As a reminder, the suit of cups is driven by feminine energy and channels the power of emotions and feelings in every shape and form. Scholars and academics have connected the suit of cups to the classical element of water, and most of the cards from that suit embody the symbolic attributes of this element, one way or another.
King of Cups card: Traditional meanings
The paragon of the four court cards in the suit of cups, the King of Cups has mastered the endless flow of emotions brought by the element of Water. As a consequence, he plays these emotions like a fiddle that grants him a huge advantage in social situations. He will often quickly know what people around me really want, and as such will use that information to negotiate terms that will usually be in his favor. Whether he will ultimately deliver the promises he made or not depends on his mood and personal assessment of the “worth” of this relationship.
The King of Cups is usually loyal and faithful in marriage, but his willingness to freely use every tool at his disposal can make him extremely manipulative even in a romantic context. His natural ease to understand and channel emotions have let him navigate the wild waters of social interaction, and he will usually try to keep control of them for as long as it necessary.
Upright: A calm adult man, regal and loyal, with an uncanny talent for social interactions and appearances.
Reversed: Emotionally manipulative. Sometimes withdrawn, and moody.
Upright King of Cups card
The King of Cups in the Rider Waite Smith tarot deck is an adult man on a throne floating directly on the water, with no land anywhere on the card illustration. The fish on the left and the boat on the right quickly shatter any doubts about the location of the throne. (As a matter of note, in his Pictorial Key to the Tarot Waite described the fish on the left side of the arcana
In this minor arcana card, the King carries a chalice in his right hand and a scepter on his left. He is staring into the distance, probably far away.
The King of Cups also flows with the energy of the element of Water, but like all the other Kings he has fully mastered his own element. As such, he can use his own emotions and those of the people he is talking to, channeling their energy in a way that lets him heal them.
In the suit of cups, this King is responsible and wise, gifted with a kind of creative intelligence, even if he will more likely than not default to listening to his emotions over this cassette.
The feelings that grow within the King of Cups are usually rather deep but his calm demeanor lets him hide it from most.
Reversed King of Cups card
The way that the King of Cups often deliberately chooses to follow his own emotions make him hard to understand for commoners and noblemen alike. He will usually follow his own nature and desires and is not above using deceit and cunning to do so. He has learned the power of emotions and can use people’s own feelings against them. He is an expert manipulator.
King of Cups and love
In a love-driven reading, the King of Cups represents an adult man in harmony with his own emotions and feelings, able to provide love, caring, and attention, but sometimes deliberately choosing not to.
His innate understanding of what makes people tick turns him into an exceptional diplomat and communicator, but he is aware of this power of his and can sometimes choose to abuse it for no other reason than because he can. He can be tough with his own family, using his comfort with their emotions to teach them valuable lessons that will objectively make them better people, even if sometimes the emotional price that was paid could be out of proportion with the actual lesson learned.