who looks like a page and therefore is perhaps a messenger) offers the woman hope. The youth is larger and it causes me to think of the youth that came out to vote in the election. Perhaps it is more a card of the next generation giving the older generation hope as they take the reins of a new situation that requires attention (as you said it is looking worn and shabby) and at the same time they honor the past…

  • November 10, 2020, 6:54 am Jacqueline

    Also… the idea of a “tag team” keeps popping into my mind and I realize the card is ambiguous about who is giving the flowers to whom. It is also possible to see the card as representing the older generation who have been through hard times (represented by the mitten implying cold weather, and the guard in the background leaving, and the shabby state of the buildings) could be giving the next generation (represented by the youth) their hopes and dreams for a better future (represented by the Spring flowers in the shape of the star) and their blessing to go forward into a new and better tomorrow… It is the next generation who will continue the race to a better world without strife (as represented by the guard walking away perhaps)…

  • November 10, 2020, 10:51 am nofixedstars

    some random observations:

    the practice of wearing one glove/gaunlet for ritual reasons (often white) exists in certain esoteric societies, such as the order of the golden dawn, etc…candidates are likewise often wearing a hood that is folded back at some point to reveal the face. PCS would have been very familiar with this.

    there is a tower (watchtower?) as well as a house in the background, and the presence of a watchman doing his rounds suggests vigilance and security and also possibly a secret treasure to be guarded from common view. the heraldic shield on the entry post suggests nobility and tradition, knightly strength, a heritage of value and antiquity.

    lilies have a slew of esoteric meanings: purity, fecundity, sexuality, renewal, acceptance, generations (family), and the wisdom that comes with age…the lily accompanies the virgin mary, but also the empress. it is both chaste or maidenly, and sexual or fecund. its buds evoke the male and its flowers the female. it can allude to a lineage—one stalk, many flowers, buds and blooms together. the scent of lilies is sedative and aphrodisiac at once; it fills small italian churches to honour mary, yet was considered too ‘stimulating’ for the bedrooms of young girls by some victorians…in rosicrucian symbology, the rose is female and the lily male. in the lenormand system, the lily card may indicate sexuality, family, a wise elder generally, or an older man specifically.

    i suspect that part of what we see here is the boy, who is young but large, passing a cup/grail filled with lilies to a female figure who is small but seemingly ageless, as a recognition that something of great value, age, and holiness belongs in her hands. in her lies the strength of the past and the hope for the future. i think there are deliberate references to initiation rituals, and the girl-woman is accepting both her heritage and an homage. in her lies the living power which is the gift of generations; she embodies ancient wisdom and nobility, as well as being the means of its continuance. there may be references to the esoteric narratives about the bloodline of the christ here, but it is significant that the only flower depicted is the lily—no sign of a rose here! there may be a hint that the boy (larger, thus older) is passing his patrimony to the girl—through a sort of play marriage? or, if she is sister or cousin, through recognising that she, not he, is the proper guardian of the lineage? a sort of repudiation of primogeniture and male entitlement? or it may simply hint at the union of male and female that produces new life. or show the innocence of childhood, which freely gives chalices of flowers without knowledge of the sexuality (and adult responsibilities) that they may symbolise. but the single glove on the girl figure makes me think it’s more than just that…she is a liminal figure, a threshold being, a neophyte.

    if this card is usually interpreted as having overtones of childhood memories, innocence, happiness, and perhaps a solid family heritage or ‘good start’ in life, they are not incompatible with the other observations. if we had a good start in life and a supportive family, we may return (mentally/emotionally or physically) home at times for healing and help in times of stress. a safe childhood sets the tone for a strong adulthood. this card is about foundations to me, and also perhaps about the bittersweet knowledge that the innocence of childhood cannot fully be recaptured, and the threshold of childhood to adulthood cannot be recrossed. but there is a hint, in the ageless female girl figure, that we carry an ever-renewable innocence in our hearts as well as a sort of immortality in taking our place in the chain of generations. there may be a reference to ancient goddesses too, who were “young and old, as it pleased them” or who renewed their ‘virginity’ with an annual ritual.

    i shall be pondering this card for days!

  • November 10, 2020, 6:58 pm Beth

    Umm… well, gracious. What can I say?

    Thanks, nofixedstars.