three of cups graphic

Three of Cups Explained - Upright & Reversed Meanings

Last Updated: February 16, 2024

The Three of Cups is the third 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 Three 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

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

The Three of Cups tarot card depicts three women celebrating and raising their cups together. Each girl holds one cup. They look at each other with appreciation and respect.  The women seem to be connected by a deep friendship, which they celebrate in their way. 

They are dancing in a circle, as a symbol of the vitality and joy of their connection. Each of them wears different clothes and hair accessories, which express their individuality and creativity. They are benefiting from their differences and celebrating these.

They have the same cups and this probably signifies that they are celebrating the same thing. It’s a dynamic energy of new possibility, of celebrating accomplishments so far and to come.

The idea of the Trinity is reflected in many religious and artistic ideas. The closest thing, however, to the Three of Cups is a physical, down-to-earth understanding of the celebration of life. On the card, among other things, one of the girls is holding grapes, which is a direct reference to wine or feelings. The energy of the picture is characterized by lightness and carelessness. 

Clear skies and bright colours fill the soul with joy and give hope for the future. Further, these three women are sometimes considered the three goddesses of fate in Nordic mythology: the Norns – Urd (fate), Verdandi (what is to come) and Skuld (guilt, what should be), but also known as the Fates and the Morai and the Rozhanitsy.

The Three of Cups key correspondences

Upright Keywords

Friends, creativity, community, celebrations, party, group work, reunions, achievements, happiness

Reversed keywords

Loneliness, excessiveness, independence, retreat, rivalry, envy, suffering, broken engagements, infidelity, cancelled events, lack of a social life, bitchiness

Yes or No

Yes

Numerology

3

Element

Water

Ruling Planet

Mercury

Astrological Sign

Cancer, Mercury in Cancer, July 1st - July 11th

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

The Three of Cups tarot card shows three filled glasses clinking together. This symbolizes a good time with friends or family and a celebration of success and the good phase of life. The cups also symbolize emotions and feelings, it is a pleasurable phase of life on an emotional level. Raise your cups could be the motto of the card.

In general, this card could announce a pleasant meeting with someone we have not seen in a long time. It can be some type of celebration, a wedding, childbirth, or some other happy occasion. The card can announce the good news that will give a reason to celebrate. The happiness of this card stands for the moments that we experience in being together with our family and friends.

upright 3 of Cups
When pulled in the upright position, the Three of Cups is associated with friends, creativity, community, celebrations, party, group work, reunions, achievements, and happiness.

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

Three of Cups can indicate that singles could meet someone who matches their energy, and that person can be their new love, not someone they just date to not be alone. In the love tarot, the Three of Cups stands for a love that could be appearing in the circle of friends. There could arise an opportunity to start a relationship with a friend. The advantage of this situation is that we know this person well and we have spent many great moments together already.

Additionally, the card can speak about our friend circle, which may be helping us to get to know someone or find a partner. The Three of Cups indicates that now is the right time to search actively for a partner. Meeting up with friends and spending time partying may result in new acquaintances from which a relationship could develop.

This card can also indicate that polygamy is involved. Altogether, the card points to an enjoyable time, also in the partnership. If a person has invested a lot in their relationship, they can see the fruits of their work now. There are people for whom we are important. They live through us, they recognize themselves in us. We make their lives matter.

In a partnership, the Three of Cups represents the need for more socializing. Being in a couple is beautiful, but it is also important to maintain contact with friends outside of the relationship. A relationship and a circle of friends are not mutually exclusive but can contribute in different ways to make us feel loved and accepted. It is important to invest time into friendships. The person will notice that the time with their friends has a positive influence on their well-being and their partnership too.

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

Professionally, the Three of Cups represents the importance of teamwork. Every employee, whether cleaner or manager, contributes to the existence of a company. Accordingly, every colleague should be treated with respect and appreciation, just as we would wish to be treated by others. In addition, the card indicates a cause for celebration. 

Perhaps the person has just completed difficult training or a project with colleagues. Celebrating is important as it builds a sense of togetherness. As far as professional careers are concerned, the tarot card Three of Cups refers to a time when professional successes can be celebrated. In this phase, it’s about consciously enjoying the fruits of one’s work. 

If we never treat ourselves to something good between busy days, we’ll lose motivation and inspiration. There were difficult times which are over now. However, the person gave and invested a lot. They used their full potential to achieve what they want. The prize is now about to reach them.

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

The Three of Cups emphasizes the importance of community. Doing something together is important for our psychological well-being. In addition, a good social network can help if we ever become seriously ill. 

It can relieve us of some of the burdens of everyday life so that we can recover better. If the person has been struggling with health issues recently, the card announces good news and a reason to celebrate. Everything is getting better. 

The card indicates a positive outcome of surgical interventions too. If someone is facing health issues concerning weight or overindulgence, they can use creativity to cope with the problem. Gathering with friends, going dancing and enjoying sports together can be helpful and keep us motivated.

The Three of Cups as feelings/emotions

This card is a card of joy, happiness, and emotional fulfilment. The person may have a reason to celebrate. They are emotionally wealthy. In case you are asking about a certain person, if they like you, this card is giving a positive answer. In general, the card indicates positive feelings, celebrations, harmony, and a person full of energy.

The Three of Cups as a person

This person is someone who is joyful and loves society. They love to party and they are affectionate. It is fun to be around them and they may have a lot of friends or a large group of friends. Hence they are never seen alone. They like to be the centre of attention and host parties. These types of people are very open, and charismatic. They make new friends with ease. 

However, in case this card is in the reversed position, it indicates that this person is overdoing with parties. They are neglecting issues in their life by distracting themselves with parties and getting to know new people. Sometimes it also means that they are faking their emotional happiness and that this behaviour is overcompensating for some kind of emotional loss.

The Three of Cups as advice

This card advises us to tune in with family and friends and reconnect with them. You should go out with your friends and celebrate your freedom. If you are single don’t be shy to flirt. You should not be afraid to interfere in conversations with your fellow human beings, because you will have great entertainment value and enrich your everyday life. Express your opinion and share your feelings with your friends and family. 

Above all, the card represents gratitude. Shift your attention from emptiness to fullness and you will be able to see many gifts. It is not uncommon for us to want to optimize our relationships. However, you can decide to be thankful for those aspects of your relationship that are good and make you happy.

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

The Three of Cups actually represents Mercury in Cancer, not Venus in Cancer. Mercury is the planet of communication, and Cancer as an astrological sign is known for being emotional, sensitive, and moody. 

This card represents an emotional exchange between individuals, where communication and expression of feelings are highlighted. The Three of Cups is associated with the period from July 1st to July 11th in tarot timing.

Is the Three of Cups a yes or no card?

The Three of Cups is a very positive tarot card so it’s no surprise that it is a Yes card.

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. This card announces positive news and a cause to celebrate.

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

  • Card interpretation: Yes. They are a cheerful person and it is nice to be around them. Be wary of overindulging with them, however!

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

  • Card interpretation: Yes. The card indicates wins on different levels, but consider it a group investment rather than an individual one.

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

  • Card interpretation: Yes. Let the community help you and whilst starting a business is going to be really hard, don’t forget your team who help you, and celebrate little wins along the way.

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

If the Three of Cups appears in reverse in a general reading, it could suggest that the person is engaging in excessive partying and escapism, potentially overspending and neglecting their emotional well-being. 

They may be spending time with a group of people who have a negative influence on them and may need to take a step back to evaluate their relationships. The card may also indicate a need for independence and solitude. There could be a lot of gossip and negative energy in their social circle, and events may be cancelled. 

Additionally, this card may signal that the person is experiencing issues with their community or friends, feeling disconnected and excluded from their usual social activities or interests.

Reversed 3 of Cups
When pulled in the reversed position, the Three of Cups is linked with loneliness, excessive, independence, retreat, rivalry, envy, suffering, broken engagements, infidelity, cancelled events, lack of a social life, and bitchiness.

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

In a love reading, the reversed Three of Cups may suggest that there is a possibility of infidelity or a third-party situation, which can be very challenging to deal with emotionally.

However, it is important to remember that this card’s interpretation is not always straightforward, and other factors may be at play. If you are in a happy relationship, this card could simply indicate that you have been neglecting your social life and spending too much time with your partner. It’s essential to find a balance between your relationship and other aspects of your life, including your friendships.

For singles, the reversed Three of Cups indicates the need for some alone time. After experiencing a difficult phase, taking time to reflect on your past relationship and heal is crucial before jumping into a new partnership. 

You may enjoy being single at the moment and not want to rush into anything too quickly. It’s perfectly okay to take your time and prioritize your own needs and well-being.

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

When the Three of Cups appears reversed in a career reading, it could signify a strong yearning for greater independence in the workplace. Perhaps you have been considering becoming your own boss or launching your own venture. 

However, it’s important to keep in mind that teamwork is still highly valued in many work environments. If you have been withdrawing from colleagues and going solo, it may be beneficial to take a step back and reassess the situation as to why, and what’s next. 

Perhaps there are underlying issues in the workplace, such as envy or gossip, that are contributing to the desire for solitude. Remember to always prioritize your own well-being, and seek support if needed from likeminded individuals or those who have been in your position before.

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

In general, this card indicates withdrawal from people. There may be emotional suffering at the moment. Another meaning is that the person is partying too much which has negative effects on their health.

Nevertheless, this card does not announce any dramatic changes in the health state. If a person from your surroundings is ill, this card reminds the importance of giving emotional support to those we love and care about.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Three of Cups card is a powerful symbol of friends, creativity, community, celebrations, party, group work, reunions, achievements, and happiness. When this card appears in your reading, it is often a sign that you have cause for celebration, but be wary not to over indulge.

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 Three 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.