This article looks at the 10 f Cups and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in adressing a question put forth by author and Tarot-reader, Melissa Cynova.
In Kitchen Table Tarot by Melissa Cynova, she writes on the 10 of Cups that she just doesn’t like the card. It implies a ‘then what?’ aspect to it when it’s attained.
The tens are just overdone. So much. How flipping long can you stand and wave at a rainbow?… My problem with the Ten of Cups is that it seems to have a “sitting on your laurels” feel to it. You got everything you wanted! Now what? What are your new goals? Will you share this good energy and fortune? Will you roll this fortune into new ventures?pp. 209, 220-221
However, I think that there is something fundamental that is missed out on the 10 of Cups by most people, and if that aspect is missed out, then I can agree with Melissa. Awesome, you got happiness, but what are you going to do with it? “I’m quick to high-five the client, but then we talk about what’s coming around the corner” (p. 221).
In answering this question–the then what question–we have to consider what we do with abundance. That is ultimately what the 10 of Cups is: abundance.
While I know that the 10 of Cups is a card of usually emotional abundance, I think that this depiction of it brings a more communal meaning, a broader meaning, and one that I think is really neglected when we think of the power of emotional contentment. When we are secure and supported within ourselves—we have the emotional and structural support that we need as is implied in the traditional definition of the 10 of Cups, then we are in a better position to share and to continue that support with others.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and the Tarot
When we consider the tarot from a psychological standpoint, we can look at what is regularly referred to as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
At the bottom of the pyramid, we have our physical needs. These are things like food, air, water, sex. Then we have security, which boils down to knowing you have a safe place to sleep, but what carries that along is money. Both of these levels I associate with the Pentacles and the Wands. The Pentacles represent the base needs on a physical level, but the Wands represent how we obtain it—the passion and energy driving you.
The next level is Love and Belonging, which is exactly what the Cups embodies. This level has to do with our relationships, our family, and our friendships.
The second level down from the top has to do with Esteem Needs. These are the feelings of accomplishment, which I think directly correspond to the Swords. The Swords have to do with higher education, and the law, communication, and thinking. While of course accomplishment doesn’t mean academic accomplishment, a person still has to be in the right frame of mind to acknowledge and accept their accomplishments. This is the Swords.
The level of Love and the level of Esteem are both psychological needs, whereas the first two levels were physiological needs.
The tip of the pyramid is Self-Actualization, which I personally correspond with the Major Arcana. They are the personal development, and Self-Actualization is obtained when all the levels below are achieved. Self Actualization is ‘achieving one’s full potential, including creative activities.’
10 of Cups and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
When we consider the 10 of Cups and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs pyramid, the 10 of Cups is that moment when a person is about to start building the Esteem Needs from the Love level. I think that there is a blending between the two layers.
In order for Esteem needs to be met, there needs to be a good support system to help the individual know that they’re loved. However, there’s developing a support system of close relationships, and then there’s learning to stand on their own feet when it comes to love. Self-love is essential in order to begin building on the Esteem Level.
Accomplishment can be experienced internally, but it’s more often than not experienced externally. As I’ve said, I believe the Esteem level to be associated with Swords, which are represented by Air. Air is the element of community just as much as it is communication and thinking. We all breathe the same air, and it is communication that brings us together.
The 10 of Cups is about fulfillment. This fulfillment elevates an individual to the next level or Esteem, and that can be gained through the community. Thus, I believe that if you want to maintain the feeling and abundance of the 10 f Cups, you need to carry it on.
This card is about sharing the overflow in order to create a community. It’s more than just family, it’s about the outer world that we live in, and how we can bring those lessons from within us, outward.
The 10’s are all cards of graduation, essentially. They represent the end of a lesson, and the time in which we ‘level up,’ and begin anew.