The Kings and Queens of the Minor Arcana are the ultimate embodiments of their suits. These are the rulers, who maintain their authority with maturity and grace. Each one embodies the traits of their suit’s element, along with competency and authority.
As the ruler of a suit associated with the element of Water, the King of Cups is compassionate, caring, diplomatic, and creative.
About King of Cups
- Keywords: Compassion, care, devotion, sympathy, a wise father figure
- Keywords (Reversed): Instability, volatility, moodiness, immaturity, abuse
- Yes or No: Yes
- Yes or No (Reversed): No
- Element: Water
- Zodiac Signs: Pisces, Cancer, Scorpio
As one of the sovereigns of his suit, it’s only fitting that the King of Cups have sufficiently water-themed imagery. In the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot, artist Pamela Colman Smith did just that.
The King’s throne is adorned with shapes similar to chalices, with a wide, flared top that’s reminiscent of a seashell. It’s positioned in the middle of the sea, rising up like its own self-contained island.
To the left, you can see a small fish playing on the waves. To the right, the sails of a ship peek out from between the throne and the edge of the card.
His attire is particularly interesting. His crown is made of a circlet of shapes like jellyfish, or the prows of sailing ships cutting through waves.
His robe is blue and voluminous, falling in ripples around him like the waves beneath his throne. A golden fish emblem clasps his red and yellow cape.
He holds a scepter in one hand, and a golden cup in the other. He gazes out over the sea with a confident, self-assured expression.
King of Cups Meaning (Upright)
When upright, the King of Cups represents kindness, compassion, and diplomacy. You may be in a position of authority right now that calls on you to serve others with empathy and gentleness.
This card can also indicate that you’ve attained a new level of spiritual and emotional wisdom. Your life might be experiencing balance and harmony right now.
In an advice position, the King of Cups cautions you to act with compassion and tact. You’re probably in a situation where your words have a lot of sway — use this power responsibly.
Since he’s a face card, the King of Cups can also signify a specific person rather than a situation, mental state, or piece of advice.
In this case, the person he represents is most likely an older masculine figure that was born under a Water sign. This person is caring, gentle, and diplomatic, and has a very calming presence.
King of Cups Meaning (Reversed)
When reversed, the King of Cups shows his dark side. Every element — and, by extension, every suit — embodies both good and bad. While the upright King of Cups is gentle and caring, the reversed King becomes moody, emotionally unbalanced, or even manipulative.
He can also become gullible instead of compassionate. Take stock of your behavior toward others at this time, as well as how others behave toward you.
He may warn you that you are or soon will be experiencing symptoms of a mood disorder, like anxiety or depression, that will negatively impact your life.
As a signifier, the King of Cups reversed can represent a mature, masculine person who is a Water sign, but lacks many of the good qualities of the King of Cups upright. This person may be uncaring, controlling, and even an emotional vampire.
See also: Check out alternate Tarot decks here.
King of Cups Meaning – Love & Relationships (Upright)
The King of Cups upright is a great omen for relationships. He’s often taken to represent a good masculine partner of some sort, which may be either you or your significant other.
Your relationship is likely to be very harmonious, romantic, and emotionally fulfilling right now. A proposal, marriage, or other relationship milestone is likely.
For single people, the King of Cups can indicate that you’re in a good mental place for a relationship. You may have achieved the emotional wisdom and stability to attract and keep a good partner.
He also often represents a prospective love interest. This person is most likely a mature masculine figure, born under a Water sign, who is supportive, gentle, compassionate, and romantic.
King of Cups Meaning – Love & Relationships (Reversed)
Reversed, the King of Cups isn’t someone you want to see in your relationship reading. He lacks the good qualities that make the King of Cups upright a good omen.
You or your partner may be emotionally fragile right now, while the other isn’t necessarily being supportive. This card can also indicate an unbalanced relationship, or possibly even physical and emotional abuse.
You or your partner might feel that your needs aren’t being met. In a bid to change this, one of you may be resorting to behavior that’s manipulative or controlling.
If you’re single, the King of Cups reversed hints that you might be too emotionally overwhelmed right now for a new relationship. If you’re feeling anxious, depressed, or afraid, you shouldn’t rely on a partner to smooth things over for you.
Love will come to you when you’re ready, but that means taking care of the root cause of these feelings first.
This card can also signify a potential romantic partner. If so, be very careful. This person is likely to be older, masculine, born under a Water sign, and not someone you really want to date.
They may either be exceedingly emotionally sensitive, or callous, manipulative, and seeking a weaker person to exploit.
King of Cups Meaning – As Feelings (Upright)
The King of Cups upright is mature, long-lasting devotion. This person has romantic feelings for you, but these aren’t the romance-novel fantasies of the Page of Cups.
They understand that relationships take patience, compassion, and grace. They care about you, and they want to make sure it lasts.
King of Cups Meaning – As Feelings (Reversed)
Reversed, the King of Cups warns that this person may be feeling moody, petty, and emotionally manipulative. There might be some hypocrisy in their actions, as well.
They may lack the maturity to see why this is wrong, or just be unwilling to change. It’s likely that they’re stuck in a very selfish mindset right now.
King of Cups Meaning – As Reconciliation (Upright)
If you want to reconcile, the King of Cups upright is a great sign. Your ex is able to look back on your relationship and see the good and bad.
They’ve also matured and grown past the behaviors and attitudes that contributed to the breakup. Now could be a good time to reconnect with this person but be sure that’s what you really want.
They aren’t about to jump into anything hasty — they want their next relationship to last.
King of Cups Meaning – As Reconciliation (Reversed)
On the other hand, the King of Cups reversed warns that your ex knows how they hurt you. They’re also completely willing to leverage this feeling to get what they want from you.
If they know you want to reconcile, they may use this information to string you along. They might make a lot of promises, then hem and haw when it comes to actually delivering on them.
If you try to reconcile right now, expect them to avoid actually committing to doing so.
King of Cups Meaning – Careers, Business & Money (Upright)
The King of Cups isn’t necessary an omen of great business and career success, but he’s still a very good sign. When he appears upright, you’re likely to be experiencing a very harmonious, fulfilling, pleasant working experience.
If you’re in a position of authority, you probably have a lot of people who admire, appreciate, and rely on you. If you aren’t, you may have an older masculine co-worker who has come to be a kind of advisor or parental figure to you.
If you’re currently looking to start your own business or change jobs, the King of Cups upright indicates that you might find your home in a creative or therapeutic field.
Financially, the King of Cups can indicate a free and easy flow of money. The suit of Cups typically doesn’t deal with amassing cash, however, so he can also warn that you need to resolve some of the emotions surrounding your financial security.
Take time to explore your finances, and make sure that your income and expenses are balanced favorably.
King of Cups Meaning – Careers, Business & Money (Reversed)
When reversed, the King of Cups says that you’re probably having a bad time. In a career and business reading, he warns of a workplace that’s cold, uncaring, and stressful.
You might be dealing with co-workers who are uncompassionate, self-centered, or will step on others for a chance at a bigger paycheck. You may also be feeling unfulfilled or creatively blocked, or find that you have to navigate around a domineering boss.
In a money reading, the King of Cups reversed indicates that you might fall prey to misinformation. If your relationship with money is such that you’re seeking out new high-risk investments and ventures, you’re setting yourself up to be exploited.
Look to an older, more experienced person for advice here, and don’t flash your cash to anyone.
King of Cups: Yes or No?
The King of Cups exudes maturity, compassion, and understanding. When he appears in a “Yes or No” reading, he brings you a “Yes.” He’s a wise counselor, a caring father figure, and a sympathetic ear. You’re most likely going to get the answer you want here.
When the King of Cups is reversed, however, all of that wisdom and compassion becomes instability and immaturity. In this orientation, he represents a “No.” There may be too much emotional volatility around this situation, and it isn’t going to yield the results you hope for.
The King of Cups is, like the other Kings, a wise authority figure. He appears either upright or reversed to highlight areas of your life that call for compassion and balance.
When upright, he shows you when you’re harmonious, fulfilled, and able to share that with others. When reversed, he warns you when you might be cold, callous, or easily taken advantage of.
See also: For more Tarot Card Meanings, check out our list of All 78 Tarot Card Meanings here.
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