Earlier today I offered a meditation on the Ace of Cups in response to a comment from a student. The gist of the comment was formulated as a question:

‘How can we read ‘water’ in the Ace of Cups, when there’s no water in the cup? Wouldn’t that amount to a symbolic reading? I prefer to read ‘the city’ in the Ace of Cups, rather than water and flow, because that’s what I see.’



I took this as a valid point, especially since I teach primarily reading the function of a card over the symbol.

Indeed, imposing water on the Ace of Cups card, where there’s none represented, as is the case in Jean Noblet’s Marseille Tarot, would amount to imposing symbolism on the card.

And yet.

Here’s the gist of I what I said that others might also find useful:

In the art of looking at a card, what we must see is not just the explicit, but also the implicit.

Think of the city. What sustains it fundamentally? Water. Without water, no city. Think of Rome and its elaborate viaduct system of conducting water.

The implicit statement here would be for us you to pay attention to how water doesn’t just flow freely, but rather, it is orchestrated. What kind of labyrinthine way does the water follow through the city?

This Ace of Cups doesn’t suggest a place where fools rush in. We are here precisely with the idea of regulated flow.

Now, think. How might this reading change your perception of the potential for love, whenever this card shows up in your readings? How might you think of the ways in which ‘your cup runeth over?’

While there is not a trace of water in Jean’s Noblet’s card, we have plenty of it when we think of what makes a city thrive and survive. But this thriving and surviving is not ‘natural’, it’s not the result of overabundance, rivers and oceans in my cup, but rather the result of submitting to the cultural ways, municipalities, rules, and conventions.

Where does all this leave love? What about love? Who said anything about love?

Not I.


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5 thoughts on “YOUR CUP RUNNETH OVER

  1. Andrew says:

    That was a pretty cool reading of the Ace of Cups. Would never have thought of it in those terms. Thanks for that

  2. Dea Devidas says:

    Dear Camelia, would seing blue on lower line – like blue water, cultivated because waves are same lenght and pattern – went into symbolicall seing? Because, I just saw water tamed – because of blue, also some towers in city are blue… Is that much colour-interpretation too esoteric? Thank you for time and answer. Lot of love!

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