This is one of my favourite cards in the Minor Arcana; when I draw it, I always feel like I’m going to be in for a happy, uncomplicated time. It represents friendships, creativity, celebration, joy, support, community. Fun in the sun, good times. These are the times that you will look back on and draw strength from when you hit the 6 of cups, these are the friends that you might hope to reunite with then. This has to be one of the most feel-good cards in the Tarot.
And yet, and yet. This being Tarot, nothing is that simple. The threes in the Tarot are a number of change. When we hit the threes, things really start happening. The threes are at the beginning of the Minor Arcana, remember, and our Fool has quite a way to go before s/he gets to the end of the journey.
Which means that the 3 of Cups can only ever be a stopping off point on the journey; but what a welcome stopping point it is! (Mostly.)
Three is the bonding number, three inspires loyalty. You’ve heard it said that two’s company, three’s a crowd, but I beg to differ. Add a child – or a pet – to a couple, and you have a family. Three makes a team. Meeting up one on one can feel a bit pressurised if you suffer from social anxiety; what if the conversation falters, or the energy goes weird? You’ve no such worries with a group of three. You can go quiet for a while and sit back and enjoy the conversation; you can rush in and rescue each other if someone makes an unfortunate remark.
There’s something inherently pleasing about three. Three makes a rhythm, a pattern, a motif. (See what I did there?) Three is a fairytale number: the Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Three Blind Mice. Three is the Power of Three in Charmed, it’s Ron, Harry and Hermione, it’s Buffy, Willow and Xander.
Three is the Holy Trinity. It’s Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu. It’s the Triple Goddess of modern paganism, Maiden, Mother, Crone (And of course, Magrat, Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax)
There are Three Norns, the Norse spinners of men’s fates; Three Graces and Fates in Greek Mythology. (There’s also the Three Graeae, sisters who shared one eye and one tooth between them; and you thought lending out clothes was tricky.)
The Cups being the suit of emotions and relationship, then Three of Cups is about being in relationship; and it’s not, typically about being in a romantic relationship, though depending on the context it could be a lover who is your best friend and part of your social circle. Usually, it’s about being with a few trusted others with whom you feel really safe and relaxed, so close they are almost like family.
But of course, threes aren’t always the easiest number when it comes to relationships. It could literally mean a threesome, which can be good or bad depending on your tastes and the other people involved; it could be a love triangle, an affair, or playing gooseberry. It can be very painful when two members of a friendship group of three pair off, for whatever reason. If one member leaves the group to pursue their own interests, the dynamics change and the other two may or may not be able to continue on as before. When it goes wrong, the Three of Cups may feel more like the Three of Swords.
Also, if you are always out having fun with your buddies, then when is the work going to get done? If the 3 of Pentacles is the group project , the 3 of Cups can be the friends that come by calling just as you had finally got down to business. So this card can warn of overindulgence, especially if it comes paired with the Devil. Remember, there is always the hangover…
Mostly, though, this is a card to just enjoy. We are all stronger when we have our friends to lean on. When it comes up in your spread, you can probably raise a toast and relax. Not everything in Tarot has to be heavy.
Happy taroting people! Be safe, be happy. Love and strangeness, GeekGirl Christina