Ace of Cups, Ace of Hearts, Ace of Chalices   

Tarot Minor Arcana

Notes by Michael P. Garofalo, M.S.

Index to Internet Resources, Books, and Articles
Correspondences, Symbolism, History, Meanings, Associations, Magick, Lore 
Emphasis on the Visconti, Marseille, Waite, Thoth, and Voyager Tarot Decks

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Ace of Cups:   Meanings     Metaphors     Notes     Quotes     Bibliography     Links     Crowley 



Ace of Cups    





A Note about the Tarot Card Images on this Webpage




Meanings, Associations, Correspondences
Ace of Cups 

Emotions, Emotional Fulfillment, Ecstasy, Feelings, Heart, Moods
Sensitivity, Receptivity, Attunement  
Deepest hopes and desires fulfilled, Support, A Gift 
Planting a Seed, Promise of Springtime, Beginning of Good Things      
Forgive and Forget, Generosity, Compassion, Goodwill      
Dreams, Imagination, Unconscious
Intuition, Psychic Powers, Divination, Inner Work, Revelations 
Spiritual Awakening, Rebirth, Baptism, Affirmation, New Life, Spiritual Breakthrough    
Relationships, Affection, Romance, Intimacy, Love, Courtship, Marriage   
Good health of kidneys and bladder, Recovery, Feeling Energetic  
Joy and inner peace from friends and family
Feminine, Yoni, Fertility  
Powers of Water, Water, West,  

Reversals, Negatives

Hard Hearted, Emotionless, Depression, Dullness, Loneliness 
Curb your emotions
Bottle up your emotions 
Powers of Air (Swords)
Closed or selfish heart 

Waite card images:  Christian Communion service image.  A white dove (Holy Spirit) feeding a communion host (Bread of Life) into the gold chalice.  Five streams of water are pouring down from chalice into a lake.  The lake might symbolize the unconscious mind, and the five streams are often take to mean the five senses: feeling, hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling.  A white hand emerges from a white cloud to hold the chalice from below.  A deep blue sky in the background behind the chalice. 

In the heraldic tradition, the vase and similar vessels are considered symbols of fertility.


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Metaphors, Similes, Clichés, Phrases
Ace of Cups

Pour out your heart
Fill up my cup
Feelings can run high 
Raise your glass for a toast 
The cup is full 
Brimming with promise
Waters of Life 
Drink up
Raising the glass 
Offering up the cup 
Flowing waters 
Overflowing cup
Fountain of youth 
Raise your cup and drink to success 
Holy Grail Cup
Full cup
My cup runneth over 
One day before or after some event involving a change, end, transformation, appearance, etc.
One week before or after ... 
One month before or after ... 
One year before or after ...
One year old
First decade of life



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Crowley/Harris, Book of Thoth Tarot, 1938-1943
Ace of Cups 





"This card represents the element of Water in its most secret and original form. It is the feminine complement of the Ace of Wands, and is derived from the Yoni and the Moon exactly as that is from the Lingam and the Sun. The third in the Hierarchy. This accordingly represents the essential form of the Holy Grail.  Upon the dark sea of Binah, the Great Mother, are Lotuses, two in one, which fill the cup with the Life-fluid, symbolically represented either as Water, as Blood, or as Wine, according to the selected purpose of the symbolism. This being a primordial card, the liquid is shown as water; it can be transformed into Wine or Blood as may be required.  Above the Cup, descending upon it, is the Dove of the Holy Ghost, thus consecrating the element.  At the base of the Cup is the Moon, for it is the virtue of this card to conceive and to produce the second form of its Nature."
-   Aleister Crowley, Book of Thoth, 1944  


"The first mention of the Holy Grail with this spelling (Holy Graal) was by the Arthurian romanticist Creitien De Troyes. The word Grail comes from the Latin gradulus which means serving dish. The Holy Grail in its many forms has changed from a dish shaped object (like a platter), a cauldron or a chalice, depending it its source in Cymru, Saxon, Pict, Norman or Anglo-Saxon legend. It is interesting to see even in some Christian depictions of the Holy Grail that it resembles beyond doubt a platter and not a Chalice.  A change in attitude can creates possibilities which can obviously aid or oppose the effects of magick. A cup, cauldron or the Holy Grail is a ritual object of feminine gender. Quabalistic correspondences of the cup are attributed to Binah hence Understanding . Binah is also the Great Mother, and this glyph is that of the great seas of creation.  In physical essence the cup in ritual is often crescent shaped. This symbolism links it to the moon, another feminine aspect. The cup and the great waters of Binah could be perhaps the waters of life which surround an unborn child? Furthermore a cup or Grail performs a function of a receptacle. The symbol of the Great Rite in the Book Of Shadows depicts a dagger hanging above about to enter into a chalice. The sexual concepts really need no explanation. However this rite witnesses a consecration and magickal fusion at its forte."
-   The Holy Grail as Symbol


"Cups represent the element of water, which is primarily associated with love, which in Thelemic terms signifies union. As such, it involves notions of attraction, and naturally relates to human relationships and affections. More importantly, from the perspective of our Qabalistic framework, the ideas of union and attraction render the element of water inextricably connected with the concept of form. Thus, on a high level, fire represents change, or motion, and water represents stability, or form. Water is a passive element; it changes its shape to fit any container in which it is placed, and still water functions as a mirror, further emphasizing its connection with the notion of form, relationships and structure in general. It is also connected — through the amniotic fluid — with the womb, which nurtures and protects the fetus, allowing it to grow and giving it form."
-  Erwin Hessle, Ace of Cups 


"The Aces represent the roots of the four elements. They are quite above, and distinct from, the other small cards in the same way as Kether is said to be symbolized only by the topmost point of the Yod of Tetragrammaton. In these cards is no real manifestation of the element in its material form. They form a link between the small cards and the Princesses, who rule the Heavens around the North Pole. The Meridian is the Great Pyramid, and the Elements rule, going Eastward, in the order of Tetragrammaton, Fire, Water, Air, Earth. Thus, roughly, Aces-Princesses Wands cover Asia, Cups the Pacific Ocean, Swords the Americas, Disks Europe and Africa. To make this relationship clear, one may go a little into the symbol of the pentagram, or Shield of David. It represents Spirit ruling the four elements, and is thus a symbol of the Triumph of Man.  The idea of the element of Spirit is very difficult to grasp. The letter Shin, which is the letter of Fire, has to do double duty by representing Spirit as well. Generally speaking, the attributions of Spirit are not clear and simple like those of the other elements. It is very remarkable that the Tablet of Spirit in the Enochian system is the key to all mischief; as, in the Hindu system, Akasha is the Egg of Darkness.  On the other hand, Spirit represents Kether. Perhaps it was never in the mind of the Exempt Adept or Adepts who invented the Tarot to go so far into this matter. The point to remember is that, both in their appearance and in their meaning, the Aces are not the elements themselves, but the seeds of those elements."
-   Aleister Crowley, Book of Thoth, 1944



Root of the Powers of Water (Cups) from Book of Thoth by Aleister Crowley

Thoth Deck by Aleister Crowley and Frieda Harris: Bibliography, Resources, Information, Notes 

Liber LXXVII, A Description of of the Cards of the Tarot, by Aleister Crowley.  Description of Golden Dawn Tarot. 

Works of Aleister Crowley

Ace of Cups.   By Erwin Hessle.   Uses the Crowley deck 

Ace of Cups by James Rioux  

Book of Thoth (Crowley) - Wikipedia 

Understanding Aleister Crowley's Thoth Tarot.  By Lon Milo DuQuette.  San Francisco, California, Red Wheel, Weiser Books, 2003.  330 pages.  Glossary, notes, bibliography.  ISBN: 1578632765.  This is an outstanding guide to the Thoth Tarot by an expert in the O.T.O. and Golden Dawn systems and a Master Tarot scholar.  VSCL.  Review

Portable Darkness: An Aleister Crowley Reader.  Edited with commentary by Scott Michaelsen.  Foreword by Robert Anton Wilson and Genesis P-Orridge.  New York, Solar Books, 2007, 1989.  Bibliography and recommended reading, 293 pages.  ISBN: 9780971457874.  VSCL. 

The Tarot Handbook: Practical Applications of Ancient Visual Symbols. By Angeles Arrien, 1987, 1997.   Discussion of the Crowley/Harris Thoth Tarot. 

Tarot: Mirror of the Soul: Handbook for the Aleister Crowley Tarot.  By Gerd Ziegler.  San Francisco, California, Red Wheel, Weiser Books, 1988.  Brief glossary of symbols.  192 pages.  ISBN: 0877286833.  VSCL. 

The Crowley Tarot.  The Handbook to the Cards by Aleister Crowley and Lady Frieda Harris.  By Akron (C. F. Frey) and Hajo Banzhaf.  Translated from the German by Christine M. Grimm.  Stamford, CT, U.S. Games Systems, Inc., 1995.  222 pages.  ISBN: 0880797150.  I have found this book to be an extremely useful reference tool when doing an analysis of a card.  This is my favorite book on the Thoth Tarot.  Discussion and interpretation of the Crowley-Harris-Thoth Tarot, Ace of Cups, p. 143. 

Aleister Crowley Thoth Small Tarot Deck .  80 card deck includes three extra Magnus cards.  A 78 page booklet.  U. S. Games Systems Inc., 1988.  The cards in this deck are 2 3/4" wide and 4 5/16" high.  ISBN: 0880793082.  VSCL. 

The Book of Thoth: A Short Essay on the Tarot of the Egyptians, Being the Equinox Volume III No. V.  By Aleister Crowley, The Master Therion.  A Short Essay on the Tarot of the Egyptians.  Equinox, Volume III, No. V., 1944, 200 copies.  Published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc, 1977.  287 pages.  ISBN: 0913866121. 






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Notes and Quotes
Ace of Cups 


Alternative Names of Suit:  Cups, Chalices, Hearts, Vessels, Bowls, Cauldron 

All early Tarot decks call this suit "Chalices", and modern Tarot decks call this suit "Cups."

In a deck of regular playing cards this suit is called "Hearts."  


"Water symbolizes the emotions due to the bonding quality of water. Take the water, or liquid, out of any substance and it falls to disintegration.  It is therefore these bonds which hold the universe together.  We recognize these bonds, as symbolized through water, as a kind of love which keeps people together.  It is only the bonds which people form that create attachment to people, places and things.  Throughout history water has been used as a symbolic form of binding in many religious ceremonies, especially during the Piscean age and Christianity.  If you look at a traditional Marseille tarot deck Ace of Cups you will notice how similar it is to a baptism font.  The ceremony of pouring water over the babies head, or submersion of the body into water, symbolizes the individual’s bond into the church and its doctrine."
Toni Allen 


"The Ace of Cups is the initial flow of emotion that could become a mighty river is given time and attention. It is the planted - but still dormant - seed of great love and affection in the future, the first stirrings of passion, joy and insight. The Cup on this Ace is often said to represent the Holy Grail, and just as Joseph of Arimathea was sustained by the wafer placed in the Grail each day, so too does love and emotional balance sustain our everyday lives.  In situations not involving relationships, the Ace of Cups still shows the power of love that is necessary in the situation. But love in this sense does not always refer to romance. Love is a plant with many flowers: generosity, forgiveness, peace, honesty or simply letting your feelings show. Ask your Inner Voice which kind of love you will need, and you will surely get an answer because the Ace of Cups is the card of the awakening intuition. All of these things associated with emotion and intuition run high when the Ace of Cups makes an appearance."
James Rioux 


"In Greek mythology, Psyche represents the human soul in the form of a beautiful maiden with whom Cupid, the god of love himself, fell deeply in love. The Cup, therefore, represents Psyche, or the human soul, and water, its ruling element, represents love. To satisfy the human soul is to fill it with love."
Tarot Symbols


"Cups correspond to the element of Water and describe the fluid, feeling level of our existence.   The Cup symbolizes the primordial womb which holds and nurtures the essence of hope, desire, and inspiration.  This suit relates to our ability to flow with and adapt to the undercurrents of life and be attuned to unconscious processes.  Cups may also refer to the emotional milieu of a relationship or strongly held ideas."
-  Kate Warwick-Smith, The Tarot Court Cards, p. 38 


"This card shows a marvelous chalice (the yoni vessel) as a symbol of love and receptivity.  It is thereby the feminine pedant to the Ace of Wands and represents the water element in its most feminine form as the ability to show devotion.  The chalice is an image of loving openness growing up out of a white lotus, which in turn rises like a fountain from the depths and fills the chalice with the water of life from within.  Conversely, the rays of light coming down vertically from above symbolize the creative spirit as it dives down into the "sources of love" where it unities with the rising spheres of the depths into that power that goes forth (background), originating in the collective unconscious and representing the desire of love for devotion and for merging with God.  Crowley identifies the chalice with the Holy Grail, symbol for the highest good attainable by human beings."
Akron (C. F. Frey) and Hajo Banzhaf, The Crowley Tarot, p. 142 


"The cauldron was an important artifact in Celtic daily life, where it served as the hub of the home. It was used for most household cooking, as well as for bathing and carrying water, and was the finest object owned by most households. The cauldron was likewise central in Celtic religious practice, where it was used for divination and sacrificial rituals. The cauldron was an emblem of the domain of water, and beautifully designed cauldrons were frequently sacrificed to the gods of lakes and rivers. The ocean itself was at times conceived as a great cauldronIt was from a great cauldron in the Otherworld that poetic and artistic inspiration was given, and the measure each man received depended on how much his life and actions caused the cauldron to flow. The Welsh goddess, Cerridwen, owned a great cauldron, from which the bard Taliesin illicitly obtained his legendary talents as a bard.  To the ancient Gauls, cauldron was closely linked with the god Taranis; sacrifices made to the god by Druid priests were purportedly drowned in a cauldron, possibly with the belief that the victim would be reborn. Many Celtic legends tell of a cauldron from which slain warriors could be resurrected."
-   Celtic Cauldron of Cerridwen   


"In Celtic tradition there is the legendary magic cauldron, horn of plenty and platter that could never empty. With roots in the same image is the Chalice, sacred vessel, that represents both the illuminating goal of the quest and the heroic quest itself."
-   The Celtic Cauldron  


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Painting by Arthur Rackham 1917




Bibliography, Links, References 
Ace of Cups


Ace of Cups - Wikipedia 

The Voyager Tarot: Way of the Great Oracle Book.  By James Wanless, 1989.  Book and Deck.  Discussion and interpretation of the Ace of Cups, Ecstasy, pp. 165-167. 

The Celtic Cauldron   A fascinating analysis. 

Ace of Cups - Tarot - Google   

Ace of Cups by Lelandra   Good detailed information, especially for Crowley deck fans.  Includes references. 

Ace of Cups Interpretation by Toni Allen 

Root of the Powers of Water (Cups) from Book of Thoth by Aleister Crowley

Holy Grail - Wikipedia

Ace of Cups Images from Bing   

Water (Classic Element) - Wikipedia 

Celtic Cauldron of Cerridwen 

Baptism - Wikipedia

Ace of Cups Images from Google 

Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom: A Book of Tarot.  By Rachel Pollack.  Revised with a New Preface.  San Francisco, California, Weiser Books, 1980, 2007.  Index, bibliogrpahy, 354 pages.  ISBN: 1578634083.  This book uses the Waite-Smith-Rider 1909 Deck for analysis and interpretation.  Discussion and interpretation of the Waite-Smith-Rider Tarot, Ace of Cups, pp. 206-207. 

Ace of Cups Meanings from Biddy Tarot  

Ace of Cups Meanings from Keen Advisor 

Ace of Cups from Aeclectic Tarot 

Gundestrup Cauldron 

Aces, Minor Arcana, Tarot - Google 

The Sacred Cauldron.  By Tadhg Mac Crossan.  St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 1991.

Ace of Cups with Miss L   

Well of Uror, Urdarbrunnr, Well of Fate, Spring at the Roots of Yggdrasil Tree (Tree of Life) 

The Twenty-Two Keys of Wisdom: A Study on the Major Arcana of Aleister Crowley's Tarot.  By Lynda I. H. Hughes.  Athena Press, 2009.  186 pages.  ISBN: 9781847485830.  VSCL. 

The Thoth Companion: The Key to the True Symbolic Meaning of the Thoth Tarot.  By Michael Osiris Snuffin.  Llewellyn Publications, 2007.  240 pages.  ISBN: 0738711926.  VSCL. 





Keywords for the Crowley Tarot.  by Hajo Banzhaf and Brigitte Theler, 2001.

The Complete Book of Tarot Reversals.  By Mary K. Greer, 2002.

Tarot Wisdom: Spiritual Teachings and Deeper Meanings.  By Rachel Pollack, 2008. 

Learning Ritual Magic.  By John Michael Greer, Earl King, Jr., and Clare Vaughn, 2004. 

Dictionary of the Tarot.  By Bill Butler.  New York, Shocken Book, 1987, 1977.  Glossary, 254 pages.  I first purchased this book in 1978.  I consider it the best Tarot Dictionary and use it frequently.   

Tarot Dictionary and Compendium.  By Jana Riley.  York, Maine, Samuel Weiser, Red Wheel, 1995.  320 pages. 

The Book of Thoth: A Short Essay on the Tarot of the Egyptians, Being the Equinox Volume III No. V.  By Aleister Crowley, The Master Therion.  A Short Essay on the Tarot of the Egyptians.  Equinox, Volume III, No. V., 1944, 200 copies.  Published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc, 1977.  287 pages.  ISBN: 0913866121. 






Jung and Tarot: An Archetypal Journey.  By Sallie Nichols.  Introduction by Laurens van der Post.  York Beach, Maine, Samuel weiser, Inc., 1980.  References, 392 pages.  ISBN: 0877285152.  VSCL.

Portable Magic: Tarot is the Only Tool You Need.  By Donald Tyson.  Woodbury, Minnesota, Llewellyn Publications, 2006.  Index, bibliography, 230 pages.  ISBN: 0738709808.  VSCL. 

Tarot as a Way of Life: A Jungian Approach to the Tarot.  By Karen Hamaker-Zontaq.  Red Wheel, Weiser, 2007.  268 pages.  ISBN: 9780877288787.  VSCL.  

Learning the Tarot: A Tarot Book for Beginners   By Joan Bunning.  Weiser Books, 1998.  320 pages. 






Learning Tarot Reversals.  By Joan Bunning.  Weiser Books, 2003.  192 pages.  ISBN: 9781578632718. 

The Complete Book of Tarot Reversals.  By Mary K. Greer.  Woodbury, Minnesota, Llewellyn Publications, 2002.  288 pages.  ISBN: 1567182852. 

Understanding the Tarot Court.  By Mary K. Greer and Tom Little.  Special topics in Tarot Series.  Woodbury, Minnesota, Llewellyn Publications, 2004.  288 pages.  ISBN: 0738702862.  

The Tarot Court Cards: Archetypal Patterns of Relationship in the Minor Arcana.  By Kate Warwick-Smith.  Destiny Books, 2003.  224 pages.  ISBN: 0892810920.   

The Tarot: Methods, Mastery and More.   By Cynthia E. Giles.  New York, Fireside Book, Simon and Schuster, 1996.  Index, 240 pages.  ISBN: 0684818833. 

Self-Initiation Into the Golden Dawn Tradition: A Complete Curriculum of Study for Both the Solitary Magician and the Working Magical Group.  By Chic Cicero and Sandra Tabatha Cicero.   Llewellyns's Golden Dawn Series.  Woodbury, Minnesota, Llewellyn Publications, 2002. 1st Edition.  792 pages.  ISBN: 1567181368.  Golden Dawn Magical Tarot Deck

Learning Tarot Spreads.  By Joan Bunning.  Weiser Books, 2007.  180 pages.  ISBN: 1578632706.  





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