On Mondays, our exercise entails simply observing and taking note of our own 2 of Cups’. I encourage you to take out your deck (and please let me know what wonderful deck you’re working with!) and study the imagery of the 2 of Cups.
Throughout this week, I invite you, also, to record your thoughts and findings as you work you way through the exercises. If you have a recording devise or a pen and paper, spend some time just sitting with the card and describing the 2 of Cups, writing down or speaking any detail of it that you can. Even when you’ve finished, continue to study and observe it. You might be surprised at what you notice.
I personally have eight decks that I use in this series, and I work with all of them to show you the variations of depictions, but also to look at the similarities between them.
The Rider-Waite Tarot shows a man on the right of the card holding a cup, reaching out to the woman on the left side of the card, who also holds a cup. The cup in the woman’s hand blocks whether they are touching or not. The man is in a flowery tunic, with red leggings and boots with red cuffs. The woman is in a grey dress with a blue tunic and red shoes. The man wears a wreath of red flowers while the woman wears a wreath of leaves. The ground they stand on is yellow and behind them in the distance are hills in which there is a house. The sky is blue.
Between the two cups rises a caduceus, at the top of which is a red lion’s head with red wings.
The Spiral Tarot shows a couple standing together in a bed of leaves with red and white roses at their feet. Butterflies come up from the flowers. The woman stands on the left side of the card, bringing her cup to meet the cup of the man on the left side of the card. He looks over to her, but she appears to be looking slightly higher to him, potentially at the yin-yang that hovers just above their heads.
The Aquarian Tarot shows a man on the eft side of the card, looking slightly in motion, leaning toward the woman on the right side of the card. Their two cups meet almost in the middle. The background is white.
The Vampire Tarot shows two cups sitting on a purple floor. A gargoyle head on either side of the card spouts a stream of blood into each. Between the two streams of blood is a triangular window through which a clear night sky with a full moon can be seen.
The Faerie Tarot has only one figure in it, a faerie on her balcony. She looks bored at her cup which rests on the balcony’s ledge, her hand steadying it. On the rim of the cup is a little red bird. A blue bird in the top left corner holds another cup which pours stars into the faerie’s cup.
The Thoth Tarot could easily be mistaken for the four of cups if one wasn’t vigilant enough. In a body of water a lotus fountain emerges with two koi wrapped around the stem. The water from the lotus at the top of the fountain emits water, which bounces off the two koi and into two cups, each with five streams of overflowing water coming from them, pouring back into the body of water on which they sit. The water under the cups is purple, wh ich fades to green, then gold the further away from the reader it gets. The sky is blue.
In the sky to the left of the card is the glyph for Venus, while on the right side of the card in the sky is the glyph for Cancer. The Keyword on this card reads ‘Love.’
(Note: I’m still having technical issues and I lost my Prisma-Vision Tarot image. Soon to come!)
The Prisma-Visions 2 of Cups shows two people, happily sharing wine together while they take a dip in the river. They look at one another, and the reflection of the rainbow sky is seen on the wet of their skin. Behind them the grassy bank rises up to two trees intertwining.
As you go through the various cards, what do you notice that is a running theme in imagery? What do you notice tends to differ? Which of the images resonates with you? Why?
Spend time considering your own tarot decks, and do your own comparison.
The Decks Used
The Aquarian Tarot in a Tin by Italian-born, American-raised David Palladini, was published originally in 1970 by U.S. Games Systems Inc, and then republished again in 2016 in a smaller size. Named after the Age of Aquarius, the Aquarian Tarot is a midieval depiction of the Rider-Waite Tarot system. The images are closer, and thus might give the impression of being more character-based rather than relying on symbolism. This intimate deck provides a stark reflection of the human condition in it’s journey through the tarot.
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.