Five of Cups

Number: 40/5

Element: Water

Astrological Association: Mars in Scorpio

Key Meanings: Loss, leaving, and sorrow

The Five of Cups in Tarot stands for loss, bereavement, and regret. The Five of Cups meaning in a Tarot reading is related to tangible losses, such as money, possessions, relationship, and work. Or the losses could be intangible, such as dreams, opportunities, prospects, or reputation. The loss, the sorrow, the regret could be great or small. That said, you shouldn’t be discouraged by the appearance of this card because every negative has a positive side to it. The figure on the Five of Cups card is draped in black and covered in grief. He is staring at the overturned cups in front of him, oblivious to the fact that there are two upright cups behind him. Loss always hurts because we always resist change. However, every loss opens new opportunities and possibilities for growth. Every loss initiates a change. We need to go with the flow. If we struggle to hold on to what is gone, we suffer more.

Upright Meaning: The Five of Cups is the card of upset and loss. It often shows sadness and confusion due to a breakup, disappointment or arguments in a close friendship, or the need to temporarily move away from a family member who has caused hurt. The card can also apply to leaving a job or home before you are ready to do so—you are forced to deal with whatever life throws your way, whether invited or not. This card can also refer to a loss of status or money. The gift of this five is that there is no mistaking what has happened because you feel it in every bone of your body. At this point, there is no going back. But all is not lost: You will be able to move onward and upward regardless. The two remaining cups on the card can show the support of friends, family, and colleagues.

The Five of Cups can also come up in a reading for a bereavement and the natural sense of loss and grief this brings. It’s also an indicator that you or the person you are reading for is revisiting the past, trying to assimilate old stress and sorrow in order to make a fresh start.

Reversed Meaning: The Five of Cups along with major arcana card XV, The Devil, are the only two cards in the tarot deck whose reversed interpretations are more positive than their upright meanings. The Five reversed reveals you have already experienced the lowest point in a downward cycle and, as a result, are close to recovery, finally letting go of painful past memories. Ready to pick up the pieces, you will be stronger than you were before, able to face reality and move forward.

An additional meaning of the card is meeting up with old friends and, socially speaking, coming back to life.

About the Deck: “Ciro Marchetti’s Tarot of Dreams” from