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Bohemian Gothic-King of Cups

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Bohemian Gothic-King of Cups


Our King of Cups is Nosferatu. Ancient, antique in dress down to the dust on his jacket, he stands in a courtyard gazing with wonder through an open window at a beautiful human woman, in particular at her vulnerable throat and jugular which she seems to be offering to him. In the background is a huge, stone chalice, the ultimate "holy grail." We feel the connection here of this woman being the vampire king's "holy grail" even as she, in offering herself to his bite, is about to make the ultimate sacrifice for her "holy grail"--that being to destroy the vampire (we'll get to that!).

I do find it wonderful the way this deck does homage not only to old gothic novels and tales, scary stories and fairytales, but also old movies and, most wonderfully, German expressionist films. Such films had a look to them which is seen throughout this deck. Off-kilter buildings, sharp, threatening shadows, weaving, unbalanced landscapes. It was an artistic exploration of the dark and lunatic mind. Also, dark romanticism.

Nosferatu was one such film. It was "directed by F. W. Murnau, starring Max Schreck as the vampire Count Orlok. The film, shot in 1921 and released in 1922, was in essence an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula." So not only is this the earliest vampire movie on film, but it's also the quintessential vampire movie. Dracula--never mind that the name's been changed to Count Orlok. In this old silent there was no pretense of making the Count even resemble a normal person. As you see him in the card, so he was in the movie. Pointed ears, sharp teeth, beak nose, heavy brows and all. Rat-like, repugnant.

Our King/Cups, therefore, is the King of Vampires, and there is no ambiguity about it, he is a monster. The oldest, the first, the source if you will. Yet in keeping with the usual meaning of the King/Cups, he is still the "romantic" King for all his monsterousness. The picture shows a key scene in the movie, a beauty and the beast moment (from Wiki): "Ellen...learns how to kill a vampire: a woman pure in heart must make him forget the rooster's first crowing....She opens her window to invite him in but faints....He drinks her blood and forgets about the dawning day. A rooster crows and Orlok disintegrates as he tries to escape."

It should be mentioned that this was also the film that established the idea that vampires were killed by sunlight. Prior to this film, stories had it that vampires could move in the day, abet sluggishly.

So the moment we see in the card is when this woman invites in the Vampire; a moment of mutual destruction as it were, for she is sacrificing herself (in the movie, all the count's victims die). The vampire, likewise, is going to forget it's dawn and turn to ash. We don't see that end, however. We see the moment before it. That darkly romantic moment where both see their "holy grail."

How does this card suggest the King/Cups to you? And how do you feel he relates to the other Kings in the deck as ruler of his suit?
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How did I miss this??? I'll check back in later and add to this post.

(I'm still very keen on deck study, but I'm having to divide my time more these days: the sun is shining, the snow has melted, and everybody needs help doing stuff that has had to wait for better weather.)
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Right, I'm back. Not a whole lot of brilliance or even coherence from me. Must think some more and rework this--it feels like it should go deeper.

Yes, the card is a movie moment. How do we relate this moment back to our lives, if we don't live on the silver screen, and don't desire to drink another's blood, no matter how lovely the throat?

In negative aspect, the King of Cups is someone who does NOT have mastery over his drives or emotions, or whose emotions are overruled by lusts and "baser passions", or who is an escapist and given to drink (or intoxicant of choice). Even in positive, he is someone who has to keep his emotions in check in favour of duty, so has to sublimate/rework them into compassion and creativity in order to give them expression, but would love to do something wild. (Okay, I admit I've been cribbing the LWBs in my collection.)

Here the King is about to be carried away by lust/baser vampire urges. He is about to do that strange wild thing that he does, decidedly unkingly and not protecting of his people, as they themselves are his tipple of choice. He is about to forget himself in his strange urge.

Interesting that the woman is the predominant figure in this card. You don't notice the King until after first glance. Here the woman is about to manipulate the King by steering him with his own vices, to his own demise. If we know the movie/story, we can see in this image how our shadowy side can put us in the power of others. This looks like a King who is about to lose his power, unlike the Kings of Swords and Pentacles, who wield power from the grave.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swimming in tarot
In negative aspect, the King of Cups is someone who does NOT have mastery over his drives or emotions, or whose emotions are overruled by lusts and "baser passions", or who is an escapist and given to drink (or intoxicant of choice). Even in positive, he is someone who has to keep his emotions in check in favour of duty, so has to sublimate/rework them into compassion and creativity in order to give them expression, but would love to do something wild. (Okay, I admit I've been cribbing the LWBs in my collection.)
Crib all you like. You used the notes to make an terrific points! You're absolutely right, the King/Cups is a King who is always in danger of that other side of the cups, the alcoholic side. Not being able to control the need to drink. And certainly there are other cards in the Cups suit of this deck (2/Cups and 9/Cups come to mind) that remind us of that danger in the cups, when alcoholic need is not restrained and re-directed. It makes him a fitting King/Cups for this deck.

Quote:
If we know the movie/story, we can see in this image how our shadowy side can put us in the power of others. This looks like a King who is about to lose his power, unlike the Kings of Swords and Pentacles, who wield power from the grave.
Um, well, technically a vampire *is* wielding power from the grave But that theme of our weaknesses or desires putting us in the power of others is a major theme of this deck. Excellent point! I also like your comparison to Swords/Pentacles. Our King/Cup is similar to the King/Wands, the actor on the stage who is in the power of the audience. In both cases, others can have power over them because their shadowy sides rely on others--on the heart's blood to drink or applause to bask in. With Swords/Pents, we have the heartless, passionless suits, intellect and body. Their power doesn't rely on what others give them, and so they can keep going. But they lack any connection to those they have power over.

Which is to say, it seems like the Kings Cups/Wands take power from those they have power over. And this connection makes it possible for those giving them power to cut it off.

What's also interesting is that all four Kings share this important aspect: no restraint. They must do what they do full out, whether it leads to their demise or not. The Queens, by contrast, seem to be flirting or luring people in like prey with just the right bait for that prey, be it an open book or a pretty drawing room, a siren's song or a fluttering fan in a ballroom. They set the trap and let the prey come to them. The Kings, by compare, hunt down their prey, they go after what they want, and none more so than the King/Cups.

I bring this up because, as you point out, the woman is predominant and one almost expects this card to read "Queen" rather than "King." Yet perhaps that is fitting for the King/Cups, who is often the most self-effacing of the kings, ruler of the suit of water, and subject to the power of the feminine.
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Oh, just as an addendum, our King/Cups also has the theatrical in common with the King/Wands. King/Wands is on stage, King/Cups is in a silent film. Both the Edwardian stage and early silver screen featured heightened, artificial worlds of exaggerated drama. The stage actors of those times tended to the melodramatic, while the earliest silent film actors, by necessity, had to exaggerate their facial expressions. So you'd have close-ups of a person's face offering these crazy expressions. Pre-sound, they were, after all, the only way such actors had of communicating to the audience what they were feeling.

Wands is passion and we can imagine this actor taking "Wands" to the ultimate, Kingly heights by hamming it up and eating the scenery (sic). Meanwhile, Cups is all about emotions and we can imagine this silver screen actor taking "Cups" to the ultimate, Kingly conclusion by over-emoting his Romeo-to-Juliet feelings for the camera.

Yes?
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Yes, I can see the kings doing their thing full out, no restraint. Emoting actors? Haven't seen much stage melodrama, but I've seen plenty of silent films, and the occasional dialogue bits were hardly necessary. Admittedly, most of the silents were comedies and played up anyhow, just as they are today.

(On a side note: you talk about the queens setting bait. Baba identified two as being murderers of legend, Lorelei and Carmilla, and imagined the Q of P as having an "unfortunate" tendency to become widowed. She hinted at secrets but didn't say a whole lot about the Q of W, who should also be bloodthirsty if we follow this trend. Have you found blood, then, to be speaking of bait?)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swimming in tarot
(On a side note: you talk about the queens setting bait. Baba identified two as being murderers of legend, Lorelei and Carmilla, and imagined the Q of P as having an "unfortunate" tendency to become widowed. She hinted at secrets but didn't say a whole lot about the Q of W, who should also be bloodthirsty if we follow this trend. Have you found blood, then, to be speaking of bait?)
Well, I don't think the Queens are all after blood (Lorelei lures with her music and loveliness), but it is interesting that the woman in the King/Cups card has put herself out as bait. In that instance, blood (and beauty) are most certainly the bait.
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