The Meaning of
the "King of Cups" Tarot Card
Tarot Quick Info
What is the inverted meaning of
the "King of Cups"?
The Meaning of
the "King of Cups"
The Symbolism of the King of Cups
The King of cups sits on a stone throne which appears to be floating calmly on turbulent water.
His connection to the water is shown in his pale blue cloak, and the fish pendant which hangs from his neck.
Unlike the other court cards in the Suit of Cups, the King does not look at his cup. His gaze is leveled straight ahead. In his left hand he holds a scepter, representing his power. In his right hand he holds his cup.
It is notable that the scepter symbolizing his power is held ever so slightly higher than the cup, and rests on the stone of the thone — signifying a control over his emotions.
In the background we see a fish leaping from the water on the side of the cup, and a sail boat with bright red sails, sailing on the side of his scepter.
NOTE: The scepter in the King's left hand bears a striking resemblance to Egyptian sekhem scepters which symbolized the power of the pharaohs. Typically these scepters were held in the right hand. The inversion here is intentional, implying that the King's true power comes from his cup — and creativity. Not from the might of his position.
How to Interpret the King of Cups
As with all court cards in the Tarot, the King of Cups may reference a specific person in your readings.
The King of Cups is deeply creative and intuitive, but he maintains his rule through a steadfast control over his emotions. His decisions are measured. He is influenced by insight and emotion, but never gives in to them entirely.
The King of Cups represents creative and bold decision-making. He is a perfect mix of logic and creativity, or business and artistry. The card may also represent a father figure, or a wise and gentle mentor. In business, he is someone who is fair and honest.
Take your moral cues from your heart, but remember make your decisions with logical rigor and commanding strength.
When the King of Cups does not represent a person in your readings, it serves as a reminder to master your emotions. Take your moral cues from your heart, but remember make your decisions with logical rigor and commanding strength.
The King of Cups is a positive card and carries overtones of creative thinking, honesty, and works of art.
The King of Cups Inverted
The upright King of Cups may be a master of his emotions, but the reversed King of Cups typically indicates a loss of emotional control of some kind.
While we tend to think of a 'loss of control' as an emotional outburst, it may also represent any hasty decision, an impulse purchase or something said before giving thought to the implications of saying it.
When the King of Cups appears in its inverted orientation, it's usually a reminder to think carefully before making a decision.
When the King of Cups appears in its inverted orientation, it's usually a reminder to think carefully before making a decision. Or it may reference a past decision which was made without proper forethought.
In some cases, the inverted King of Cups may represent someone who misuses the emotions of others: Playing on fears and emotional weaknesses — or abusing someone's trust. It may also reference someone in a leadership position whose authority is challenged or questioned.
Common Symbols Found On the King of Cups Card
Tarot cards often use a a common symbology to visually communicate additional hints about how the card should be interpreted. The King of Cups includes at least six well-known, repeating Tarot symbols. Each of these symbols can add greater levels of meaning to the card.
The symbols which appear on the King of Cups card are:
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