The Ace of Cups has two components:
Water represents the subconscious and emotion. Water itself is be powerful, and can carve canyons and valleys. Even just drops of water have been used as torture devices. Falling into water from a high enough spot can be equivalent to landing on concrete.
At the same time, it is necessary for our survival. We are composed of it, the earth is covered in it, and every living in on it requires it, making it one of the most precious things on the planet. We keep ourselves clean with it, clean our food with it, and play in it. It is nourishing and relaxing, fun and relieving.
When we learn to work with water, it is what nourishes us and helps us to grow. The same is with the subconscious and with emotions. Through understanding what lies beneath the surface of ourselves, we can understand what drives us, and thus we can steer ourselves in more productive directions.
When water is making change, it does so steadily, taking its time. A drop of water doesn’t hurt, but when the drops of water are on repeat in the same place, it becomes unbearable. The force of water doesn’t alter stone overnight, but does so after years of pressure.
Despite 1 seeminly to be singular, there is a dualistic nature to it within the Tarot.
In classic numerology, double-digit numbers with the exception of 11, 22, 33, etc., are reduced to a single digit by adding the two digits together. In the case of 12, for example, you would add 1 + 2 = 3. Tarot is similar in this way, which is what gives the number 1 the dualistic meaning.
The Aces have a partnership with the 10’s (1 + 0 = 1). While the 10’s represent the end or a completion of a cycle, the Aces represent the beginning. They are the acknolwedgement that something has finished, and with the understanding or knowledge gained from the past completed lessons, the querant is able to go on to the next set of lessons.
Thus, yes the 1’s or Aces are new beginnings, but they are new beginnings with the added advantage of a new bag of tools to carry the querant on their way. They need to draw from what they have already learned and experienced in order to move forward with this.
Putting the Ace and the Cups/Water together can represent a new relationships, sure. But it can also represent a new understanding of the self within the relationships that we hold. It is a new opportunity to develop the intuitive and thus the emotional aspect of ourselves, which will result in growth.
Faerie Tarot by Nathalie Hertz, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc, 2008. Hertz is a French artist, and the creator of several other beautiful tarot decks. The Faerie Tarot was ‘inspired by the flora and fauna of the French countryside,’ and ‘invites you to see the world in a delightful new way…blending fantasy, whimsy, and nature.’
Impressionist Tarot by Arturo Picca (artist) and Corrine Kenner (author), published by Lo Scarabeo in 2015. This deck takes works of classic impressionist paintings and recreates them to fit the meanings of the tarot. It pulls from works of Edonard Manet, Claude Monet, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gough, and Paul Gauguin. A truly beautiful deck, especially for those who have interest in the art world.
Prisma Visions Tarot by James R. Eads, 3rd ed., published in 2016. The deck itself is beautiful, though perhaps not for the beginning tarot reader. The suits all fit together to create a master picture displaying the energy and progression of the suits. The figures and images flow from one card to the next, showing movement within the stationary cards.
Rider-Waite by A. E. Waite. The deck used in these photos is currently out of print. I won’t say much about this deck, as it is fairly standard and probably one of the most produced decks. It serves as a standard for many tarot readers and artists, depicting classic images relating in part to the original playing cards that tarot developed from.
The Spiral Tarot by Kay Steventon. With turn-of-the-20th-century style art, this deck takes from the classic Rider-Waite deck and brings it up to the late 1800-early 1900’s, a time of industry and contemplation for the western world as it moved forward into a more technological era. I am a little biased toward this deck as it’s been my main deck for 15 years. The cards are thick with additional symbolism that can be tricky to pick out of the traditional Rider-Waite, and adds layers of Greek myth throughout the Major Arcana.
Thoth Tarot by Aleister Crowley (designer and author) and Lady Frieda Harris (artist), published by U. S. Games Systems, Inc., in 1978. This deck takes from most esoteric imagery, and requires the reader of the deck to have deep, initiate knowledge of the symbolism used. There is nothing within the cards that is without meaning. However, on a more surface level, the deck draws from Egyptian symbolism and from the style of the Marseille Tarot (mostly seen within the Minor Arcana). For those looking for deeper understandings of the universe, I recommend this deck. I would caution that this deck is highly advanced, and might be avoided for the budding reader.
Vampire Tarot – by Nathalie Hertz, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc. in 2000. As mentioned above in reference to the Faerie Tarot, Hertze is a French artist who gained her notability through the publication of her tarot decks. The Vampire Tarot was a bestselling deck upon its release, and plays on more gothic symbolism, providing more jarring interpretations to allow for the accepting of negative forces within the world to compliment the positive forces. The deck brings together myths and legends in the form of vampires, which ‘gives tarot readers a macabre passport’ into the world of divination.