I’ve often found it hard to relate to this card. In the Rider-Waite deck it’s very strange. A cloaked, faceless figure seems distraught. Three overturned cups lay at his feet and two sit upright behind him.
Today I took some time tuning into this card waiting for the images to come as they have for the other cards but nothing seemed to come. Then I tuned into the emotions behind the card. After all cups are the realm of emotions. Feelings of despair, depression, a very low emotional point came to me. This is that point when something painful has just happened, a betrayal, a relationship breakup, a loss and your whole world becomes clouded by this event. You cannot see that this is a temporary state, that just around the corner is something new and bright and positive. In that moment your pain is all consuming and feels permanent.
My sense behind this card is that the emotions are overly dramatic – that you are making a big deal out of something that with a little more perspective will not seem quite so bad. I don’t feel like the loss that has been experienced in the five of cups is a death or a serious trauma. It’s more like a betrayal that you will move through.
But perhaps it’s more like a very low slow-burning depression – when life seems hopeless and pointless. Everything becomes muted and you struggle to connect with anything positive in current position.
When I started sketching it, the figure that emerged was one of absolute despair and desperation in sharp contrast with her sunny environment and the pretty rose bush flowering behind her. I found it very easy to tune in to that darkness and pain.