Placement: The Minor Arcana
Description: Some say that this card depicts the Holy Grail. Sometimes it is an urn or a reliquary. Often it is a fountain, as it is in the featured image above, and also in the classic Rider-Waite-Smith deck. The goblet in that version has a big W (or reversed M) engraved on the front. A dove holds a communion wafer over the cool waters. The wafer is decorated with a Greek cross.* Most modern versions (the featured image is from the Middle Ages) include the Giant Hand In The Cloud levitating the goblet over its palm. The Giant Hand is quite the show-off.
Right side up:
Love makes the world go round. Earth’s rotation takes a day. Your days are numbered. The number is small. Love wins the cup!
Tradition holds that chalices represents female energy, but that it also represents the holy grail of Christ. One popular conspiracy theory holds that the grail, therefore, symbolizes the mother of Jesus’ children, and that the church suppressed this information because it would acknowledge the idea of the sacred feminine. Another theory, however, posits that Jesus told Dad Jokes so worthy of groans that the church destroyed most of the evidence. This was unnecessary, as puns do not translate well from Aramaic.
The W (or upside down M) is something upon which taroists often disagree, but many believe that it stands for Water, a sign to steer way those who seek a cup of flavoured vodka.
Tania and William Rose, writers of the 1963 classic comedy “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” tried to tell us that W stands for treasure, but after between 154 minutes and 205 minutes (depending on which release) of hilarity, audience members failed to decipher this message. The Holy Grail already stands for treasure, so the message was perhaps redundant.
In reverse, The Ace of Cups represents an all-female rock band from the nineteen sixties, of whom the Giant Hand In The Cloud is reputedly a Giant fan. The question “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” made in reference to the Giant Hand In The Cloud’s fandoms, single-handedly** explains why Zen became so popular in the western world during the sixties.
In the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, the letter on the cup is now, beyond all down, and M. The M, as you must already be aware, stands for “maringi”, the Maori word for “spill”.
*Some argue that the circle with the Greek cross is not a communion wafer but an askew symbol of the X-Men organization, proving that it existed for hundreds of years, and that Professor X’s surname beginning with an X is merely a coincidence.
**Which translates poorly to Aramaic.
Classic Ace of Cups deaths:
- A crate full of copies of The Davinci Code dropping on your head.
- Falling from the Bridge of Death
- Slaughtered by the Rabbit of Caerbannog
- Jumping onto the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch
- Drinking blood two millennia before the invention of the refrigerator
- The Giant Hand In The Cloud impales you with a giant toothpick and uses you as a garnish for its favourite cocktail…
Oh no. The last on the list was meant as a jest in an otherwise deathly serious post, but…
The tan monoliths that crashed through the roof of Anais Herschel’s family home, picked her up and took her away, the one that soon after wrote a ransom note with clouds… No. The characters in Tarot are metaphorical. Some of them illustrate these metaphors by depicting historical figures, but that is a literary device used to increase our understanding of what each card means. The Giant Hand of the Ace cards cannot represent a literal Giant Hand. The monoliths, however, did behave like fingers.
I must tell Danny Delaire, Ms. Herschel’s admirer and leader of our investigation. First, I must ask Elsie Cabret, the current longest serving member of the Secret Assembly Unearthing Cartomantic Eventualities (S.A.U.C.E.) She would know if there is even a hint of truth to my seemingly-impossible suspicion. The late wise man Michel Nolastname would have most definitely known the answer to my terrible question. As you, gentle readers, are already aware, Mr. Nolastname was recently murdered. Could the villain, who signed Ms. Herschel’s ransom note in the sky as “Lace” have taken Mr. Nolastname’s life for knowing too much?
I dread what I may learn from these questions. I dread learning nothing. All is dread.