The Three of Cups greets us with a festive and inviting scene. Three women are dancing, celebrating, lifting their golden chalices aloft in joyful celebration of their friendship and shared accomplishments.
Thee Three of Cups Minor Arcana card oozes lightheartedness, joy and revelry. It may come up in Tarot readings to indicate a positive outcome to a project or collaboration you are involved in, or it might denote festivity and freedom in the wake of a long, hard work-week. The upright Three of Cusp Tarot card typically refers to a well-earned celebration of accomplishments in the presence of, or in collaboration with, likeminded people.
In some cases, when the Three of Cups Tarot card appears reversed, its emphasis on revelry can indicate a party lifestyle that has gotten a little out of hand. Here, instead of depicting a scene of exceptional celebration, the Three of Cups card represents a desire to escape and block out the practical realities and responsibilities of life – typically in ways and by means that are fun in the moment but are likely to bring down a hailstorm of negative consequences later on.
All in all, the 3 of Cups always works as a reminder to be kind to yourself; celebrate and reward yourself for your victories, and remember to let your hair down now and then. Don’t overdo it though, as celebration taken to an extreme can become punishment.
What the Cups stand for in Tarot
The Tarot’s Minor Arcana is divided into four suits, one for each of the four elements that form the foundation of the natural world. The suit of Swords represents the air, the suit of Pentacles earth, the suit of Wands fire and the suit of cups water.
Water signifies emotional connection, friendship, romance, compassion, creativity, intuition and the vast, unchartered realm of the subconscious mind. The suit of Cups deals with all of these qualities.
Meaning of the numerological number 3 in Tarot
According to numerology, the number 3 represents progress, movement and flow, innovation and optimism.
The numerological meaning of the number three makes perfect sense in relation to the 3 of Cups Tarot card, which is all about the collaborative flow between people, and about celebrating accomplishments, innovation and progress.
The card immediately preceding the 3 of Cups in the suit is the 2 of cups, which represents calm, harmony, balance and peace. The two characters in the card are clinking their golden chalices together while gazing into each other’s eyes. They appear to be soul mates, totally lost in each other and in the moment. With the addition of the 3rd cup, the energy becomes unbalanced and is forced to move, shift and transform.
An example of a card where the number of chalices becomes overwhelming and confusing to the character in the card is the 7 of Cups. Here we see a figure standing in front of a seven golden chalices, each containing a mysterious treasure of possibility. The catch is that he cannot have all of them but will have to choose, based on what his gut instincts are telling him.
Three of Cups Tarot card description
The Three of Cups Tarot card is depicted differently in different decks. Most versions are either inspired by or based directly on the classic Rider-Waite Tarot and include its essential symbolism. Let us lean in for a closer look.
The three young women
The Three of Cups shows three women dancing in celebration. They are dressed in long, flowing garments and are looking at each other with appreciation and respect.
They may be close friends, collaborators, colleagues or activists united by the same cause, passion project or business venture. Each respects the unique contributions that the others have made to the group. They are honouring and lifting each other up, each acknowledging the other’s strengths and talents.
The three chalices
The three women are holding up their golden chalices and clinking them together in a clear display of celebration, revelry and appreciation of each other and of what they have accomplished together, through their mutual efforts.
The golden cups are symbols of there three women’s emotional connectedness, as well as of their shared vision or the creative goal they are working towards.
Flowers and fruits are scattered on the ground at the women’s feet, indicating the abundant harvest they have brought about together.
The ripe fruits and flowers are representations of success, positive outcomes and abundant rewards.
Three of Cups Tarot card meanings
Every Tarot card is many-layered and multi-faceted. Here are the key and primary Three of Cups Tarot card meanings..
The upright Three of Cups Tarot card conveys a positive energetic flow, and a sense of goodwill and ease.
Positive energy can refer to an internal state, an optimism and ease in your feelings. Positive vibes can also come from external sources, from quality time spent with friends and like-minded people, or from projects you are working on that are giving you emotional fulfilment.
The Three of Cups can often indicate a celebratory social event, for example a wedding, a baby shower, a birthday, an award ceremony or some other form of event taking place in your social circle.
A celebration might also mean celebrating a personal victory or a private goal that has been achieved.
Quite often, the Three of Cups Tarot card may refer to collaborators or a collaborative effort.
Collaboration might take place in the work you do, or it might represent a passion project or a side hustle that you are starting up with friends or people whose skills you admire. In the kind of collaboration indicated here is one where everyone involved contributes something meaningful and unique to the whole.
The 3 of Cups often appears in Tarot readings to indicate friendship and the love, support and connection that exists between friends. The kinds of friendships that the 3 of Cups refers to are genuine, collaborative, nurturing, equal and generous.
Reversed Three of Cups Tarot card meanings
When the Three of Cups Tarot cards comes up in readings, its positive meanings and connotations are flipped on their head. Here are the key and primary Three of Cups Tarot card meanings.
Going it alone
Whereas the upright Three of Cups indicates collaborations, social event sand community, the Three or Cups in its reversed position can indicate a lone wolf mentality, going it alone socially or in the realm of work and business.
Carving your own path and relying only on your own skills and efforts can be a deliberate choice, or it can mean that you simply have not yet managed to connect with the right collaborators, mentors or assistants who might help you elevate or amplify your work, or who might bring new colours and excitement to your life.
The Three of Cups reversed can sometimes indicate hedonism taken a bit too far.
One thing is partying down on weekends, only to get up, brush yourself up and get back to work on Monday. Getting swept up in a constant party lifestyle is another.
In some cases, the reversed card may indicate friendships gone sour.
Here, instead of working together to achieve a common goal or vision, the three characters in the card begin to quarrel and fire verbal arrows at each other. Instead of respecting and admiring each other, the characters focus on tearing each other down instead.
Three of Cups Tarot card interpretations
The Three of Cups – as every Tarot card does – has multiple layers of meaning that shift and ripple, allowing this or that facet of meaning to stand out depending on the supporting cards that appear in the spread, and on the individual Tarot reader’s interpretation.
To illustrate, here are a few examples of how the Three of Cups could be interpreted in the context of different Tarot readings.
What the Three of Cups says about you when it signifies you in a reading
When the 3 of Cups appears in its upright position in a position that indicates you in the reading, it tells of an energetic, upbeat and positive attitude towards life.
Typically, the 3 of Cups indicates someone who is extroverted and has a very active social life. You like a good party and never turn down an invitation.
You are a people person, naturally compassionate, open and generous with others. You tend to give a lot of yourself in your friendships and relationships.
The Three of Cups reversed indicates a more withdrawn personality.
In some cases, it can suggest art you are a natural loner who loves working on your own and spending most of your time in your own company. It can also indicate someone who is suspicious or reluctant to open up to others, perhaps drawing foregone conclusions about them, not giving their contributions a chance.
In some cases, the reversed 3 of Cups can indicate a hedonistic lifestyle that has spun a little out of control.
What the Three of Cups means in a love Tarot reading
The upright Three of Cups is a great omen to see in a love Tarot reading. It indicates success, celebration, conquest, jubilation.
If you are single, there is a lot of potential around you, whether you are looking for a deeper connection or are merely having fun and going with the flow.
The Three of Cups reversed indicates a lack of romantic flow or deep emotional connection within your relationship, if you are in one. On the other hand, the upright Three of Cups reversed can also suggest that three is a crowd, and that your relationship is standing on shaky foundations. You may be feeling isolated and lonely, even if you are in a committed relationship.
If you are single, the Three of Cups reversed can hint at difficulties finding a person to have a romantic connection with. In a new or budding relationship, you find yourself worrying that the flame is going to quickly fizzle out.
What the Three of Cups means in a career Tarot reading
You are in a positive place in terms of your romantic life.
If you are in a relationship, the overall energy of the relationship is joyful, dynamic, explorative, supportive and exciting. There is an undeniable air of celebration, which might indicate an impending wedding or engagement party. Just as an unspoken mutual respect and appreciation seems to exist between the three dancing women depicted in the card, you and your spouse or partner are each contributing to the whole in unique and powerful ways. The entity that is your relationship is built on this mutual love, respect, trust and admiration.
The Three of Cups reversed is a bad omen in readings about money or career.
You appear to be cut off from the celebratory and collaborative vibe of the upright card. Whether gatekeepers are deliberately hindering you from reaching out for opportunities, you are left with a feeling of being excluded and denied access.