The Suit of Cups corresponds to the element of Water. It represents the emotional energy that leads you to connect with others and yourself. It leads to happiness, disappointment, and powerful emotions. It is the realm of passivity and inaction; it is the dichotomous opposite of the suit of Wands. The suit of Cups represents intuition, understanding, and potential. It is the feminine to Wands’ masculine; the Yang to Wands’ Yin. It is serene and calm, reflecting back to those who look at themselves through Cups. Someone who exemplifies the Suit of Cups is emotional and able to connect deeply with people. They understand the emotions of others and can help them overcome their bad times. They are calm and prefer to stay to the sidelines rather than be out in force. They watch and observe; they are the historians of the world, reflecting the ideals of their society, a blank slate for ideas to be written upon. They go with the flow. Someone lacking the qualities of the suit of Cups is unemotional, restless, unable to connect with others, and unable to separate themselves from their own bias.
The energy of the suit of Cups pours forth from EinSof, and into Kether. It is the second of the suits, and represents the transformation of the Suit of Fire as it comes out of Oppression. The Ace of Cups is the standard-bearer of the suit, and shows all of its best qualities in their purest form. The Ace of Cups I have called The Potential; while the Ace of Wands is the Origin of the energy of the world, the Ace of Cups helps that energy realize its potential. It gives it emotional force and the ability to become something. With regards to the energy of the Suit of Cups, the Ace represents powerful emotional force, intimacy, intuition, passivity, and reflectivity; the best of the suit.
The energy of the suit then moves from Kether to Chokmah. The emotional force of Water is given a fiery aspect, and becomes the passionate emotion of Love. The psychic intuition, intimacy, and emotional force are given the strength of fire, becoming the pure and first manifestation of the suit in this world. The suit of Cups’ energy is, indeed, best seen when looking at the love between two people, as the Two of Cups claims.
Binah comes next, and as the passionate energy of Love moves on, the circle is expanded. The emotional force no longer focuses solely on two people, but on more. The love is spread around as the energy realizes that it can love more than one person; it can love many, and also it can love things other than people! The energy rejoices in the ultimate emotional fulfillment of Abundance, and has everything it needs to be happy.
But the energy must move on. It begins to stabilize itself so as not to lose what it has gained, and so eventually moves into Chesed. The happiness becomes more ordered and refined as the energy struggles to keep what it has, and so in some ways becomes hollow. The Abundance of before vanishes, and instead leads to Luxury; a relaced and emotionally carefree state of being. The emotions the suit has are no longer pure, and are instead defined by their lack of a free presence.
But Luxury doesn’t last forever, and something eventually happens to upset the stability. All that was gained was lost as it moves to Geburah, and dismay and shock accompanies the fall. The energy becomes sad and suffers from Disappointment; it has failed to keep up its luxurious and emotionally safe lifestyle, and is devastated by its loss.
The energy is capable of moving on, however. It approaches Tiphareth, and achieves the center of its balance; Pleasure. It realizes that life has its ups and downs, and comes to terms with it and realizes that those ups and downs are part of what makes it beautiful. It becomes even happier than it did before, and is at harmony with the world, having achieved its balance.
But as it continues to exist, it eventually becomes depraved. It descends into the Debauch of Netzach, and gives itself over completely to the pleasures of life, losing itself in the sinful life, losing touch with its happiness and instead just living from sensation to sensation. It loses all of its joy and harmony as it craves new experiences, often at the expense of others – and often themselves.
Even the energy of emotions realizes eventually, however, that they have descended too far, and consciously tries to rectify their debauchery and move onto Hod. It attempts to distance itself from that life, and instead of suffering from a weakness of the spirit, suffers from a weakness of the mind. It fails to completely eliminate its debauchery, and instead surrenders and gives in. It becomes tired of fighting against itself. It begins to disrespect everything around it, and just cease caring about the world. The energy becomes representative of Indolence. Eventually, the watery energy of cups becomes bored with its debauch and indolence, and moves on, wearily leaving everything behind it.
And it arrives then at Yesod, and finally begins to realize what it is. It gets everything it wanted, and learns how to fully appreciate all of the good things in life without descending into Debauch and Indolence; it becomes blessed and realizes that it has lived a full life, and is filled with Happiness. Now, it realizes, that it will never fall again.
Or so it thinks. As the energy of the Suit moves into the reality of Malkuth, it sees that not everything is as glorious as it seems. It becomes apparent that controlling the amount of happiness and joy one experiences is nearly impossible, and that every once in a while it is bound to enjoy itself too much. It stuffs itself too full, and hurts for it afterwards, experiencing a sense of Satiety. It is too happy, and realizes that life is no longer interesting. It becomes bored, and longs for something more excited; it finds itself at the paradox of excessive happiness making one unhappy.
The Knight of Cups represents the fiery aspect of Water; he is like a small child, isolated from others, but very in-tune with himself. He longs desperately to help anyone, driven by his inner fire, but at the same time in not capable of actually summoning the effort to do so. The Queen of Cups, his consort, is a deep and reflective woman, constantly dreaming and losing herself in her emotions. She is, however, almost psychic and empathic, able to read others very well; she is in-tune with the emotions of herself and others.
Their eldest child, the Prince of Cups, is an aloof, genius person, locked away in his room, putting his emotions into his work. He thinks about and understands his emotions, and is a master of transcribing them into something others can understand. He is extremely intelligent, and everyone marvels at his artistic work, through which he communicates to the rest of society. He appeals to their emotions through displaying his own through his art, though as a person he is often arrogant or distant. His sister, the Princess of Cups, is focused on achieving emotional fulfillment, reasoning practically that being happy is good, and therefore she should make herself happy all the time. She is a bit of a hedonist, but at the same time is often willing and able to help others achieve the same happiness she herself seeks.