looking back, it's all rosy
such a long winding way
All looks so close together -
trees and treasures,
great adventures -
clusters on the horizon, but not gone out of sight
looking back, walking onward
oh the last rays of sun
The bounty of my memory -
loves and towers,
paths of flowers -
so much more than I have, but not held in my hand.
The Six of Cups is a pretty easy card to deal with in a reading, but it's got a lot of depth. It's about nostalgia, about looking back to sweet idylls, about rosy lenses, about memories. (I'm also wont to associate the Moon with memory and forgetfulness, but I'll take that card when it comes).
If fives inject time into an element, sixes add consideration, and in terms of water this means taking a look at your wake. There's an implication that the memories the Six of Cups brings are inaccurate, over-saccharine (though I think we all know that drowning in bad memories can be just as false as smothering oneself in good ones. Reality is a mixed bag).
Let me go a little further: You've got this world, this sweet remembered world inside a card, where - in the Intuitive tarot - there's a clear path behind you that leads back to a bountiful world, full of flowers and sunshine. In the RWS we don't see a person looking back, but instead we see two children; a small boy giving a cup of flowers to a girl who stands below him, and she accepts this innocent, sexless affection with gentle grace.
It's the cute view of childhood, one many of us never really had.
It's also the Garden of Eden, right down to the gender essentialism and the supposed abiogenesis. Eden is just a story about childhood, about the idea that life is somehow worse now you're an adult and you have work to do and pain to face and both your sexuality and your environment require cultivation in the face of hostile elements.
Also, that was one rich, spoilt fucker who made up the idea that children don't have work to do or pain to face, srsly. The Six of Cups could be not just the lies we might tell ourselves about the past, but also the collective lies sold to you by people whose voices count for more than yours.
Images of the Six of Cups
From the RWS - two happy children, in a bygone age that never happened, peacefully acting out their assigned social roles, while another child plays on the edge of the scene.
In the Scapini deck, the Six of Cups seems to be peopled with crones and wizards. Rather than the idyllic memories of lush landscapes and playing children, here we see those who look back. Memory is a creative act, more reconstructed than recorded; these people are performing alchemy with their lives and their feelings, making the lead of experience into gold.
(The character in the Intuitive Tarot is white-haired and lacking in colour, but seems more not-really-there than old).
This from the Roots Of Asia is basically a pip card but I love it anyway. I think there's something in the falling water that speaks to where we've been.
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