Dark Side of the Ten Of Cups

When I first began exploring Tarot Cards, I decided to have a reading from a friend who was using the Rider-Waite-Smith(RWS) deck.  I got the Ten of Cups as my final outcome card in a Celtic Cross spread.

She said that this was a great card and things were going to be fabulous in the future.  I saw the beautiful cups and the rainbow and thought “It is a lovely scene, but what do those children dancing in the bottom mean?  I don’t have kids and just got divorced.”  I wondered what it could mean.  What had Pamela Coleman Smith drawn and what message was being conveyed?  Why was it that way?  You can’t see the couples’ faces, only the “happy” children dancing up a storm under a rainbow full of cups.  In the book that accompanies the Original Rider Waite Tarot Deck, The Pictorial Key to the Tarot, Arthur E. Waite stated that the Ten of Cups shows an “appearance of cups in a rainbow; it is contemplated in wonder and ecstasy by a man and woman, evidently husband and wife.”  But I was not sure how this applied to me and my situation.  I started to look at other decks and how other Tarot artists viewed this card.

I started with the Ten of Cups in the Voyager Tarot deck by James Wanless, which shows the Ten as a golden cup surrounded by flowers. The cup is a golden lion with flowers coming out of it and all the flowers are in full bloom. It appears to be abundance in all it’s glory.

In the Halloween Tarot, the Ten of Cups is depicted as the Ten of Ghosts and all the Ghosts are strung around the card as decorations at a party. The full moon is shining down on the couple in the card as well as the two little children who seem to be dancing in the bottom corner of the card.
In the Archaeon Tarot, the Ten of Cups appears as a Geisha standing by a darkened wood with ten cups arranged on the ground before her. Her demeanor seems pensive and the woods foreboding.

It became clear to me that every artist had taken a differing view of ways to express this last card of the Cups suit. But how should one read this overflow of emotions?

As I continued my studies, I found out that Tens are the extreme of the Minor Arcana.  They represent as far in the suit as one can go and this can be both good and bad. This water card is at the end of the cup pips. It represents having been through all the other places and it is now at the end of it’s journey.  It is the final cups card before you go into the court or cycle back through the pips. It stands ready to be the answer to all and yet the last question in the emotion cards.  Cups are the element of water with it’s ebb and flow.  When looking at the other pip cup cards, the Ten stands out as it doesn’t appear to have water in its cups in the RWS deck. It is encompassed in the rainbow after the flood.  Could it suggest that one has to survive the floods of emotions to reach one’s rainbow or emotional dreams? Traditionally, the Ten of Cups is seen as the overflowing of emotions or having achieved the end of the journey in the Cups.  But when it is laid in different positions in a spread, it is interesting to see how the position effects the meaning of this card. If one focuses on the location of the card in the spread instead of just using the main meaning of the card as the deciding factor of its message, the reader can really expand what this card could be conveying to the querant. In other words, try applying the meaning of the location in the spread to give perspective on the possibly meaning of the card in that location. For example, when it appears in the hopes/fear position in a Celtic Cross spread, how often does a reader skim it as “Oh see you hope for a family and complete joy“?  Why not also consider it as fear of never having a family or kids?  Or what about the obsession with finding the “perfect mate and family” and not looking at how the querant can improve themselves to meet the lofty goals as promised by the Ten of Cups? What other meanings could be seen here? What if you hate rainbows? It could be seen as no more rain, but it could also be seen as no more water to help things grow.

In the different positions in the Celtic Cross spread, one might want to add that position meaning to the wonder of abundance in the Ten of Cups.  Another example is using a 3 card spread of Past, Present, and Future. As the Ten of Cups moves through each position, how can it change how it is viewed? When it appears in the Past position, it can imply having a good foundation to have built upon. When in the Present position, it could  imply having achieved your goals in your job or family life. Finally, when in the Future position it could be considered to represent a goal one is working towards or rejoicing the good time one has worked hard to achieve. Try it in a spread you have not used before and you can see even more depth to this card. Each spread position can effect how the reader can take the meanings of the Ten of Cups and express it for the querant.

Of course there could be a meaning of negativity one might need to consider for different querants.  Upon looking at the the Ten of Cups, one can’t see the faces of the two “adults” in the scene in the RWS card. The woman could be screaming, crying or weeping because she is being held captive by the man who has his arm around her waist.  He could be keeping her there as he points up to the sky saying “See, you are mine.  Even the heavens say it is so.”  The children could very well just be evil henchmen dancing as their master has captured the princess. It depends on the querant and what they see as well. Or perhaps this ‘ideal’ setting is exactly what the querant doesn’t want, having recently escaped a restrictive relationship or household and now is on their own; in this case it represents what they got away from.  It could be that they feel that everyone around then is telling they must get married and have children and that isn’t their ideal. The Ten of Cups can imply dependency; that only in partnership can ‘happiness’ be found. For some people, this is exactly what they should NOT be seeking at this point in their lives; someone with a co-dependency problem may see this card as vindication of their habits and self-harming nature. Again, it depends on who the reading is for and the question at hand. On the other hand, perhaps the Ten is a goal but hints that trust, partnership and occasionally letting someone else handle things is needed. Not exactly what a Type-A, dominant, control-freak wants to hear, but maybe what they need to hear. The Ten of Cups, like every card, can contain bitter and necessary truths under the guise of idyllic rainbows.

I have found that the meaning of the Ten of Cups -and all cards for that matter- changes with the position I find the card in, for every reading I do. When the Ten of Cups is in the beginning and it cross the first card, generally people are looking for the rainbow of their dreams. When it showed up in the past influences, it could be about letting go of old dreams that weren’t their own. When it comes up in the future influences, it is more about looking for their own view of happiness.  If it is in the hopes/ fears position it is sometimes the hope for a family and children.  It also represents the fear of never finding that ideal. Each reading brings on a new way to see the Ten of Cups.  And each placement is a correct way to view the Ten of Cups. It is what the querant needs it to be.  And the Ten of Cups, like the water it represents, ebbs and flows as it shows up in any reading.

A Lovers' Spread as a I recall the excitement I had when CA let all people marry.

Being that I live in California, specifically the Bay Area, it was a big deal about Same Sex Couples being able to marry. It was as exciting as it must have been in 1967 when the case of Loving v. Virginia was decided by United States Supreme Court and interracial couples were legally able to marry. I felt the excitement in the air as San Francisco got ready to have this happen in City Hall and the employees all tried to get sworn in so they could help with performing ceremonies. Many couple went to get their licenses and made plans to marry that day. Some people just wanted to show their support.

Of course there were people who feel this is wrong. They feel that marriage is between one man and one woman . Their reason is that if one wants to procreate you need this DNA to produce a child. But I think the message here isn’t about creating children, even though that is a good message. I think it is about respecting people for who they are and the choices they make that do not affect you, and not caring if they are living a different life than you. It is also about defining whether same sex couples are making a choice to be in same sex relationships or not.

In recognition and respect for this event, I would like to share a Lover’s spread I use when I have a couple or individual wanting to know more about their love life:


1 2

3 7 4

5 6


1. How you see yourself in the relationship.

2. How they see themselves in the relationship.

3. How you see the relationship at that moment.

4. How they see the relationship at that moment.

5. How you see the other person in the relationship.

6. How they see you in the relationship.

7. Where you two meet/ common group.

It is a fun spread to use to gain insight on where one seems to be at in their relationship and how one can work together with their partner to build a stronger foundation. It can also point out how different the relationship may seem and where one may wish to work on things. I think it can be useful and helpful if one is trying to get a fresh perspective. Also making sure the person/persons one does a reading for interacts with the cards and reader will bring a deeper meaning to this spread.  We need to always remember that we are reading for the clients, and it’s about them, not us.

Question for the day

What is your favorite Tarot guide and why?

Mine is Tarot for Yourself by Mary K. Greer. It was given to me when I did my first real exploration with the Tarot and I always return to it because of the insight it gives me.

There are others I love as well but that is another post.

I would love to hear what you find as a your go to resource or just favorite Tarot book.
Please share in the comments as others may be inspired by your choices.

Barbie Tarot-Michelle Erica Green

So I was looking at different decks out there in the world like you might do, and I stumbled upon the Barbie Tarot.

I have loved Barbie since I was little as I got to play with my neighbor’s 1950’s doll with wigs and elegant dresses and all those accessories. And here was a deck that used this image and created it to fit into a Tarot deck!

Michelle used all the different types of Barbies out there to creat this deck as well as a few Ken dolls. My favorite cards are 11- Justice which is Wonder Woman from Barbie Loves Pop Culture and 13- Death Sterling Silver Rose from the Bob Mackie Series. She took time to really think about each card and what doll would best represent the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot.

She has changed the pip/minor arcana to suit the Barbie style however. Swords are now Hats as Barbie is a fashion icon. Cups are Flowers as they are new water to grow and flourish. Coins became Purses as Barbie never seems to carry money but always has her purse. And Wands stayed wands as there were enough images that worked for this.

The deck is a fun and fanciful deck. if you like the doll that has it all this might be a deck to consider finding for yourself.

Here is the the link to the Barbie Tarot

2 Card Reading at SF Tarot Cafe, April 20, 2010

We had our second SF Tarot Cafe meet up and I lead the discussion on 2 card spreads. Some folks had not used just 2 cards for spreads before so this was new way to look at a short precise read.

Some of the ideas that did come up were as follows:

What’s the Problem? What’s the solution?
Ying And Yang
What is in the dark and what is in the light? (What can you see in the reflection that you are missing in the direct view)
In a relationship reading-He said, She said
What is below the surface of the standard 3 card reading or what is below the table?
Appearance and reality
If yes than this. If no, then this.
Self and others
What you show the world and What is really going on for you.

These were all examples of ways to use the cards in a two card spread. After a bit more discussion where I shared the 2 card reading I did before the meet up about how I would do as a presenter*, we broke off into pairs and did two card readings for each other in our pairings.

I got to work with Sarah, who had brought The Inner Child Cards which were amazing. I love fairy tales so these really struck a cord with me. We did a reading for Sarah about her living situation and she seems to get a new prospective on it.(I hope!) Then she read for me. I asked about continuing with the Tarot Cafe and really making it part of my monthly routine. I give up two nights a month which I was hanging out with my friends to game and now I am choosing to do Tarot(which I love to do) with people I am getting to know.
I pulled the VI-Hansel and Gretal for what am an getting from this and XI The Midas Touch for what might I be losing.
Sarah said she saw nothing but Heart in me staying with this and it was what I need to do. It is fulling and touched my heart as well as I was going to touch others by continuing this. And while I am leaving “treasures ” by not being with the others all the time, it will make the times together just that much more special. We then pulled two more cards to get a little more depth to the reading and got 3 of Crystals and I – Aladdin and the Magic Lamp. Again she saw more heart and fulfillment by staying with what I was loving and that the magic lamp would still be there for me when I was able to rub it.

It was a really what i needed at that moment. I was able to hear it and it was just out of 2 cards.

For more on these wonderful cards,check here: Inner Child Cards review

I think we all had a good time and will probably try a 2 card spread next time we need a direct and simple reading.

* Oh and the cards I pulled earlier in the evening were “What you show”_ King of Pentacles, and “What are you feeling” -6 of Pentacles from the Druidcraft Tarot . So what does that tell you?