Just for a change, let’s start our exploration of Scorpio in the tarot in the Minor Arcana. In the astrological correspondence system that I follow, Scorpio is linked to the Five, Six and Seven of Cups. Today I’m going to look at the Five of Cups, which corresponds to the first ten days of Scorpio (this year, the 23rd October to 2nd November) – and to Mars in Scorpio.
Scorpio is the fixed Water sign, so we’re looking at maintaining our emotional resources, delving into the depths to get at the heart or root of what’s going on.
Mars, the traditional ruler of Scorpio, is associated with the element of Fire. Mars is the warrior, the Roman god of war – powerful, passionate, driven by strong desires, and very likely to take the initiative. Mars is decisive, and needs to express himself freely – which could come into conflict with the Scorpio preference for keeping things hidden, buried away in the depths. Mars likes to be in control but when combined with Scorpio’s energy, this is likely to manifest through an intense transformation of emotional power at a very deep level, often experienced as a loss of some kind.
So how might this play out in the Five of Cups? We’ve come to associate this card with loss and disappointment. Often we feel things aren’t going our way, and we experience disappointment. Mars is often linked to anger, that very strong emotion, so it could also be that we’re now forced to face the consequences of our (or someone else’s) anger.
I think the image in the Druidcraft’s Five of Cups captures this beautifully.
Here we see a figure facing away from us, looking down into the water – or is he watching the otter chase the salmon? Three overturned cups lie on the grass beside him - the losses, the emotions that have been spilled. Behind him, unseen, two upright cups, full of possibility and potential, sit on the rock. Juliet Sharman-Burke uses the words ‘regret’ and ‘sorrow’ for this card. So we have someone who feels deep sorrow at what’s happened (the three cups emptying), but who’s ignoring or overlooking at what still exists (the two full cups). The decisiveness and freedom of expression that Mars would usually exert is being held back by the compulsion to look only at the loss and the emotions that accompany it – to become lost in the emotion itself perhaps?
The otter and salmon come from the story of Taliesin, representing the element of water in the shape-shifting chase of Gwion by Ceridwen. It’s a story of transformation – the theme of Scorpio. The card warns against allowing the potentially aggressive, potentially destructive Martian energy to spill over. That energy can be used usefully though, by transforming it – by shifting the emphasis from what’s lost to what’s still available to us. We can learn from disappointment – nothing is ever wasted. Remember that Scorpio represents cycles, endings and beginnings – and is the ultimate recycler!
Druidcraft Tarot created by Philip Carr-Gomm and Stephanie Carr-Gomm, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections