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Ace of Cups, poisoned chalice or holy grail?


“One thing: you have to walk, and create the way by your walking; you will not find a ready-made path. It is not so cheap, to reach to the ultimate realization of truth. You will have to create the path by walking yourself; the path is not ready-made, lying there and waiting for you. It is just like the sky: the birds fly, but they don't leave any footprints. You cannot follow them; there are no footprints left behind.”

― Osho

The Ace of Cups is the card of the archangel of presence, Raphael, ‘God has healed.’

Raphael is the angel of healing who cures the sick, supports the wounded and brings peace to those in sorrow. Raphael also gave the magical ring to Solomon and has the power to quieten all demons.

The symbolism of this card is hugely rich and very spiritual and touches base with all three of the great religions, the most obvious being Christianity.

The Cup suggests the Holy Grail.

It is said that the grail is the chalice from which Jesus drank at the last supper; the same which caught his blood when his side was pierced at Golgotha. The imagery also suggests the Holy Eucharist; the dove is the Holy Spirit, the wafer is the body of Christ and the fluid is the blood of Christ which is renewed by the Holy Spirit from dropping the wafer into it.

The Cup is overflowing and there are five streams. This is the number of the human being, five digits, five senses (supposedly) and the Christian symbolism represents our receiving the gift of the fives.

As I look at this card I am reminded of the Tetragrammaton and of the magic of human potential.

Did you know that 'abracadabra' is not so much a conjuring spell but a warning. It comes from the Aramaic meaning, ‘as it is said, so shall it be’. Abra coming from boray, to create, and dabra is deber to speak. The power of the word is insurmountable; it can change things and shifts energy. If I say Great Spirit bless you then a flow of love and light goes out into the world, conversely if I say ‘God damn it’ then something changes too. The relationship between letters and words and our sense of immediate reality is very potent and central to human life.

The life giving waters of the spirit, our deepest need for renewal and rebirth, our abundant fertility on all levels and the compassion that mankind is capable of is heralded in this card.

Yet life is not always love and light.

Sometimes life is messy. It is spit and sawdust, dark encounters and banished dreams.

The dark side of the Ace of Cups can be as illuminating as its mirrored other half. After all isn’t the shadow just light waiting to be illuminated? In this Ace’s darker aspect we are being warned of spiritual suppression. This is can be very alienating. It is healthy for us humans to have a transpersonal goal that we can aim for. Spiritual language, with its rich lexicon, gives us an opportunity in times of crisis to stand back and use a language which enables us to unpack our stuff gently. Yet we feel foolish if we think others consider us to be spiritual, and worse still, live in our unique spiritual way. In this case spirituality is referred to as ditzy or cosmic or just plain daft and the cycle of suppression is perpetuated by a sleeping society. This Ace in reverse speaks of disconnection, alienation and abandonment.

The dark side of this Ace warns us about superficial physical encounters.

The superficial kind of physical encounters where we are happy to go with the emptiness of a non-emotional, consensual, no responsibility required relationship just because it is easy. It might be OK at the time but it is hardly likely to encourage you to love yourself. And if you can’t love yourself then how can you love anyone else?

The upside down Ace of Cups shows lack of a spiritual armoury especially a lack of faith. This is particularly hazardous as faith leads to hope and hope encourages man on his search for meaning. This then has a knock-on effect as then we can deny empathy and love and it is so easy to do in a society which supports self-loathing and self destruction.

Humans find it hard to let go.

The reversed Ace of Cups thrives on being tied to the illusion of having and being. Is the attachment to all physical things the only reality available and worth having? If we can’t let go then we become stagnant. This gives us a sense of failure based on pain and wounds that are unhealed. We deny the true value of feelings which are more about attachment and less about love.

Our ability to love and to be loved are the tools we take with us when we encounter transformation.

As we move from one state of being to another, we can wrap ourselves in the wings of Raphael and revel in a sacred connectedness to ourselves, to all that is, and to each other.

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