4 of Cups tarot card

Four of Cups Explained - Upright & Reversed Meanings

Last Updated: November 7, 2023

The Four of Cups is the fourth 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 Four of Cups in various tarot reading contexts as well as the different symbols and nuances that can be found within this court card.

Table of Contents

Pictorial Symbolism in the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck

Four of Cups Rider Waite SmithThe artworks from the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck contain deeper esoteric meanings that tarotists love to decipher. 

The Four of Cups in the Rider-Waite tarot depicts a man sitting in a green meadow under a tree. The man has crossed his hands and legs, observing the 3 cups in front of him. His clothing is simple, blue trousers which symbolize his mind, a red shirt as a symbol of vitality, and a green jacket as the symbol of the connection with nature. 

From his left side, there is a hand from the cloud that offers him a fourth cup. This hand offering a cup looks like the scenery in the Ace of Cups card, bringing a new opportunity to get excited for. The man looks confused and he is trying to make a decision. However, he is very into his thoughts that he does not see the fourth cup being offered, or doesn’t want to acknowledge the fourth cup as an opportunity. 

Almost apathetically, the man lets things happen around him and thus misses many opportunities to expand his consciousness. It seems like he is too much into his thoughts that he cannot process his emotions. He may be emotionally overwhelmed by his current situation, or so negative about his own current situation that he’s ungrateful regarding the three cups that are there to help him celebrate so far, and missing the opportunities being presented to him. 

The Four of Cups key correspondences

Upright Keywords

Sacrifice, waiting, procrastination, helplessness, doubt, isolation, apathy, boredom, negativity

Reversed keywords

Motivation, initiative, sociability and excitement for new opportunities

Yes or No

Maybe

Numerology

4

Element

Water

Ruling Planet

Moon

Astrological Sign

Cancer

What does the upright Four of Cups mean in the Tarot?

The upright Four of Cups is a card that encourages us to reflect on our current emotional state and take stock of our life’s direction. It may indicate that we are feeling dissatisfied, apathetic or unfulfilled, even though we may have opportunities and blessings that we are taking for granted. 

The figure on the card is shown sitting and contemplating three cups in front of them, seemingly oblivious to the fourth cup that is being offered to them by a divine hand. This card suggests that we may be refusing offers or missing opportunities that could bring us happiness and fulfillment. It is important to be open to new experiences and to not let negative thoughts and emotions cloud our judgment.

The Four of Cups also carries the theme of regret and disillusionment. Perhaps we have experienced disappointment in the past, and this is making it hard for us to trust and take chances. We may be overly focused on the negative aspects of our life, which is preventing us from seeing the good that is present. The card encourages us to shift our perspective and look for opportunities to grow and improve our situation. It reminds us that we have the power to make positive changes and to create a fulfilling life for ourselves.

Basically, the Four of Cups is a gentle nudge to take a step back, reassess our situation, and focus on the positives rather than dwelling on the negatives. It encourages us to be open to new opportunities, to take chances and to live our lives with a sense of purpose and gratitude. It’s never too late to make a change and to find joy and fulfillment in life.

upright 4 of Cups
When pulled in the upright position, the Four of Cups is associated with sacrifice, waiting, procrastination, helplessness, doubt, isolation, apathy, boredom, and negativity.

What does the upright Four of Cups mean in a love reading

The Four of Cups speaks about the inability to start a new relationship because we are tied to a person from the past. It is obvious that this card is not the embodiment of happiness and satisfaction on an emotional level.

We are surrounded by unreliable people. This card can speak about romantic experiences which are disturbing our daily affairs and plans. There may be changeable moods and feelings, and emotional outbursts. A person can be overwhelmed with feelings. Negative feelings such as sadness may dominate. This person doesn’t know what they want but they are tired of being depressed. The Four of Cups does not describe specific events in relationships and love lives, but more about the feelings.

In the context of love, the person is alone or feels lonely. They need to sort out their emotions. Hence, this card suggests taking time for ourselves. Although it seems that the negativity will never go away, this is still a minor arcana. This means that the problem is not big. It’s a temporary block that will pass soon. Now is not the right time to enter into a new love relationship. 

If the person is in the relationship, their relationship is at a crossroads; they shouldn’t rush or force anything. If you are not in a relationship, think about how much time you will waste on a busy person that doesn’t want to invest in the relationship. Similarly to the Hermit Card, this card suggests being alone, to process and focus on the emotions. This should help to heal and become open to start something new.

What does the upright Four of Cups mean in a career reading?

In a career reading, the Four of Cups speaks about boredom at work. Currently not much is happening or changing. However, this can be positive sometimes. But also sometimes, we should be patient and accept waiting as the only choice. 

I’ve had this card come up for folks who have been offered a new role, or a new job, or new responsibilities that they know is not what they want – the feeling of “I don’t know what I want, but it’s not this” becomes clearer with the Four of Cups.

In a professional context, this card could indicate a lack of inspiration. If the person has a job that is not their career, then they may want to take a vacation or leave and use the time to recharge and rest. If they don’t take a break, they could experience burnout. The Four of Cups encourages us to take a step back before we reach the burnout stage. 

Additionally, this card means that a person is too busy with themselves and what they are still missing in life. They can overlook good opportunities with this mindset.

What does the upright Four of Cups mean in a health reading?

This card in the reading signifies that the person’s health is improving, but slowly.

It is important to keep a positive attitude. There should not be a place for negative thoughts because they lead us to the same negative situations. It’s time to change the mood of apathy and self-pity.

This card doesn’t speak about any serious health issues but if you are struggling with mental health or depression, and not finding joy where you used to emotionally, then maybe it’s time to check in with your mental health supports and medical professional team.

The Four of Cups as feelings/emotions

The Four of Cups as feelings or emotions suggests that you may be experiencing a sense of boredom or dissatisfaction with life as it is. Perhaps you’re feeling unfulfilled or longing for something more. It’s important to remember that these feelings are natural and can be an opportunity for growth and change. 

This card also speaks to the need for self-reflection and introspection. Take the time to tune in to your inner world and explore your emotions, desires, and dreams. Remember that you have the power to choose your path and create the life you want. Trust in yourself and your journey, and know that even in moments of uncertainty, you have the strength and resilience to overcome any challenges that come your way.

With how someone else may be feeling, the Four of Cups indicates that the person may be tired and that the excitement has faded. They may be afraid of love. They may be stuck within themselves and cannot focus to start something new. This card represents a usually withdrawn person. It can mean that they are bored in the relationship or their day to day life. 

This is not about you, or anything that you’ve done, but a conversation with this person to see how they’re really doing could be beneficial right now. On the other hand, it can also signify that someone is overwhelmed with their feelings. They may be thinking about something else or someone else rather than about their partner. They are emotionally not there for anyone else right now.

The Four of Cups as a person

The Four of Cups speaks about a self-absorbed person. They may be unhappy with their current state of being. They lack motivation. They feel that they never get what they want. Even when this “magical” hand in the card gives them an offer that may be special, they don’t seem to want it. 

The energy of the card is resistance. This may be a person that takes things for granted and doesn’t know how to value what they have. Maybe they have brought themselves into this situation by not being satisfied with everything they had before. They often have many unresolved issues.

The Four of Cups as advice

The Four of Cups suggests that if something doesn’t interest us, we don’t have to accept it. However, sometimes we should think more than once about some opportunities. 

Maybe it is the right time to pursue a new hobby or find something that motivates us, especially if we feel bored lately. This card is asking us to work on ourselves also in matters of love. We are not ready to let love in. Take your time, meditate, and understand yourself!

What is the zodiac or astrological sign associated with the Four of Cups?

The Four of Cups, in some tarot decks, is identified with the Moon in the sign of Cancer. The Moon is a natural signifier of feelings, while Cancer belongs to the group of emotionally sensitive signs. The moon moves quickly, and so do emotions change quickly.

In addition, Cancer belongs to the group of cardinal or movable signs, which once again speaks of the transience of negative feelings. The tarot timing of this card is July 12th to 21st.

Is the Four of Cups a yes or no card?

In a yes or no reading, the Four of Cups does not have a definitive answer. It leans more towards a “maybe” or “not at this time” response. It advises the individual to take some time to reflect on their situation and re-evaluate their desires and priorities before making a decision.

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: Yes. If you choose to take it though. This card announces an offer.

Querent Question: “Is this new person in my life good for me?”

  • Card interpretation: Maybe. They may be emotionally unavailable, but they may present to you new opportunities to connect with your life too. Intuitively you’ll know, just approach this relationship from a grounded perspective.

Querent Question: “Will I achieve my current goals?” 

  • Card interpretation: Maybe. The card indicates good opportunities but do these investment opportunities feel good to you, your goals and aspirations?

Querent Question: “Should I start my own business?” 

  • Card interpretation: Whilst this card is a yes, be aware of what to focus on at the moment and don’t neglect how you’re feeling during the whole process – sometimes logic needs more.

What does the reversed Four of Cups mean in the Tarot?

The reversed Four of Cups signifies a renewed zest for life and a motivated outlook. You are no longer feeling stuck or apathetic, but instead, you are embracing opportunities with excitement and gratitude. 

You have a newfound sense of optimism and are ready to seize the moment. This card suggests that you are actively seeking out new experiences, finding joy in the present, and appreciating the blessings that life has to offer. 

You have a positive outlook and are taking proactive steps towards your goals with enthusiasm and determination. Trust in your own abilities and know that you are capable of achieving great things. Embrace this phase of renewed energy and let it propel you forward on your journey.

You are empowered and supported as you embrace life with a fresh perspective and open yourself up to new possibilities.

Reversed 4 of Cups
When pulled in the reversed position, the Four of Cups is linked with motivation, initiative, sociability and excitement for new opportunities.

What does the reversed Four of Cups mean in a love reading?

In a love reading, reversed Four of Cups indicates anxiety and frustration in the relationship. 

The person may not feel fun or joy with their partner. Maybe it is just a minor issue that we can figure out soon, or it can also be a clear sign that the time has come to end the relationship. If we ignore the warning, it can only get worse. There may be boredom and a lack of initiative from the partner. This crisis in the relationship may be just a phase. It depends on the other cards in the reading. The reason for this situation usually lies in the bad choice of partner. There may be a lack of trust and jealousy.

If the person is single, they may be still closed off to new relationships. They are figuring out the pain from the breakup or previous negative emotional situations.  However, they may be coming back now to start something new.

What does the inverted Four of Cups mean in a career reading?

The reverse Four of Cups in a career reading is generally a positive sign. It indicates that you are feeling more motivated and energized about your work. You may have been feeling stuck or uninspired for a while, but now you are ready to seize new opportunities and take on new challenges. 

This card suggests that you are feeling more grateful for the opportunities that you have, and you are ready to put in the effort to achieve your goals. You may be feeling more optimistic and excited about the future, and you have a renewed sense of purpose and drive. 

It’s important to stay focused and continue to work hard, but the energy of this card suggests that you are on the right path towards success.

What does the upside-down Four of Cups mean in a health reading?

The reversed Four of Cups in a health reading suggests that you may be feeling a renewed sense of energy and motivation towards your health and wellness. You are no longer feeling apathetic or unmotivated towards taking care of yourself, and you may be actively seeking out new opportunities to improve your physical and mental health. 

This card suggests that you are more open to trying new things, taking on new challenges, and finding excitement in your health journey. You may be feeling more grateful for the blessings in your life, including your body and your health, and you are ready to make positive changes to support your well-being. 

This card is a sign of optimism and a reminder to seize the opportunities available to you in your health journey. Moreover, this card asks us to take consistent steps to improve our health. An optimistic attitude can activate our self-healing powers and speed up our recovery process.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Four of Cups card is a powerful symbol of sacrifice, waiting, procrastination, helplessness, doubt, isolation, apathy, boredom, and negativity. When this card appears in your reading, it is often a sign that you don’t notice what is being offered right now, and are missing opportunities to embrace living more optimistically.

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 Four 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.

LB
I have been reading Tarot for more than 15 years. I have always enjoyed using my intuition to provide clarity and insights to others. Tarot is one of my favorite forms of divination, and I love sharing that passion with like-minded folks.

Learn more about the Suit of Cups

This page is part of our comprehensive list of the 56 minor arcana tarot cards & their meanings. If you enjoyed the read, then you’ll love the following articles.