This card is haunting me.
Such things happen from time to time; a card will turn up repeatedly in my daily draws, in readings I do for myself or readings that others perform for me (on those rare occasions where I consult with another reader). And usually, when a card latches itself onto my and won’t let go for a period of several weeks, I can figure out what it means.
Not so with the Four of Cups.
For the past two weeks, I’ve been wracking my brains, trying to figure out what on Earth I can take away from this card. For me, the Four of Cups has always been a rather negative card. It speaks to boredom, stagnation, and a general sense of petulance that I have just never found appealing. In the past, I’ve occasionally seen it in readings and been able to connect it to a need to shake myself free of that self-absorbed, indolent energy. Often, the Four of Cups is a wake-up call, a flashing red sign that I (or my querent) am acting like a spoiled brat and need to shape up right away.
But right now, I’m at a place in my life where this interpretation of the card just doesn’t make sense. Things aren’t stagnating for me. I’m not feeling let down, or put out, or disappointed by events in my life. Quite to the contrary, actually. The world is leaping forward at light speed. I’m incredibly busy, and in addition to managing several projects all at once, I’m planning for events several months–or, in some cases, years–down the line. Everything is moving forward, and is going too fast for me to be able to keep up.
I didn’t get it. I couldn’t figure out why I kept running across the Four of Cups. What could this card possibly have to do with the way my life has been running of late?
And then last night, while I was munching on my Brussels sprouts and running through my to-do list for today, it hit me.
The Four of Cups is not just about stagnation. It doesn’t have to be such an unpleasant, bitter energy. Because if we shake ourselves free of the traditional meaning of this card and take a fresh look at the picture, the young man sitting under the tree doesn’t actually look that unhappy. He almost looks tranquil. He’s sitting, evaluating the cups before him, accepting a new one as it’s offered to him, but he’s not running about frantically or jumping up and down. He’s calm and patient, and those are two qualities that I sorely lack of late.
When things in life get so busy, when we feel like there are a thousand and a half things to do and not enough seconds in the day to get them all done, we (or I, at least) can start to feel the need to manage every little detail of everything. The urge to be in control, to plan for every contingency and to know what’s going to happen today, tomorrow, next Friday, this Christmas, and in the 2020 US presidential elections can start to creep in. The Four of Cups is a counter to that impulse.
In some ways, I see this card as representing the need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and relinquish control. Come what may, the man in the Four of Cups can do little to affect the outcome of events. And so he doesn’t worry about it. He’s focused on the tasks in front of him, the cups he’s charged to take care of. As for the rest of it–other cups that may pop out of the sky, cups that may spill or fall or be filled up–he’s just going to have to wait and see.
The Four of Cups is not just stagnation and displeasure. It’s also a message of patience and surrendering the illusion of power. And that is something that I definitely need in my life right now.