King of Cups Tarot Card Meaning

By Charrette Vachon

A symbol of creative intelligence and wisdom, the King of Cups is compassionate toward others, fair and diplomatic, as well as emotionally mature. This Minor Arcana monarch embodies the balance between the head and the heart.

Cards of this suit hold the elemental energy of water – capable of both sustaining life and causing devastating destruction. The King of Cups represents a nurturing soul, who is calm in the face of stormy conditions. You should feel optimistic when he appears in the spread.

  • Element: Water
  • Planet: No specific planet
  • Astrological sign: Scorpio
  • Key dates: October 13 to November 22

Visual Elements and Symbolism

Depicted on his adamantine throne, buoyed on tempestuous waves, the King of Cups is calm and still, showing tranquility and level-headedness. He is a master of his emotional state, even when facing rough conditions. The blue waters run deep, illustrating where the subconscious and conscious meet.

The chalice in his right hand is symbolic of his connection to the element of water, and therefore emotional sensitivity and artistry. He wields a scepter in his left hand to denote power and control. Together the chalice and scepter equate to the right brain and left brain’s creativity-intelligence binary. The King of Cups is the perfect balance of both.

Behind him, the leaping fish is emblematic of the emotional world, while the red-sailed ship symbolizes the physical world. The blue of his robes represent wisdom, while the crimson-trimmed gold cloak shows intertwined passion and intellect. Gazing off into the distance, the King is deep in thought, carefully considering his actions before proceeding.

The King of Cups as a Person

The hero of his suit, the King of Cups is a benevolent leader and protector with high levels of empathy and intuition. He makes a superb partner whether that be in romance or through matters of business. The energy of his element causes him to lead with his heart, but with complete control over his emotions. He is both intelligent and fair in how he behaves.

As a person, he embodies feminine and masculine energetic equilibrium. Emanating quiet confidence, he projects authority without egotism. Though he can appear aloof and disinterested you can trust that he will show his magnanimity through actions. When it comes to interpersonal issues he offers a diplomatic, chivalrous approach.

The King of Cups Upright

A powerfully influential card, you should delight in the King of Cups gracing you upright in the spread – he imparts positivity. If you’ve been going through a lot lately then breathe a sigh of relief, good things may be on the way. This card is a very good sign that your immediate future will see a favorable upswing.

The King of Cups may also be here as a reminder. Don’t let your mood overtake your decision-making. Conversely, don’t suppress how you’re feeling and refuse to experience emotions. Like this particular monarch, you must take your emotions in hand and evaluate using both the head and the heart.

Love and Relationships

An auspicious omen when it comes to love, the King of Cups may be heralding the perfect partner. If you’re looking to settle down, or for a serious long-term relationship, that person is waiting around the corner. They are supportive, charming, and have character-defining family values. Expect someone worldly, loyal, and in touch with their own feelings.

If you are in a relationship this patriarch of goblets is here to either reassure you or reaffirm that this is not the partnership for you. In the former case, he’s here to highlight how sincere and trustworthy your partner actually is.

If your relationship is fulfilling, yet you’re experiencing difficulties, the King of Cups may signify this coming to an end soon. You’ll move on in a mature way and get to experience the next level of your relationship with a deeper understanding of one another.


Drawing this card upright suggests you might have issues with financial stability looming on the horizon. However, if you behave with pragmatism and wisdom you might not have anything to worry about.

Indulgence is exquisite every now and again, but pull back and pause momentarily. What is important? Don’t gamble tomorrow for today. The keyword is ‘budget’. Take responsibility and it will be smooth sailing.


When it comes to your career the King of Cups represents the balance of head and heart in the workplace. Generally a sign of good things, this Minor Arcana patriarch is enveloped in leadership energy.

Not tasting the fruits of your labor? Rest easy, a promotion, bonus, or industry recognition could be on the way. Another reading lies in someone mature and seasoned coming into your life. With their care and support you can draw even more fulfillment from your work.

This card could also signify focusing on emotional and intellectual balance at work. Being able to employ logic, intuition, creativity and reason in fine balance can set you apart from your colleagues, be harnessed for positive change, or even resolve workplace conflicts.

If you are thinking of starting a new career, something you might feel more passion for, the King of Cups could be a sign you’re suited to creative industries or healing and caring for others. You have the potential to be a leader in your field.


Drawing the King of Cups upright heralds good health. You could receive the ‘all-clear’ from medical professionals. Issues you’ve struggled with may show significant signs of improvement.

This speaks to mental health as well as physical. It is a tricky thing to keep the mind healthy as well as the body, but learn your body’s stress signals, invest time in self-care, and make sure not to put yourself last. This will support a healthy physical vessel as well as strengthen the spirit.

The King of Cups Reversed

In reverse, the King of Cups reminds us that though we strive for balance, conditions are always in a shifting state. Our reliance on emotions or intelligence ebbs and flows.

Here, he is emotionally volatile and moody with reduced control over his impulses. He might misuse his talent for traversing human emotion and his strong interpersonal skills for selfish gain. Wisdom and benevolence give way to manipulation. On the other hand, he may not be able to balance compassion and intellect – the right and benevolent thing to do may satisfy some but is considered cruel to others.

Love and Relationships

In affairs of the heart, the King of Cups in reverse is symbolic of an unbalanced emotional state. This can signify a dubious state of mind in one or both of you in a relationship. Are you meeting your partner’s emotional needs? Are you treating them with affection and putting in the effort? Is the same being done for you? If the answer to any of these questions is no, you have to focus on evaluating the relationship, what you can do to bring harmony, and what it is you need from the other person. Lead with love if indeed you do want to save your relationship. Don’t let yourself lead anyone on. Similarly, do not settle for any less than what you need to feel fulfilled.

Unfortunately, this card can also be an omen of disloyalty or infidelity. It can indicate manipulation and control. This could also be significant of a partner who lacks emotional maturity. Watch out for these red flags. If you are in a relationship it’s a slippery slope. And if you are single stay vigilant – someone is ready and waiting to take advantage of an open heart.


When drawn in reverse the King of Cups shows poor financial judgment. He may be indicative of excessive spending or making large purchases based on extreme emotions. Reclaim control of your finances, and remember that material gains cannot fill a spiritual hole. What is it you really want?

This Minor Arcana card may be a forewarning of someone desperate to part you with your money. If you’re too easily trusting you could be at risk of exploitation. Don’t be hasty – not everything that glitters is gold.

This court card can also be a reminder to remain financially fair. Is it possible there are situations where you sign the checks, where there is an imbalance of power you may have been exploiting for your own gain? It’s possible you’ve not even realized. It could involve using your giving-power or leveraging your wealth to get what you want out of people.


Here the King of Cups signifies potential workplace conflict. It’s likely someone overly sensitive and irrational, or ruthless and cutthroat will affect your place of work. Stay level-headed and diplomatic to improve the outcome.

This card drawn in reverse may also indicate an emotional imbalance at work – maybe your heart isn’t in it anymore. Is it time for a role change? Or is there a way you can get back to what you love about the job? Look within for the answers.


Your health and wellbeing may no longer be under control. Your vices may put you at risk so reexamine your alcohol intake, and look at your relationship with drugs – illicit or prescription. A spike in usage – or even a drop in general health – may be due to emotional turbulence that needs to be addressed. Your coping mechanisms have gotten you this far, but now is the time to take back control.

Your Past, Present, and Future

When the fourteenth card of the suit of Cups lands in the past position this could portend a previous conflict in your life still affecting you, or that it will rear its ugly head again. Maybe you stuck a bandaid on a past issue instead of properly treating the wound. Go back to basics, seek advice and do the hard work to deal with this. Conversely, the card could also be a sign that you showed great self-control as opposed to impulsiveness in the past. This maturity has gotten you to where you are now.

In the present position, this card could signify that a measured, calculated decision needs to be made. Curtail any spontaneous behaviors and snap decisions at once. It could also suggest that someone you think has everything under does not – there is an imbalance there that could affect you. Check in with those around you. Another reading lies in someone who embodies the King of Cups coming into your life, and following their advice is crucial to your future success.

The King of Cups landing in the future position could indicate that there is someone out there who will help bring balance to your life. They could be a business connection or a friend you look up to. But don’t wait for them to appear, you must seek them out. Keep your eyes open and recognize the value in others. However, the King of Cups may be referring to yourself – there is potential that your tolerant attitude will leave you open to exploitation so be aware of what you excuse.

Important Card Combinations

The King of Cups is generally a fortuitous card to appear in a spread. Your outlook is hopeful and the situation is likely to improve.

King of Cups and Five of Pentacles

Together with the Five of Pentacles, the King of Cups is a sign of forgiveness and learning worth – whether that be in yourself or in others. Expect to wipe the slate clean, or to be forgiven yourself. Letting go of resentment benefits you first and foremost – forgiving others is not about making someone else feel better, it heals the self.

King of Cups and Nine of Pentacles

The Nine of Pentacles is a sign that you can and should enjoy the fruits of your labor. The King of Cups amplifies this. Prosperity is in bloom and your cup runneth over – this could pertain to your finances, or represent a strong sign of flourishing creativity that when utilized will bring great value to your life.

King of Cups and Knight of Pentacles

Representing hard work and diligent effort, the Knight of Pentacles along with the King of Cups heralds professional change. There is an imbalance that may be rectified through changing roles or even careers. It’s also possible staffing changes or organizational restructuring is in order.

King of Cups and Queen of Cups

When the King of Cups is found alongside the Queen of Cups, the spread bears the powerful indication that a meaningful, spiritual connection is waiting to spark. With emotional maturity, and a balanced head and heart, you could meet your soulmate.

King of Cups: Yes or No

The King of Cups balances emotion and intellect, feminine and masculine energy, as well as the conscious and subconscious. He can give you neither a yes, nor a no – the answer could swing either way.