Water appears in many of the cards across the tarot landscape. When I think about water… fragile, ‘in flow’ , extremely powerful, and transformative, a few terms come to mind. It can be soft and gentle, like how waves can glide against a quiet sandy shore, or a powerful force, like a wild raging river. The nature of water is adaptive, taking the form of solid objects around it, but given a chance, it may make its own way, expanding over large areas and creeping into the tiniest crevices. As much as water needs a form to take shape, it also requires freedom, or it becomes ornery from stagnancy.
People love water. They worship it, live on it, and fear it all at the same time. We need water to survive. In fact, 60% of the human body is made of water. Water has secured a sacred place in many cultures around the globe – In India, major rivers like the Ganges are so sacred that most of them are worshiped as Goddesses. Baptism is a Christian sacrament of admission and adoption, almost exclusively done with the use of water; methods include sprinkling, pouring, or even total immersion in the water.
Tarot – Cups
In its role as one of the four basic alchemical elements, it is associated with emotions, relationships, and feelings. Cups may also deal with the subconscious or underlying motives of your desires. With love, relationships, and connections as the driving force to actions. In Tarot, when a cup shows up, this indicates that you are thinking with your heart rather than your head, and it would be best to reflect on your spontaneous responses to situations. The cup represents creativity, fantasy, intuition, purification, and healing.
In the Major Arcana, we have The Star card, with its watery, spiritual, and high-vibration energy, which is a card of transformation, offering a sense of clarity and hope after the chaos of the Tower. Temperance is a card that brings balance, patience, and moderation into your life—inviting you to stabilize your energy in order to allow the life force to flow through you without force or resistance.
Tarot – Ace of Cups
Within the minor arcana, there is the Ace of Cups with a right hand (the hand of giving). Holding a chalice overflowing with five streams of water that spill into an endless lake or sea. This card is full of symbolism and meaning. Streams of water tend to represent the overflowing nature of our emotions. And the body of water is seen as the subconscious from which they originate — creating a cycle.
The negative aspects of the Suit of Cups include being overly emotional, immature, or completely disengaged and dispassionate. You may have unrealistic expectations or feel disappointed regarding love and relationships. It is possible to have repressed emotions that are causing you to be unable to express yourself honestly. Your emotions may be tumultuous, erratic, and all-encompassing, causing you to behave in ways that only serve to disrupt your happiness.
As you explore the meanings in Tarot, I encourage you to look for the symbol of water and pay close attention to what it is trying to convey. Keep an eye out for these key types of water and their meanings:
Rivers: Fertility, Flow, Transition/Change
Oceans: The Unknown, Subconscious, Knowledge, Journey
Ponds/Lakes: Serenity, Emotion, Reflection
Also, be sure to look at the state of the water. Is it calm, moving, or full of waves? These things add to the meaning of the symbolism within the water of the cards.
Like the cards in this article?