The Ten of Cups, in the astrological correspondence system I follow, is linked to Mars in Pisces, and the final third of Pisces (10th-19th March this year). First of all, what qualities does Mars bring to Pisces? Fire and Water... Mars is assertive and determined, and takes the initiative – so in Pisces, we could be looking for assertiveness in terms of ideals or ideology. Assertive, but at the same time compassionate and kind. The initiative and drive we associate with Mars will be softened by the sensitivity of Pisces. Desires and dreams are achieved by following instinct, or those moments of inspiration. The shadow side of this could manifest in emotional vulnerability.
And in the Ten of Cups? I’m going to start with the Thoth deck, because – being a visual person – I like to see the astrological symbolism in the card’s image! If you look carefully at the cups, you can see that the handles are actually rams’ horns, giving us the Mars (through its rulership of Aries) connection. Gerd Ziegler writes, in his Tarot: Mirror of the Soul (published by Weber Books, 1998), Mars in Pisces provides “the apparently fragile being with the decisiveness needed to bring forth into the outer world the beauty which it holds within.” So we have the drive of Mars, but not the drama of Aries – instead, Pisces allows those qualities to gently radiate. That helps me to see the more permanent sense of contentment that we’ve come to associate with the Ten of Cups – as opposed to the moment of ‘bliss’ of the Nine.
With the Ten, we have a sense of completion – emotional fulfilment in relationships, be they romantic, familial, platonic. To achieve and maintain this sense of fulfilment (Crowley used the word ‘satiety’ to describe this card), we need the effort and drive of Mars, allowing us to turn our dreams into reality, rather than let them stay a Piscean vision. But we still have that Piscean flow of feeling running through the card – symbolized in the Sharman-Caselli image by the river off to the side, as well as the contentment represented by the happy family.
The Wildwood shows that unconstrained happiness – compare it to the Saturn in Pisces Eight of Vessels. In the Eight, the water is flowing but it’s being channelled – a structure has been imposed on the flow. In the Ten, there’s no such constraint – the water is in free-fall, splashing, overflowing...in full-on Mars flow!
We can see that in the Shadowscapes' Ten of Cups too - the passion of Mars in the entwined couple, the free-flowing Pisces energy in the countless fish swimming through the boundless sea... the attainment of their hearts' desire.
Shadowscapes Tarot created by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law and Barbara Moore, published by Llewellyn
Sharman-Caselli Tarot created by Juliet Sharman-Burke, illustrated by Giovanni Caselli, published by Connections
Thoth Tarot created by Aleister Crowley, illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris, published by US Games Systems, Inc.
Wildwood Tarot created by Mark Ryan and John Matthews, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections