If The Four of Cups appears in your tarot reading, your advisor has revealed a stubborn, ungrateful, and self-absorbed card. Whether you are off in your own little world, depressed, selfish, afraid to reach out, or are nursing wounds from a bad relationship, the isolation in your world is self-imposed. However, you can take the kindness of the universe and join us all in the real world whenever you choose.
This card is a part of the Minor (or Lesser) Arcana cards in a tarot deck, otherwise known as the suit cards — in this case, the suit of cups. Its appearance insists that your detachment from being part of the world is becoming an issue. Here are some of the different ways to interpret this card during a tarot reading.
Four of Cups Meaning
A young man sits beneath a tree on a hillside. There is a subdued landscape off in the distance under a brilliant blue sky. The boy is sitting cross-legged with his arms folded. His head is slightly bowed, and his eyes appear to be closed. In the foreground, just down the hill, are three golden chalices. They rest upright on flat, solid ground. The green hillside is alive with shoots of new grass. Floating at the young man’s eye level is a small cloud. From it, a hand protrudes, holding a fourth, matching cup.
The ambiguous nature of the boy is key to this card. Is the boy pouting or sleeping? This begs the question: Is he resisting the offer of another cup in his intransigence or is he missing out on the proposal of another cup by being asleep? The Four of Cups meaning in a nutshell is missed opportunities — whether they’re ignored or unrealized. Cups are the tarot’s suit of emotions and in this card, they are your future regrets if you do not stop sulking or sleeping. The card is a call to action; it is time to wake up, be alert, and be open to new experiences.
Four of Cups Positioning
Every tarot reading sees the cards dealt out into positions representing your past, present, and future and upright and reversed. Many cards are stronger or weaker in some places.
The Four of Cups in the upright position signifies new opportunities coming your way; however, you’re turning them down for some reason. Perhaps it’s because your proverbial cup is full, or you’re just simply not interested. At any rate, it’s a time where you need to use your judgment to determine what’s important to you — and don’t be afraid to say “no.”
The Four of Cups reversed indicates that it’s time to create your own foundation or support system. Perhaps you’ve been re-evaluating a situation for too long and that there’s no need anymore. It also says that you do not recognize what’s in front of you. Were you feeling unloved? Did you think that the people who were supposed to love you didn’t actually want to be with you? Look around you — maybe that first group of people turned out to be fair-weather friends, but you’ve got others around you just waiting for you to connect.
The Four of Cups upright can be about realizations, but those realizations can be off the mark when reversed. One interpretation could be that your feelings of isolation are misguided. That calls for more re-evaluation, but it’s more focused on whether there really is an issue or if it’s just your lizard-brain acting up and making you feel bad.
If The Four of Cups is in the past position in your reading, perhaps you didn’t take an opportunity that was once offered to you. Maybe you turned down a person who was romantically interested in you, and now that person has gone on to have a successful career. Or, perhaps you have some bitterness over a failure to take advantage of a situation in the past. It’s also possible that you’re angry with another person, group of people, or yourself. The presence of this card in this position is to encourage you to acknowledge and accept the past.
In the present position, The Four of Cups indicates that you are closed off to a solution that would assist you. You might be stubbornly clinging to the old way of doing things. There may be someone in your life who is offering you love, and you are turning it down, or you are so self-involved that you do not even know what love is beyond self-love. You will have to confront yourself and be completely honest with how you are behaving. This card brings up excuses and rationalizations as a defense mechanism to continue the pattern of avoidance symbolized by the boy’s crossed arms illustrated on the card.
The future position is a vital placement for this card, and one that is more often beneficial to you than the card’s reputation might indicate. The Four of Cups takes on the wisdom of selective standards. The older we get, the more we know what to avoid as our intellect combines with experience to make us turn down certain offers. For example, The Four of Cups in future could indicate you are turning down cigarettes or avoiding wild parties where trouble could be brewing. What is attractive to you at one age is repulsive later in life. When this card is in this position, you will be growing wise and learning what to just not bother with anymore.
Four of Cups Card Combinations
Tarot readings feature a few cards from the deck. No matter how much you learn about one card, understand that it will be influenced by the presence of other cards when it appears in your reading. Some cards combine to change each other’s meaning. Also, no card is static and consistent in what it tells you about yourself without considering how it relates to the other cards in the deck.
The Four of Cups mingles well with the Temperance card. This is the card of giving up the excesses of life to find peace. Temperance makes the cross-armed boy a symbol of avoiding temptation. Temperance is the higher echo of all Tarot cards with the number Four in them, as is The Emperor — which leads us to our following combo.
When The Emperor card accompanies the Four of Cups in your reading, you will be refusing opportunities from a position of superiority. People just don’t realize how far ahead in the game you are.
Avoiding Gossip and Troublemakers
A pairing of the Four of Cups with The High Priestess makes your reading more about avoiding gossip and immature friends who stab each other in the back. Paired with The Moon and you may be running with a crowd that is getting into trouble.
The Sun card paired with the Four of Cups puts your ego front and center and challenges you to see where you might be wrong about your responsibility in a sticky situation.
The hand in the cloud that holds the fourth cup on this card mimics the tarot’s motif for each of its Ace cards. The Four of Cups pairs well with any Ace. When the Ace of Cups is present, you’re grounded in a profound psychological certainty. Paired with the Ace of Pentacles, and you may be feeling that you’re not getting your fair share in a relationship or business deal.
When the Ace of Swords is present with this card in your reading, you will be speaking your mind even if the ideas you express cut you off from the people you love. The Ace of Wands is a sophisticated addition to a reading that contains the Four of Cups. This is an indicator that you have mastered a creative process, be it painting or parenting, and you now know what to do and, more importantly, what not to do in conducting yourself through the project at hand.
Interested In Exploring More Tarot In The Suit of Cups?
Going through something in your life and you’re not sure what to do next? A professional online tarot reader is a good place to start. Get a full spread done and see how your re-evaluation may have changed your perception of a situation and whether you can turn your conclusions into concrete moves. The Four of Cups tarot is just one of several cards in this suit, so explore what that means in your spread.