The Four of Cups is the fourth tarot card in the Minor Arcana suit of Cups and poses questions about emotional fulfillment and our capacity for self-awareness. Do we find a deep sense of nourishment in our attachments, or are we just merely satisfied? The man in the card appears disinterested in what’s being offered to him, either because he’s not paying attention or possibly because he knows it won’t truly make him happy.
The Four of Cups corresponds to the element of water, the third decan of the astrological zodiac sign Cancer (20-29 degrees), and it is ruled by the Moon. Because the Moon moves quickly and is constantly waxing or waning, it is connected to emotional changeability, fluctuations in mood, and our sense of emotional safety and comfort. In this card, the figure appears to be emotionally unsatisfied as he turns away from the cup being offered to him.
Four of Cups Keywords
self-reflection, seeking deeper fulfillment, dissatisfaction, re-evaluation, ennui
retreat, withdrawal, disappointment, preoccupation with past or future
Description of the Four of Cups Tarot Card
After the celebration pictured in the Three of Cups, the Four of Cups emerges as a card of contemplation and reflection on what brings a true and deep sense of emotional satisfaction. The revelry has ended, and now the young man sits alone, reflecting on the relationships built in the previous two cards.
In the Rider Waite Smith tarot deck, the hand which appears out of thin air to offer him a chalice echoes the visuals in the Ace of Cups and suggests an opportunity is being presented again. This time, however, the opportunity on offer may not be in alignment with his authentic desires. He looks away from the floating hand, training his gaze contemplatively on the three cups in front of him.
He appears deep in thought, reflecting on the three other cups before him, which represent his feelings of emotional safety and satiety. He sits with his arms crossed, indicating that he’s not open to taking in something new at this time as he reflects on where he wants to go next. He may be self-absorbed, or unaware of what’s being offered to him in the fourth cup, or simply know that what’s being offered isn’t right for him.
He sits beneath a tree in solitude, surrounded by verdant grassy hills and a clear blue sky. He is surrounded by the beauty of nature and the miracle of the hand appearing from nowhere, yet he appears disinterested as he turns his gaze downwards with a look of contemplation, apathy, or boredom on his face.
Four of Cups Upright Meaning
When the Four of Cups is in the upright position of a tarot spread, you may be contemplating and reviewing the commitments and attachments in your life with the sense that something important is missing. It may be valuable for you to take this time to assess your priorities and connect with your authentic desire in order to open to opportunities which are in alignment with your highest good.
The tarot meaning of the Four of Cups upright speaks to a feeling of dissatisfaction with your current situation, fueled by a sense of stagnation, ennui, or even health issues. You may feel like you’re stuck in a rut, or that you’ve reached a certain plateau in some area of life and are pausing to consider how to take a meaningful step forward. You could feel that your current situation no longer excites you or allows you to grow.
Because the figure appears oblivious to the hand offering him a new cup, this card can also signify that you are closed off to the blessings or opportunities in your life because of self-absorption. You may be spending too much time ruminating on the ways in which you’re dissatisfied. This card can be an encouragement to take stock of what you’re grateful for and focus your energy on what you’d like to grow rather than on what no longer brings satisfaction.
Love and Relationships (Upright Meaning)
The Four of Cups upright can signify that you’re feeling uninspired by the current opportunities for connection in your love life. If you’re connecting with people who don’t meet your needs or expectations or who simply don’t light a spark of desire within you, this card encourages you to stay true to yourself and to pass on any opportunities that don’t excite you.
The upright Four of Cups can also signify that you’re so consumed with focusing on past hurts, rejections, or disappointments that you’re either unaware of or ignoring opportunities available to you in the present moment. It can represent the fear and disillusionment of opening up your heart following heartbreak and the reluctance to let in new love and new relationships. It’s an encouragement to cultivate the courage to open yourself up again.
Love/relationships upright keywords
Career/finance upright keywords
uninspired, unwilling to settle, overly focused on past hurts, reluctance to open yourself up
boredom with the status quo, reaching a plateau, cultivating a bigger vision, overlooking a new opportunity
Career and Finance (Upright Meaning)
The Four of Cups can symbolize boredom with the status quo and the desire to call in new opportunities that inspire you and allow you to grow. You may have reached a plateau in your work and are feeling unsure of where you want to go next. You could pass on a new opportunity that doesn’t excite you as you focus on cultivating a bigger vision.
The Four of Cups upright can also represent a new opportunity in your midst that you are taking for granted because you’re overly focused on the ways in which you’re currently dissatisfied. You may be overlooking a possibility or project which has the potential to generate abundance. If you can shift your perspective to see the opportunities available to you rather than the disappointments, you can open to new growth in your work.
Four of Cups Reversed Meaning
The Four of Cups in the reversed position points to rejecting present opportunities as you withdraw into yourself. You may not be ready to accept the invitations being offered to you at the moment, either because you’re dissatisfied with what is offered or because you sense that something better is on the horizon. If you have strong feelings of doubt and reluctance, it may not be the right time to take on this new commitment.
Alternatively, you may be overly focused on ruminating on the past or worrying about the future and are missing out on opportunities that are available to you in the present moment. This card can be an encouragement to shift your perspective, open your heart, and focus your awareness on what is before you. When you withdraw your projections and focus on the reality of the moment, you can work productively with what is present.
The Four of Cups reversed can also symbolize a disconnection from your authentic desires. You may need to go within to locate what brings true fulfillment rather than superficial satisfaction and discover if you are chasing empty desires or goals. Are you on a quest to simply accumulate more, or are you driven by a genuine hunger? This card asks you to focus your attention inward as you reconnect to your true motivations.
Love and Relationships (Reversed Meaning)
In a love tarot reading, the reversed Four of Cups can symbolize a feeling of dissatisfaction or emptiness within a relationship. You may feel emotionally depleted or feel that the exchange of love and attention is not balanced. There is a sense of frustrated desire and a withdrawal from the relationship. There may be unspoken resentments that must be aired in order to move forward.
The Four of Cups reversed can also signify that you’re operating from the belief that you’re alone, even though there are opportunities for connection around you. You may have become armored against the world and emotionally unavailable following previous hurts or disappointments. This card encourages you to be brave in opening yourself up again to new people and to trust in the timing of your life.
Love/relationships reversed keywords
Career/finance reversed keywords
frustrated desire, withdrawal, airing resentments, illusion of being alone
reconsidering career trajectory and goals, course correcting, ruminating on past or future, perspective shift
Career and Finance (Reversed Meaning)
The reversed Four of Cups can symbolize that you’re pulling away from the opportunities that are available to you in the present as you reconsider your trajectory and your goals for the future. You may have reached a certain goal post or milestone only to feel a sense of emptiness and a hunger for more. Going within to reconsider what would bring a true sense of fulfillment will support you in course-correcting.
The reversed Four of Cups can also signify that you’re ruminating on past failures or worrying about your future success at the expense of seizing the chances for growth that are available to you now. If you can shift your perspective to see the new openings amidst your setbacks or disappointments, you can take advantage of opportunities for abundance and fulfillment.