Four (IV) of Cups –
Apathy, Disgust, Disillusionment
Boredom, Apathy, Disinterest, Disillusioned, Glass is Half-Empty, Detached, Meditation, Tired, Fatigue, Withdrawn, Depressed, Unaware, Missed Opportunities, Daydreaming, Fantasising, Philosophical, Hung-over
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Card Imagery Description
A figure sits under a tree in a trance-like or meditative state. Three Cups line up in front of him and a hand appears from a cloud offering him a Fourth Cup. The figure appears either totally unaware of the presence of this Cup or is completely disinterested in what its contents may be. To be honest he probably feels that it is just more of the same and no different from the three in front. He couldn’t care less really. As he sits there with legs and arms folded he has shut himself off from the world and has become totally self-absorbed. The cloud which is presenting the Fourth Cup symbolises Spirit. He would be wise to look up and acknowledge it for it may contain things that the figure needs such as the opportunity for a new relationship, a wonderful job, the offer of real friendship, an explanation for his upset , an apology or a release from his depressive mood.
In this state the figure is unreachable and probably fed up with people asking him what is wrong with him. He may not have the answer to that at present but right now he just wants to be left alone in his state of moodiness or depression. He finds neither interest nor pleasure in anything. He needs change but does not know exactly what that change should be. If he could just be left alone for long enough under his tree, he may be able to figure it out and then form a plan of action. If he is aware of the Cup extended towards him it is only the lower half that catches his attention and this is very symbolic for how he views life at present. He is experiencing the ‘glass is half empty’ syndrome as he is consumed with negativity and lack of optimism.
As this card is also known as the Daydream Card, the figure may be away with the faeries or on another planet, dreaming of the ideal life, romance and wishing he was somewhere else. Lacking the energy to motivate himself into action, he may prefer to live in a fantasy world rather than face the harshness of reality.
Something has definitely happened here since we last checked in with the Cups in the Three Card. There we saw them dancing around, drinking, laughing and celebrating. The Four of Cups card can sometimes be referred to as “the morning after the night before”. After all the merriment, socialising and indulgence of the Three, exhaustion and apathy may have set in. Hung-over and wrecked the figure in this card may have no energy left to be interested in what is been offered to him. The partying and celebrating of the night before has seriously caught up with him. He reminds us of one of the inebriated figures that may have been wandering around in the Reversed Four of Wands when he should have gone to bed.
Now that the drink has worn off, he may see himself in a new light. The Fourth Cup being offered to him may be one of his drinking buddies enticing him to even more indulgence. The figure is physically exhausted and sickened by the excesses of his life and looking around at his friends (The Three other Cups) wonders what he ever had in common with them. The partying in the Three of Cups is over and he must now return to normal life and pull himself together. The Emperor (IV) of The Major Arcana will not tolerate this lack of control and disorder and his influencing energy may have a very sobering effect on the figure. As he sits contemplating his life under the tree he may feel a growing sense of self-loathing. He now wishes to go within, as in meditation, in an attempt to purge himself and find new meaning in life.
So let us look deeper into what else may be causing his state of being distant and aloof. He appeared emotionally fulfilled in the Three but now is bored and dissatisfied with his life. Maybe he was too idealistic and expected more from his situation. He no longer seems enamoured with what he has and could even be bitterly disappointed by the outcome. The Four of Cups often represents hurts, upsets and being totally disillusioned by those around you but especially by a relationship you thought meant something very special. The figure looks upset and almost in a state of disbelief. What could have happened to upset him so or is it just that his palate has become jaded with the life he leads and people he associates with? He may have been overly eager to get tied up with someone in the Three and got carried away with the excitement of it all. For sure, since he set off in the Ace, he has been looking for love. He appeared to have found his soul-mate in the Two and was quick to want to make a commitment in the Three, but as with all Cups, he may have let his heart run away with him too soon and became blind to any unsettling undercurrents at play. He can now regret or repent at leisure.
Has the engagement being called off or the Wedding? Did the figure find out something unsavoury about his partner or discover infidelity? Has the figure being jilted at the altar, made a fool out of or is the figure responsible for his own situation? Has he behaved in a dishonorable manner or does he feel disgusted by his actions. However, he may have suddenly realised that he has feelings for another and that he would be happier elsewhere. One way or another it has left him very depleted and apathetic about his life. He needs to take a step back from everyone at this stage and maintain a low profile until he sorts himself out and can find meaning and purpose in it once more.
The figure under the tree wears a brown gilet over his red shirt suggesting that his physical energy and health is at present suppressed. However, his strong blue tights tell us that any energy left is going into finding peace within and being philosophical about his life to date. His blue tights also represent his desire to connect with his spiritual side and the brown shoes he wears point downwards into the ground. This man is attempting to come down to earth and stabilise himself.
Trees, with their roots on display in Tarot symbolise being grounded but also the ability to connect with what is above and of a higher nature. This tall tree behind the figure assists him in this process for if we look close we can see that he has chosen to position himself among its roots. There he will draw upon the comforting stabilising energies of Earth while he connects with his Higher-Self to regain his emotional strength and stability. How long he sits there will depend on how much he needs to sort out in his life and how many deep emotional issues he has to address.
One thing is for sure in the Four of Cups and that is that the figure will be very hard to live with or be around when he is in this state. We must remember, that he is caught up in his own world and really cares less about yours right now. To those around him this may come across as coldness and indifference to the plight of others. For the time being it will all be about him and he will ignore any offers or attempts at bringing him out of himself. He may be accused of being selfish, self-absorbed and self-centered.
Giving him the benefit of the doubt, we will presume that when the time is right he will become aware again and when he does he will be ready to look at the contents of the Fourth Cup and if he likes what he sees he will rouse himself from his meditative position and run off down the hill to rejoin life.
Four (IV) of Cups
Boredom, Apathy, Disinterest, Disillusioned, Glass is Half-Empty, Detached, Meditation, Tired, Fatigue, Withdrawn, Depressed, Unaware, Missed Opportunities, Daydreaming, Fantasising, Philosophical, Hung-over
After all the merriment, socialising and indulgence of the Three, exhaustion and apathy have set in in the Four. All the partying and hedonistic lifestyle has caught up with you eventually. The Four of Cups is sometimes referred to as “the morning after the night before”. Hung-over and wrecked you may have no interest in what is around you or being offered to you. This may be a new opportunity or friendship but you just don’t have the energy or the interest to care.
The Four of Cups can suggest a time when you just want to be alone with yourself and your thoughts. It represents a time when you shun invitations or contact with friends and family. People accuse you of being in another world and hard to reach but for the moment that is what you prefer. There is a general sense of discontent within you and you need to find out where it is coming from. You are certainly feeling low but you may find it difficult to pin-point exactly why. You can acknowledge that you have many blessings in life and have little to be worried about but you do know that you definitely feel bored and apathetic. This may just be a passing phase but then again it may be a sign of more. Maybe the shine has gone off all those things that brought you happiness in the past and you just don’t feel the same way about them anymore.
You really need to spend some time meditating on this as you may need to make some changes in your life so that you can feel emotionally stable once more. Some of the changes you need to make may be quite drastic and may cause a lot of upset and hurt but this is your life and if you are not happy then you must do something about it. Changes could involve moving away from a certain lifestyle or circle of friends that are having a negative effect on you, a partner who does not bring out the best in you or a career that makes you unhappy. You may raise a few eyebrows around or indeed cause a scandal or two but this card asks you to address these areas of your life for you are wanting in many of them. You need something new and stimulating in your life to re-awaken your interest and desire.
When the Four of Cups appears for you in a reading then it generally suggests boredom, apathy and disinterest. There is a good chance that you feel really fed up and disillusioned with your life. You may feel that you have just cause for feeling so low. Something may not have worked out as you had planned leaving you feeling dejected and bitter. You just don’t care anymore. What in particular has happened to make you feel this way? Life seemed to be going well for you and emotionally you were on a high but now you are going through a crash of some sort. It is as if someone has pricked your magic bubble balloon and left you deflated and forced to face a reality you may not wish to be a part of.
The Four of Cups generally brings with it the blues and moodiness. In some cases it can highlight depression or even just a period of not feeling very well. The Four of Cups can highlight a situation where you have been overdoing it on the social scene and now feel emotionally burnt out. Sometimes there are too many demands on your time and invitations to too many functions and occasions. You may have been trying to keep up with them all but now are sick to your stomach with the very thought of it. You just can’t face another drink or fancy meal. Maybe you need to rest for a while and recharge your batteries. A few night’s of early to bed and healthy eating could make all the difference.
When the Four of Cups appears it is important to look to the surrounding cards as you may have lost touch with reality and are totally ungrounded. You may have allowed yourself to indulge in daydreams and fantasies and have become too idealistic imaging life to be a certain way. Nothing and nobody is perfect in life. If you feel that way then you may end up sacrificing personal happiness while you sit under that tree waiting for the perfect opportunity or person to come along. If you opened your eyes you would see all the wonderful opportunities around that you are missing out on. You seem to have lost the run of yourself along with your imagination. You really need to take yourself in hand and get a bit of control back as life is passing you by.
The Four of Cups can sometimes simply highlight the fact that you are too tied up in your own little world, too self-absorbed and too self-centred. You may feel that the whole universe revolves around you and have no time for other people’s problems or feelings. You may seem negative to others and see the ‘glass as half empty’ in this negative state of mind. If The Four of Cups turns up in a reading alongside a Page, then there may be a child with autism or learning difficulties. If it turns up alongside the Page of Cups then we have a super-sensitive child who is easily hurt and has the ability to detach from reality at will.
In a relationship spread the Four of Cups suggests that one has withdrawn from a relationship and is hard to reach. This could be physically, emotionally or mentally. There could be signs of emotional coldness and aloofness. Depression may be present or just plain indifference. If this is your partner, then you will feel very distressed and insecure when every one of your efforts to engage or encourage is either ignored or dismissed. You may not know what it is that you have done to deserve such treatment but there is a good chance that this has nothing to do with you at all but just a personal crisis that your partner is going through.
However, The Four of Cups turning up in a relationship spread usually indicates trouble and can be a sign that the wonderful romance and love once shared is beginning to fade or has wilted altogether. It is a warning flag to couples to spice up their relationship before it is too late. It is a sign that you have been taking things for granted and everything may have become too predictable and stale. Little effort may be going into maintaining the relationship and this can cause couples to drift apart.
If this is you under the tree then you may be trying to make sense of your feelings for your partner or feel disillusioned with the relationship. You may be having second thoughts about your engagement or upcoming wedding as you struggle to find real meaning or even a hint of excitement about the whole thing. You may feel confused and scared about the direction these feelings may take you or about the outcome of it all. You probably cannot find the words to express your feelings to your partner.
Post wedding blues may have set in, or could it be more than that? The honeymoon period is over and gone with it the rose-tinted glasses that you have been wearing for some time. Home from the honeymoon and all the presents opened, there is a possibility that the glow has worn off the romance leaving you disillusioned and disappointed. Were you guilty of getting so hyped up and totally engrossed in wedding plans that you could not see the warning signs within the relationship? You may now realise that you are tied to someone you do not really love. There could be real hurt and upset as a result.
Sometimes weddings take over the lives of those involved for many years and once they are over, it can be hard to settle down again into a normal style of life. Everything may seem boring in comparison to all the excitement prior to the wedding. It can be a very unsettling and worrying time for couples who may fret that their partner feels regret about marrying them. Both feel unsure of each other. This is a very normal feeling and one that generally dissipates over time as the couple settle into a new routine and way of living. Other dramas and excitements replace those they have left behind and they eventually feel comfortable and secure once more as they slip back into mainstream life and simple pleasures. Look for reassuring cards in the spread to support this interpretation.
However, if you are single then The Four of Cups could be alerting you to the potential for romance that you are unaware of. You may not have your eyes open or are not very good at reading the signs but there is a really good chance that someone is interested in you and very aware of your presence. You may know who it is but never thought that you stood any chance or only see them as a friend. They however, may be looking for more. You may be too preoccupied hankering after an old relationship or for someone who has little interest in you. The potential of what is being offered could bring great happiness to you so be on the look out for likely candidates.
The three standing Cups rest on the grass in the foreground. Could these Cups be romantic interests of yours? The figure in this card appears to be entranced by these Cups yet remains under the tree. His romantic interests may not be available to him or are out of his league or reach, yet he still fantasises about them. Maybe he just couldn’t be bothered putting the effort in. Does this ring true for you?
A relationship with real potential may be on offer to you (symbolised by the cup in the cloud) yet you choose to disregard it. Maybe the offer is not as attractively packaged as the three other Cups!!!! You may turn down the offer of a loving relationship in favour of holding out for something you can never have or is off-limits to you. You may prefer to keep your options open (the three cups) rather than accept the offer of romance being offered to you.
In a career spread the Four of Cups suggests that you are bored with your job or working environment. Your work does nothing to motivate you and you are finding it increasingly difficult to make any sort of effort. Everything has become stale and boring. It may be time to leave or at least take some time off. You may not be very happy with the company or the people you work with. You may indeed have grown away from them and find their rules oppressive or their antics offensive. Maybe you have discovered something unpleasant going on in work and you need to spend some time alone thinking about what to do about it. You may be exploring new career opportunities. On the other hand, the Four of Cups could suggest a career as a meditation instructor or working with children with autism.
There may be a job offer or promotion that holds little interest for you or maybe you just don’t have the get up and go to go after it. You may be holding out for a particular job and turn down opportunities that would open many doors for you. You need to keep your eyes open and be more aware.
This card can often represent the return to work after the fun and frolic of holidays. It can often be difficult to readjust to settling back down again.
Interest, Motivation, Proactive, Energy, Focus, Enthusiasm, Glass is Half-Full, Positive, Aware, Opportunities, New Experiences, Novelty, Restlessness, Drugs, Spaced Out, Rehab, Premonitions
When the Four of Cups reverses, the figure wakes up and becomes aware of the Cup being offered to him. You may realise that you have been in a world of your own for some time and too wrapped up in your problems. A restleness has set in and instead of keeping to yourself and sitting under that tree all day or more probably the television all night, you have a desire to poke your head out the door and see what has been going on. The Four of Cups is a sign that the time for contemplation is over for now. You must reactivate and throw yourself back into life again. However, before you going rushing out that door you must stop for a moment and realise that the person you are now may be quite different from the person you were before you made your retreat.
It will have been expected of you by the Universe to have done much inner work during your time of withdrawal. You have sat under that tree for a long time ignoring everything that was going on around you, so what did you learn or what conclusions did you arrive at? For many, this reversed Four of Cups signals changes being made in one or several areas of your life. You have done much soul-searching along with your daydreaming and fantasising and realise that many things in your life were dragging you down. They now have to go and you have to actively make sure this happens. This may be a painful process. It may involve having to tell some painful truths.
If you have been disappointed or disillusioned by the way your life has worked out or by a certain individual then do something about it. Make the necessary life changes. This may involve, keeping your distance from certain people or even terminating friendships or relationships that are having a negative effect on you. During your ‘absent’ time you learned a thing or two. You learned that like attracts like. Therefore if you surround yourself with negative situations or people then you will eventually become negative too. In the Four of Cups reversed, the figure appears to stare at the top of the cup this time and so suggests that you now choose to see ‘The Glass as half-full. When this happens, those who don’t see it that way will become glaringly obvious to you and will naturally want to give them a wide-berth.
Some of these ‘others’ may be friends you have had for years, a partner, family members or work-colleagues. They just don’t work for you anymore and the more time goes on, the less you feel you have in common with them. This situation often happens with groups of friends who spend their youthful years together, growing up on the party scene, hanging out in the same place each weekend. You have been a willing part of this group too and have had you fair share of laughs and great times. However, it invariably happens that on or two of the group mature at a faster rate than the others.
You realise this has happened when you are out with your group or social circle at your usual venue. Everyone is laughing and having a few drinks when suddenly you notice that you feel stone-cold-sober. You watch them individually telling the same old stories over and over and observe their antics before coming to the horrifying conclusion that although you have known these people for years they have suddenly become total strangers to you. Strangers that you have very little in common with. Several of them are offering to buy you another drink and agreeing that the night has only just begun, but you feel fatigued and jaded by the thoughts of it. You just want to go home and get to bed. There have been things you have wanted to do for some time; places to visit, clubs or activities to try out, courses to take or books to read but you have kept putting it on the long finger because of the group’s needs or fear of their disapproval.
Before you take your leave that night, several of the group take it for granted you will meet up with them the next evening as always. After you depart, the group collectively agree that you have changed and something is up. Some say they have found you moody, offhand or distant. Others complain that you haven’t been very communicative of late; failing to answer texts or return calls. For the first time you can remember, you just want to keep to yourself and have a bit of peace and quiet.
As you lie in bed that night, relieved that you will wake up feeling fresh the next morning instead of tired and hung over, you realise you have moved on. The group now hold little interest for you and it becomes clear why you have felt so fatigued and down in yourself for so long. A change in your lifestyle was overdue but you were confused as to what it was and why. This knowledge in itself, will give you a boost and release the much-needed energy to get you up and moving again. You need new experiences, new people and a new outlook on life and you won’t find it if you stay where you are.
For some people, the reversed Four of Cups can suggest that the time for being hurt, upset and angry is over or should be over. It does not deny or dismiss that fact that you have much to be aggrieved about. On the contrary, it acknowledges how low and depressed it left you and how it literally sapped all you life-force. You needed time to yourself to heal and make sense out of what had happened. You may also have needed the time to find forgiveness in your heart.
When the Four of Cups reversed appears then there is no point wasting anymore time crying over spilled milk so you might as well do your best now to let it go and move on with your life. Everyone wants to see you smile again and be a part of the action. If you have spent your time of reflection doing much-needed inner-work then you will come out from under that tree with a whole new bright perspective on life and emotionally much stronger. You will be open, untainted and ready to experience life again.
On the other hand, you may choose to stay where you are; stubborn and unyielding. Any attempts to bring you ‘out of yourself’ are rejected as you don’t want to be saved or sorted. You become consumed with your feelings and negative attitude. You need to be careful as those loyal friends may eventually get bored trying to entice you out from under that tree and decide to forget about you altogether. We have all been hurt or done things we now feel ashamed of but you need to get a grip of yourself and put things into proper perspective.
Alternatively you may be well aware that you need to do some much-needed inner work on yourself yet you fail to do anything about it. The figure looks a bit spaced out and the question has to be asked as to whether drugs or some other mood altering substance is involved? This card can suggest terrible excesses in alcohol and the loss of ability to function normally on a day-to-day basis. Choosing fantasy over reality, the addict can loose days and weeks of being totally unaware of their whereabouts and circumstances. The addict will be surrounded by those who wish to help but also by those who wish to encourage continued abuse. This figure may need to go into Rehab. On the other hand, depending on the presence of surrounding positive cards, the Four of Cups reversed can represent coming out of rehab or recovering from addictions as the figure decides to clean up his act and change his life for the better.
The Four of Cups Reversed can simply suggest a stubborn, selfish person who has to have their every whim pandered to constantly. They like to get their own way and if not can go into terrible sulks or silences. They can behave like spoiled children who have to be promised all sorts of treats and delights in order to get them to ‘snap out of it’. They are very tedious and tiring people to be around.
The Four of Cups reversed is traditionally associated with premonitions, omens and a sense of foreboding. The Cups people are the most psychic and spiritual of the Tarot. You can get a ‘bad feel’ about something or someone or be hounded by repetitive nightmare-like dreams. If you are involved in the psychic arts or mediumship there is a danger of becoming ungrounded. You may be spending too much time in meditation and trance-work. You are a spiritual being but you live in the physical so it is important to make contact with mother earth and everyday living.
In relationships The Four of Cups Reversed can find you ditching a relationship that you now consider boring in search of new one. You are not necessarily looking for a long-term relationship right now but just someone to entertain you and make you feel alive again. Restlessness could have you hopping from one relationship to the next as you bore easily. You may have come to the conclusion that your marriage is not working and have now decided to leave. Alternatively, after time spent withdrawn and remote there is a sudden turn around and a renewed interest in working on the relationship. The couple or person in question may have gone to marriage counselling to sort out their feelings.
You may be re-entering the dating game again after being absent for a long time and this should spice up life for you even if you feel un-nevered by it all. It is a positive indication that you are moving on after a terrible disappointment in love or heartbreak. You will have learned much about yourself and who it is that deserves your love in the process.
In the Upright Four, the figure was unaware of a relationship that was being offered or simply couldn’t care less. When this card reverses we can find the figure looking up and acknowledging the Cup, so it may be a sign that you become more open to the offer of romance from your admirer. Perhaps, you see something more in a friendship than you did previously. It is a good sign that you are tuned in and that your radar is out and working well.
However, with this being a reversed card, depending on surrounding cards, it could highlight relationship opportunities that pass you by as you find it difficult to move on from the past. Old flames could be distracting you from your current relationship. There may also be partner who is not content with cosy nights in by the fire. Their demands for constant socialising exhausts you. This can cause a breakdown of communication in the relationship.
As for career, a sudden turn of events could re-ignite your interest in your job and give you something to get your teeth into again. However, you could find yourself eventually leaving behind a boring job for one more exciting and fresh. Then again you could be letting golden career opportunities pass you by. Are you burning the mid night oil and find work exhausting and concentration impossible? One of your work colleagues could be experiencing real depression and not just being moody. Maybe, you need to speak to you superiors about this as they may be able to help.
All in all with the Four of Cups Reversed we find a renewed interest in life again and a feeling of being re-energised. Re-focussed and willing to be to be an active participant in your own life again it is time to get up and get going.
**When we next visit the Cups in Card V we shall see how they fare out emotionally. Will they get over their upset and heal or will they continue to sit under that tree and dwell on it. How disappointed and disillusioned are they? Is it just a passing mood or have they really got something to be worried about?
The 78 Cards – Detailed Study Version (Card Description, Keywords, Upright & Reversed Meanings)
The 78 Cards – Shortened Version (Keywords, Upright & Reversed Meanings)