Different traditions have different astrological correspondences when it comes to the Court Cards, but I follow the tradition of linking Cancer – the cardinal Water sign - to the King of Cups. The Cups tend to be associated with the element of Water, so it’s not surprising that one of the three Water signs would be tied in to the Cups courts.
Cancer is also one of the cardinal signs of the zodiac. Cardinality suggests taking the initiative - being self-motivated, as well as outgoing. The cardinal signs – Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn – are all symbolic of being good at starting new things but the element of each helps to define the focus of that energy. In the element of water, Cancer initiates contact on an emotional level; it has the ability to take the first steps in campaigning, for instance. Because the Sun is at a standstill at the point in which it enters Cancer, on the solstice, the outgoing, active nature may have more of a reflective quality.
Some decks, if they use any astrological correspondences at all, choose the Queens to be the cardinal figure, while others opt for the King. The Druidcraft’s creators work with the Druid wheel of the year, rather than with astrology, so I’m looking at the cards, trying to see if I can make those associations myself – and I’ve come up with the King.
|Druidcraft Tarot: King of Cups (detail)|
So why Cancer - why the crab - for the King of Cups? I often think that the King of Cups represents a bit of a contradiction between suit and position – we tend to think of the Kings as being responsible and making decisions, while the Cups are about emotions, dreams, fantasy, romance... Remembering that the Sun’s just been ‘standing still’ gives me a clue to a possibly more reflective, inward-focus for this King. He can symbolize wanting to be emotionally involved but at the same time feeling cautious about going too deep – a bit too Scorpionic, perhaps?! The King is often said to carry masculine energy, while the watery realm of the Cups are thought to carry feminine energy. So we have a King of Cups who might come across as quite ambivalent. What better creature to represent this ambivalence than the crab? At home in water, at home on land... but not belonging completely to one or the other. A foot in both camps, as it were...
The King of Cups in the Druidcraft sits on land, by water – much like the crab. As the head of the Cups clan, he represents the protector of the beliefs of his culture – the things that people believed would protect them, as the shell protects the crab. There’s a hint of the Chariot, another card associated with Cancer, here in his choice to place responsibility before his need for self-expression, choosing to focus his creativity on things that will benefit his community – perhaps of a spiritual or therapeutic nature, which allow him to draw on Cancerian qualities such as nurturing and compassion.
Druidcraft Tarot created by Philip Carr-Gomm and Stephanie Carr-Gomm, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections