King Of Cups Tarot Card Meaning: Upright & Reversed

The King of Cups comes to the fore when we’re dealing with emotional balance and control, as well as maturity in handling feelings. He’s a calm figure on a throne amidst turbulent waters, which shows his ability to manage emotions with wisdom and compassion. This card is about leadership in emotional matters, offering counsel and understanding. In its reversed form, he can suggest emotional manipulation, moodiness, or detachment, urging the need for emotional integrity and understanding.

So if you want to know what this card means for you in your reading, then keep on looking to find out everything there is to know!

NumerologyAssociated with the number 5 standing for intelligence and good communication.
Zodiac SignAssociated with the water signs (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces), reflecting wisdom, diplomacy, and emotional balance.
Ruling PlanetNeptune, for its association with Pisces, and the Moon, for Cancer, emphasizing emotional depth, compassion, and understanding.
ElementWater, symbolizing mastery over the emotional and psychic realms.
Yes or NoOften considered a “Yes,” suggesting balanced emotions, diplomacy, and a supportive leadership role in emotional matters.
CrystalsBlue Lace Agate and Sapphire, promoting calm communication, clarity of thought, and emotional balance.

Symbolism Of The King Of Cups

  1. The King: The King is a calm, composed figure, showing his emotional stability, maturity, and control over his feelings. He represents someone who understands and respects emotions, both his own and others’, and uses this understanding in a balanced and wise manner.
  2. The Throne on Water: He sits on a throne that is floating on water, symbolizing his mastery over both his emotions and subconscious. The water, of course, represents emotions, intuition, and the unconscious mind, suggesting that the King is comfortable.
  3. The Cup in His Hand: The King holds a cup which isn’t filled with water showing that while he’s comfortable with his emotions he doesn’t allow them to spill over or control him. This represents emotional maturity and the ability to contain feelings constructively.
  4. The Fish and Ship Decorations: There is a fish and a ship behind him in the background, symbolizing the unconscious mind (fish) and the journey through life (ships). These symbols further highlight the King’s ability to navigate emotional depths and the complexities of life.
  5. His Calm Demeanor: The King’s face is calm and serene, showing his ability to remain composed and compassionate, even in turbulent times. This composure underlines his emotional strength and stability.
  6. The Colors: The king is wrapped in three colors, blue which symbolizes intellect and clarity, red which symbolizes drive and passion, and green which represents sympathy and kindness. All of which got him on the throne.
  7. The Robes and Crown: The King’s regal attire and crown symbolize authority, mastery, and leadership. His robes can be ornate, reflecting his connection to creativity and the arts, as well as his sophisticated understanding of the human psyche.
King Of Cups Symbolism

The King Of Cups Upright Meaning

The King of Cups is the epitome of diplomacy and calmness in social situations, demonstrating an innate ability to manage and mediate most social settings with ease. His presence in a reading encourages us to approach our interactions with understanding and empathy, promoting peace and fostering positive relationships. The King of Cups teaches us that true strength lies in our capacity to listen, to empathize, and to offer support without judgment. He is a reminder that, when it comes to human emotions, compassion and understanding are the keys to building lasting bonds.

Moreover, the King of Cups is also celebrated for his wise counsel and devoted nature. His appearance in a tarot spread is often a sign that sound advice may be coming your way or that you are in a position to offer sage advice to someone in need. It highlights the value of wisdom gained through experience, urging us to share our insights and knowledge with those around us.

King Of Cups Upright Meaning

The balance between the head and the heart that the King of Cups represents is a crucial message of this card too. It shows the achievement of an inner equilibrium, where emotions and logic complement rather than conflict with each other. He teaches us to go through life’s challenges with a steady hand, and remember that it’s possible to face emotional upheavals with a calm mind and a compassionate heart. He exemplifies the power of emotional resilience, demonstrating how to remain composed and centered, even in the face of adversity.

So, the King of Cups is a powerful archetype of emotional sophistication paired with wisdom. He invites us to cultivate our emotional intelligence, to balance our rational thoughts with our deepest feelings, and to approach our relationships with diplomacy and kindness. He reminds us to be devoted to our personal growth and to the well-being of those around us, reminding us that our ability to offer wise and compassionate advice is a gift that can profoundly impact the lives of others.

Love and Relationships

The King of Cups shows us that you’ve reached a level emotional maturity and understanding in when it comes to love. And his presence encourages deep connections through empathy, active listening, and unconditional support. For relationships, he reminds us that to build with your partner it’s best to practice patience and understanding. And if you’re single he asks you to approach new relationships with an open heart and a clear mind, remembering to value emotional depth and stability.

Career and Finances

When it comes to your career and finances, the King of Cups then you need to use emotional intelligence as this will play a key role in success. Right now the importance of diplomacy and calmness in navigating the workplace can’t be understated, and a balanced approach to challenges will lead to positive outcomes. There may also be mentor figure in your life who provides valuable advice, or even your own experience and wisdom could guide others towards their goals. Balancing ambition with empathy will foster a harmonious work environment and lead to lasting professional relationships.


Spiritually, the King of Cups invites us to explore the depths of our emotions and to integrate our feelings with our spiritual journey. You are at a point in your life where you have a mature understanding of your emotions as pathways to deeper spiritual insights, and you’re encouraged to face life’s ups and downs with grace and resilience. So balance your inner emotional world with your external actions, and remember that true spiritual growth involves navigating your emotions with wisdom and compassion.

Yes or No

For yes or no questions, the King of Cups iss a “yes,” particularly in situations requiring emotional intelligence, diplomacy, or the guidance of wisdom. It means that outcomes will be favorable when approached with understanding, patience, and a balanced perspective.

Book Recommendation – Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman

The King of Cups is in control of his emotions and a leader. Because of these two things, if you’re feeling that energy, then I’d definitely recommend reading the book Emotional Intelligence, while it is slightly about leadership, I love it because it’s also about relationship building and finding personal fulfilment in your own life.

Love what you’re reading? Make sure you check out Tarot Made Easy: A Beginners Guide To Rapid Understanding, now just $11.99!

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The King Of Cups Reversed Meaning

Feeling overwhelmed and anxious are some of the main messages we get from the King of Cups reversed. This state can arise when we find ourselves unable to understand our emotions effectively, leading to a sense of being swamped by our feelings. It reminds us to seek strategies for managing our emotions, encouraging us to find healthy outlets for our anxiety and to seek support when the emotional waters become too rough to navigate alone.

The reversed King of Cups also points to a risk of becoming emotionally cold or withdrawn as a mechanism to cope with overwhelming feelings. This detachment can be a defense against vulnerability but often leads to isolation and a lack of genuine connection with others. It prompts us to recognize the importance of staying emotionally present and engaged, even when it feels easier to retreat into our shell.

Moodiness and emotional manipulation are further shadows cast by the King of Cups reversed, reflecting the darker aspects of wielding emotional power. When emotions are not managed with awareness and integrity, there’s a risk of influencing others in unhealthy ways, whether intentionally or not. The King of Cups reversed serves as a reminder to examine our motivations and to strive for honesty and fairness in our interactions, ensuring that our emotional expression is grounded in authenticity and compassion.

King Of Cups Reversed Meaning

However, amidst these challenges, the reversed King of Cups also carries a message of self-compassion. It highlights the importance of turning a kind and understanding eye towards ourselves, especially when we falter. This aspect of the card encourages us to practice self-forgiveness, to recognize our own needs for care and affection, and to treat ourselves with the same empathy and compassion we would offer to others. It’s a reminder that self-compassion is a vital step towards emotional healing and balance.

In essence, the King of Cups reversed is a complex figure, offering both caution and guidance. It invites us to delve into the depths of our emotional world, to confront the challenges of feeling overwhelmed, withdrawn, or manipulative, and to emerge with a stronger sense of self-compassion and emotional resilience. By addressing these aspects of ourselves, we can work towards regaining balance and nurturing a more healthy and constructive emotional life.

Love and Relationships

The King of Cups reversed asks you to be wary of emotional disengagement or miscommunication. Don’t allow feelings of overwhelm or anxiety to create distance between you and your loved ones. The need for open dialogue about emotional needs and challenges is important right now and it encourages both parties to seek understanding and support rather than retreating or resorting to emotional manipulation. It’s a reminder to nurture your relationships with honesty and compassion, ensuring that emotional distancing doesn’t hinder the growth and depth of your connections.

Career and Finances

For your career or financial matters, the reversed King of Cups shows that your emotions may be impacting your professional life or decision-making. You may be at that phase where you will either shut down emotionally in stressful situations or let unmanaged emotions dictate your actions, possibly leading to instability or conflicts. Now would be a good time to seek support, possibly through mentorship or counseling, to navigate through these emotional waters. You need to develop emotional resilience and clear communication skills to maintain professionalism and poise in the face of challenges.


Spiritually, the King of Cups reversed shows you may be feeling disconnected from yourself. It may point to a period of introspection needed to address unresolved emotional issues or to reconnect with your deeper feelings. It encourages the cultivation of self-awareness and compassion as tools for emotional healing and spiritual growth. It’s a reminder that spiritual development is closely linked to understanding and integrating our shadow selves, including the aspects of our emotions that we might prefer to ignore or suppress.

Yes or No

For a yes or no question, the King of Cups reversed means “no” or at least advises to wait until emotional clarity is achieved. It implies that decisions made from a place of emotional turmoil or misunderstanding may not lead to the desired outcome. Before proceeding, it’s important to address any underlying emotional issues and seek a balanced and clear perspective.

Journaling Prompts For The King Of Cups

Here are some journaling prompts to think about if you’ve drawn the King of Cups:

  1. Think of a situation where you had to remain calm and composed in a highly charged situation. How did you manage your emotions, and what was the outcome?
  2. What strategies do you have in place already that keep your emotions in check, and how have they helped your well-being and relationships with those around you?
  3. Can you remember a time you gave someone the support they needed, when they really needed it? What did you do to make sure you were being both compassionate but also wise?
  4. Is there anyone in your life that needs your support right now? How can you help them, while also making empowering them to help themselves?
  5. When was the last time you had to be resilient? How did you do this and what lessons did you learn?
  6. Can you think of a decision where balancing your emotions and logic were crucial? How did you do this, and what were the results?

Book Recommendation – Anti-Fragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

If you feel like you’re being overwhelmed especially by negative emotions, then this is definitely the book for you! The main concept of the book is that the opposite of fragile isn’t durable, as even durable things break over time. But it’s anti-fragility, in which everything that hits you actually makes you stronger. If this is a message you feel like you need to hear right now, then I’d definitely recommend this book!

Final Message Of The King Of Cups

Embrace emotional mastery. You have walked a long path, navigating the depths of your emotions and emerging with wisdom and understanding. You are no longer ruled by your feelings, but you wield them with grace and purpose. Share this newfound mastery with others, guiding them towards emotional intelligence and self-compassion.

Lead with empathy and compassion. Like a lighthouse in a storm, your presence offers solace and understanding. Listen deeply, offer support without judgment, and create a safe space for others to express their vulnerabilities. Remember, true leadership isn’t about domination, but about guiding with a heart overflowing with empathy.

Nurture intuition and wisdom. Years of experience have honed your intuition, making you a beacon of insightful guidance. Trust the whispers of your heart, and use your wisdom to navigate life’s challenges with grace and clarity. Offer this wisdom freely, for it can illuminate the path for others seeking their own inner compass.

Balance logic and emotion. The King of Cups walks a tightrope, balancing reason with intuition, logic with heart. This delicate equilibrium allows him to make wise decisions and offer balanced guidance. Remember, both head and heart have valuable insights to offer, so strive for integration within yourself.

Cultivate peace and serenity. Just as the ocean holds both calm tides and crashing waves, you possess the ability to navigate the storms of life with inner peace. Share this serenity with others, reminding them that even amidst chaos, a tranquil center can always be found.


So, the King of Cups is about emotional intelligence, offering wisdom and understanding in both personal growth and relationships. He asks you to embrace your emotional depth and stability, as this will have a positive influence on your love life and career.

Reversed, the King of Cups warns of emotional overwhelm, detachment, and potential manipulation. He highlights challenges in managing feelings, and suggests there may be a need for emotional integrity and self-compassion. This position calls for introspection to address emotional instability, urging a healthier approach to emotional expression and self-care.

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About the author

Hey! I'm Antonio, Owner & Editor of the Fools Journey!

I've been reading Tarot Cards/Getting my tarot read for over 10 years now! For me, what started out as a bit of fun and scepticism, has since grown into such a passion for me.

Tarot Cards are not just a great source of inspiration, but also comfort, and I love using them to help get in touch with the higher powers that are here to guide me through life!

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