Sunday, July 24, 2011

Five of Cups

A robed figure stands alone, his head is hanging low, and his shoulders bear the burden of loss. Before him lies a river, impassable except for a single distant bridge. The bridge leads to the other side on which we can see a castle and green trees & lawn. He however is isolated, surrounded only by 5 cups; 2 upright and 3 that have been knocked over, spilling their contents onto the barren earth he stands on.

This is a card of loss, sorrow and isolation. However, all is not lost, there are still 2 upright cups positioned behind the robed figure. Unfortunately he does not seem to notice them as his focus is directed on what he has lost – namely the 3 overturned cups. If only he would lift his head a little from the weight of his sorrow, he would notice the bridge to his right. Being positioned to the right of the traveller we know that it lies in his future, as opposed to the overturned cups that lay to his left and thus in his past.

The bridge shows that there is a way out of this pain and suffering. A way to overcome this sense of loss. It offers the robed figure a means by which he can reconnect with the other side, the side where the castle stands, strong and secure. But, in order to do this, he must lift his chin, leave his past behind him, turn to the future and cross the bridge.

In life we all have reason and opportunity to occasionally indulge in a bit of self pity, often  for a little longer than necessary. Like the robed figure on the 5 of Cups we too all to often focus only on what was lost on such occasions, and seldom on what might be gained. Yet, sometimes we can change the course of our own future histories, if only we’d consider what may be gained.

Rome had been divided amongst 3 leaders, Julius Caesar was one of them. Because Ceasar became very popular with the common people of Rome the other two became jealous of him.  They forced Ceasar into a situation where he had very few choices; he could continue to suffer humiliation and abuse at their hands thereby playing the victim, or he could do the unthinkable, he could cross the river that divided Gaul and Italy – called the Rubicon river with his soldiers to confront his enemies. He knew that once he and his men had crossed the river, history would be forever changed, it was an act that could not have been anticipated or undone. This was not a decision that Caesar made lightly. Caesar understood that a critical decision confronted him as he looked out over the river Rubicon, which formed the frontier between Gaul and Italy. He turned to his soldiers remarking “we may still draw back, but once across that little bridge, we shall have to fight it out.” Caesar and his men saw an apparition that snatched a trumpet from one of his trumpeters, ran down to the river, blew a thunderous blast, and crossed over.  Caesar exclaimed: “Let us accept this as a sign from the Gods, and follow where they beckon, in vengeance on our double-dealing enemies. The die is cast”’

To get back to the 5 of Cups card, perhaps the gifts of the upright cups that stand unnoticed behind the figure on the card contain the courage and faith needed to take that step away from self-pity & victimhood.

We all have – within us – the ability to cross the proverbial Rubicon, we have within us the ‘better army’ capable of facing and conquering our enemies  namely self-pity and doubt. We simply need to lift our eyes when drowning in loss and sorrow, and turn our attention to the future rather than the past. We need to pluck up the courage to do as Caesar did and face what – at the time feels like – the impossible. Making a life-changing decision and creating a better future for ourselves…


  1. What an amazing way to explain this card. It made it accessible to different interpretations that I have had before.


  2. Thanks for your feedback Witchbladesa. I am so pleased that my interpretations have opened new and fresh ideas to you.