Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Amazing Aces: Cups

So, to continue with the favorite Aces series, we move onto the second of four - the Ace of Cups. In contrast to the Ace of Swords, which as I wrote before, tends to have that kind of dual nature - new starts but also cutting away the old, severing, the cups Ace tends to be more uniformly positive in meaning - then again, the cups suit in general, one could argue, is a more positive suit.

What does it represent in readings, this Ace? For me, it's usually about new beginnings, opportunities which will be emotionally fulfilling - things that call to your soul. It can be the beginning of a new relationship, a new friendship or romance; it can be the start of, or an addition to, a family. Good feelings, intuitive growth, taking things to a new level with something or someone you care for. So which decks, from my current collection, do I feel represent these ideas best?

Swedish Witch

I really like how the Swedish Witch tarot presents this Ace. Like the rest of this deck, the card's artwork is rich with symbolism, without seeming overly-cluttered or busy. It takes the traditional Ace image of the large cup and really spices it up with a lush background - pond with reeds and lily pads, frogs and fish and colorful birds, even a mermaid sitting at the base of the cup. You get the sense of a warm, comfortable, nurturing environment. It's an ecosystem, symbiotic, natural, everything coming together, each creature with its own niche in the grand scheme of things.

The sun rising up out of the cup really shows the positive energy that the ace often represents, the light that these kinds of opportunities can bring into your life. In the unicorn that decorates the cup, I see just a bit of whimsy, a bit of the fantastical - permission to let yourself dream, to let your fancies take you wear they might, to let your guard down and simply enjoy what's here in front of you today. 

Victorian Romantic

The Victorian Romantic's take on this ace is another firm favorite, taking a rather different approach to the card. One of the things I really enjoy about this deck is the balance it strikes between maintaining a firm RWS influence while having enough of an original aspect to each of the cards that there is plenty to read in the images without resorting to purely standard meanings. Here, we have a lovely picture - the artwork itself is just incredible - of two nude figures meeting under water. One sits in the shell, the other meets her from above, bathed in a shaft of sunlight.

Is he approaching or being pulled away? It's a bit hard to tell, open to interpretation. The bond though, the strength of their connection, is obvious. They are willing to overcome obstacles, the pull of the waves, to meet. If this is a beginning, what will follow? The possibilities are many. In their nudity, they allow themselves to be vulnerable, to see each other as they really are. The old-style natural body shapes here a welcome relief from too many decks with too-perfect slim and tones and bustily presented forms. The color palette is incredible.

Golden Tarot of Klimt

Finally, we have an ace from the Golden Tarot of Klimt. Unlike the others, there is no elemental symbolism in this card, or in the minors of the suit generally. The color palette too, is rather different. Usually I like my Aces to be watery, so why pick this one? Honestly, I though the image we are presented here was perfect, conceptually. What's interesting about this deck is how both this card and the two of cups have couples. But whereas in the latter the couple in naked, familiar, intimate, embracing each other in what seems to be a time of distress, here we have a picture of the relationship at its beginning.

Here the couple, though firmly drawn to each other, is still at the start of things. They are dressed rather formally, as if for show. Their embrace is likewise proper, with a certain element of stiffness, distance - they aren't yet, in spite of their developing feelings, quite comfortable together. And there are the roses everywhere, beautiful, tokens often given at the start of courting. They still mean something, here. Later, simply a touch, the presence of the other would be enough. There is potential, still undeveloped, here. The relationship can grow, like a well-tended rosebush; or wither, a plant neglected. 


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