Aces mark the beginning of each suit. If you look at tarot’s pip cards as a progression, each suit in the Minor Arcana begins with the ace, builds toward conflict, and then comes to a resolution. The ace’s suit provides the context and symbolism needed to interpret it.
About Ace of Cups
- Keywords: Contentment, love, emotional fulfillment
- Keywords (Reversed): Emotional blockage, sadness, indecision
- Yes or No: Yes
- Yes or No (Reversed): Maybe
- Element: Water
- Zodiac Signs: Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces
The suit of Cups (sometimes called Chalices) is related to the element of Water. The cards in this suit typically describe events and situations relating to the emotions — including love and partnerships.
In the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck, the Ace of Cups is depicted as a luminous hand emerging from a gray cloud. The hand holds a golden goblet, topped by a white dove holding a piece of the host from the Eucharist. Five steams of water emerge from the top of the goblet, flowing down to a lily-covered pond below. Around the streams, dew drops dance in the air.
The dove is associated both with the Christian figure Jesus, as well as the Goddesses Venus and Aphrodite. According to Waite, it symbolizes Grace, the blessing of guidance and protection.
In this context, it’s the blessing of the supernatural descending into the water of the cup. The cup itself figures prominently in cultures all around the world. It’s the Holy Grail, Dagda’s cauldron, Cerridwen’s cauldron, and much more.
The five streams are thought to represent the five senses, five elements (including ether, or spirit), or even the Masonic five gates of grace.
They may also refer to a passage in Cormac’s Adventures in the Land of Promise, in which Cormac, a figure in Celtic legend, sees a fountain with five streams in the center of the Otherworld. He’s told that this is the Fountain of Knowledge, and each stream is a sense through which knowledge may be obtained.
The dew drops are shaped like the Hebrew letter “Yod.” This letter has a shape reminiscent of a flame, and forms the basis of other Hebrew letters. Alchemist Thomas Vaughn called this a divine spark that is attracted to its origin in the ultimate divine.
Mysteriously, no one is really sure what the “W” (or upside-down “M”) on the cup is intended to represent.
If all of that symbolism sounds like a lot to digest, don’t worry — it is! One helpful way to read tarot is to look at the art and see which elements appear to “jump out.” This can help lead the reader to the right interpretation, rather than trying to distill every element down into a single meaning.
Ace of Cups Meaning (Upright)
Overall, the Ace of Cups represents a new beginning related to the emotions. This is a good omen for whatever that beginning is — a new relationship, emotional breakthrough, or spark of divine love and compassion.
It indicates that now is the right time to let go of your misgivings and emotional patterns, and take the opportunity presented to you.
Just like the clear, pure water pouring into the pond, now is a time to be cleansed and refreshed. Expect an emotional release of some kind, and the chance for deep spiritual fulfillment.
As with other opportunities, this can pass you buy if you let it. The dove alights on the cup, carrying the blessing of the divine in the form of the host. It’s up to you to choose to either take the cup and drink its waters, or let them pour out.
Ace of Cups Reversed Meaning
When reversed, only one thing can happen to the Ace of Cups: gravity. The waters pour out, and they can’t be drunk.
There are a number of ways to interpret this, none of which are entirely negative. One is that your life is currently missing that sense of emotional and spiritual fulfillment.
Another is that your own cup is empty — you’ve been pouring out too much of yourself, and need to turn inward to heal before you can keep going.
Turn your own cup, and attend to your own emotional and spiritual needs. You may have been repressing them for too long. Now’s the time to stop and seek the release you’ve been denying yourself.
Ace of Cups Meaning – Love & Relationships (Upright)
In a love reading, the Ace of Cups upright is a very good sign. It’s the beginning of a new love, or the awakening of deeper feelings.
If you’re currently single, you can expect a very meaningful new relationship of some form — either a romantic one, or a very profound platonic one.
If you’re partnered up, your existing relationship may deepen. In either case, it points to the development of a very special connection to another person.
Ace of Cups Reversed Meaning – Love & Relationships
Reversed, the Ace of Cups is a warning about love and relationships. It often points to self-sabotaging behaviors — are you holding back your feelings because you’ve been hurt before?
It can also mean disappointment, insecurity, and vulnerability. An existing wound or block of some sort is hampering your ability to freely give and receive love. When you can identify and resolve this, you can find emotional fulfillment.
Ace of Cups Meaning – Careers, Business & Money (Upright)
The Ace of Cups typically isn’t a career, business, or money card — that’s the realm of the suit of Pentacles. When it arises, it can point to happy relationships with co-workers, or emotionally fulfilling work.
Money-wise, this card doesn’t indicate a huge windfall of cash, but points to a sense of emotional contentment with your financial situation.
You’re likely to receive all of the help, support, and encouragement you need from friends, family, and co-workers, and your situation will be stable. Expect a bit of financial breathing room and a reduction in job- or money-related stress.
Ace of Cups Reversed Meaning – Careers, Business & Money
When reversed, it indicates difficulties in work-related relationships and emotions. You might feel unfulfilled by your career, or have a difficult time connecting to your co-workers.
Financially, you may find that others are reluctant to work with you. If you’ve applied for a loan, this could point to a denial. If you need to ask friends or family for monetary help, they may not be willing or able to give it.
While this card doesn’t necessarily indicate financial hardships, it does show that you’re feeling unsupported and somber about your situation.
Ace of Cups: Yes or No?
If you draw an Ace of Cups upright in a one-card “Yes or No” reading, congratulations! Your answer is a “Yes.” The Aces mark new beginnings, when things are full of positivity and potential. As a Cups card, the Ace of Cups therefore represents a situation that will bring you satisfaction.
When reversed, the Ace of Cups is either a “No,” or a “Yes” with some caveats. It may not indicate a clear-cut answer, but, whatever the outcome is, it’s not likely to be one you’ll like.
The Ace of Cups is a card of emotional abundance. When it’s upright, it’s your chance to feel all of your feelings and revel in spiritual fulfillment and a deep sense of joy.
You might fall in love, or just feel it more deeply. You’re surrounded by friends and support, and the currents of divine love and compassion flow through you easily.
When reversed, this meaning doesn’t change — it just indicates some kind of blockage that keeps you from enjoying this emotional and spiritual abundance. Care for yourself, identify the block, and you can move into that state of grace, love, and happiness.