A Reflection on the Five of Cups
Even though you have lost something, don’t become so wrapped up in your loss that you do not appreciate what you still have. If you focus on disappointment, sorrow, and regret, it will only lead to more loss …
All is not lost and good times will roll again; you will find yourself enjoying life as you once did …
Your hopes for the future are bright.Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone, The Concise Tarot Reader
Things Fall Apart
To say I have experienced loss and disappointment over the last few years would be an understatement. I wish I could say that that I’ve handled it brilliantly, but that would be less than true. Since what I say and how I say it is an integral part of my personal power, it behooves me to be honest in both my assessment and my speaking of my experience.
I’ve suffered significant health setbacks, dealt with the loss of a parent and the disappointment of the accompanying family dynamics, endured a what I thought was a career-ending betrayal by a trusted colleague. Suffice it to say that the last two and half years have kind of sucked.
The Man in Black
The Fives in the Minor Arcana all bear some elements of conflict and turmoil. When placed in the emotional realm of the Suit of Cups the Five presents a picture of loss and hopelessness, at least on the surface.
There is a man wearing a long black cloak standing forlornly pondering the remains of the contents of three overturned cups as they run off into the ground. His head is hanging and his shoulders are slumping, a rather pathetic figure. The castle representing his hopes and dreams sits unreachable across the river. All he sees are the dregs of whatever it was he had in those cups. His life’s work and passion are draining away.
He is so consumed by what he has lost that he fails to see what lies all around him. Behind him, two cups are still upright and full. All is not lost; there’s enough remaining to make a fresh start. And though he can see no way to reach his goal before him, there is a way. It’s not the way he had planned to go but there is a way. Off in the distance a path leads to a bridge that crosses over the river and leads right to the destination. All he has to do is lift his head, turn around, and look and he will see the situation is not as hopeless as it seems. The goal is still attainable, though the way forward may actually involve a side trip.
What Are We Missing?
Loss is part of life; everyone experiences it. The Five of Cups acknowledges this. It also acknowledges that there is some sadness and grief involved. There may also be some regret involved, especially if the loss could have been prevented by making different choices. The emotions are real and it is important to take the time to grieve and evaluate how to move on. So we grieve, we might even get angry. And then, we step back and take stock of the situation. We take a long, hard look. We might even need to retreat for a time to discern a new path forward. The pain of loss can make us afraid to take risks, but eventually we move on.
Taking Another Look
The health issues and the job loss were a double blow that did require me to retreat for a while, helped by the COVID-19 shutdowns. I learned a lot about myself during that time. The ongoing health issues are a constant source of frustration, but I’m learning to listen to my body and learning how to make better lifestyle choices, especially where food is involved. I’ve used the down time to deepen my spirituality. I’ve also picked up some hobbies (who knew I could be so crafty!?) I’ve also gained an interest in permaculture and sustainable gardening. And not being able to work has allowed me the time to develop these interests.
The betrayal by a colleague was real and it still hurts. Almost immediately after being dismissed from that position, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off me. My relationship with my boss was always a little antagonistic and I was always on the defensive. It took being away from the job to realize he had been gaslighting me for years, causing me to lose confidence in my abilities and to question every choice I made. Fortunately, that combination of abuse and betrayal did not end my career, just moved me in a new direction that I’m enjoying immensely.
The lesson of the Five of Cups is that while loss and regret are part of living, there is a way forward if we just step back, turn around, and look for it. The way ahead may lie in a vastly different direction or it may be a slight detour. Either way, it helps to remember that the trip is just as important as the destination. Who knows? The journey might be better than anything you’ve ever dreamed.