Old English Tarot
2 of Cups
by Helen Howell
In the traditional Rider Waite image of the Two of Cups we see a couple each holding a cup. The man reaches a hand out to the woman’s. The card therefore indicates relationships. Both stand beneath the staff of Hermes with two snakes entwined around the handle and a lion’s head with wings each side. It clearly shows us opposites in balance and harmony.
Now when we look at the Old English image, at first glance it does leave us wondering how to interpret it. What we see are two cups one above each other and a figure in the bottom right hand corner playing what I think might be a lute. How does this image speak to us of relationships or harmony and balance? Lets start taking it apart and looking at each symbol to see how this could be interpreted. Remember, though, this is just my opinion. You may well see something different to me.
The two cups sit opposite each other in perfect balance, each equal distance from the edges and sides of the card. The figure stands relaxed playing her instrument, a symbol here for us of the player and her music working together. So we have two symbolic images to work from: 1) the cups being opposites but perfectly balanced and 2) the player and her music working in harmony. Putting this together we can get two opposites coming together in balance and harmony. So even though the Old English doesn’t immediately speak of relationships it does indicate that aspect of the need to compromise or co-operate in order to unite two opposites.
It helps to remember that it’s a number 2 card and in tarot I have found this to represent union, duality, choice, co-operation and balance. When this numerology is applied to the symbols we see in the image of the Old English Two of Cups, it works perfectly and can be applied to not just romantic relationships but also working ones and even opposing forces that exist internally within oneself.
I sort of like the freedom of the image that the Old English offers, so that one doesn’t immediately think of relationships but rather more about bringing two opposites together so that they can work in the best possible way.
The LWB for this deck says:
Positive: Love, friendship, partnership, marriage, passion.
Reversed: False friendship, separation, crossed desires, misunderstanding.