Tarot Card Meanings: 2 of Cups

The 2 of Cups is a card of desire, differentiation, and “true love.”  But careful!  In twenty years of Tarot reading, I have never seen this card live up to its hype.  Rather, in my experience, the 2 of Cups is the “fairy tale” card — indicating psychodrama, misunderstanding, the desire to be rescued, and the refraction of identity.

The traditional Rider-Waite image consists of two figures gazing into one another’s eyes over two cups.  Above their heads, a Caduceus floats prominently, symbolizing speed, negotiation, and reciprocity.  Their fixed gaze seems to tune out the world around them, indicating all the romance innate to the statement: “I saw her/him across the room, our eyes locked…” and there was Tiffany playing in the background.  Awww…

Seriously, if “I Think We’re Alone Now” is your idea of great artistry and depth of feeling, then this is your card.  If not, well, I’d go with the Lovers, the 10 of Cups, the Ace of Cups, the 6 of Cups, the Ace of Wands, or even the Tower — and a myriad of other cards besides — for more positive romantic relations.  This card is too often kid’s stuff, high school sweethearts, and dopey, strung-out love.

Dali has guarded the prominence of the Caduceus in his own rendering, but he has swapped out the intense gaze of the Rider-Waite for the mythic repercussions of sight and “omnipotence.”  Using François-Édouard Picot’s painting L’Amour et Psyché as the central image within the head/mind of some troll-like creature, this card shows the flight of Eros (Love) from his own love, Psyche, after she treacherously espied him by the light of a candle as he slept.

What becomes of love when the psyche really sees?  You can read more about the myth here, wherein Venus stars as the evil and jealous mother-in-law, Eros is downright rapey, and Psyche is put through all matter of horrid “tests” before living happily-ever-after.

Psyche’s sight is represented by an eye drawn over her uterine and genital area in purple, and I can’t help but wonder if this isn’t also an overt reference to Bataille’s Histoire de l’œil, as both artists participated in the Surrealist movement.  Expect an article on these connections in the coming year, as this is an immensely rich field that demands a more rigorous analysis than I can offer here.

When you pull the 2 of Cups, the main danger is that you will lose yourself in the vision of the other.  You know that crazy “what is s/he thinking, what is s/he feeling,” OCD head spin?  Yeah.  It’s not too healthy and doesn’t indicate much self-love.  Remember: You can only treat your lover as well as you treat yourself.  Likewise, there is a danger of over-investing in a love relationship, in believing that the bond between two people is more important and/or stronger than the two people who actively give rise to that bond.  And finally, make certain that you are not expecting to be rescued or aided by divine providence.

Does all of the above mean that the 2 of Cups is a “bad card?”  No.  However, I do mean to suggest that what many consider to be the simplest and sweetest card in the deck is, in fact, immensely subtle and complex.  Depending on surrounding cards, the 2 of Cups can be supportive concerning an established, mature relationship, as it indicates that the first flush has been lovingly maintained.  However, if the reading concerns a break-up or a lover gone M.I.A., don’t hold your breath.  Your psyche may very well be in bondage.


**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.  ;)

Numerological Affiliations: II. The High PriestessKing of Cups2 of Swords

Next in Suit: Ace of Cups3 of Cups

To visit the Tarot card library, click here.

12 responses to “Tarot Card Meanings: 2 of Cups

  1. Thank you for this- very thought provoking for me about this card. I am unfamiliar with this tarot deck but it looks fascinating. I’ve been thinking about the significance of the Eros and Psyche myth a lot in this past year, it seems to me to be a very deep myth of meaning.

    • Thank you, Gray! The Dali Universal deck is awesome — except for the astrological and elemental significations which I don’t consider the most intelligent. However, since Dali used collage to create the deck, each card is endlessly referencing other artworks, myths, time periods, etc. My sense is that there is, overtly, always more to discover — and I love that about it. In conjunction with what have you been considering this myth? I adored C.S. Lewis’ Till We Have Faces.

  2. Hi Kelsey, the Psyche and Eros myth came into strong prominence for me last November of 2012 when I saw the astrologer Demetra George give a talk on the Psyche asteroid linked in with other Goddess asteroids like Vesta and Juno. She approached Psyche through a detailed talk about the life of Saint Teresa, which was so fascinating to me. The more I’ve thought about the myth of Psyche, the more I’ve thought about it. With Saint Teresa it comes in even with her own “saintly” visions of being visited by Jesus and also an angel. It connects to the idea of a sacred marriage for me- but not just in the sense of a sacred soul mate or whatever relationship. Like in the sense of merging with your own soul nature, inner divinity . . . in the form of Eros, who is also a fascinating mythological figure I would like to look more into. Anyway, some of these ideas I actually just wrote about in an article on Persephone. I think we are in a time in which there is some extra sensory perception available to come more into contact with our soul, or the more timeless aspect of our psyche, however you want to define it (if you believe in that sort of thing, that is). Not sure if this makes any sense! –Gray

  3. Kelsey- this is incredibly inspiring and informative. Thank you so much for sharing this with me. Are you familiar with Stanislav Grof? I am just tuning into him and his work, and their is resonance with his work and this subject matter. with gratitude, Gray

  4. Love the depth of information and tone of this. Very informative and interesting. Thank you!

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