It is a frightful satire and an epigram on the modern age that the only use it knows for solitude is to make it a punishment, a jail sentence. --Søren Kierkegaard
So much of how we interpret Tarot is based on what we think of as challenges or as rewards. As a mother of two young children, solitude is a gift, a precious pearl, that I savor and fall into with open arms. While others take a moment of quiet as an opportunity to check their phone, call someone, reach out, connect. Such is the vision of the Four of Cups. Solitude and reflection, at times seen as a punishment and other times as a reward, primarily defines this card. What do we do with our time? How are we reflecting? What are we reflecting?
To begin with the numerological implications, four is about stability, like the legs of a table. The balance is from all sides--emotional, physical, mental, spiritual. For the Four of Cups, this is about retreat for emotional stability. But it is far more complex than what meets the eye.
For introverts, this card is not in the slightest bit off-putting. Here is a solitary figure in retreat, sitting by a tree with arms crossed. For extroverts, this card is often interpreted as a Kierkegaard says, a kind of punishment, or maybe a self-imposed exile. Not a positive time, per se, but one that lacks gratitude and openness. When the figures arms cross the Heart Chakra, we have a certain level of being emotionally closed. Nothing is entering the heart, nothing is leaving it. Often, this position is interpreted as a kind of brooding, or unappreciative position. Certainly, the fourth cup, the one from a cloud (often the symbol as a gift from God, or Divine inspiration, or a new idea) , is right in front of his face, but he cannot or will not look at the option (the last leg of his proverbial table) that is right in front of him.
This closed position coupled with the downward gaze suggests a self-questioning, self-doubt and a kind of depression. I have heard it interpreted as a kind of apathy and passivity that holds the seeker back from emotional growth.
But that is not the only way to see this card. we often need to close our hearts, not be so receptive to the feelings of others, to truly assess any given situation, particularly one regarding our own emotional well-being. Do I break up with that girl? That is often a question someone poses to the Tarot. Well, assessing that question would be terribly difficult if you were spending 100% of your time with her telling you she loves you. You need the space, both physical and emotional, to really get to the heart of the matter.
Perhaps the seeker has worked hard, been putting his or her efforts into her work. Maybe she is worn down, worn out, needing time for solitude and reflection. This is the card of an emotional time-out, and a recognition that hard work and dedication gives us the luxury to take time to reflect on our work. When I say luxury, there is nothing here to suggest that this is a financial or material suffering. In fact, the sky is clear blue, the background is serene, there is no turbulent water (emotionally chaotic symbol)--this turmoil is internal, rather than external. That is important, because this card reminds us that this crisis is self-imposed. Part of the implication of this card's brooding is that the seeker cannot see how good he truly has it. So, this card can come as a reminder that this is all in your head, and this time out or period of reflection, while necessary, is not anything like a punishment. The reflective means end, of course, in emotional stability, as Cups are the suit of emotional stability.
This solitude is often the exact environment in which creative solutions and glorious inspiration comes. The underlying quandary with this card lies in where you are in your time of solitude. Are you using it for enlightenment, or are you using it to wallow in your sorrows? Are you searching for inspiration, or are you resigned to your lot? Are you able to make decision based on gratitude? And when your time of reflection is complete, are you able to reach out and grab your last cup? Or will you let the opportunity pass you with inaction? When a client pulls this card in a reading for me, I often tell them that the time of solitude and exile needs to be transformed into a time of reflection and enlightenment. You are on your proverbial mountain meditating. Take the time to be enlightened. Open your heart to your Higher Self. Listen to all the wisdom within you. Then take action with trust and confidence.
If you pull this card in a blockage position, I would work on heart chakra issues as well, using some heart stones to help you open up. Self-love stones like Rhodocrosite, or Rose quartz might be a great addition to your meditations, or even your baths. A great affirmation with this card might be:
I take time to listen to my Higher Self.
Many apologies for the lack of crystal post and newsletter last week. I have been ill and took a much needed time out from my blog. (No surprises why I pulled the Four of Cups today, right?) I'd love to hear what you think of the Four of Cups and anything else coming up for you.