Exploring the Four of Cups

Welcome to Tarot Thursdays! This week we will be exploring the Four of Cups and how it can be used as a prompt or brainstorming in our writing.

Tarot is an interesting thing. It’s based upon symbolism and metaphors through imagery. With these images the subconscious mind is tapped into through the story provided. Not everyone gets the same thing from a piece of art. Each piece will influence each person in a slightly different way.

Introduction of the Card


The Four of Cups is card number 39 in the deck and the fourth card of the Cups Suit in the Minor Arcana of the Tarot.

Let’s take a look at the following examples of Four of Cups below.

Card Examples

L-c4Notice the similarities between them and take note of their differences. Do any of these move you more than the others? Take your time and allow these cards to tell you their story.

My Analysis of These Cards

What I find interesting here is how different this card is depicted in each of these images. Two of them display a scene of gossiping while the other two display a scene of brooding but even then, they are different. In the Mythic Tarot, the woman has someone on either side of her whispering in her ear and it’s clearly making her miserable. In the Dragon Tarot, the other dragons appear to be insisting to be paid attention to and preventing the one in the air to take leave. As for the two brooding the scenes, the Universal Tarot has the woman looking downward if she has lost complete hope while the man in the Tarot of Dreams is looking upward as if to find deliverance. None of these cards are happy to me. None of these cards are filled with active energy. None of these entities are doing anything to make anything better for themselves in these scenes. Why?

Themes of the Card

Each card has a set of keywords associated with it that serve as themes for its image. These keywords will vary somewhat depending on who you ask.

According to the Learning the Tarot website, the keywords associated with the card are:


You can learn more about what this site has to say about this card here.

According to the Biddy Tarot website, the keywords associated with the card are:


You can learn more about what this site has to say about this card here.

What this Card Means to Me

Looking at these cards, reading what the two sites say this card means, and I identify it with depression. The whispering of lies in my ear of how worthless I am that won’t quit and won’t let me go as shown in the Mythic Tarot card and Dragon Tarot card. I’m left to brood and worry without hope, waiting for someone else to save me, as shown in the Universal Tarot and Tarot of Dream cards.

There are times in a story our heroes must hit despair and suffering before they can strengthen and grow. And like our heroes, we too must be willing to brush ourselves off and stand back up and get moving again. How many times in the anime Bleach did Ichigo find the will to keep fighting for those he loved and cared about even after he had been defeated? These are the kinds of things we need to think about when we are building the structures of our stories. And hopefully, it’s the kind of thing we can find inspiration in when we find ourselves in such dark places in real life.

The keyword I am choosing for this card is: DEPRESSION.

Music Playlist

In this spirit of all this, these are the songs I have picked out for this card.

The Writing Exercise

This exercise is a free write. Permit yourself to write whatever comes to mind based upon the theme of this card. Choose a keyword or key phrase and run with it to see what you come up with.

I would love it if you linked or pinged back what you wrote so I could see where you went with this.

Happy writing!

Mythic Tarot by Liz Greene (Author), Juliet Sharman-Burke (Author), Tricia Newell (Illustrator) © 1989
Dragon Tarot by Terry Donaldson (Author), Peter Pracownik (Author) © 1996
Universal Tarot by Lo Scarabeo (Author), R. De Angelis (Illustrator), A. E. Waite (Designer) © 2001
Tarot of Dreams by Ciro Marchetti (Author), Lee Bursten (Author) © 2015

3 thoughts on “Exploring the Four of Cups

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