Two of Cups- What Does Love Look Like?

The Two of Cups is an excellent example of where I depart from the imagery of the Rider-Waite.

Today as I sat with this card, I first closed my eyes and scanned it energetically. I got a note signifying the properties of this card. Twos often mean opposition, or seeking to balance two elements. The cups however, carry a message of harmony and union.

Consider this: when two bodies of water merge, what is the outcome? The water flows together and becomes one- as if they had never been separate. Such is the message of the two of cups.

The scene: A man and a woman stand in a field. In the background is a house- perhaps their marital home. They each bear their cup- symbolizing their love, their emotional body. The woman appears to be offering hers up to him, while the man is reaching for it. Though he may be reaching to caress her hand, it appears that he wishes to take her cup. He holds his own tightly and close to his body, as if he wants it for himself. The man has a longing expression. The woman looks stern and cautious, though she offers her cup anyways.

Two serpents rise, twisting together in a caduceus. On top of them is a lion’s head, the symbol of Leo. Perhaps he is there to protect this vulnerable scene. He symbolizes fire and passion.

The body language of the man and woman speaks volumes. The Rider-Waite deck is steeped in a worldview where white supremacist capitalist patriarchy is normalized. All of the characters depicted are white, and patriarchal and cissexist views are imposed onto the cards meanings. Just have a look at The Emperor vs The Empress and you will see what I mean.

This artistic rendering of the two of cups tells a tale of patriarchy, emotional labor, and who is allowed to be vulnerable in our society. The woman’s facial expression is one of distrust and uncertainty, yet her body moves to betray her feelings. She offers him her emotional body. He reaches for it, as if to signify an attitude of entitlement, “This is rightly mine”- though he clutches his closely to his body. His facial expression tells that he seeks connection, and this is how he thinks he can get it- by taking ownership of the emotional body of another.

In patriarchy, this is what “intimacy”, “harmony”, and “union” is supposed to look like. And yet this is not true intimacy at all. This is domination.

The Motherpeace’s artistic interpretation is another story.

Two mer-people, seemingly of differing racial backgrounds, meet in the ocean. The waxing moon on the horizon shows the rising power of this union. Both of their arms are out-stretched to meet the other. Their cups look to be raised as if toasting to the occasion. A serpent binds them- though they are touching in no way- as if to say these two lovers are enjoying their intimacy while being able to maintain their autonomy and individuality. There is a look of joy and ease on both of their faces. They are excited to be together. There is no element of ownership. Just a consensual joining of two separate beings.

The Motherpeace vision of intimacy, harmony, and union, is a healthy one, and an egalitarian one.

Two different decks, one shared meaning, with two very different takes on what this might look like.

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