Four of Cups- It's Okay to Say "No"



The scene: a person sits under the shade of a tree. Their eyes are downcast, arms folded, they are looking down at their three cups. A hand extends from a cloud- like the image from the ace- offering a new cup. The person refuses. Their body language says “No, not right now. I am content where I am. I have enough to digest as it is right now.”

This card grabbed me the moment I pulled it from the deck to sit with it. I felt empathy for the person in the card, a deep understanding of the need to withdraw. At the same time, I felt a sense of tension, “You are being offered something, you must take it!!” I felt certain that if the person continued to refuse this offering that an opportunity would be lost that would never return.

This is a great example of how working with tarot can teach us things about ourselves.

When we notice some discomfort, a surprising reaction, we must pay attention.

I am a codependent. Which is to say that I’m an empath who had no idea what a boundary even was until very recently in my life. As a codependent, I felt everything going on around me, everything happening to everyone, and I felt a sense of obligation to take ownership of it. I barely had the skills to process and handle my own life, and yet it felt imperative that I try to manage the lives of everyone around me to create some sense of order that I wasn’t able to give myself.

Fours are about foundation. You’ve gained some stability and now you have the luxury to take a good look at the situation, good or bad. The four of swords is one I draw often. I don’t take the time that I need to rest, reflect, recuperate, and so I find myself rolling my eyes, sighing heavily muttering, “I know, I know!” and the tarot keeps reminding me. STOP. BREATH! DIGEST! Water being of the emotional body and relationships can be heavy. It only makes sense that with this stability you might use it to take a rest.

The four of cups says its okay to say “No.” Even if it is a mysterious hand emerging from the sky offering a gift, the opportunity will come around again to take it. You do not need to take it now. Now is the time to digest what has already taken place, and to sit in stillness and in silence.

As a codependent, this message is an irritating, yet important reminder. I felt my heart speed up, and there was a tension in my solar plexus. I have to laugh- my first instinct was “What will that mysterious hand from the sky think of me if I deny this offering? They will think I am rude and ungrateful, and they won’t be my friend, and they will tell all of the mysterious hands in the sky not to talk to me because I am so rude and ungrateful!” Really, these thoughts mimic the voices I heard from my family growing up. My adult self understands that setting proper boundaries and saying “no” when I can’t or just don’t want to is a mark of a healthy individual. My belief that my worth and value is defined by those around me is something that is with me every day, and its gotten me into many abusive relationships. In my adult life I am working to re-train the inner voice-but that’s a topic for another day.

The four of cups sat with me, and dissolved that tension in my solar plexus. It said, “see, right there- you have to release that belief.” The hand emerging said “I will be right here when you are ready for me,” and the person under the tree said, “I will take my time.” And the card said, “that is okay.”

So take your time. Say no. Understand that the opportunity will be there when you are ready. For now, soak in what you have already learned.

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