In this series of posts, I plan to discuss all of the Tarot cards in order, using a different deck for each card. Today I'm exploring the FIVE OF CUPS from The Dragon Tarot by Terry Donaldson, with cards painted by Peter Pracownik, published by U.S. Games Systems.
In this deck, Terry Donaldson incorporates the legends of Dragons from around the world into a new world called Dragonland. He provides a guide "from travelers reports" which explains the setting, and invites us to journey through Dragonland. As Donaldson explains it, this deck approaches the symbol of the Dragon "not as an adversary to humankind, but rather as a challenge for us to discover our own boundaries, and think about going beyond them."
The suit of Cups in this deck (as in many others), represents the element Water, indicating feelings and emotions. From Donaldson, concerning the Five of Cups: "We see the great Water Dragon swimming along in a loch or fjord. She seems a bit lonely, but still swims along, with a strong purpose in her mind."
The full moon seen on the Five of Cups appears on all of the Cups cards in this deck, reinforcing the association of the card with Water. The Moon rules the Water sign Cancer, and is commonly associated with emotions and the subconscious mind. The inverted triangles in the lower corners of the card also represent Water and the Water signs of the zodiac.
Many of the cards in this deck do not readily lend themselves to interpretation solely from the image on the card. On this one, however, I really do get a sense of "alone-ness" as the dragon swims across the lake. She does indeed seem self-reliant as well.
Interestingly, all five Cups are upright, whereas in many decks, one or more of the five Cups are overturned on the Five of Cups. It is not clear whether the Cups on this card are empty or full or something in between. Perhaps we are being prompted to explore whether we see our own life or situation as "full" or "empty"?
In my tarot system, the number Five can suggest disequilibrium, fluctuation, struggle, adjustment or adaptation, opportunity for change, or adventure. Our emotional state can determine whether this state of fluctuation is welcome or threatening.
DMs provided by Donaldson for the Five of Cups are: "The need for emotional self-reliance. Disillusionment, if you rely on the commitments of others."