A few years ago, as a zine reading I’d organized was approaching, I wanted to cancel.
I wasn’t in the mood to read my words into a microphone or to pretend to be happy for an audience. It wasn’t that I was nervous – it was that I was bored. Bored of talking about myself, bored of seeking external validation through writing and performing, and bored of being witnessed by audiences. Readings are rarely events in which I participate anymore, although I still love attending them, hiding in the back with my diary and my meds.
When I asked the Tarot what to do about the reading, I drew the Two of Cups. I was launching a split zine with my twin, and I read the card as representing the two of us together, reading from our new zine on our 30th birthday. I went ahead with the reading, and I cried, but I survived. But I’m not sure if I’ve read aloud to an audience since then.
Pixie’s Tarot shows two people standing in front of one another, each one holding onto a golden goblet. They hold their goblets toward one another, and one of them reaches out – what they hold onto is their own, but they’re also choosing to share. There’s a sense of connectedness and reciprocity in the card, an unspoken understanding, and kindness and care in their facial expressions. They seem to be sharing a moment that is safely contained from the otherwise chaotic world around them, exchanging confidences and emotions. Maybe they’re processing recent conversations. Maybe they’re apologizing to one another and starting over. Maybe they’re meeting at a café and sharing coffee together. They stand on solid ground. They make direct eye contact.
Friendships, relationships, and even twinships are a form of collaboration. The way our lives and our selves become intertwined is a complex process of connection, care, negotiation, and boundary-setting. Relationships of all kinds are always in process, always unfolding, whether or not they fit under neat and tidy categorizations.
The Two of Cups shows the possibilities of healing within friendships and relationships. Depending on the context in which the card is drawn, it might represent a creative collaboration, a new friendship coming into existence, exes becoming friends again, or a couple (re-)committing to each other in a new way.
When I drew the Two of Cups as a representation of a collaboration and a celebration with my twin, I knew it meant that I was safe to go forward with my plans, even if I felt uncomfortable, because I’d have her presence and support. We live long-distance from one another, so her presence was more meaningful that day.
The Two of Cups, despite its simplicity and joy, is not a pain-free card.
The ease of communication and connection depicted here was not always something that came naturally to these figures – these are skills they’ve learned over time and are now practicing together. Twinships aside, they might not be committed forever. Many friendships and relationships do end. Sometimes they’re rekindled, sometimes not. But each partner will learn valuable lessons that they couldn’t have learned on their own. What’s important is to be present for these moments when you’re able to be level with someone you love, to hold your cup level to theirs, and to let these moments of joy, pleasure, trust, and happiness imprint onto your body and psyche at least as much as the bad times have.
The Everyday Witch Tarot shows two people, presumably a couple, clinking their glasses together at a small table set up at the edge of the sea. I like to re-imagine their cups as holding coffee or kombucha or soda, rather than wine, since I’m a recovering alcoholic; and I like to envision this card as showing a particularly special date.
Interestingly, we know right away that the space they’re in is temporary – either the furniture will be folded up and hidden away, or it will be carried off by the tide. The geographical space will hold memories for each of them, whether or not it can be returned to.
In the Next World Tarot, Cristy Road writes of the Two of Cups, “It’s when you realize that understanding romantic relationships and your sexual self isn’t about being force-fed psychotherapy and adapting to a pre-defined mold of monogamy, polyamory, non-monogamy, and physical autonomy; but about creating your own mold! It’s about choosing lovers whose self-built foundations intersect perfectly with the frayed ends of your roots.”
The word self-built resonated with me, as each person in various representations of this card do seem to be their own true selves – not relying on one another for love, safety or companionship, but sharing and connecting without ulterior motives or hidden agendas. They’re bonding through what they have to offer one another, rather than a sense of lack, loneliness, or desperation. They’ve got their own bodies, own minds, own selves.
Variations on themes of belonging and not-belonging are always on my mind. As I was processing more ideas on these feelings in late-Winter and early-Spring, I re-committed to my personal survival tactic of no longer trying to belong anywhere, trying to force or stumble into a sustained sense of belonging within a space, culture, subculture, or community. It felt like such a futile endeavour. Instead, I shifted toward a perspective of living in my own world, creating my own realities, and inviting others to join me. I imagined crafting invitations into my life, sending them out not only to individuals, but to places, stories, and artworks too.
Jessa Crispin writes, “No one stands above or below anyone else. Everyone’s cup is of the same size. No one is sacrificing anything for anyone else.” She describes the figures in the Spolia Tarot as “…surrounded by flowers that represent love, each allowed to be their own weirdo self, each with the cup that suits them best.” I imagine each of these flowers blooming on their own time, sometimes in clusters, sometimes in pavement cracks and through fences, and somehow reaching one another when they’re ready, being crafted into wreaths and garlands, pressed between the pages of diaries and books, sharing space while they do their own thing. Each figure in the Spolia’s re-telling of the tarot holds their own space, their own gaze, knows what to show off and what to keep to themself.
We each have different ways of expressing emotions, different ways of discussing them. The Two of Cups is entering a realm where we become skilled in emotional conversations, and no longer lose our sense of self.