The Wild Unknown Tarot - Father of Cups


An interesting reading today with a friend passing through the final stages of grieving and raging over a bitter divorce.

After we went through all of the cards around what she had passed through, we took some future cards. We drew:

King of Cups ~ Mother of pentacles ~ Daughter of pentacles.

She made interesting comments on the other two cards, but I wanted to share the King of Cups. While middle aged, she is far from giving up on love and looked at this with interest for some minutes. She said, 'this reminds me of a story I read once called "The Black Swan".' She said that in the story people were talking and someone claimed there was a black swan. Everyone pooh-poohed this saying that all swans were white. Until a black swan swam by and suddenly everyone had to adjust their understanding of reality a bit.

She said that she didn't see this as a love interest, too self-contained, though she could see him as friend.

Her cards in general to my eyes showed a truly profound change of direction for her, and I also took this card to be someone who offers good but dispassionate advice. And causes you to see the world just that little bit differently.


One of the things that I always associate with a King of Cups card is the way that he's a little bit separate from his element.. In RWS and Golden Dawn decks he's not blending into the water as the Queen is but is usually sitting on top of it but separate...
That's what I'm getting from this image too.. Black swans are indeed very unusual, there is one place in Britain that is famous for it's black swans; Dorlish in Devon and I've never seen a black swan anywhere else. It's interesting Alta that your friend noticed the unusualness of the swan being black..

So he's a King or a Father in this deck so he's the master of his element (Water) but he's also slightly apart from it.. He's not as in tune with his emotions as his queen, it's almost as if he's slightly uncomfortable with his feelings despite being the master of them.
He looks so regal and that's one of the things that swans make me think of - they're not quite like other birds, so big, beautiful and graceful (on the surface) but paddling like mad underneath..
It's as if outwardly he's mastered his emotions but inside there could possibly be turmoil or past experiences that he has to come to terms with (maybe that's a more reversed meaning if you use reversals). No one can see that though because of his calm, dignified exterior.

I really do need to do some reading about animal symbolism since at the moment I'm just going completely on the feelings I get from the different animals in the deck.


  • Father of Cups .jpg
    Father of Cups .jpg
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Could it be the Father of Cups is slightly apart from his element because he knows there are other things in life than feelings?
I have always seen the Mother/Queen of Cups as the master of the suit. From my point of view, the very role humanity has chosen to give to men is very difficult to blend with a full acceptance of feelings. Either men do not show their feelings or if they do, it diminishes them as men. They are "artists" not men. Maybe I am oversimplifying. Just got this card again today and it puzzles me, there is something in it that I just can't see, I feel it...


It's interesting that the Father of Cups, like his Daughter, has a black cup, and both of their cups are identical. Although the Daughter's emotions and feelings have yet to mature, the Father's may also be evolving, hidden, or unpredictable. His black feathers and fiery red bill make me think that he has deep emotions but has trouble expressing them, and when he does, they may come out in unexpected, unruly, and sometimes angry or hurtful ways. His black feathers also make him stand out among other swans and also among other Fathers. He's handsome and special and sensitive, and all those qualities seem (to me) to make him a little uncomfortable. So perhaps he's not as sociable or well accepted as he'd like to be, and that makes him stand apart as well.


To add to what you've all said, I had this card come up in a reading a while ago and what really struck me was the way he seems to be swimming away from the cup, as if it's behind him.. Because that fact stood out to me in that particular reading I read it to mean that he'd moved past the stage of having to show his feelings about the topic being read about, to him those feelings were firmly in the past and he'd put a lid on them..

Kissa, I can completely see where you're coming from with your thoughts on this card too.

Pixna, I really like your comments about his fiery red bill.


What I meant with my pathetic attempt at explaining man's way of dealing with feelings is this "man up!" attitude in our society/main stream media.
I even heard my teenage daughter telling "man up!" to her (castrated!) male dog when he shows signs of uncertainty about a situation... She probably got that from the internet or the tv.

Yesterday I was incredibly lucky: I was able to see a swan family in their natural environment. Father, Mother and Baby. Watched them on and off for five hours. The whole Father of Cups card took a new dimension. Will be back later, with pictures if they are good and some insights ;)