What is the meaning of the symbols on the 2 of cups? It is a card that is traditionally seen as a good omen for relationship questions and about commiting to something or someone we feel strongly about. After all the cups are all about emotions and relations. But what if that is not the only meaning of the card? When you look at the symbolism in the card there may be much more to learn from the 2 of cups. In this post I’ll talk mostly about the left image. The 2 of cups from the Rider-Waite deck. One of the obvious symbols on the card is the winged lion head. This is the alchemical symbol for transformation. But what does it transform? Maybe the rest of the card can tell us that.


Immediately below this lion head we see the caduceus; this is the staff with two coiled snakes around it – and sometimes topped with wings -of Hermes. It is often seen as a medical sign, but that is the rod with one snake around it of Asclepius the god of medicine and healing. The staff of the Greek god Hermes symbolises diligence and prudence. When you combine that with the transformation we see in the winged lion head we basically can say that the card tells us about how we can transform a relationship we have with someone. Be it family, a romance or a friendship.

Relationships tend to flow naturally most of the time, but sometimes the energy shifts in a negative direction and it is than important to look at what is changed in the dynamic between you and the other person.  What can you do to transform this energy back into a positive form?


But what if you feel strongly about the healing rod of Asclepius?

When you know that it is officially the caduceus in the card but during a reading the feeling is very strong that this needs to be seen as the healing rod of the Greek god Asclepius, then you should follow that intuitive feeling. You may even see the winged lion head different then. It can be all about archangel Raphael who is know to be the angelic healer. Don’t let rules or what you have read elsewhere dictate what you see in the card. Follow  your intuition.

My personal associations with the 2 of cups

So that is looking at those two symbols from one perspective. But what if the situation and cards feel entirely different. I then start thinking about how I see these symbols personally. Which means somethings else completely.

A lion stands for passion and fire, to me it is the symbol of the sun and the element of fire. This lion has wings so this could mean the card is about a sacred passion or soulmate. If it is about passion it can be about study or a career that you feel strongly about.
And what does the element fire mean in contrast with the cups, a water card?  Could it be that the Querent and partner are fire and water zodiac signs? Are they like fire and water? This could mean that they are mutually destructive. Water extinguishes fire and fire can dissipate water. As you see the meaning of the symbols on the 2 of cups can vary greatly. 
Symbolism meaning of the 2 of cups in rider waite Tarot
Of course there are the two people facing each other and holding cups at heart height. THe fact that they are facing each other suggests that they are in a good relationship and maybe exchanging cups with drinks or perhaps these two people in The Green Witch Tarot two of cups are having a toast on each other or on a project to be started. Heart height again tells us that this is about feelings and their hearts are into it.

What are people doing in the cards? 

When working with the cards it is always good to look at the items and where they are and how they are in the image. The same for people on the card but also in a spread. Are people facing each other? Or straightforward to face the truth. Maybe there is only one person in the card looking to the left – the past – or to the right – the future. All things you can look at.
At the same time you can look at the series of the element, for instance the little house in the background of the couple is good for a couple just starting out. But when you look at the 10 of cups the little house has an extension. So the house has grown with the couple.

…or is it LOVE after all?

Of course the two of cups is a minor arcana card and this means it is about daily situations and how to deal with it. It can easily mean many things besides getting into a new romantic relationship, anything you feel good and hopeful about, for example that you can bond on a deeper level.
A card does not always have the same meaning. You read it with the cards around it and with the question in mind.

Archangel Ariel

Then there is my personal association for meaning of the symbols on the 2 of cups. When I see the winged lions head I think about with Archangel Ariel who is usually portrayed with a lion. So a winged lion can be Ariel and she stands for manifesting your dreams once you stand up for what you believe in. She also helps people be balanced between the earth and heaven. This can mean that you can manifest a dream relationship with the other be it work or romantic but it requires balance and commitment and clear communication. This is not always easy to do, but the other cards in the spread will give suggestions about best the steps to take.


Quotes and phrases can also be connected to the Tarot cards. For instance: “You can control two things: your work ethic and your attitude about anything” from Ali Krieger. This reflects again on your passion and are you willing to go the distance to get the work done and create your dream.
Or “The person attempting to travel two roads at once will get nowhere” from Sun Kuang. This can tell us in the context of the card that trying to have both won’t work, whether it is in relations or work.
Even a saying like two is company three is a crowd can come to mind when there is a relationship triangle. The surrounding cards would then tell you how to handle the situation.

2 of cups images used come from:

Illustrations from the Rider-Waite, art by by Pamela Colman Colman Smith, reproduced by permission of U.S. Games Systems, Inc., Stamford, CT 06902.  ©2017 by U.S. Games Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

The Green Witch Tarot by author Ann Moura and art by Kiri Leonard, 2014© Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. 2143 Wooddale Drive, Woodbury, MN 55125. All rights reserved, used by permission.

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