Knight of Cups: The Wealthy, Isolated Only Child
The Knight (or King in the Rider-Waite tradition) of Cups represents a personality defined by the meeting point of Fire (and Chokmah) with Water. The Knight of Cups, then is the Fiery aspect of Water, and this card represents the personality that this aspect of water produces. This card is the active, masculine, creative, and passionate part of passivity, emotion, and reflection.
As such, the Knight of Cups exudes the qualities of the suit of water, projecting them from himself onto others. He is graceful, sensitive, amiable, and cultured. He is somewhat fleeting; he does not endure. Something only holds his attention for as long as it interests him. He is innocent and pure, and at the same time is often prone to self-sacrifice; his love and caring for others will lead him to do whatever he can for those he cared about. He is in many cases kind as well. He is also quick to respond to emotion and do what needs to be done with regards to said emotion.
On the less positive side, the Knight of Cups can sometimes be superficial, overly sensual, and idle. He is like the only child of wealthy parents, who dote on him and protect him from the influences of the outside world. He learns the rules of society and knows how to act, and is taught how to be kind, yet he lacks the experience necessary to remain attached to most people, to truly understand what is going on, and often sometimes may lack a work ethic.
The Rider-Waite art shows a King upon a throne holding a cup. Honestly, there is not much to glean from this artwork. The Thoth art shows a young man in green armour flying atop a pegasus. In his free hand he holds aloft a cup, upon which there is a crab; Cancer, and the symbol of water. He appears to be clean and well-taken care of and is unarmed; he is a King who does not understand the harsh reality of the worlds, and wants to help others – or at least wants to feel like he helps others. He is on a winged steed, and so his presence comes and leaves rapidly; he does not stay long.
In a reading, this card indicates the presence of a strong personality that mirrors that described above; is there someone in your life (or are you yourself) who is innocent, willing to sacrifice himself for others, with a fleeting presence or attention, whose acts of kindness might be superficial, yet who everyone gets along with as they know all the rules of polite society? Is there anyone you know who is cultured, sensitive, and yet sometimes idle or sensual? Reversed, this card asks you to look for these traits of personality in unusual places, or expressed in ways you might not have thought of; or perhaps it indicates that these traits are only present on the surface of a person, and that their true personality might be different.