Tarot: The King of Cups
This post is a result of an impulse to write down my own associations to a Tarot card I drew this morning from the Rider-Waite deck. I am not an expert of the Tarot and I only have a basic understanding of it. However I did delve a lot into the world of symbolism, from this and from the associations that came up by meditating on the image of the card, I brought forth the following text.
I feel that the Tarot is a perfect tool to work with ones unconsciousness by becoming aware of the associations one makes with the cards and how they relate to current life -experiences.
The King in the element of water. In the realm of emotions. Emotions are turbulent always moving, this is suggested by the ocean his throne sits on. So the King has his firm seat in midst of a moving ocean. He appears as someone who has mastered this turbulent sea and found a point of stillness from which he is able to reign the emotional realm.
He knows about the nature of emotions and how they emerge of the unconscious depth, often in a terrifying way (symbolised by the sea-monster emerging on his right hand side). Once they are observed and if necessary expressed (i.e. given a form), they are so to speak navigated and can pass freely (Like the ship on his left hand side navigates the ocean always on ist way to different parts of that ocean). The emotions come and go and this becomes obvious if you are observing farsighted and from a point of stillness (his eyes are firmly set to the horizon).
So he is that point of stillness in the turbulent sea, reigning supreme which is indicated by his staff representing the axis mundi, the world axis around which divine energy spins into manifestation (since he represents the element of water it is the manifestation in relation to emotions). Yet he is not detached from the emotional realm, his cloak and dress merge with the background ocean in colour and form.
His right foot sits on the edge of the slab of his throne, so he knows where the firm ground ends and the abyss begins. The right side of the body relates to the cognitive mind which is also the organ that creates the navigating ship.
The slab has a square shape. The square is a symbol for the manifested world and the manifested world always represents a moment in time and space since it is subject to change and transformations at all times.
The bottomless sea on the other hand is that eternal now out of which all forms manifest and into which they go back after they have done their time.
So the King sits there with one foot grounded on that edge between the unmanifest and the manifested ready to be the creative agent that gives that unmanifest a form.* In this process the divine descends into matter so it can know itself and thus dissolving again by releasing the divine spark within form. The creating is the descending principle and the knowing is the ascending principle.
The fish on the kings necklace is another hint for this process. The fish is the symbol of Christ.
Joseph Campbell writes in the hero with a thousand faces:
(…)The hero, the waker of his own soul, is himself but the convenient means of his own dissolution. God, the waker of the soul, is therewith his own immediate death. Perhaps the most eloquent possible symbol of this mystery is that of the god crucified, the god offered “himself to himself“. Read in one direction, the meaning is the passage of the phenomenal hero into superconsciousness: the body with its five senses is left hanging to the cross of the knowledge of life and death (…) but also, God has descended voluntarily and taken upon himself this phenomenal agony. God assumes the life of man and man releases the God within himself at the mid-point of the cross-arms of the same “coincidence of opposites,“ the same sun door through which God descends and Man ascends – each as the other’s food.
*In astrological symbolism the king relates to the sun which is the creative force in the chart.The Sun has the assignment to find ones own essence, that inner, divine spark and bring it forth in the process of individuation. The crown of the King is a symbol for the sun door trough which God descends and Man ascends.
To conclude I like to bring the card in to a real life context by explaining what it means to me in my current situation.
Sometimes it is important to quieten the mind if it is agitated from a constant emotional flux. This turbulent flux makes it difficult to discern what wants to come forth from the inner realm. To stay calm in midst of the constantly shapeshifting realities of the emotional realm, enables one to keep a clear focus, until one can take hold of that divine spark that wants to be realised and illuminated by the Sun (brought to consciousness) that is the King.