Five of Cups Explained - Upright & Reversed Meanings
Last Updated: November 7, 2023
The five of Cups is the fifth card in the Suit of Cups (also known as the suit of Goblets or Vessels) and one of the fifty-six suit cards from the minor arcana. In divinatory tarot, the Suit of Cups is typically associated with the element of water.
It traditionally represents emotions, intuition, relationships, and creativity. Each card of this suit can provide insight into different aspects of our lives such as love, friendship, family, and emotional well-being.
Divination practices such as cartomancy can help us make decisions, offer guidance, and help us tune into our intuition when we are at a crossroads in our lives. Understanding the meanings of each tarot card can help you sharpen your interpretative skills so you can get the most out of your readings.
In this article, we will discuss the meanings of the five of Cups in various tarot reading contexts as well as the different symbols and nuances that can be found within this court card.
Pictorial Symbolism in the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck
The Five of Cups pictures a man wearing a long black cloak this represents his grief. He is looking down on three cups that have been knocked over, they represent the disappointments and failures in his life. Behind him, there are two cups standing up right these represent new opportunities and potential, but because he is so focused on the losses he has experienced, he misses the new opportunities that are available to him. One thing also unknown to the man is that one of the cups has poison in it anyway, indicating it was not meant for him.
In the background of this card we see a bridge that crosses a large, flowing river that leads to the security of home on the opposite side. The river represents his emotions and that there has been a lot of emotional turmoil that has separated him from his home. The bridge brings the message to find your way home and to stop focusing on the cups that have fallen.
The Five of Cups key correspondences
Regret, Disappointment, Failure, Pessimism, Focusing on loss, Grief, Unwelcome change, and Trauma.
Contentment, Moving on, Self-forgiveness, Healing, Releasing emotions, Recovery
|Yes or No|
Mars and Pluto
Mars in Scorpio, October 23rd - November 2nd
What does the upright Five of Cups mean in the Tarot?
The Five of Cups symbolizes disappointment and the feelings that come when things don’t go as you had originally planned. It represents feelings of sadness that a certain situation hasn’t really turned out the way you wanted it to.
Instead of moving towards a more positive perspective, this card shows that you are dwelling on the past too much leading to feelings of self-pity and regret. The water which is spilt from the cups shows that the problems you are experiencing are mostly emotional & you may have missed an opportunity by focusing on the past so much – some of which was toxic for you anyway.
You may blame yourself for how things have worked out or believe you are a victim. These negative emotions are holding you back from your fullest potential, release them so you can move on and create positive change.
It’s time to shift your mindset and focus on what can go right from this point onwards, be open to the brighter side of life and know many blessings are in disguise right now. Instead of giving in to the ‘glass is half empty’ mindset look at it as the ‘glass is half full’.
What does the upright Five of Cups mean in a love reading
When this card appears in a love reading it shows you have as much to be happy about as you do to be sad about. You may be going through a breakup or a time of tension and arguments within your relationship.
The 5 of Cups in a love reading can signal emotional loss, but also that you may be overlooking what is still salvageable. Has an argument taught you about something within your relationship that can help you both move forward in a positive way? Has a break-up brought you the freedom that you lacked in your previous relationship?
If you are single and the five of cups appear in your reading this could represent you holding onto a past relationship and feelings of sadness due to the connection not working out how you had planned. It can also indicate an erraticness to a dating strategy for you, when really instead of trying to find someone “all of the modern ways” why not try something that feels a little closer to home for you?
What does the upright Five of Cups mean in a career reading?
The five of cups in the context of your career can represent a loss of a job, business, or business partner. You could be being forced to take a step backwards in your career or there is even redundancy. You may be going through a period of sadness and personal transformation.
These changes can be hard to go through but will offer you a learning opportunity, enabling you to approach your career goals differently. It can also mean that past failures are holding you back from the future successes, so shift your thinking on to what has gone right for you and start focusing on new opportunities and paths to take, instead of mourning what has been lost.
Try to maintain positive relationships with old colleagues and stay connected to the best elements of what you lost.
What does the upright Five of Cups mean in a health reading?
When the Five of Cups is pulled in a health reading it can indicate emotional baggage causing mental health issues. It represents feelings of grief & sadness causing depression. You may be trying to isolate yourself from the outside which can lead to feelings of loneliness. Try to get back out into the world.
If you are struggling with your mental health you may benefit from speaking to a friend about your troubles or If that is a struggle for you a professional therapist may be of some benefit.
Something to be aware of with the Five of Cups (especially if you are reading for someone else) for those who move through cycles of fertility, there’s the difficult emotional element of miscarriage, menopause or sadly even stillbirths that this card raises.
It is important to be mindful of this when considering the interpretation of the card. If you are looking for more in depth advice on fertility, it may be best to book an appointment with a specialized Naturopath or a Fertility specialist – medical teams will know the proper emotional support for any of these health topics, more than this deck of cards.
Generally, it’s time to accept that your health sorrows have passed and it’s time to find a way to look forward.
The Five of Cups as feelings/emotions
In the context of feelings, the 5 of Cups tarot card often indicates that you feel let down or even hurt by someone close to you. In general, when you see the 5 of Cups in your reading when asking about feeling it suggests that you or the person you are asking about is feeling detached from the situation at the moment.
You may feel like you are not getting what you want in a specific area of your life, or that you are not being appreciated by those around you. A way to change this would be to take a step back, look at the situation from an outsider’s point of view and determine how best to move ahead.
It may be that you need to talk more openly with those around you so that they can better understand your feelings and needs, or it could be that you need support in order to make changes for yourself.
In either case, it is important to remember that you are the only one who can decide what path to take and how best to reach your goals.
The Five of Cups as a person
As a personality archetype, the Five of Cups represents a person who is living with disappointment and regrets. They can be hard to please and can seem pessimistic. Emotionally they can be finding it hard to cope and often look for someone else to blame, they can struggle with new beginnings as they can get stuck in the past alot.
If you know someone who this card reminds you of, it is important to try and help them move forward. Encourage them to take action and make a fresh start, don’t let them wallow in the past. Help them to reconnect with their emotions and find strength even when mental health is a struggle.
If you are concerned about this person, seek advice from the relevant mental health professional teams.
The Five of Cups as advice
If you are asking the tarot for advice regarding a specific situation in your life, pulling the Five of Cups advises you to appreciate the things you have and not what you have lost. If something is truly yours it will never be lost, be thankful for what you do have. Don’t focus on the setback move forward and make your comeback.
When the 5 of Cups appears in your tarot reading as advice, it usually means that it’s time for you to evaluate what is going on in your life and make some changes. It is a reminder that it is important to accept any losses, move forward and start fresh in order to reach the best possible outcome.
Also adding to this, this card may be suggesting that you need to open up more about how you are feeling so that other people can understand what’s going on for you better.
What is the zodiac or astrological sign associated with the Five of Cups?
Scorpio is the zodiac sign associated with the Five of Cups. Scorpio is a fixed feminine water sign known for its loyalty & passion. Scorpio is all about delving into the deep, hidden layers to unearth secrets.
The ruling planets of Pluto and Mars are both highly powerful, energized, and focused planets. Scorpio is associated with sexual activity, death & rebirth. Their emotions run deep but they don’t always find it easy to open up.
In the tarot decan wheel, we have the dates October 23rd to November 2nd and this placement is ruled by Mars in Scorpio – this means they can often struggle with issues such as jealousy, holding grudges and having an all-or-nothing mentality. They may be feeling lost or stuck in a cycle of negativity and need to find a way out.
Is the Five of Cups a yes or no card?
When the Five of Cups is pulled in the upright position it is a clear ‘no’. This tarot card represents a strong sense of disappointment, loss and an overall feeling of dissatisfaction. It can indicate dwelling on a situation that has likely led you to feel negative and pitiful towards yourself.
The Five of Cups pulled in a reversed position is seen as a yes to your question It brings a positive message of acceptance and being able to see the good in a bad situation. It indicates you have learnt some valuable lessons and are ready to move forward.
Below are some of my interpretations, as an experienced tarot practitioner, based on different types of questions:
Querent Question: “Will I get the job?”
- Card interpretation: It’s unlikely. You may be feeling disappointed or regret about this role anyway, or you may need to take a different approach such as looking for another job in the meantime. Try not to dwell on the situation.
Querent Question: “Is this new person in my life good for me?”
- Card interpretation: It’s likely not. This tarot card suggests that this new relationship could bring more disappointments and loss than joy. Consider whether the person is reliable and trustworthy. If not, it may be best to end the relationship.
Querent Question: “Will I achieve my current goals?”
- Card interpretation: The card suggests it’s a no. This may be because you have not yet taken the necessary steps to reach your goals and objectives. It could suggest that it is time to re-evaluate and make sure that you are taking the right actions to reach accomplishments aligned with your end goal.
Querent Question: “Should I start my own business?”
- Card interpretation: At this time it’s a no; the Five of Cups suggests that it may be beneficial to take a step back and focus on other aspects of your life before jumping into this big decision. There may be issues with finances, resources or emotional energy that need to be resolved for the business to endeavor to succeed, so after some self-care and soul nourishment see if this is still something you’d want.
What does the reversed Five of Cups mean in the Tarot?
The reversed Five of Cups is a sign that you are starting to come to terms with your past and the negative emotions associated with it. You may have been holding on to feelings of anger, hurt, or disappointment for a long time, but now you are starting to let go of those negative emotions and move towards forgiveness and acceptance.
This process of healing and acceptance can be difficult, but it’s important to recognize that you are making progress. You are starting to see the silver lining in the struggles and pain you have experienced, and you are learning valuable lessons that will help you in the future.
As you begin to recouple with the world and people around you, you may find that you have a renewed sense of hope and optimism. You realize that you still have two cups left, and these represent the positive aspects of your life that you can focus on and cherish. You are no longer dwelling on what has been lost, but instead, you are embracing what you still have.
Be kind to yourself throughout this process and take things one step at a time. Allow yourself the time and space you need to heal, and know that it’s okay to ask for help if you need it. This card is a sign that you are on the path to a brighter and more positive future.
What does the reversed Five of Cups mean in a love reading?
When this card appears in a love reading it is time to stop living in the past. This is the card of moving on and letting go of past trauma.
If you’ve recently gone through a breakup, the 5 of cups is here to help motivate you to accept what has happened and make peace with it. You are releasing old emotions and making room for new love to appear a love that you can truly enjoy and not compare to past relationships. Give yourself time and be gentle on yourself you will find happiness again.
If you’re already in a relationship, you may have just gone through an intense period. This card encourages you and your partner to discuss what you need so you both feel like you are understood and heard. Try not to hold on to the past and both forward together.
If it’s for someone who is single, it suggests that you are beginning to move on from past heartbreak and emotional pain. You are starting to see the possibilities for new love and relationships, and you are open to new experiences. You may have forgiven past partners or even yourself for mistakes made, and are feeling more confident and optimistic about the future.
This card is a sign of hope and a reminder that new love is possible, so be open to new opportunities and trust in the universe to bring the right person into your life.
What does the inverted Five of Cups mean in a career reading?
In a career reading this card is a sign of recovery, if you have been recently made unemployed or unhappy in your job the five of cups suggest you have what you need to get past these hard times.
You have time to recoup and realise losses are sometimes needed to make room for growth and better opportunities. This card may also indicate that you are beginning to see new opportunities and possibilities that you previously overlooked, and you are now more open to taking risks and trying these things.
You are able to view your situation with greater clarity and are ready to make the most of the resources you have available to you – just trust in yourself and your abilities, and believe that positive change is possible.
What does the upside-down Five of Cups mean in a health reading?
Pulling the Five of Cups reversed in a health reading can mean you are allowing yourself to let go of past pain and trauma. You are opening up to healing in a more positive way than before. If you are struggling to let go of negative energy and past trauma, energy healing or meditation may be beneficial for you alongside therapy for support.
You may also be made aware of the power of self-love and self-care. This is a time to nurture your body and soul, take breaks when you need them, increase your physical activity and try to find healthier coping mechanisms, such as gardening or journaling.
In conclusion, the Five of Cups card is a powerful symbol of regret, disappointment, failure, pessimism, focusing on loss, grief, unwelcome change, and trauma. When this card appears in your reading, it is often a sign that you should spend some time with how you are really feeling, and feel it all deeply, so that you can move on to the next cycle. You can only get to the Six of Cups when you’re feeling ready.
Despite its association with mysticism and occultism, the tarot has grown to become much more than a simple “fortune-telling” tool. For many tarot practitioners, it is a complex system made of symbolic imagery and psychological considerations (Jungian archetypes for example) that can be used for self-exploration, meditation, and personal transformation.
The 56 lesser arcana cards relate to the day-to-day events of our lives, the more mundane aspects of our existence. Even though that part of the tarot is about the “smaller picture”, it symbolizes the constant choices we make that shape our lives, our characters, and ultimately our destinies.
Have you ever had a reading where the Five Of Cups appeared? What was the outcome? What does that card mean to you personally? How do you interpret this card in your own tarot practice?
Share your thoughts and experiences with me in the comments below. Additionally, If you want to know more about the different tarot cards, feel free to check out my complete list of all 78 tarot cards and their meanings.
Written by Charlotte Coates
Charlotte Coates is a tarot/oracle reader & astrologer from Essex. Helping people on their spiritual journey using divination, astrology & meditation since 2019. Follow on Instagram @theessexwitchx