King of Cups

"I strive to be stable and fair-minded."

XIV: King of Cups

wisdom diplomacy restraint composure

A joyous man full of love, fertility and availability, who wants to help and guide others. But he is a performer - he wants to have the role of the priest to teach mysteries, but he is not really trusting himself or others. It is the image of the wounded healer, who through compassion and empathy can heal others yet who cannot heal his own hurt in the realm of the heart. It can be a psychotherapist or a social-worker, who constantly wants to help others and wants to relate, but cannot ultimately achieve the fulfilling relationship, which is so desired. He is a mature man and he is sensitive to the thoughts of others, but he himself never quite relinquishes control.
Inverse: He can manipulate people through their emotions.



  • 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.
    • Symbolism

      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?

      King of Cups' Advice


      • 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.


      • 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.


      • 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.


      • Between February 9th and March 10th.

      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?"

      Find Another Card

      Major Arcana

      Images of the {{ $ }} tarot deck © {{ $store.state.deck.copyright }}

      Parts of this page's description of the King of Cups tarot card are taken from "A Guide to Tarot Card Meanings" by Mark McElroy.