December 4-10, 2023
Four of Cups
He who binds to himself a joy
Does a winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sun rise.
William Blake, Eternity
As we approach the deepest dark of the year, which is always in stark contrast to the profoundly busy, bright holiday season, we are visited by a card that offers us a similarly mixed blessing. This week that sparks the beginning of Hanukkah, we welcome the enigmatic Four of Cups.
The Tarot’s suit of Cups is all about our emotional side, involving love, dreams, healing, and intuition. And Fours focus on grounding the energy of the suit, in order to establish stability.
But as we can see here, that stability may be tipping from strength into stagnation.
The figure in the card is turned towards the three cups on the ground. But does he really see them? What do they hold? Are they past times, or current circumstances? Perhaps they are various desires or loves, among which he feels he must choose.
Is he jaded? Tired or ill? Unimpressed?
Maybe the young man (for indeed, Arthur Waite does say he is male) in the Four of Cups is simply lost in thought, or even meditating in a partial lotus position.
I wish I could give him the benefit of the doubt, however, this is not what Waite seems to have intended. Calling him a “wastrel,” Waite observes, “His expression not withstanding is one of discontent with his environment…weariness, disgust, aversion, imaginary vexations…”
Judging by his crossed arms that close off his heart, as well as his slight frown, it would appear that the young man is feeling flat, annoyed, discouraged, or preoccupied.
Notice the resemblance of the floating fourth cup to the Ace of Cups, of which he seems completely unaware. The Ace has often been compared to the Holy Grail, which is the gift of Grace from God, representing Her unconditional love, freely given to us.
The young man’s clothing incorporates the colors of Earth (green), Fire (red), and Water (blue). Missing is the (yellow) Air, which is perceptive, understanding, and inspired.
Thus, his attitude may be preventing him from seeing the cup being offered. We can only hope that his ennui will eventually become uncomfortable enough that he will turn away from staring at the cups before him, which do not bring him joy.
Taking Time to Pause
If we do choose to assume the best of this gentleman, we might decide he is simply taking a much-needed break. And this week, that would be wise counsel.
Our friend Lorna Bevan notes:
As December begins with all its pressure to be extraverted and sociable even if you don’t feel it, take some time for yourself. There are important choices to consider, as Neptune and Jupiter – gas giant archetypes of imagination and dreaming large – turn direct, Mercury slows to turns retrograde and the Capricorn Solstice marks the midnight hour of the year.
This week, as Venus enters Scorpio on December 4th – reigniting unresolved issues from her 40 days retrograde in Leo last summer – the end of 2023 feels like the end of so many relationships; the end of many family arrangements. Yet endings bring beginnings and 2024 holds the possibility of something different
In these dark, cold days before the festivities, as Neptune in Pisces turns direct on December 6, extend compassion to yourself and outwards to encompass others.
Reject the collective consumer frenzy and slow right down to rest, restore and start saying NO. Maybe just do one big thing a day. Or no more than two social events in a week. Whatever works for you.
Assume that your needs are reasonable and that your feelings are signals of something important.
Undo, unhook, untie and unravel yourself from whatever belongs to the old. Frame it as a brief moment of rest and re-set to understand where you have been, where you are now and where you are going…
Look for the sparks of light in the darkness.
That spark of light is right at this young man’s shoulder, whenever he is able to turn and see it. All the love, healing, and beauty of this Cup is on offer for him if he is willing to break the hypnosis of sorrow, fatigue, or longing for what he cannot have.
Or simply does not want.
And Elisabeth Grace tells us that Venus is very uncomfortable in Scorpio, perhaps contributing to the sulky mood here. Plus, on Wednesday at 8:22 AM ET…
Neptune turns direct, ending a five-month period of subtle focus on using your own dreams and intuition for guidance.
A pause, while we discuss Neptune turning direct. When a planet is retrograde, the suggestion is to turn inward on issues involving that planet, as opposed to looking outside the self. Now that Neptune is moving forward, we can begin to project our vision outward.
You’ll feel the effects of Neptune’s change of station more personally if you were born if you have a planet or angle at 24-27 degrees of Pisces, Gemini, Virgo, and Sagittarius. What kind of effects? Oh…perhaps you are feeling somewhat bewildered…or less inclined to be in Type A personality mode (if you are normally a Type A personality).
You may find yourself needing to express your creativity — even if you have never thought of yourself as a “creative” person…
Instead of whatever inward preoccupations have absorbed you since June 30 (when Neptune’s retrograde began), what external guidance is now being extended to you? What creative happiness might tempt you? Give in and see what happens. Choosing to stay stuck with the status quo leads to stagnation.
Speaking of creative happiness, don’t miss out on Elisabeth’s wonderful zodiac coins – perfect for hostess gifts, stocking stuffers, or a gift of astrological Hanukkah gelt. Tell her I sent you!
Take a Cup of Kindness
What extraordinary gift of goodwill might be nearby, if only you can turn away from that which does not inspire you?
What kindness might you offer someone else? Could it be that their seeming indifference is a defensiveness that hides sorrow and hurt?
Remember that the gift of Grace is given unconditionally as an act of divine love. Despite our doubt, our grief, or sulky anger, it is always available. We need only look up. Can it be that just over your shoulder you might see a loving hand extended? This card is that promise.
Perhaps you need to take a break this week. If so, by all means, take the time to retreat and go within to muse and reflect. But don’t go so far inward that you miss this beautiful offering that you never dreamed might be handed to you out of the blue.
Is there a big decision that you need to make? If you have choices affecting you, perhaps you are preferring “none of the above.” The good news is that there is another completely unanticipated option being granted by Mystery. This could be unexpected news, or simply an opportunity.
How might you be feeling trapped, especially by the past? All too often we may go over and over what we have known up until now, at the expense of missing a fortuitous alternative we could never have anticipated. We can only hope that such quandaries eventually become uncomfortable enough that we unbind ourselves to the joys that would a winged life destroy.
Do not ignore an unexpected call that may be coming this week. Listen. Receive. Trust that whatever dream you seek most is also seeking you.