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.
Three of Cups card: Traditional meanings
The three of cups is one of the most positive cards in the suit and in the tarot as a whole. A universal call for celebration and wild happiness, this card provides an easy escape from the bleak and weary downsides of the modern world for a few moments of joy out of time.
On a more symbolic level, the three of cups embodies the same kind of energy as the arrival of Spring after long months of Winter. The body and soul crave some release and need to channel this excess energy through dance, song, love, and life itself.
A reversed drawing of the three of cups is still mostly positive but warns against the negative downside of any excess that might be indulged.
Upright: Fun, celebration, dancing, sex, carpe diem, enjoyment, and wild abandon.
Reversed: Wallflower effect, feeling isolated and left out, and the negative consequences of excessive partying.
Upright Three of Cups card
The imagery of the three of cups from the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck might be one of the most iconic and recognizable among the minor arcana. Three young women in long flowing robes are dancing with one another, each with a cup in their hand. There are various symbols and fruits around them as if they had the horn of plenty at their disposal.
Just like the young women in the RWS illustration, the three of cups is an encouragement to make the most of life and enjoy the moment. This minor arcana calls for a celebration and the wild emotional abandon that comes with it. This is an extremely positive card that provides just as much enthusiasm no matter what context it appears in, romantic love, friends, families, even in the professional area the three of cups might be drawn as an incentive to celebrate some kind of achievement or an important client being signed.
The three of cups is an invitation to forget about any worry or stress from everyday life and just get wild and free. This card from the suit of Cups could be a perfect embodiment of the “Carpe Diem” (enjoy the moment) motto made famous in the Dead Poets Society movie.
There is also a more physical side tied to the emotional pleasure and celebration urged by the three of cups, which might be as simple as dancing or hint at more intimate moments of passion, in stark contrast with the more intangible emotional connection that could be seen in the two of cups.
Reversed Three of Cups card
While the three of cups is usually an encouragement to let oneself loose when it appears reversed in a reading it usually deals with the consequences of such behavior when it is left unchecked and brought up to excessive levels. This is the “morning after” effect, once the party is over and you need to deal with the leftovers and a potential headache as a bonus gift from a rough night.
A reversed three of cups might also highlight a negative feeling of abandonment, feeling left out. The three of cups usually calls for a celebration full of people, a genuine social event, so when its meaning it twisted upside down it is a sign that someone might have a hard time fitting in for such an event, turning into a human wallflower or avoiding the event altogether.
Three of Cups and love
This is also a very good and positive card when it appears in a love tarot reading session. While not as pure and intense as the previous minor arcana, the three of cups has a more physical and sensual approach to this kind of connection.
Drawing both the two and three of cups in the same love tarot reading is far more common than one might think, and is usually a kind of “life goal” for many people.