Each tarot card is infused with symbols, philosophies and meanings – giving the cards a limitless intrigue. In the Life Lessons :: Tarot Card Meanings series, I will explore one card and some of the lessons it has to offer for personal growth and self development. Each card has a wide spectrum of meanings, so this post is not meant to be all inclusive!



Five of Cups Tarot Card Meanings Keywords:

  • Loss
  • Melancholy
  • Visceral Emotion

Being a human can be an infinitely lonely experience. At times, we feel connected to each other and to All That Is. But at other times, we feel completely isolated in the ocean of our own psyche. We experience emotional states that cannot be put into words. They are inherently & deeply personal. Sometimes it seems as though we might drown in our own emotions.

Such is the experience of the Five of Cups. The figure in this card wears a heavy, dark cloak. We cannot see her face – she is turned away from the world. Her pain is too raw to show to us directly. She stands next to a river, which could represent her own emotional state – rivers whisk along rapidly, threatening to tug everything in their path into their current.

No matter how happy our external circumstances, no matter how strong our social connections, we all experience these feelings. If left unchecked, they can sweep us into a deep depression. When we find ourselves feeling this visceral sadness, it is vital to explore it, to bring it to the surface of our conscious minds.

When I feel this unnamable melancholy inside of me, my impulse is to bury it deep within. I try to force myself into a cloak of “happiness.” I do this because I am afraid that my sorrow will swell up and become so strong that I will drown. But the more I repress these emotions, the more they struggle to rain out of me and come thundering into the world.

Once I finally do let these feelings manifest in a torrent of tears, or a journal entry, or a sad song, I start to feel better. The range of the human experience is complex, and I have to explore, experience and allow my emotions – especially the tough ones. As painful as the experience of the Five of Cups can be, it is necessary to my humanity.

In order for us to be whole, emotional energy needs to be acknowledged & expressed. We need to let ourselves fully immerse in our sadness. Let it wrap around us like a cloak. Let it make a home in our hearts, knowing that sorrow will come in waves, and that happiness will come again as well.

In the background of this card, we see a bridge leading to dwellings in the distance. This serves as a reminder that difficult emotions will not last forever. Once we have experienced them fully and let them express themselves, we will be ready to once again shed the heavy weight of our cloak, and cross the bridge back to our companions.

Being a person is hard. No one else in the entire past, present or future of humankind will ever navigate the exact emotional landscape that you are experiencing. Certain dear friends will empathize, but only you will ever truly know the cloak of your own emotions. We are at once completely isolated beings, and completely interconnected beings. This is the raw truth of the human experience.

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