I want to come back to the Three of Cups in light of the way that it’s appeared in recent readings.
I wrote a couple of weeks ago about this being the card of friendship and community support – and I still find that to be the case. But there’s also a sense in which this card can indicate an emotional drain.
Take a look at the Shadowscapes image below, which shows three mermaids, encircled by a bubble, their hair and tails entwined. Each looks identical, and each offers a golden cup, brim-full with emotion, into the centre, into the whole.
Three of Cups, from the Shadowscapes Tarot by Stephanie Piu-Mun Law
It’s incredible to feel part of a community, to love and be loved, to give and be given to, to feel part of a greater whole.
But the bubble image on this card tells its own story. I can certainly think of instances in my life where my friendship groups have felt like bubbles – only so much air to breathe and all of us sucking it up. The expectation to give and give selflessly, the sense of my emotions no longer being sacred to myself but instead belonging to a whole. Whilst there are times I am happy to share, to give, there are also times when I know it’s healthy to hold back, to protect myself and also others. And if I do not share, then I do not have to receive…for receiving emotional gifts can also be difficult sometimes.
I don’t always want to feel like I owe my friends something because they’ve given me support. I don’t always want to go out and act like I’m having a great time when what I really need is to stay home alone and have some quiet ‘me’ time. When we operate within a culture of total selflessness and defrence to the whole, then on good days we feel supported, loved, safe and happy. But on bad days, we feel suffocated, trapped and unable to manage our own emotions.
If I seem to be painting a bleak picture of friendship, well, I don’t mean to!
Generally speaking, I love this card, and I think its message is a strong, happy and beautiful one. But I also think it’s important to be aware of the flipside of that bubble of friendship – wonderful as it can be, it’s not always what we need. Someimes the healthiest thing for us is to withdraw, to say no, to keep our emotional reserves purely for ourselves. Doing so so gracefully and without causing hurt…well, that is the difficult thing.