In the evolutionary journey of tarot numerology, from Numbers 1 through 3, Spirit is in a state of expansion and growth. When arrives at 4, it pauses. It stabilizes. It becomes form itself. The nature metaphor usually employed for the 4 of Cups is that of water damming up. The river of spirit, after springing up from One, welling up in Two, and coursing through the expanding waters of Three, arrives in Four at a place in which it is contained.
Normally the 4 of Cups is said to relate to boredom, apathy and emotional stagnation, because water that doesn’t flow becomes putrid. But can we dig deeper into this meaning?
All of the 4s of the Minor Arcana are pathways to mindfulness and presence within the realm of their respective suits. As Cups is the suit of Being itself, the 4 of Cups is Spirit fully immersed in its own being. Through its energies, we are being invited to practice radical emotional presence, with all that we are being funneled into this nexus of nowness and fullness.
In this place our perception of the past and the future is paused, there is only truly the here and now. Can we become fully immersed in the emotional reality of this moment? Can we become fully present in our hearts during this period? Cups is the suit of the heart, after all. Can we swim right here in the waters of our relationship to ourselves, to our loved ones, acquaintances, enemies, and humanity itself? Can we fully tend to the present waves of our mind? Can we simply Be, radically so?
It is tough being here because we dwell on the waters behind us and look forward to swimming ahead. The 4 of Cups appears when conditions in our lives need to be thoroughly processed, handled, healed—all from a deeply heartfelt place. It won’t serve us to move forward just yet. This is a time of thoroughly attending to what’s in the heart right now, without moving from one thing onto the next.
Can we be fully immersed in this pond of life? Can we give ourselves the gift of radical emotional presence? The gift is emotional stability, fullness, and the platform of a stable heart from which we can later engage into further expansion and growth. When the 4 of Cups shows up for you, along with its usual sense of emotional stagnation, breathe into your heart. Breathe presence into your being. Become purely You, if only for a moment.