Upright: Loss, regret, disappointment, despair, bereavement
Reversed: Moving on, acceptance, forgiveness
The Five of Cups is a card that signifies difficulty, loss, and the challenges of dealing with that loss. The figure in the card wears a black cloak in which he hides his face in apparent despair. At his feet are five cups, three of which have fallen and spilled onto the ground and the other two behind his back remain standing. He does not seem to notice these upstanding cups because he is so focused on the fallen cups instead. Ahead of him a powerful river flows between himself and a castle or home in the distance. To his right is a bridge that can lead him to the security of the house across the river. Despite the fact that this card has a strong indication of loss and tribulation, there is a positive aspect that must be considered. Is your cup half full or half empty?
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The Five of Cups represents a lack of fulfilment or non-attainment of expected results. You are feeling disappointed that a situation has not turned out as you had hoped, and instead of moving on to greener pastures, you are wallowing in self-pity and regret about what has been lost. The water spilled from the cups shows that the cause for regret is more emotional than financial. You are quickly becoming disillusioned with life and increasingly pessimistic about your future.
The Five of Cups suggests that you are having trouble letting go of the past and learning from your mistakes. This card can often reflect a person who is caught up in the past and unable to move on, missing out on new opportunities. Bitter memories from the past continue to bother you, and often a great deal of the blame for past actions is placed on yourself and your inadequacies. To some it would seem that there is no way out of this situation but the Tarot always shows problems on one hand and solutions on the other.
Forgiveness and the ability to recover after emotional loss are necessary. If you are feeling disappointed by another person’s actions, and then find it within your heart to forgive that person, releasing yourself from the disappointment. You may also need to re-assess your expectations that have led you to this disappointment. Were you expecting too much?
Remember, too, that hindsight is much clearer than foresight and present-day wisdom is gained from the mistakes of the past. Reflect on what lead you to this point and understand what important lessons you can take from the experience. Even when things go pear-shaped, there is always something positive that can be gained by reflecting on the lessons learned.
While it is true that much has been lost, there is still a ray of hope because some of the cups in this card remain full and upright. You must not pity yourself when you find yourself in his situation. Instead of looking at the situation from a ‘glass is half empty’ perspective, look at it from a ‘glass is half full' perspective.
The reversed Five of Cups shows recovery from regret and an acceptance of the past. Now, you are beginning to realise the full implications of the past and you have come to appreciate the lessons learned from the experience. You may even recognise the value of the painful experience in the broader scheme of things in preparing you for later experiences. You are ready to pick up the remaining two cups that are full of the water of emotional growth and go on.
This card is also about learning to be open and to take risks again. It is a card of a lingering sense of regret, nostalgia and bittersweet memories but the card itself speaks of being hopeful for the future, getting over whatever you need to get over, and of seeing the sun peek through the clouds once again! If you have suffered a broken romance, the reversed Five of Cups signifies an end to the suffering, and a beginning to new loves and relationships, new interests, and new emotional outlets. You are starting to engage with the inspiring, creative and feeling side of life again.
The reversed Five of Cups is about values and knowing what you truly want and what will really make you happiest. It is about the hidden blessings that lie behind obvious disappointments. Sometimes disappointments are required to see through illusions and free you to find what is truly of value in life. Once you have made this transition, you will be free to embrace new opportunities.
Sometimes, the reversed Five of Cups indicates a feeling of being trapped in the past, holding on too tightly to the might-have-beens, and not being able to focus on the positive. The reversal could also indicate buried feelings of regret, that you are not allowing to surface and therefore they never get dealt with and brought to closure. Five is also the number of change, and indicates an emotional destabilisation that is intended to create change in how you approach your life.