Three of Cups – Tarot Card Meaning

Three of Cups

Cardinal water

Mercury in Cancer

Keywords: friendship, celebration, joy, happiness, good social life, uplifting, party


 In the RWS we see three women dancing merrily, with cups of wine in their hands.

They are almost lost in a frenzy of love and sociality. There is lush vegetation at their feet,  a symbol of Life itself and its abundance. One can almost imagine music playing off to the side of the card, animating their festive dance.

This is a card of Dionysian energy. It is a card representing the pure ecstasy of the Eleusinian Mystery rites, conjectured to be psychedelic rituals.

Have you ever been so caught up the moment that the sense of time passing falls away and you simply exist? This card speaks to those moments.

Sometimes this happens we are engaged in deep focus in our work. But other times it happens when we are being social. This is the concept of the pack, which, as a multiplicity, contains a whole-ness greater than the sum of its parts. It is a dynamic, emergent phenomenon, like a tribe, a society, or an economy.

This is a card of friendship and celebration. It is a card that represents the joys of human love and friendship. Humans are at our best when we are laughing with other people.

Thoth – Abundance

Three of Cups Thoth

 In the Thoth Tarot, we see three pomegranate cups overflowing with life and vegetation. It is a card of abundance.

Mercury in cancer takes the crab out of his shell and animates his emotions, creating a lush emotional scene. It is a card of joy and plenty.

Crowley says, “This card refers to Binah in the suit of Water. This is the card of Demeter or Persephone. The Cups are pomegranates: they are filled bountifully to overflowing from a single lotus, arising from the dark calm sea characteristic of Binah. There is here the fulfillment of the Will of Love in abounding joy. It is the spiritual basis of fertility.”

Crowley takes Mercury to represent the Will of the All-Father and this blessing is laid upon the most receptive of cards, creating the conditions for fertility and abundance. Binah, being the Great Mother, is bursting forth of life.

However, Crowley, always sensitive to the darker side of things, notes that the pomegranate was used as a ruse by Hades to trick Persephone to stay in Hell. Thus, Crowley says, “The lesson seems to be that the good things of life, although enjoyed, should be distrusted.”

While I think this might be a bit too pessimistic, I think one can definitely take from the Three of Cups a lesson of moderation. If you drink too much from the fruit of the vine, you are liable to become drunk, with the risk of destruction. But in moderation, the hedonistic pleasures of life are what make this life enjoyable. So why not partake and enjoy!

From Book T – The Lord of Abundance

A WHITE Radiating Hand, as before, holds a group of lotuses or water-lilies, from which two flowers rise on either side of, and overhanging the top cup; pouring into it the white water. Flowers in the same way pour white water into the lower cups. All the cups overflow; the topmost into the two others, and these upon the lower part of the card. Cups are arranged in an erect equilateral triangle. Mercury and Cancer above and below. Abundance, plenty, success, pleasure, sensuality, passive success, good luck and fortune; love, gladness, kindness, liberality.

Binah of HB:H (Plenty, hospitality, eating and drinking, pleasure, dancing, new clothes, merriment).

Therein the Angels HB:RAHAL and HB:YBMYH are lords.


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