KNIGHT OF CUPS you will die

Placement: The Minor Arcana

Description: This card features a knight on horseback, carrying a cup. The horse has two of its legs raised. The knight’s visor is up. Sometimes, instead of a plume decorating their helmet, the knight has a pair of silver wings. There is a river in the background, and occasionally a steep, cliffy hill beyond that.

In the featured image above, the neckline of the knight’s clothes suggests that this knight may be a woman. This is not a revolutionary idea in the court cards of the Minor Arcana,* as certain decks from the Middle Ages include not only Pages, Knights, Queens and Kings, but also Dames (the feminine form of the title Knight) and Damsels. Many well-learned taroists believe that the Damsels and Dames were omitted from subsequent decks because they were too busy rescuing noblemen and securing peace treaties to bother posing for cards.

Cups expert Crystal Balque has returned to us after a disastrous attempt at selling cookies within the turf of another. Regrettably, Ms. Balque was unable to procure any funds to add in contribution to Anais Herschel’s ransom. When I asked her today about the Knight of Cups, she pulled a glass beaker from her utility belt, poured the contents of her hip flask into said beaker, and threw them both into the air with exuberance. There may still be pieces of glass in the carpet at S.A.U.C.E headquarters. Wear your shoes.


Right side up:

New opportunities for excitement and healthy risk-taking.

The Knight of Cups upright is passionate and dashing. You may find a new and crucial cause to which you may devote yourself with your whole heart. Perhaps a new love interest will sweep you off your feet. Or maybe you will embark on a quest either to fight a great evil or to find the True Meaning Of Christmas, Valentine’s Day** or Canadian Thanksgiving.***

You are the Dread Pirate Roberts and Inigo Montoya, Sir Lancelot, Kara “Starbuck” Thrace, Zorro, Elizabeth Swan, Iron Man on a good day, and the ancestors of Assassin’s Creed. You are the Malcolm Reynolds the browncoat captain and Bo the succubus lost girl. You are Bond, James Bond. You are some versions of Robin Hood but not others. You are a hardboiled detective. You quest for both the grail and the ale. You are a rogue paladin. Your rollergirl name is Bourbon Legend.


Upside down:

The Knight of Cups reversed is listless, self-destructive and iconically Byronic. Unlike its upright counterpart, the Knight of Cups reversed has little to no innocence left.

Liquid courage. Wild parties and reckless behaviour form the rocks upon which you tether yourself, a distraction from the waves of existential angst that threatens to carry you away. However, your rocks are the very things that pull you to your doom. Get off them.

You are Gatsby. You are Tony Stark on a bad day. You are Leonardo DiCaprio’s characters from both Inception and Shutter Island. You are Sylvia Plath. You are one of several fiction vampires be they interviewed, bleach-haired, sparkly or obsessively counting, but you are also Faith the vampire slayer. You are Frank N. Furter. You are Dorian Grey. No one understands. You are powerful in certain ways but have no power over yourself. You are so very alone. The Bronte sisters adorn their lockers with your yearbook picture.


*The Negligible Arcana, by contrast, has neither Dames nor Damsels but their Pages are openly gender fluid.

**According to legend, Saint Valentine was a Roman priest who officiated forbidden weddings. Today’s bigots would do well to remember this tale as they buy cards graced with the slogans “Eeyore Bluetiful” “Ewe com-bleat me” and “Shall I compare thee to a manta ray?”

***It’s the harvest, eh?


Classic Knight of Cups deaths:

  • You killed his father. Prepare to die.
  • For redemption, true love, a chance at a decent future for an innocent
  • Lost on a polar expedition
  • Lost on a pilgrimage
  • Lost in the red light district
  • An adrenaline fix involving rocket fuel, a mountain and absolutely no helmet
  • Drowning in a wine cask
  • Illegal drag races
  • For the resistance!
  • To reach the unreachable star
  • Sticking your nose in where it doesn’t belong
  • Walking five hundred miles, then five hundred more, just to be the one who walked a thousand miles to fall down at their door
  • Dancing like you’re not in traffic
  • Jello shots