Drinking from all Five Cups

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Took a chance and signed up for the Yule Tarot Blog Hop!

Our theme for this round of the tarot blog hop is to select or draw a tarot card that represents our 2017 and one that may represent our wishes for the year ahead. It was relatively easy to pick a card for 2017; the Five of Cups showed up immediately. Picking a card for the next year was tougher, at least until I realized that my card for 2018 is also the Five of Cups.

Five of Cups from the Mythical Goddess Tarot, Motherpeace Tarot, Wooden Tarot, Tarot of Trees, and Mary-El Tarot

Five of Cups from the Mythical Goddess Tarot, Motherpeace Tarot, Wooden Tarot, Tarot of Trees, and Mary-El Tarot

While I can't say I've been grieving for every single day of this year, grief has absolutely been the most memorable experience of 2017, for myself and those in the community. Whether the loss is individual or personal, or more of a collective loss- of community, hope, direction, and at times even basic human rights- grief has felt like the thread that wove us together this year.

While the Five of Cups is absolutely the cup of grief, I see the Four of Cups as where the loss started- the figure is usually stuck, perhaps feeling that initial and sudden shock of loss, and now the Five of Cups bears the vessel for a shift in perspective. The best lesson to come from the grieving journey is that it doesn't stop at loss. It moves, and winds, goes back to where it started, and meanders to new spaces I could never have gone without it. Grief is not stagnant or linear and very often is the spur that moves us from sitting in loss to finding victory. This is the heart of the Five of Cups' message.

I do caution skipping to the change before dealing with the loss. As tarot readers, I've noticed we can quickly skip the uncomfortable steps to get to the aftermath without sitting with the current reality. We do this with The Tower, Death, the Ten of Swords- really any of your classic 'bad' cards. And yes, there's sometimes a need to soothe ourselves and our querents that all is not doom and gloom. However, we cannot undersell the reality of the shadow to move to the light. So let's sit with the three spilled cups for a bit.

Five of Cups from the Sakki Sakki Tarot, Gorgon's Tarot, Kitty Kahane Tarot, Ostara Tarot, and the Welcome to Night Vale Tarot

Five of Cups from the Sakki Sakki Tarot, Gorgon's Tarot, Kitty Kahane Tarot, Ostara Tarot, and the Welcome to Night Vale Tarot

What is Lost?

I deeply associate the Five of Cups with the archetype of the Wounded Healer, whose medicine comes to them from poison; it was brought to them from deep darkness and their experience transmuting it to light is what gives them the wisdom of healing and a need to share it with others. So we can not turn away from the loss too quickly. Facing it, accepting and seeing it for what it was is where the healing starts. Otherwise, we leave wounds that aren't healed festering in our psyche and eventually they make themselves known in our lives again, usually causing even deeper trauma. Worse yet, we can then cause others pain as a result, in a bid to share the misery or alleviate our own.

And so we must turn back inward and expose the wound again, air it out and clean out the debris before we can even hope to begin healing. The Five of Cups doesn't want us to immediately turn to the upright cups. First, we must acknowledge the loss, let the pain move through our minds, bodies, and spirits as it will. Feel all the feelings. Then and only then can we figure out if we want to refill those three cups or leave them where they are and carry on with our two remaining cups.

For it's not always best to refill those cups up again. There's trauma that comes from circumstances, behaviors, and people that once we deal with, we don't need to ever carry the cups that held them with us again. In fact, if we take the lesson of the Suit of Cups, we only ever need the one cup in the Ace- the other cups that come along are sometimes nice to have but not necessary. Even the King and Queen of Cups, the most experienced expressions of the suit, only have the one!

Five of Cups from the Slow Holler Tarot, Personal Space Tarot, Tarot of the Crone, Next World Tarot, and the Daughters of the Moon Tarot

Five of Cups from the Slow Holler Tarot, Personal Space Tarot, Tarot of the Crone, Next World Tarot, and the Daughters of the Moon Tarot

What Remains?

Five of Cups guided grieving is about that space between wounding and recovery, learning how to come up for air. When we've decided what to do with the spilled cups and can now look at what is left for us. We can't remain caught up in what's been lost forever. There's life yet left to live. That one cup that has been with us since the Aces represents our heart- we'll always have it, even when it breaks, the pieces still belong to us. I like to think the second one is filled with our community- friends, families, ancestors, pets, plant allies, spirit guides, etc- that which holds us up when we're unable to and helps us glue our broken pieces back together with tears, hugs, and sticky tape.

2017 has forced me to take a real close look at that second cup. Thanks to the grieving journey I've been able to rethink what community is, who belongs there, and my place in it. I've redrawn boundaries, tightening the ones I'd left too open and expanding some I'd drawn in too close. I learned to look up and remember that I've always got my ancestors with me. I've learned profound gratitude through this pain and for that I can't help but be deeply thankful.

And of course, that cardinal cup. It's appropriate that I write this reflection during the holiday season, and on my late mother's birthday. I feel like the Grinch with how my heart's grown at least three sizes. Something about its breaking helped me put it back together in such a way that it has more capacity. It's definitely stronger; the amount of love and understanding is overflowing now. I am kinder to myself and others around me. Every little emotion is felt more deeply, which I must admit has its advantages and disadvantages. I'm braver.

I take these two cups with me into 2018 knowing all this and it gives me a peace I thought unreachable just a few months ago.

If you were to look back at 2017 what were the three cups for you? Are they cups you want to refill or will you perhaps offer them to the river and let them wash away to the sea? What about the cups that you'll be sure to bring with you in 2018? What does the one cup that cannot be taken from you look like, what is it filled with? What about the second upright one? 

Share in the comments and let's toast each others remaining cups for a wonderful new year!

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