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A pithy meaning for the Page of Cups … and so much more

September 17, 2014

The Page of Cups:

The pithy meaning(s) I’m going to present today are a bit of a departure. Rather than relying on a meaning for the card that is in common usage, I’m going to use a novel meaning that comes to me sometimes based on a symbol on the Page of Cups card. (This is another way to interpret a card — what does a symbol on the card suggest to you?)

Page of Cups -- Pithy TarotThe RWS version of this card (and many others based on that seminal deck) has a visual feature that is conspicuous, distinctive, and quite interesting — a fish is popping out of the cup that the Page holds. There are a lot of traditional interpretations for a fish, but I’m also going to go beyond those traditions.

Sometimes this Page’s fish suggests to me the following phrase that we hear from time to time: “fishing for a complement.” But I can see more than just that here. Sometimes I use an interesting a riff on that phrase, which we don’t usually hear: “fishing for an insult.” (Incidentally, I thought I made that one up, but Google revealed that some other great minds have already run in that same channel.) So we might see one of those two phrases when we get this card, depending on its position in a spread and its orientation (ex: is it reversed?).

But now this consideration suggests some further discussion. (“Conversational Tarot,” anyone?) We might wonder why anyone would want to go fishing for an insult? Who wants to be insulted?

This card, with its implications of surprise (who would expect a fish to pop out of your cup?), can indicate that surprising things are afoot, and this question, “Who wants to be insulted?” has a surprising answer: Most of us, at one time or another, try to find an insult in what someone else says or does. Why is that? It’s because inferring an insult (whether there is one there or not) allows us to feel a bit of moral indignation, which allows us to feel superior to that dirty so-and-so who insulted us. And (perhaps more significantly) it makes us feel angry. Why is that such a significant reason? It’s because when we get angry, we get a rush of adrenaline, and most of us have a bit of an adrenaline addiction. (See a pithy meaning for the Tower card from last year.) Some people go skydiving for their adrenaline fix, a lot of us watch scary movies for it, and many of us look for ways to feel angry about something, which imagined insults provide.

So those are some of the reasons you may want to go fishing for an insult, but please don’t.  It’s really bad form; it’s emotionally immature (another implication of the Page of Cups). Instead, do what the Fool suggests: Assume innocence first.

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  1. Jane permalink

    It could also be lack of self esteem. I am not good enough to deserve a complement, so it must have been a disguised insult. Also – any attention is better than none.

    • Hi Jane,
      Thank you for joining the dialog.
      Yes, I can see that too, and that works well with the Page (immaturity) of Cups (emotions).
      It also may indicate a worldview that says “the world is a nasty, aggressive place that is constantly trying to attack me.”
      And there is also the ego’s worldview that “It’s all about me!” so someone’s offhand comment is then taken personally.

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