Prince of Cups: The Aloof, Genius Artist
The Prince (or Knight in the Rider-Waite tradition) of Cups is the court card that represents the personality that emerges from the airy aspect of Water; this card is the Air of Water. It is where the intellect and logical abstraction of Air and Swords finds expression through the medium of Water. In this personality, one can find someone who lives their life by the principles associated with the suit of Water. They experience emotions, but in a detached, almost logical way; the are often self-absorbed, seeking knowledge, power, and wisdom. They are aloof, often artistic and full of secrets that they prefer to keep to themselves. They are often very talented, and so are mistrustful of those around them of lesser skill. As such, they are often incomprehenible and emotionally distant from others, though they are often ruled by emotional ideologies in which they will express great compassion, but when asked to express this compassion in a more “real” sense, may have problems doing so. They are often subtle and can be manipulative. They wear a face of placid calm – like still water – but below the surface they churn and burn with a passion. They are full of disconnects and detachments from reality; they are the public speaker seeking to gain power by appealing to the people, promising to help them while at the same time putting himself above them. He is a genius, who operates on an entirely different plane of existence from most people, and so is then alone.
The Rider-Waite image shows a trotting horse bearing a knight with a cup moving forward; this captures the man’s stature and sense of calm aloofness, but says little else about him. The Thoth illustration shows the Prince on a flying chariot, calm and composed, flying above the water below him. He is lost in contemplation over the cup in his hand, and seems to pay little attention to what is going on around him. A snake rises out of his cup, showing his subtlety and hidden passion.
In a reading, this card asks for you to look at the role such personalities play in your life; is there anyone you know who seems to think on a different plane than everyone else, who often is elitist and arrogant, who speaks in broad terms about the good of everyone, yet himself rarely stoops down to actually help others? He has the good of all in his mind, yet fails to see the true reality behind it all? Is he ambitious, talented, and selfish? Reversed, this card indicates that this personality is hidden or twisted somehow; perhaps this person may appear to be a Prince of Cups, when in reality they truly do help others on a practical level, or their self-absorption and power for hunger is masked by an apparent compassion.