Three of Cups Tarot Card Meaning & Interpretations
The 3 of Cups is exactly what its image in the Rider Waite Smith (RWS) deck depicts, a happy social gathering which is likely to be its most common meaning when it makes an appearance. It seems a shame to pull apart and dissect such a lovely card to understand its symbology for greater insight, almost like pulling the petals off a flower, but for those instances where it makes an appearance, and it doesn't seem to fit the context, we will continue. Otherwise stop here and look forward to being one of the happy 3 in that scene.
In numerology the number 3 is about self expression. We see the greatest example of the joy of 3 and its expressiveness in children. Kids love to paint, sing, dance and be social and they epitomise the 3 constantly because they have a powerful need to express themselves through their imagination and creativity. The number 3 is a bit of an extrovert, always optimistic, dynamic and jovial. The down sides of the 3 are irresponsibility, lack of focus and direction. It requires supervision and discipline to keep it out of trouble and to help it make the most of its talents. The 3 of Cups combines the numerological traits of 3 with the element of Water making it an emotionally focused 3.
Where the Ace of Cups and the 2 Of Cups are focused on individual and one on one relationships the 3 of Cups is about being in a crowd. Not necessarily 3 people but several or more which is why it is the party card. There is no romance in this card as it is about enjoying company, the joy of unattached freedom and just having a good time. There can be a hint of hedonism and narcissism as the 3 can be a bit of an attention seeker as it needs recognition and a crowd to acknowledge its existence, authenticating its feelings and desires. The number 3 in Tarot tends to be feminine with The Empress being card number 3 of the Major Arcana. Although the Queens in the Minor Arcana have no number they can be attributed the value 3 through their link to The Empress. The RWS Queen of Cups may have once been one of the 3 maids dancing at this party. She now dwells on her memories from those happy times.
The 3 of Cups is a much desired state which can come at a price as can be seen not only in the RWS Queen of Cups but in the next 2 cards in the Suit of Cups the 4 Of Cups and the 5 Of Cups. In the 4 of Cups a youth stares at 3 cups in front of him, arms folded defensively, ignoring a 4th cup being offered. This is symbolic of resisting what is being offered; the stability of a long term relationship symbolised by the 4th cup. The youth wants to retain the emotional freedom of the 3 of Cups. All good things must come to their natural end and the 3 of Cups can be something that is hard to let go of. In the 5 of Cups that end has come and we see a figure dressed in black mourning 3 over turned cups.
The 3 of Cups is a card of happy social gatherings among family, friends or communities. The element here is Water which relates to love and emotions. The aspects of the number 3 in numerology are the joy, sociability, self expression and creativity. The RWS tarot has 3 women dancing and drinking from 3 cups. The theme is one of a celebration which could be a birthday party, a wedding, a Christmas party or just a night out with friends to celebrate good news or just for fun.
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THE PICTORIAL KEY TO THE TAROT
By Arthur Edward Waite (1911)
Maidens in a garden-ground with cups uplifted, as if pledging one another. Divinatory Meanings: The conclusion of any matter in plenty, perfection and merriment; happy issue, victory, fulfilment, solace, healing, Reversed: Expedition, dispatch, achievement, end. It signifies also the side of excess in physical enjoyment, and the pleasures of the senses.
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