Deirdre of the Sorrows - Five of Cups


It is not possible to view this card totally dispassionately. I remember when I first learned the tarot, I was taught that the card represented a loss of sorts, one that came with regrets. The card I remember learning showed a male figure running from a room, the female chasing after him. The card indicated a regret over actions or words exchanged.
The loss contemplated in this card is one that really does reach out on a profound level. The artist responsible for the imagery has captured a moment and emotion with immense power. Anyone who has witnessed a loved one suffer illness or pass away having endured an illness will immediately resonate with this card. However, caution has to be shown when interpreting. If ever there was a card that reminds us as tarot readers that we shoulder a lot of responsibility when giving guidance, this is it. We must be fully aware that the card could very well be symbolic and should not automatically be read as indicating the loss of a loved one. Such a statement could be devastating, and more importantly, inaccurate. If however we are aware that such a loss has occurred, tact, diplomacy and care needs to be used communicating this issue with a querant.
I would hope this statement is borne in mind as I go through each aspect of the card and give my thoughts. If it is representative of another aspect of the querant, the message conveyed would need to be put into context accordingly.

Here we see an elderly woman lying under bedcovers. She is positioned in the centre of the bed, 2 pillows supporting her head and shoulders. The ray of light coming through the window appears to be emanating from the star we see through the doorway. Could this show that she is about to enter into the light, something spiritual followers would accept as being associated with the final stages of life? The light is not quite covering her, so she has not yet departed, although the indication is that this could be imminent. (The clock is showing 11 o’clock, so midnight is not too far away). If we were to see this as a symbolic reference in another way, what it could it indicate? The position of the cups could also support this. She is still with us, as represented by the 3 upright cups. However 2 are overturned, a standard portrayal for this particular card. Therefore we are reminded that all is not well. The gentleman certainly has mixed emotions reflecting the mixed state of the cups.

It is not possible to view this card without sympathy for his plight. He has a photograph of a woman in front of him, possibly that of the woman in the bed from a time where she was young and healthy. This will be a memory he will want to cherish, but he has his eyes closed. We can only assume it is too painful for him to look at, bearing in mind he is fully aware that she will never be able to be that person again.
I tried to imagine what I would be telling him, should I be able to step into the card. From personal experience, I wanted to guide him to go over to the bed and be with the woman during her last moments. At the moment they are both so alone, yet could be of comfort to each other. I would not want him to shoulder feelings of guilt after she is gone, wondering if he could have done more, been there for her etc. However, this is easier said than done. We all cope with loss in different ways, and it is entirely possible this man is dealing with it in the only way he knows how.
If you resonate with this man, is there something in your life you feel is slipping away from you, whereby you have no control over the issue? Bearing in mind we do have 3 upright cups, there is still something there that can offer hope. If you were to break down the issue into smaller components, is it possible you would be able to identify the positives? If so, how can they help you once the heartache period is over?

The pot plant underneath the table shows signs of neglect or old age. We have seen similar in a previous card. If it signifies neglect, that will be totally understandable. After all, his focus and energies are on something more important for now. Once again, this could be a reminder that time passes for all living things, and there does come a time we have to accept life is not forever. As life ends, it brings about many changes, but for many of us it is still something we find difficult to cope with. These plants have also come to the end of their days. However, the pot could be re-used to start afresh. This may not be what the man wants to hear right now, but in time, as he comes to terms with his loss, he may consider how he can make fresh starts. For now, he is facing the stark reality of the ending of his relationship. The photograph will always be there as a reminder of the good times, and will be something to cherish.
The candles are unlit, the only light provided coming from the star outside. The fact they are unlit could be significant. How would this apply to your current situation? How different would the situation appear should you choose to light the candles?
The gavel is an unusual item to see in this card. What does it signify to you? Is it linked with the rolled up letter/scroll we see as also present on the table?

Overall, the energy and feel of this card is very stark. I would not underestimate how painful the loss experienced may be. There is also no easy solution, nor would I want to be seen as giving advice right now. Time may well be needed to help heal this situation. This is a huge turning point for the querant, and as Deirdre has said, difficult though it may be, it is important to hold onto the positives where possible. That star is there to remind us of this. The other cards in the spread may help the querant understand the way forward, and certainly the positive cards should be discussed with due care and consideration.