The Suit of Cups and the Tree of Life

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

The idea to write this sprung forth just a few days ago – I have not yet seen an analysis on this, although it’s an easily apparent part of the Golden Dawn Tarot. This article is based on the Thoth deck. I plan to also write a bit about the other suits, but this one is where the Tree is most prominent.

One thing to note is, in order to avoid any sort of copyright infringement, I am unable to provide pictures of the cards. Finding high-quality scans of them is straightforward enough: just Google “thoth [name of card]”. With this said, here goes.

We begin with the Ace – pretty straightforward, the card shows Kether – the energy from the negative veils flowing into and through it.

Further, we have Two cups. We see here that the water flows up through the stem of the lotus and goes down into the cups again. A closed circuit. Simple.

The Three of Cups is a little more complicated. We see that the cups are standing on lotuses which gather whatever water goes through them and send it back up. Again, this would be a closed circuit, if not for the fact that that none of the water which overflows the cups is gathered. Which means, that now the water is being projected “without” the system, i.e. we now experience the first phase of the creation of space.

The Four is where things begin getting tricky. On the card the sephiroth represented are Chokmah, Bina, Chesed and Geburah. There is no Kether, although we see it represented by the single lotus on the top of the card. Chesed and Geburah gather whatever is descending from Chokmah and Binah. It is hard to make out if the water is gathered from the lower two cups. Nevertheless, we can clearly see that all of this energy is being shot upwards by the path of Gimel. In essence, it descends through the paths of Aleph, Beth, Vav and Chet, is mingled where Tiphereth is beginning to form, and then is returned back up.

Disappointment is what the Five of Cups is. Again, there is no Kether, the cups are empty, dried up. It is important to note that now we do see Tiphereth as it stands on the Tree. We also see that the cups are drained of water, because the pipes going between them move out in the direction where Netzach and Hod will later be created. The issue is that Tiphereth is not yet connected to Kether, and so it is in imbalance.

In the Six, we see this issue resolved. Kether comes into play, water finds balance, and the whole of water pumped into Netzach and Hod comes back to fill the cups. The landscape behind them is still quite dry, but we see it water up a little. It is interesting to notice that only the Middle Pillar is contributing to the distribution of water in this case.

The Seven of Cups is a tough case. Too much water pumped into the land ends in a swamp. We clearly see that the connection to Kether is not there. Yesod is the main “pump” of the card. Water from it goes up to Geburah and Chesed, wherefrom it flows down to Hod and Netzach. The upper triad is incomplete, as Tiphereth has no connection to either Chesed or Gebura. All the water seems to be overflowing. There is a strong suggestion that there is too much “feeling” and “emotion” involved with purely physical, material matters, shown by the abnormally large representation of Malkuth.

The Eight of Cups is another brilliant example of missing the point. This time, we see the Supernal Triad, however it’s essence is lost to us. Also, we don’t see Tiphereth. Yesod is empty, too. It is my guess that the two lotus stems which do transfer water connect directly to the pools in which the Yesod cup stands. It is important to notice that it’s also this cup which isn’t broken, unlike all the others. There is much meaning in this, if we consider for a while that Intellect (Hod) often entirely ignores the tendencies of the subconscious.

The Nine comes back to balance. Not much to say here, but to remark that the stems come out of the “source” into which the whole of the water overflows. The Ten shows a very similar situation, with all the Sephiroth (with the exception of Yesod and Malkuth, whose line of sight is occluded by Tiphereth) regaining sight of Kether, and are given water therefrom, expressing their highest potential in an active and balanced manner.

Love is the law, love under will.

 –Surgo, with the gracious help of Frater Invictus.

Posted in tarot, Thelema.

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