Mythic Tarot - King Cups


Orpheus sits on a throne whose arms are engraved with crabs. He holds a golden cup in his right hand and a lyre in his left. At his feet, steps descend into the water, but he doesn’t make contact with the water. A crab emerges from the water before him while a turbulent sea is behind him.

  • he was the most famous poet and musician who ever lived, in addition to being a priest and healer
  • the god Apollo presented him with a lyre and the Muses taught him how to play it
  • he was one of the Argonauts and upon his return he married Eurydice
  • when Eurydice died of a snake bite, he went into the underworld in the hope of bringing her back; because of his music, Hades allowed him to return to the land of the living with Eurydice as long as Orpheus didn’t look behind him until she was safely back in the light of the sun; at the last moment, he lost his faith and looked behind him, only to see her disappear from him forever
  • he became a priest after this, teaching the mysteries and preaching the evil of sacrificial murder; his fame grew to the point where men began to worship him as if he were divine, causing Dionysus to become jealous; Dionysus set the mad maenads upon him, and they tore him to pieces
  • image of the wounded healer, who through compassion and empathy can heal others, yet who is unable to heal his own emotional hurt
  • an individual who longs to be in touch with the feeling world, working to help others relate to it while lacking trust in his own personal life, so that he ultimately can’t experience the fulfilling relationship that he desires
  • one who places human love and relationships above everything else and who will go to great lengths to initiate and preserve this kind of contact
  • moody and sensitive, often gifted with great depth of feeling and a rare gift at communicating that feeling to affect and influence others
  • although he may initiate relationship and talk constantly of it, he doesn’t trust the world of the unconscious because he cannot see it; this is why he is enthroned near water but doesn’t come in contact with it, for he fears the drowning which letting go to another might entail
  • one who needs to understand their own pain but can’t so they heal themselves through healing others
  • one who tries to instill in others the very thing he cannot achieve himself – the ability to trust
  • the cardinal qualities of water are expressed as an overt wish to form personal relationships and to help other people
  • a very maternal sign such that even male Cancers are notably motherly, seeking to nurture and protect
  • one who likes to be needed
  • negatively, there can be possessiveness and tenaciousness
  • relationships are desperately important and they long for intimacy but their emotional vulnerability makes them mistrustful
Random Thoughts
  • he appears stiff and uncomfortable being that close to his emotions (the water beneath his throne and in the cup he holds)
  • he cradles the lyre even though he’s not playing it, suggesting that he’s more comfortable with things than with his own emotions
  • the King is the only court card in which the water is choppy, highlighting the discord with his emotions



I am not sure that I am doing this correctly but here goes.

I see him as a man who wants to be in control of his emotions/feelings but they do affect him. He is not in touch with his emotions as the Queen of Cups is. She is at one with them (her gown and probably her feet are in the water).

He wants to be seen as a strong man (like the Emperor) but there is something soft and gentle about him. He makes you feel comfortable being around him.