Knight of Cups and Death: a Comparative Analysis

Classic Spreads

Am I only now paying mind to how similar some of the components of the Knight of Cups and the Death card are? Both show a horseman riding to the right, their horses with the right legs lifted. Both riders are armored and hold up an object: the Knight bears a cup; Death, the white rose flag. A river flows on the background of both cards. Both cards are connected with the Water element: the Knight, via its suit of Cups; Death, by its rulership by Scorpio, a water sign.

Could the connection between these two cards help us have a deeper understanding of this Knight? I must confess, this is not one of the cards for which I usually immediately have an interpretation while reading. It usually takes me some contextualizing or relying purely on intuition. At times, the Knight of Cups gives me an uneasy feeling. After all, it takes real guts to act on your gut feelings. If the Cups suit speaks of our subconscious, intuitive and emotional connection as symbolized by the water; and if the Knights speak of movement and action; then the Knight of Cups sings of living life from a place of deep trust, courageously following our spiritual guidance and our soul instinct. Knight of Cups gets ahold of what is in their heart and follows that impulse. It invites us to always act from a place of love, for that is the ultimate truth. It is not for the faint of heart.

Death is ultimate transformation; closings and openings; endings and beginnings. It is metamorphosis and release. Death speaks to the big changes of life. Speak as we may of the beauty of Change, it is still scary stuff for our human hearts. We often recoil in the face of endings. We often tremble at the prospect of deep change, like the figures kneeling before Death on the card. As spiritual practitioners, we understand Death is not only a part of life but a necessary one. As human beings, we can still be present for the deep discomfort that it generates in us.

Knight of Cups gives me some unease because I understand that, on may occasions, our heart is leading us towards great change. Our soul wants us to bring us to great closures and important endings. Our intuition wants to take us to a place of metamorphosis that we know will not be easy. If that is the case—Knight of Cups marches on towards their figurative “Death” with a smile on their face. They thirst for the sweet nectar of liberation that it brings. That willingness to transform makes the ego tremble. It wants to preserve the status quo, after all. The Knight of Cups, bearing on its helmet and boots the wings of Hermes, is uncompromising when it comes to the messages of their heart. By tapping into this energy, we can learn to face the changes of life with open arms.