The 7 of Cups: When Dreams and Delusions Collide.

It’s been a soul-sapping, mind-numbing, emotion-draining one week post-Mercury retrograde. Opportunities and events that surfaced during the retrograde period between the 2nd-26th of August are now being revealed for what they truly are: pipe dreams. While not all of these have proven to be not much more than smoke and mirrors, we are now being asked to honestly assess whether the people and situations in our lives are what they are, and not merely what we wish them to be.  A lot of us have been presented with opportunities during Mercury’s backward stint in Leo to express our creative side in unique and novel ways, and to find greater joy in sharing the creative facets of our life with the world at large. As the ruler of Leo, the Sun is warm, passionate, vital and generous, bringing much pleasure and joy into our lives through individual and creative expression. The dark-side of Leo is a tendency to be childish, self-absorbed narcissists with a penchant for temper tantrums and sulking when they are not the center of attention. Megalomania, ruthlessness and a pompous, snobbish mien are but a few of the less pleasant aspects of the Leo personality.

7 of Cups from the 'Arcus Arcanum' Tarot

How does the Mercury retrograde of August 2011 tie in with the 7 of Cups in tarot? Reflect back upon the 3 weeks in which the planet of communication was retrograde. As ruler of the mind, a retrograde Mercury scatters the mind and distorts the thinking process. We tend to be more intuitive than rational at this time, preferring to rely more on our emotions than cognitions to make decisions in our personal and professional life. In Leo, this tendency becomes exaggerated. Leo, as the element of Fixed Fire, merges the enthusiasm, spirit and freedom-loving qualities of Fire with the individualistic, active and self-expressive qualities of Leo. As a Fixed sign, Leos are concerned with the long-term endurance of their investments, be they spiritual, emotional or material. With a preponderance of planets in Leo, we are more motivated to view the people and situations in our lives as extensions of ourselves. Our jobs and partners become direct reflections of our ego and status; our most private dreams and wishes are given outward recognition through the words and actions of others, for better or for worse. Therefore, planets in Leo are concerned with the maintenance of the ego and status. Mutable Mercury, ever-fickle and capricious, as changeable as the winds, shatters these illusions by effecting change, a concept that all Fixed signs abhor. When retrograde, Mercury detaches the mind from logic and rational thought, giving the emotions, spirit and ego precedence. Once the retrograde phase is complete and Mercury resumes its forward motion, we experience a shift in perspective. All that we valued during the three weeks of the trickster planet dancing backwards through the heavens is revealed in the cold light of morning to be naught more than fool’s gold.

In tarot, the 7 of Cups is the card of temptations. At its best, it represents big-hearted ideals and the generosity of spirit but at its lowest, signifies dancing with dreams and delusions to the behest of all else. This is the card of the wishful thinker and the foolish dreamer: under the influence of the 7 of Cups, we view the world through rose-tinted glasses and are perfectly content to build castles in the sky despite knowing our resources should be best invested otherwise. The suit of Cups, being emblematic of emotions, is at odds with the natural quality of the 7’s, which is the analytical mind’s ability to detach, rationalize and be objective. When the cold logic of the 7’s collides with the effusive outpouring of emotions that are the domain of the Cups, what results is a tug-of-war between head and heart. We are being seduced by intangible desires that promise to bridge the gap between who we are and who we want to be, but with the 7 of Cups, we are also being asked to consider if once that chasm between the Actual and Ideal Selves is closed, we’ll be happier than we were before.

7 of Cups from the 'Legacy of the Divine' Tarot

Most decks following the Rider-Waite tradition show a figure in black situated in the foreground, gazing upon 7 cups floating upon a cloud, each bearing a different ‘gift’ or ‘treasure’.  Taken together, each cup is supposed to indicate the plethora of choices that we are being offered at any given time. However, it is up to us to decide whether these ‘gifts’ are rooted in substance or are merely illusory seductions that will fade with the coming of the dawn. Oftentimes, these cups are depicted as placed on a cloud, or floating against an insubstantial background, thus highlighting the dream-like, almost transient qualities of its contents.  In collective terms, each of the seven cups shows what all of us, regardless of age, culture or creed, strive to achieve and attain. The primitive desires of human nature are exposed in all their superficial, wanton glamour in the 7 of Cups.

The Castle represents material wealth and home. Ownership and the need to belong are emphasized.

The Jewels are representative of abundance and riches. Some sources accord the contents of this cup to beauty and youth.

The Snake heralds the expression of passion and sexual desire. Sexual gain and conquest are indicated, as is knowledge that is transformative in nature, with the dual ability to heal and to destroy.

The Mask/ Human Head represents the ideal mate/ partner. This is a reflection of ourselves, honored and expressed by a significant other.

The Shroud indicates a need for self-awareness, and the subconscious (hidden) desire to view ourselves and all that we value in the most positive glowing terms possible.

The Laurel Wreath represents status, victory and honor through conquest in our public life. The contents of this cup show our need for recognition and achievement.

The Dragon is indicative of occult wisdom, and signifies triumph over the baser aspects of human nature such as anger, pride and envy.

7 of Cups from the 'Thoth Tarot'

Astrological Association: Venus in Scorpio.

In the Thoth tarot, the 7 of Cups is known as Debauch. Here, the emotional abundance of the suit of Cups is fractured and a state of emotional indulgence prevails. This can range from working ourselves up into a manic frenzy of action and excess when we are feeling good about ourselves to wallowing in self-pity when things are not going our way. There can be a sense of bipolar activity associated with this card and a corresponding vacillation between emotional extremes. Oftentimes, this card represents being addicted to our deepest wishes and desires, resulting in a state of being where common sense is thrown to the wind and we are divorced from all rational thought and action. In readings, I have seen the 7 of Cups turn up in spreads where a client is struggling to accommodate self-destructive behaviors with a range of (ill-planned) coping mechanisms. Whether binge-eating, smoking, drinking, sexual excess or substance abuse, ‘debauch’ points to a state of mind where feelings of being victimized assume prominence over the ability to view our behavior in an objective, rational light. Look to the surrounding cards for more information when seeking insight into the type of addiction the client is struggling with. When the 7 of Cups is paired with The Devil, promiscuous behavior or drug-abuse is indicated. When present with a reversed Temperance, alcoholism and over-eating are possible.

The 7 of Cups’ association with Venus in Scorpio marries the indulgent dissipation of emotion present in this card with Scorpionic traits of obsession, perversion and self-transformation. Pluto, as the ruler of Scorpio, challenges us to plumb the depths of our psyche in order to facilitate cathartic release of the darker emotions that keep us chained to our various vices and grievances. Through an in-depth exploration of ourselves – akin to a literal descent to Hell and back – we gain insight into our weaknesses and fallacies, transmuting these ‘sins’ into acts of goodness and light so that we may be released from temptation and thus reborn. Indeed, it helps if we view the contents of each of the seven cups as a different kind of ‘sin’. The Dragon can be corresponded to Wrath, the Snake to Lust, and so on. Those with Venus in Scorpio are never satisfied with the simple or superficial; they are always seeking to uncover hidden mysteries about themselves or their partners. These are not people who believe in playing it safe; their relationships and interactions are rife with danger, and there is a very palpable aura of controversial hedonism around Venusian Scorpios. These individuals are intensely attracted to exploring that which is labeled ‘taboo’ or ‘forbidden’, throwing themselves into a variety of activities that trample the boundaries of what is socially acceptable in order to get closer to their true selves. In the process, they succumb to temptations of the flesh, flirt with the Devil, and make the trip down to Hades far more times than the rest of us can ever imagine doing so. The enlightened few emerge revitalized and reborn, with a new sense of self-worth and being. The rest will continue to exist in a continuum of excess and dissipation, trapped within a world of their own addictions and desires, spiraling ever more out of control.

7 of Cups from the 'Paulina Tarot'

When the 7 of Cups shows up in a spread, choices are imminent. The challenge lies in distinguishing the good from the bad, and selecting an option that will bring not only emotional fulfillment, but bring you a step closer to who you wish to be and what you want to achieve. Because the emotions tend to be so powerfully engaged in the making of this decision, the 7 of Cups cautions us against the dangers of acting on impulse. We need to guard against being seduced by a host of potentially misleading opportunities, couched in a veneer of sparkle and glamour, and to see beyond surface appearances to what lies beneath. We are also being advised that our dreams will remain just that until some form of concrete action is executed, and to avoid being so overwhelmed by the ‘what ifs’ that we fall into depression.

In the context of a romance/ love question, the 7 of Cups indicates that you may be in danger of falling in love with love, and not seeing your partner for who he or she truly is.  In some instances, it can also point to the inability to commit. Are you viewing your relationship through rose-coloured glasses, unable (or unwilling) to acknowledge that flaws exist and must be addressed if true happiness is to be achieved? Or are you dissatisfied with the present state of your love life but are unable to move forward, chained to a partner or a situation because you can’t decide what it is you need to feel truly fulfilled?  I have also seen this card crop up in love spreads where the querent is spoiled for choice. When presented with numerous romantic options, each promising in their own right, a decision still can’t be reached because the person simply does not know what they want! In such cases, the 7 of Cups comes as a suggestion that a good deal of soul-searching must be effected before a choice can be made.

When reading about career, the 7 of Cups can point to a profession in film-making or the arts. Given this card’s association with imagination and fantasy, it can indicate a foray into acting, writing or modelling. Acting and modelling give us the freedom to play around with multiple roles and personas without committing to any which one, which reinforces the theme of vacillation inherent to the 7 of Cups. From a more negative perspective, this card could also come as a warning to beware of get-rich-quick schemes or con artists. Research your options and ensure that the end decision is well aligned with both head and heart to avoid disappointment in the long run. Because objectivity is often compromised when desires are so strongly involved, this card advises soliciting the opinion of a trusted confidante. Similarly, with respect to finances, seek the advice of a credible financial consultant before making any sort of investment. The 7 of Cups cautions that all is not as it seems; be discerning and discreet with your resources and information.

With regards to health, this card suggests alternative options to treatment and maintaining wellness over more traditional methods. In particular, more attention needs to be paid to the spiritual rather than physical aspects of health and wellbeing. Keep a dream journal and meditate regularly to gain more insight into what motivates you. Regular Reiki sessions to help realign the chakras (7 chakras : 7 cups) will help unite your emotional and spiritual consciousness with the more practical goals in life. Laziness and inaction can manifest as physical and psychospiritual blocks which have direct bearing on energy and vitality levels. Due to this card’s association with energy fractures/ dissipation, indolence must be guarded against.

7 of Cups from the 'Bohemian Gothic' Tarot

 “Freedom of choice is not a formal abstract capacity which one either ‘has’ or ‘has not’; it is, rather, a function of a person’s character structure. Some people have no freedom to choose the good because their character structure has lost the capacity to act in accordance with the good. Some people have lost the capacity of choosing the evil, precisely because their character structure has lost the craving for evil… The longer we continue to make the wrong decisions, the more our heart hardens; the more often we make the right decisions, the more our heart softens – or better perhaps, becomes alive.” ~ Eric Fromm.

 “Although every man believes that his decisions and resolutions involve the most multifarious factors, in reality they are mere oscillations between flight and longing.” ~ Herman Broch.

“We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them.” ~ Kahlil Gibran.

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