9 of Cups


A smiling man in rich clothes is surrounded by 9 golden goblets.

I'm reminded of a frat boy, or a lounge singer, or a sugar daddy, or a character from the movie Swingers: someone who indulges in pleasure and oozes charm. This is my least favorite of the cups because of the shallowness I see in the smiling man. He's smirking, not fully smiling, like he knows something you don't. He's the life of the party, but is there anything more to him?


Indeed - this guy, and the Hierophant to some extent, gets right up my nose - smug ba***rd is the phrase that oft comes to mind.

OK knee jerk reaction out of the way - now, why? What I find worrying is that in Anthony Louis's Tarot Plain and Simple which uses Robin Wood, the sort of reaction that this card engenders in me - and you as well bryghtrose - is actually as described for the reversal. Such words as Smug, Narcissist, Sensualist, Shallow, Hedonistic all appear and all fit to a T.

In normal mode this card is supposed to relate to Enjoyment, Happiness, Satisfaction..............

I wonder, could it be that we are being warned that just because we feel really good about ourselves in a material way doesn't automatically mean that others will share our feelings, or see us in such a glowing light? One senses that there is nothing 'spiritual' about this person - and I use the word in its broadest sense - whatsoever. Are we looking for a touch of humility perhaps? No, but a sense of *something* other than 'me me me' would be nice.

in light



Nine of Cups

The gent featured in Robin's "Nine of Cups" seems to be quite a controversial and complex character; someone who can be interpreted in many ways! He even seems to evoke loathing in some, with that pinched smile of his. On reading about this guy in Robin's book, I found it interesting to note that Robin "...decided to show this man close up so it would be easy to see the expression on his face, even though that means it's harder to tell that his arms are outspread in welcome." After studying the remarks of others regarding the man's demeanor depicted on the Nine of Cups, perhaps if we had seen his arms outspread on the actual card, as Robin intended them to be, maybe his smile would look overall less smug and more jolly...rather like the Burl Ives' snowman in the 1964 claymation special, "Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer". BUT, what's truly important is what the reader sees in the card during the reading, whether the creator/illustrator intended it to be so or not. Robin, as she related throughout her book many, many times, has said to go with what strikes you at the time of the reading...THAT'S how it should be read AT THAT TIME. But I'm quick to remind myself that I may see the man in any number of ways, depending on the querent, the question asked, the spread and where the card falls in the spread.

The figure in the Nine of Cups is ample of body, pleased/contented over something(s), and perhaps just so full of glee he can hardly hold it in. Given that the suit IS Cups, often representing emotions, perhaps he's overflowing with whatever emotion the reader feels he's giving off. Too much enthusiasm; even to the point of being phoney or irritating? The reader would have to decide that for himself/herself...ie. Is his happiness is genuine and/or pure? The guy certainly doesn't seem to be lacking of material wealth, given his rich clothing and nine gold cups on the "horseshoe-shaped" shelf behind him (trophies?). The horseshoe shape itself reminds me of luck, and maybe this guy has been a lucky fellow for all (or at least some) of his life. Whether such a guy would be generous with his wealth...be it material or otherwise...would depend on how you read him. Robin did point out that all the cups were the same and that "...the fact that they are identical may imply that this fellow doesn't have much variety in his life." How many times have we met folks who were materially wealthy, but lacking in many other attributes/riches; afraid to make a move or a change lest they lose what they consider valuable?!

Reversed, the emotions of this gentleman may be blocked or could demonstrate the opposite demeanor of how you'd read him upright. I could see him popping up reversed when the querent was indulging in smugness over one thing or another and it backfired, causing him to rethink his position. Makes me think about how just when I get overly-confident (ie. cocky) about something...plop...down I go on my backside. Or, I can also personally relate when I get one of my good-time-migraines from too much enthusiasm, albeit even an excess of happiness (Yes, for me there is such a thing!). Reversed, the Nine of Cups also could point out that your time to sit back and take a breather from work is NOT now, if you want to reap any benefits in the future. Another thought on this card reversed would be that it's time to stop waiting for that rich sugar daddy/mama to bail you out...


I find it particularly interesting that his arms are supposed to be outstretched in welcome. I'm not sure at all whether I would've preferred that and whether I would think his smile would look more jolly. I'm thinking it might make me feel a bit wary about approaching him. What does he want? Also, it might look boastful to me with all those cups behind him. The cups aren't laid between us... they're laid behind him like showpieces. If his arms are open in welcome, I wonder what he's welcoming me in for? To show off his wealth and good life? I don't feel like he's sharing...

But forgetting all the weirdness in his smile or demeanor, regardless whether it's good/bad, sincere/smirking, smug/jolly... one thing seems clear: he's happy with what he has. He's where he wants to be at that moment. So what if it may look shallow sometimes? So what if he's displaying all the cups- he has a right to be happy and proud with whatever he's built. The point is that he's quite satisfied at the moment.

It's a shame that he's alone and people are doubting his smile and welcoming gesture though. Perhaps that's telling in itself? Yes, he has all he wants at that moment... but that fulfilling feeling might not last. A card that does speak of wishes coming true... but not the kind that's deep and lasting? At least not until you get to the 10 of Cups!

Just some thoughts that popped up while staring at the card and mulling over what it'd look like if we could see his arms. :p


I feel like he is trying to sell me something. Like I just walked into a store and there is this blustering happy guy trying to tell me how wonderful all the stuff is and getting me to sign on the line without looking at the warranty. I am reminded of the character Richard Gere played in "Chicago."

But on the other hand, I am reminded of a friend of the family, who has been wealthy and successful in politics - a Bill Clinton type without the scandal - who is just a warm person. He has a lot, he loves to enjoy it with others, and if everything is not perfect, we ignore that so we can have fun and let the worries wait for another day. He is inviting you to take what you have and revel in your successes and joys, however limited they may be. He is inviting you to live a little larger for just a bit.

I guess I would choose which of these he represents based on the other cards in the reading.


This card means emotional contentment and sharing to me. I picture a jolly, potbellied, happy fellow who wants to share his joy with others. Someone who is big hearted, abundant and generous. Kinda like a happy Buddha figurine.

~Nisha :)


Could this card mean gaining profit or indicate a wealthy businessman??That's the first impression i get when i looked at the card.


I agree Cenz, a successful businessman makes perfect sense for this card. :)