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Monday, January 19, 2015

Old English Tarot: 5 of Cups

In today's blog entry, Helen Howell continues her exploration of cards from the Old English Tarot by Maggie Kneen (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.)

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


  1. I had almost finished my comment when it disappeared; probably a computer issue on my end. If you didn't already see it, the LWB describes my situation somewhat clearly. There was something lacking in a relationship, an incomplete partnership. However an event that occurred yesterday has turned that around and given me a very hopeful outlook. It was related to a "reunion" via internet with a very close friend who had passed and my husbands doubts about that relationship and the power of it in my life. As a result of the information now available on the web, the stories I told him were verified repeatedly in many articles including a video. Since this had always been an open issue/question in our marriage, my stories were validated and I have a hopeful outlook on the way this will affect my husbands ability to trust me and the memories I have shared with him. So I will look at this in a positive way. I believe in 24 hours we have shared a life-changing experience and the cups that had been falling have been uprighted fulfilling all 5 and turning doubt into a stronger understanding and love.

  2. I'm glad the card had a message for you Susan whether it was from the original interpretation or my own insight into it - I guess what you have here is that you have is the chance now to step into a brighter future that those three full cups offer. Your situation could even apply to my last sentence "enduring a change in order to find yourself in a better position"


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~ Zanna