King of Cups



Wisdom, diplomacy, restraint, composure

Range of Meaning

Light: Keeping a stiff upper lip. Being brave and clear in the face of adverse circumstances. Sharing experience as a way of comforting others. Making fair and empathetic decisions. Honoring the spirit, not just the letter, of the law.

Shadow: Allowing yourself to become rigid and unemotional. Making unfair decisions based on a hidden agenda. Making decisions without regard for their emotional impact on others. Abusing spiritual authority. Using emotional or spiritual leverage to exercise unhealthy control over others.


Personality: The King of Cups can represent anyone who tends to control (King) emotional and spiritual responses (Cups). The King may also represent the tendency to be more sober than emotional, or the need to maintain order in the face of an overwhelming situation.

Elemental: Fire of Water.

Affirmation: “I strive to be stable and fair-minded.”

Story: The Main Character must suppress or control an emotional response in order to complete a difficult task.


Relationships. Without adopting a “poker face,” some situations call for a little restraint. Calm down. Consider the other side’s arguments. Walk in the shoes of your partner or friend. Give strong emotions time to subside before taking action you may regret later.

Work. When everyone is running in circles and screaming, someone has to step forward, exercise restraint, and draw attention back to the work that remains. Refuse to be drawn into rumor-mongering and petty disagreements. Remain neutral, fair, and focused.

Spirituality. A deeper sense of Spirit should move us to greater service. Let wisdom guide you to a ministry that makes sense in terms of your life and your world. Consider taking on the role of a counselor or mentor. Use your experiences to help others mature.

Personal Growth. The time has come to assume a leadership role, using your experiences to guide others. Find a way to give back some of what you’ve been given. You have more wisdom than you know; draw on newfound maturity to come to the aid of a cause greater than yourself.

Fortune Telling. This card represents an older man with a gentle, sensitive presence, likely born between February 9th and March 10th, who is known for his fairness and tolerance.

When? Between February 9th and March 10th.

Symbols and Insights

The Watery Throne. Many decks depict the King’s throne floating in water. Rather than sink into emotionalism, this King rises above it. What might happen if you elevated yourself above your conflicting emotions and saw things more clearly?

Control under Pressure. Despite the turbulent water surrounding him, the King maintains control over his feelings. How might shutting out the source of emotional noise and doubt help you make contact with what you really feel?

Emotional or Spiritual Focus. What sort of mindset allows a person to remain calm in the face of an uproar? How can you keep the goal in mind, even in the midst of battle?

The Marseilles Image. The Marseilles King of Cups strikes a relaxed pose; he looks almost sleepy! How might relaxing your need to control this situation help you (paradoxically) to gain better control of it?

Questions to Ask

  • What wise person could be consulted for good advice?
  • How can I make sure I’m being as objective and fair as possible?
  • To what extent am I capable of keeping a “stiff upper lip?”