The 3 of Cups is a card of celebration, community, and love. The card traditionally features three dancing women toasting three cups. But in the Universal Dali deck, these women are nude, clad only in laurels which are wrapped around their heads and their hips. Geysers of turquoise erupt in the far distance and two jugs pour out their contents at the ladies’ feet.
The contents of the jugs appear to be water and some coral-red substance. Is it blood? Is it wine? Let’s yet again take a page from the Thoth playbook and say that the festival we see represented in the Dali card is most likely a reference to Persephone; so while it could easily be either, I’d put my money on blood. Blood is a heavy enough substance to maintain some distinction and unity within water.
Dali’s decision to have the women be interlaced in a traditional bellydance formation, and the stark luminosity of their nakedness, both underscore the complete absence of men in this picture. Bellydance was once a ladies-only practice and men were strictly forbidden from watching or participating. The women would interlace their arms and “churn” the blood inside their uteruses to increase their fertility. And if all that churning strikes you as some sort of wild celebration of the living, female embodiment of chthonic myth, then you and I are on the same page!
The three women are framed by the three cups, stressing the numerology of this card and further developing the theme. What we are most likely witnessing here is Thesmophoria, a secret, women-only festival that celebrated Persephone’s descent into the Underworld and involved agrarian magic, dancing, and the burial and retrieval of sacrificed pigs. The festival was celebrated on the 3rd of the year to commemorate the day of Persephone’s abduction by Hades. If you’d like to read more about it, you can visit Wikipedia here and here.
In any case, the 3 of Cups in a reading always signals a formal communion and celebration, with enough love and resources for all.
**While all manner of comments are welcomed, any further information pertaining to art history, symbolism, myth, cultural reverberations, and Tarot card meanings that traverse decks or lend especial light to the Universal Dali deck, specifically, are actively sought and encouraged. I’m not using a book for these descriptions, so I may miss a reference that bears mention in relation to a card. If you know something, please share it!
Conversely, I actively negate the astrological significations of the Trump cards within the Universal Dali deck in favor of the more traditional Thoth. My plan is to tackle the astrological significations of the Universal Dali Trumps and their overt divergence from all norms in one article… after having described each card. That’s a ways off. ;)
Next in Suit: 2 of Cups
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