6 of Cups

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The Six of Cups emanates nostalgia and soft, positive emotion. The Tarot cards rarely portray children, but the Six of Cups is a notable exception – it is the only card in the deck, apart from the Sun, in which children are the primary focus.

The scene depicted in the Six of Cups card is one of idyll. A small boy is leaning down to pass a golden chalice filled with flowers to an even smaller girl. A precious bond seems to be forged between them in that moment. The Six of Cups could represent a specific childhood memory, or it may suggest a more generalised nostalgic feeling, perhaps even a longing for childhood or for something or someone from the past.

When the Six of Cups appears in Tarot readings, its connotations can be bitter sweet. Sweet childhood memories may inspire and warm us, but the mind also has a tendency to rose tint memories in retrospect, causing us to long for a past or a state of being that never truly existed.

When reversed, the card’s meanings become obscured and their shadowy aspects come into play. The reversed Six of Cups can be warning of the pitfalls of memory and the very real danger of living in the past.

What the Cups mean in Tarot

The Minor Arcana consists of four suits, each representing one of the four elements that make up the natural world. The suit of Swords represents air, the suit of Pentacles earth, the suit of Wands fire and the suit of Cups water.

Water is associated with deep feeling and powerful emotion, imagination and creativity, love and compassion, human connection, romance, and the vast and mostly uncharted territory of the subconscious mind.

When the water element is in balance, we are emotionally stable and connected, we are in flow and we are able to express our creativity and imagination. The water element in its positive aspect also means that we are able to reach out and embrace and nurture others emotionally.

A good example of a Minor Arcana Tarot card in which the water element is perfectly balanced is the 2 of cups. Here, we see a young couple exchanging golden chalices in perfect love and perfect trust.

The Queen of Cups gives us another powerful example of water in its positive aspect. The Queen of the element is seated on her throne, admiring the large golden chalice in her hands. She recognises it and everything it stands for as the source of her power.

Numerological number 6 in Tarot

The numerological meaning of the number 6 is interesting to look at as it relates to the 6 of Cups Tarot card. The number 6 stands for generosity, nurturing and sharing. The meaning of the number 6 is plainly evident in the 6 of Cups, as the small boy shares his emotional wealth, symbolised by the chalice and the flowers, with the girl.

Six of Cups Tarot card description

You can expect depictions of the Six of Cups card are bound to differ between different Tarot decks – but you can also expect most versions to include the following symbols and details. Let us lean in for a closer look.

The boy and the girl

The primary characters of the Six of Cups are the young boy and girl in the card’s foreground. They are both well dressed in colourful clothes, and the small boy is handing the younger girl a gift of a golden cup filled with flowers. The two of them are clearly childhood sweethearts.

The cups and flowers

The Six of Cups Tarot card features six cups.

There is the cup being passed between the children. There are three more golden cups stand on the ground, in the very foreground of the card. A fifth cup stands on the ledger behind the boy. All of them are spilling over with vegetation, suggesting abundance, healthy growth and vitality.

The cups symbolize emotional depth and connection, generosity and kindness, creativity and imagination. They may also indicate the nostalgic quality of memory.

The grownup

In the background, an older man is walking away from the children. His distant presence in the card can mean that the worries and responsibilities of adulthood are far away.

What this suggests is that, for the moment at least, your entire energy is concentrated on the enjoyment of the sweet moment or memory. For the moment at least, you are able to put your worries, fears and responsibilities aside and just focus on fully enjoying the moment.

The courtyard

The scene depicted in the Six of Cups card appears to be taking place in the courtyard of a large home. In the Tarot, buildings symbolise security, comfort and structure, and courtyards specifically suggest safety and protection.

Another Minor Arcana card in which a courtyard is the backdrop is the Ten of Pentacles, a card signifying material success, wealth and security.

Six of Cups Tarot card meanings

Here are the key upright Six of Cups Tarot card meanings.

Childhood memories

The Six of Cups often indicates childhood memories – the six cups filled with flowers indicate that there is an abundance of them, and that they are rich and fragrant, even if some of them are faded and happened a long time ago.

Growing up

When the Six of Cups appears in it s upright position, it can sometimes be talking about the growth and evolution of a young child into a young adult. Inevitably as we move from one stage of life to the next – or as our children do – there may be an element of wishing to be able to freeze the moment in time, to preserve the innocence and unfettered life-force before the gravity of adult responsibilities sets in.

Nostalgia

The Six of Cups indicates nostalgic feelings.

Most of us have memories from our childhood or from earlier stages of our lives that we’ll treasure forever, not least because others have already faded and slipped away. In the rearview mirror, our conscious minds may distort or rose-tint our memories, so that they seem even more magical to us now than they were.

Innocence

The upright Six of Cups often refers to the unspoiled and unburdened innocence of childhood or even young adulthood that we are only able to recognise as innocence now that we have matured a little and are looking back.

Joy

The Six of Cups indicates joy, fun, playfulness – and sometimes escapism.

Forgiveness

In some cases, the upright Six of Cups can mean forgiveness, the wonderful ability to let go of people or circumstances that have hurt or neglected you in the past.

Six of Cups reversed Tarot card meanings

Here are the key reversed Six of Cups Tarot card meanings.

Living in the past

There is a difference between treasuring memories and clinging to imaginings of past glory that has been lost. The present moment is where you need to live and feel happy.

Holding grudges

The reversed Six of Cups can suggest that you are holding onto grudges. If you are filled with anger or hurt over past events – for example, if yo car filled with rage because a past lover or friend betrayed you – you may be holding yourself back from experiencing life to the fullest or from connect with others and forming new relationships.

Neglecting the inner child

Lighten up, buttercup! We all have an inner child, a sense of playfulness and wonder that we would do well to nurture and nourish throughout our lives, for the simple reason that lightheartedness and fun are vital to our health and wellbeing. It also makes us much more enjoyable to be around.

It is important to find moments of reprieve in which you allow your playful, creative side to come out.

Six of Cups Tarot card interpretations

The Six of Cups Tarot card contains within it a plethora of meaning. Which layer of its significance is relevant in any one particular Tarot reading is always going to depend on the individual Tarot reader’s interpretation, as well as on any surrounding cards in the spread.

Here are some of examples of how the Six of Cups might be interpreted in the context of different Tarot readings.

What the Six of Cups means in a love Tarot reading

Upright

You have healed from and let go of any past slights and betrayals and are able to take your experiences, good and bad, and use them to create a healthy and thriving relationship in the present.

Reversed

You can only find joy if you let go of old memories of slights and betrayal. Refocus on the present and the possibilities it holds for love and connection. Past relationships don’t have to taint future relationships.

What the Six of Cups means in a career Tarot reading

Upright

Positive feelings and the lessons you have learned from your past are inspiring and fuelling you as your build an even better future. You may be pursuing a childhood dream or passion as your career, or you may have created a career that involves plenty of creativity and playfulness, thereby delighting and nourishing your inner child.

Reversed

The Six of Cups reversed indicates that you are stuck and perhaps lost in the pursuit of a career path that no longer brings you any happiness.

Lucius Nothing

Lucius has been slinging tarot cards professionally since 2014. He’s taken the tarot to places most wouldn’t think of: His best-known patrons include Torture Garden, The Dark Circus Party, Handel & Hendrix, A Curious Invitation and The Candlelight Club, where he has been resident tarot reader for the past half-decade. His writing on divination, magic and creativity has been published in Sabbat Magazine and on Medium.

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