five of cups meaning

Five of Cups Meaning: Upright and Reversed

The Five of Cups is a fifth of the suit of Cups from the Minor Arcana. It represents sorrow, pain, grief, and loss. It also pushes us to let go of those feelings, accept the trauma of loss and move forward. It’s not an easy card to see, but you will be stronger for it. Welcome to our five of cups meaning guide.

Upright and Reversed Five of Cups Keywords

Keywords for the Five of Cups Upright:

  • Despair
  • Guilt
  • Shame
  • Mournful
  • Blessings
  • Hope
  • Pain
  • Grief
  • Loss
  • Loneliness

Keywords for the Five of Cups Reversed:

  • Moving on
  • Letting go
  • Recovery
  • Hope
  • Acceptance
  • Changing
  • Overcoming

The Suit of Cups

The Suit of Cups

Overall, the Cups suit has to do with love and human relationships. Relationships come in all shapes and forms so these are not necessarily all romantic cards or interpretations. The suit of Cups will apply to your relationship with yourself, your loved ones, and even your enemies. Pay attention to the cards around it and remember what you asked the deck before jumping to romantic conclusions.

Cups are associated with the element of water and therefore correlate to the water signs of the zodiac or astrological calendar. Those are Pisces, Cancer, and Scorpio. If you pull this card in any tarot reading, you should stop and reflect if any water signs are involved in your question. The Five of Cups specifically relates to Scorpio: the fixed or, in other words,  most stubborn of the water signs. Scorpio stands in frozen water: immobile and resistant to change.

The Cups and water also both deal with the subconscious and delving into the unknown within yourself in order to confront the best and the worst of your inner workings.

Fives in the Tarot Suits 

Fives in any suit represent struggle in the Tarot deck, no matter where they fall. If they are upright: they foretell struggle. For the specifics of how the five will impact you, you need to take into strong consideration the cards surrounding it and the reading you’ve chosen. If this is a love reading, for example, the five will represent a future struggle whether it’s with money (Pentacles) or dishonesty (Cups).

The fives are a group of cards that you want to see blocked or reversed because they foretell difficulty.

Symbolism and Imagery in the Five of Cups

Five of Cups

A man in black with his head hung down, stares at three overturned cups. The landscape around him is muted yellow with a gray, desolate sky. To his left, he is a bridge and in the distance a building or village surrounded by green trees.

The three overturned cups have spilled the colors red and green. Red is the color of action, it is associated with the element of fire. It therefore also connects with sexuality and ambition. Green is connected with the element of earth and is connected to being grounded and one with the planet. This man has lost his energy, his ambition, his grounding. He is completely alone and drained.

The only blue in this card is the river in front of him. It symbolizes his subconscious and the bridge is his hope for moving forward. The body of water depicted as a river is important because it has movement: rivers are all going somewhere. The man must move on from the loss that the three spilled cups symbolize. He must cross the bridge or grieve alone forever.

The keys of hope in this card are the bridge and the two cups standing upright behind the man in black. The man must stop focusing on what he has lost (the overturned cups) and pick up the pieces of what he still has (the upright cups) in order to move on and cross the bridge.

Crossing the bridge brings greenery and structure as we can see in the building surrounded by green trees and grass across the river.

Upright Five of Cups Meaning

This is a card of loss and loneliness. It is also a card of hope. Don’t lose faith in the two cups that are still standing and the bridge in the distance. The survival tools are there if you choose to take them.

If you pull this card upright, it’s foretelling or acknowledging the trauma of a loss you have already suffered or will suffer down the line. This will be a struggle, as all five’s foretell, but it will not be the end of you.

This card is allowing you time to grieve but also reminding you that you still have many blessings (represented by the two upright cups) and hope (represented by the bridge and the structure in the background). Pick up the pieces of your life and move forward.

Reversed Five of Cups Meaning 

Reversed Five of Cups Meaning 

This is a relief when you pull the Five of Cups. This means that you have already passed the initial stages of grief and are now accepting that something hard or terrible has happened and it’s time to move on. This is a sign of your readiness to move forward, to cross the bridge, and start over.

If you pull the Five of Cups, you want it to be reversed. This means that the hardest part is over. Now pick up the pieces and walk away. This is a recovery card.

Five of Cups Love Meaning

Pulling the Five of Cups in a love reading could mean a couple of things. Overall it represents a lack of interest or ability to date.

This could be because of a loss of a partner due to death. If so, I’m so sorry for your loss. This card in your love reading is telling me that you are not ready to move on but it is also telling me that there are potential partners in your future. When you are ready, you will find someone new.

If your partner has not passed but there has been a break-up, this card is giving a similar message. Yes, you are heartbroken but yes, there are potential partners around you and in your future. Once you let your focus leave your ex, you can start dating again. Grief is necessary, but don’t stay hung up on someone who wasn’t right for you or mistreated you.

If you pull the Five of Cups upright in a love reading, the deck is telling you that right now you are stagnant in love and you must focus on the positive in order to move forward.

If you are currently in a relationship and pull this card, you are holding on to some pain that your partner has caused you in the past. If you want to move forward with this person, you must let go and focus on the positives in order to move forward. Holding on to resentment is only going to further harm the relationship.

If this card is reversed in your love reading, it is more positive. This signifies you’re letting go of past pain. Whether it be a former lover, or a misstep your current partner made in the past, you are forgiving and forgetting. Your focus in on the positives and you’re ready to move forward.

Five of Cups in Career and Money Meaning 

Five of Cups in Career and Money Meaning 

You have taken a hit or a loss professionally. Your business may have invested poorly, you may have just gotten laid off, whatever the circumstances: it’s bad. I’m sorry and you are allowed to be sad and mourn but remember that staying put is not okay. You must accept that what has happened, has happened, and taken what you learned to move forward.

If the Five of Cups is reversed in a career and money reading, that’s a good thing! You’ve suffered a professional hit but you’re officially getting back on your feet. You have a new job, a raise, or a promotion on the horizon. If you’ve applied to school recently, you’re getting in and you will be starting your program shortly. Congratulations!

Five of Cups in Home and Family Meaning 

You and your family have suffered a loss. This could be the loss of a loved one, or it could be a loss of a business, a home, etc.. Whatever it is, you are in a grieving period. Grief is healthy and necessary, but not forever. If you pull this card upright in a home and family reading, your cards are telling you to move on.

It’s time to pick up the pieces and move forward.

If you pull the Five of Cups reversed in a home and family meaning: the time to grieve has ended for you. You are already feeling better, letting go of guilt and shame. You are looking at the positives, looking at all the blessings you still have. You are carrying those hopes, dreams, those support systems with you over the bridge to the next step. Good for you!

Five of Cups in Health Meaning 

Tarot Reading

The Five of Cups in a health reading means you have or will get bad news regarding your health or a loved one’s health. This is not a death sentence, as there is the hope of the bridge and the positives in the two standing cups, but this is a very difficult time.

It isn’t fair and sometimes it comes out of nowhere. It’s okay to be angry, it’s okay to be sad. Let yourself feel those feelings but know when it’s time to turn this card on its head and move forward. The future is bright, you just are in a tough moment.

If you pull this card reversed in this reading then you have just overcome a health issue. You may have just added a friend or family member through a health scare as well. Whatever the case: the worst is behind you. You can let go of the fear and shame and move forward stronger. The worst is over.

Five of Cups FAQs

Question: Nothing that traumatizing has happened to me but I pulled this card, what does that mean?

Answer: I’m sorry but a difficult time is in your future. Just try to do what you can to focus on the good!

Question: If I pull this card in a love reading, does that mean my relationship is ending?

Answer: No, but it does mean that a tough time is ahead of you. This could also be interpreted as a good thing if you and your partner survive this moment. People whose relationships go through something difficult have the ability to come out stronger in the end.

Question: If I pull this card in a career reading, what should I do?

Answer: I would start saving money because you may be losing your job soon. This does not mean you have messed up, it could just be company layoffs. It’s best to be prepared anyway! This could also mean that you will feel grossly unappreciated, and not necessarily that you will lose your job. I’d recommend looking for a new job if you’re unhappy at work and pull this card. The leap will pay off for you.

Question: Once I pull this card upright, does that mean that the bad or traumatic event will definitely happen?

Answer: Pay attention to the cards surrounding the Five of Cups and consider the question of your reading. If your trajectory is negative and culminates in the Five of Cups, you have the power to start making positive changes now. This could help you avoid the trauma of the Five of Cups. Nothing is set in stone but it is very likely that loss will happen as it is a fact of life.

Final Thoughts

This card invites you to embrace your grief and let go of the anger, the sorrow, and the pain you have experienced. It pushes you to pick up the pieces of your life and move forward. It’s time to cross the bridge and start a new chapter.

Don’t be frightened or intimidated, you will survive this. The Five of Cups is intimidating but its message in the end is to tell you to move past loss in order to begin something new and exciting. In the distance a structure, a town, a new city or even country awaits! So what are you waiting for? Cross that bridge!

Continue reading more tarot meaning guides from the suit of cups:

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