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Four of Cups Tarot Card Meanings
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UPRIGHT: Meditation, contemplation, apathy, reevaluation.
REVERSED: Retreat, withdrawal, checking in for alignment.
The Four of Cups shows a young man sitting under a tree with his arms crossed, deep in contemplation and meditation. He is so engrossed in his thoughts that he does not seem to notice the outstretched arm offering him a cup. A further three cups stand at his feet, but again, he doesn’t seem to notice or care about these new opportunities either.
NOTE: The Tarot card meaning description is based on the Rider Waite cards.
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When the Four of Cups turns up in a Tarot reading, new invitations and opportunities are flowing to you, but for now, you’re saying “no” and turning them away. Perhaps the prospects do not interest you, or your cup is full, or you already have too much on your plate. Use your discernment to decide on what is truly important to you, and don't be afraid to decline new projects that don't align with your future path.
The Four of Cups can also indicate a time when you are turning your attention and your energy internally, to realign to this new phase of your life. You know that you need to be standing on terra firma before you can decide your next steps. While you may need to decline some very alluring opportunities, you do so knowing you will be in a better position to say ‘yes’ to the opportunities that are a better fit for you. You are creating the space within yourself so that you are ready to accept new opportunities later and give them the best possibility of success. Use this time for inward reflection, grounding, and contemplation before accepting the next ‘big thing’.
Sometimes this card brings the message, ‘Not now, but maybe later.’ While the man in the Four of Cups doesn’t accept the cups offered to him, he doesn’t wholly reject them either. You may be waiting for a sign or further information before taking an invitation or new project. Check in emotionally and spiritually before you say ‘yes’, to make sure the opportunity is a good fit and that you can commit to it in the long-term.
The Four of Cups can appear when you are bored or dissatisfied with your everyday life. You may feel disengaged, apathetic or unmotivated – maybe life has become dull. The Four of Cups invites you to bring your attention inward and re-evaluate your situation to find a deeper meaning in what you do. You may have found yourself disconnected from your emotional self and inner truth, and need to re-establish this connection so you can get a greater sense of purpose and direction. Now could be an excellent time to switch off from the distractions of the external world – social media, the news and other people’s stories – to allow you the space to listen to your own voice and inner knowing and gain more clarity.
The Four of Cups may show that you have shut yourself off from new opportunities because you have been hurt or rejected before. The man in this card has his arms crossed as if protecting himself and closing off from the external world. You may have had a relationship end in heartbreak or experienced failure in your career and now want to avoid getting in the same predicament again. However, you may miss out on new opportunities that are an excellent fit for you. Check in on a soul level and question whether shutting yourself down is the best course of action, or if it’s time to open up to the possibilities available to you
The Four of Cups reversed reflects a period of introspection and withdrawal. You are retreating into your own inner world so you can concentrate on what is integral to you and what grounds you. Others may want to spend time with you or invite you out, but you’d prefer to stay in and read a good book or meditate in your sacred space. Just be careful that you don’t shut off your friends and loved ones or appear disinterested in their lives. Let them know you need some alone time and that you’ll reach out again when you’re ready to re-emerge.
If you are feeling withdrawn, don’t force yourself to go out. Just ‘be’ in this space, and when you’re ready, start to re-integrate with the world around you. You won’t be a ‘hermit’ forever – it’s just a temporary state of being. Appreciate it and make the most of it.
You may use this time of introspection to check in with your inner self to make sure your upcoming projects and endeavours are a good fit. Instead of saying ‘yes’ straight away, step back and assess the situation first. That said, be careful that you don’t lose this opportunity as you wait for an answer. Check for an expiry date or deadline and be sure not to miss it.
At times the Four of Cups reversed suggests that you feel uninspired, disillusioned, or disappointed with the world around you. Everything seems hard, and instead of dealing with it head on, you’re choosing to retreat. You may avoid the challenges of the external world hoping that if you step out, the problems will go away. But let’s be real: they will need your attention eventually.
The Four of Cups reversed might mean you are reluctant to open your heart to someone or to express your true feelings, choosing to withdraw and isolate yourself from the other person instead. Be mindful of how this could impact those who are close to you and consider their needs along with your own.