Old English Tarot
5 of Cups
by Helen Howell
The Old English image of the 5 of Cups is so different from the traditional Rider Waite card. In the Rider Waite image it is easy to see the regret the figure is feeling as he faces the three upturned cups while he seems to be ignoring the two behind him, which represent future hopes.
As Cups is the suit where the energy is expressed through the Water element and is experienced through emotions, feelings, imagination and inspiration, we can then surmise that perhaps this card may well be talking about a relationship of some sort that has come to an end or changed in some way.
If we remember the meaning to the traditional card that can then help us interpret the image we see in the Old English. Lets take a look at the symbolism given:
We have five cups, three of which stand upright (this is the future hopes), one cup is starting to fall, and the last cup has completely turned over (this indicates the feeling of loss, of something changing from what it was.) In the bottom left hand corner we see a boy who has strapped to his back some drums. The grown-up figure behind him beats those drums as they move along together. For the boy this is not the best position to be in. Now this may be a partnership that he has formed with the drummer, but perhaps it was not all he bargained for eh?
I do get a sense from looking at this image that the boy may well regret this choice here and the relationship is not all he had hoped for. So like the traditional card we do have an idea that a relationship is changed or may well come to an end. But what of the cups left standing? Perhaps this also indicates that sometimes change can be hard but it can lead to another opportunity, so in the boy’s case maybe, this is just an apprenticeship he is undertaking and regardless of how hard it now seems, if he focuses on what it could lead to, the regret can be diminished.
I think it worth remembering that this is a number 5 card and in tarot that has come to represent for me conflict, challenge, opportunity for change and a turning point in life. So it can suggest a shift in direction and offers the freedom of choice. When I look at number five cards from a numerological point of view, it often seems to me to indicate that it’s how we choose to respond to the challenges life throws at us, as to whether it causes us grief or not.
I think the Old English just doesn’t speak of loss as does the Rider Waite card, but more of enduring a change in order to find yourself in a better position.
What do you think?
The LWB says:
Upright: Regret, empty relationships, imperfection, incomplete partnership.
Reversed: Hopeful outlook, new alliances, reunion