confronting emotions

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Intro: Five of Cups Tarot Card Meaning - confronting emotions

Tarot Alley uses the Rider Waite type of deck for our meanings, symbols, interpretations, etc.

When determining the Five of Cups tarot card meaning, you should consider that it’s a Cups card and a Five. The Suit of Cups represents emotions and relationships. Fives represent confrontation, instability, and resistance.

In this way, we can determine that the Five of Cups represents confronting emotions.

Take a look at the Rider-Waite Five of Cups displayed to the left (or above).

What is your first impression?

Who is this figure? How do they feel? What’s going on with them? Why are three of the cups knocked over? Why are two of the cups still standing? Is there significance in where the figure is facing?

There’s no right or wrong answer here, just your interpretation.

Astrology: Mars in Scorpio
Element: Water
Numerology: 5 (confrontation, instability, resistance)

Common Symbols

  • A Defeated Figure: the figure is often cloaked with slumped shoulders to represent loss.
  • 3 Cups Knocked Over: 3 represents results and knocked over cups represent loss. So three knocked over cups represents a bad result.
  • 2 Cups Standing Unseen: the two remaining cups (2 representing debate or partnership) are typically behind the figure unseen. This represents an ignored opportunity.

Keywords & Concepts

  • Despair
  • Loss
  • Reevaluation
  • Regret
  • Repentance
  • Uncertainty

The Five of Cups for Personal Growth

Affirmation: I learn from my losses and move on.

Do you focus more on the positive or the negative? It’s important that you understand which you’re predisposed to do.

If you tend to focus on the negative, you need to start conditioning yourself to be more optimistic. Think about how the darker events of your past created a positive effect later on (strength, insights, etc).

If you tend to focus on the positive, you need to make sure you’re learning from the darker events in your life and not just ignoring them. Think about the lessons you could learn to make for a better future.

Ask Yourself:

  • How do you tend to deal with loss?
  • What life lesson might you be learning now?
  • How can you shift your attention from the past to the future?
  • How can you balance the need for emotional stability with the fact that time is marching on?
  • Do you focus on loss, or on the opportunity inherent in change?
  • Do you grieve for the way things were or do you reassess your situation and adapt to it?
  • How might having more insight into your reactions help you in your own situation?

Interpreting the Five of Cups

Generally, the Five of Cups represents confronting emotions. This is a time of loss and the Five of Cups wants you to acknowledge what’s happened, embrace grief, feel your feelings. Once you have, focus on what lesson you can learn from what happened. Then, move on.

Don’t lose sight of the fact that there are still good things to be had. Every dark cloud has a silver lining and you need to find yours.

The Reversed Five of Cups

How you read reversals is a personal choice. You can ignore reversals and read them as if the card is upright (this is what I often choose to do) or you can interpret reversals as variations of what they would mean upright. There are 3 common ways to read reversals: as a negative interpretation, as an opposite interpretation, or as a block on the upright interpretation. Check out How to Read Reversals for more information.

Typically, a reversed Five of Cups represents wallowing in emotions. Examples include:

  • Walling in unhealthy grief os self-pity
  • Refusing to move on or let go
  • Clinging to the past
  • Obsessing about the past
  • Failing to live in or even acknowledge the present
  • Allowing fear of failure to limit your present actions and efforts

Examples of the Five of Cups

Specific Interpretations

Specific situations are the general interpretation (from above) used for a specific situation (love, career, etc). There is no need to memorize these (or even look them up) if you understand the general interpretation. However, here are some basic interpretations for some specific situations:


It’s okay to have memories. It’s okay to bring them out and look fondly (or not) on them periodically. But it’s unhealthy to live with those memories all the time. This will prevent you from really developing new relationships.


Here and now is what you need to focus on. Don’t dwell on mistakes or the past. Define new goals and work towards them with renewed effort.


It’s often easier to be faithful during the good times than the bad. Instead of dwelling on loss, consider how this loss affects the grand scheme of your spiritual path and plan.

the Five of Cups Tarot Card Meaning

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The Five of Cups tarot card meaning is all about confronting emotions. You must feel your feelings to grow and move on. What lessons can be learned here?

Once you feel comfortable with the Five of Cups tarot card meaning, check out the next card in the tarot deck: the Six of Cups Tarot Card Meaning.


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