In the system of astrological correspondences that I use, the Four of Cups is linked to the Moon in Cancer, and to the final ten days in the sign (approximately 11th-21st). If we combine the qualities associated with the luminary and zodiac sign, the Moon in Cancer could be said to represent the potential for a wealth of love and care.
Four of Vessels (trimmed):
© Wildwood Tarot
Yet the Four of Cups is often associated with concepts such as boredom, discontent, apathy, confusion, depression, and even rejection. Those needs haven’t been met; we feel fed up with our lot. Perhaps we feel unloved, or that our offer of love has been spurned. The number ‘four’ makes me think of squares – four-sided stable figures that are hard to shift. Once we hit this ‘slough of despond’ (thanks, John Bunyan) we are at the mercy of our emotions, which ebb and flow – like the tides at the mercy of the Moon. Like high and low tides, our emotions can carry us to extremes - to the point where we lose sight of reality, and we can’t see the love that’s being offered to us.
Four of Cups (trimmed):
© Thoth Tarot
The Thoth’s Four of Cups approaches this from the opposite direction, showing the abundance of love available to us. It reminds us that this is not only a gift, but also a responsibility – we have to ‘measure’ our awareness of it so that we don’t squander it, or allow it to rule us completely, to the point where it could become oppressive or lead to discontent.
Thoth Tarot created by Aleister Crowley, illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
Wildwood Tarot created by Mark Ryan and John Matthews, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections