Sigh. I knew we’d come to this card eventually. But did it have to pop up so soon? The Five of Cups is a painful, troubling card that exposes one of my chief sins as a writer.
The Rider-Waite-Smith version shows a figure staring down at three cups that have tipped over. Something red is spilling out of them. (Wine? Blood?) There’s a river flowing by, a bridge crossing over it and a castle beyond it. Meanwhile, two more cups—both upright and theoretically full—stand behind the figure.
If you love angst in your stories, this is the card for you. This person is devastated. But why?
The suit of Cups represents the element of water, signifying deep emotion and flashes of intuition. Three cups spilled over suggests some kind of gut-wrenching loss—something that hit this person hard, sending them into a psychological tailspin.
My character Conner, from The Horned Gate, was full of angst. Which would be awesome—except that I suck at writing raw emotion like that. I never really conveyed the depth of his suffering—I never dug deep enough. Instead, I just sort of suggested what he was experiencing.
This card does the same thing. We know very little about this figure, after all. Is this a man? A woman? Are they journeying to that castle, or are they exiled from it? Is that river teaming with life, or is it as deadly as the River Styx? Is this person wasting their time crying over spilled milk, ignoring the good things they still have, or are they dealing with genuine grief, abandonment or despair?
Does it matter either way? The pain may be the same regardless.
This card is my cue to dig deeper as a writer. To claw below the surface. What does it suggest to you? Does the figure in it remind you of a character you’ve read or written about?
Feel free to join Tarot Tuesday by writing your own meta, poem or story about this card! Include it in the comments or leave a link. For more details, check out the original post.
You can join in next week too. Our card will be the Six of Swords.