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.
Minor Arcana: Positive elements of Ten of Cups
The Rider-Waite-Smith(RWS) tarot image for the ten of cups is the picture-perfect illustration of the meaning of the card from the suit of cups. The ten cups are arranged together and floating in the sky within a wide rainbow covering most of the illustration space. Below the cups and rainbow, you can see a happy family of four, obviously happy. The two children are playing together, oblivious to the world around them, while their parents are close in a warm embrace, arms raised up to the sky in celebration, as if they wanted to greet the rainbow itself.
The background on the horizon is a typical country cottage, with fields of grass and a small river peacefully running. Overall, this image could be drawn from the last frames of a happy ending in a Hollywood romantic comedy or musical or might be used in the advertising industry to illustrate a stereotypical suburban middle-class family.
The meaning of the ten of cups minor arcana is also mainly one of contentment. But contrary to the excess and smug selfish pleasure that could be derived from the nine of cups, here contentment is reached through peaceful inner balance, in harmony with the environment and the social circle of the subject.
The happiness found in the ten of cups comes from domestic bliss, enough material comfort to bring peace of mind, and a radiating kind of love that is reached when your lover and life partner is equally your friend and companion.
Negative elements of Ten of Cups
All the positive family values and happiness usually found in the ten of cups tarot card are twisted and negated when the reversed ten of cups appears in a reading. The main concept that can be highlighted then breaks the ideal family iconic image found on the illustration and triggers a series of serious arguments between family members. This reversed card also embodies a feeling of betrayal and broken promises, and depending on the situation it might have serious consequences on the family, up to a complete separation of the central couple (it is important to note that the subject of the reading is not necessarily part of that couple in danger of breaking up.
Depending on the other cards that have been drawn, it might refer to their parents, or their children if applicable). This separation could be quite violent, either physically or through words and arguments specifically aimed to hurt the other person.
Last, but not least, a reversed ten of cups in a reading could also be a sign of deep unhappiness, particularly if that unhappiness is due to a feeling of isolation within a crowd, of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Ten of Cups and love
When the ten of cups appears in a tarot spread focusing on love, it is a sign that the subject’s love life might well be about to turn into a romantic comedy movie, or the end of a fairy tale where they live happily ever after. Channeling the image of the perfect family used in the iconography of the arcana, the subject of the reading could be on a path meant to change their life into a picture perfect embodiment of the American dream.
Ten of Cups: Traditional meanings
If the ten of cups isn’t really a very original or wild element in the tarot deck, it is nonetheless a rather striking theme of love, happiness, and family. This iconic structure might be fading away from modern times and society, but some people are still craving for such a classic life. The ten of cups also clings to that traditional family structure and can lead the subject of the reading to its ultimate fulfillment.
Family, happiness, traditional values, domestic bliss, and love and friendship.
Reversed: Family feud, violence, arguments, betrayal, divorce, and unhappiness.