The Void of Soul

“How many rectangles does it take to change a light bulb? Bananas.

The Zero of Cups

This is part three of a series of postings about adding zero cards to the minor arcana. Part one can be found here.

After pentacles, the next most physical in representation of the minor arcana is the suit of cups.  While coins are an abstraction of value, cups serve an immediate purpose.  Like our emotions, water ebbs and flows and can be difficult to contain. The Cup is the symbol of how we contain and share our emotional selves. Cups contain that which is fluid, dynamic; like our emotions, water is every changing and seeking ways to move. Our emotions seek release and expression. We contain, classify and quantize our emotions, just as we measure liquids by volume. Thus the cup is the appropriate symbol for the most fickle and fluctuating element of our spiritual selves.

Cup? What cup? I need no cup.

The suit of cups spins the wheel of emotional context, from inception through decision, to loss, abandonment and nostalgia and finally to acceptance and fulfillment.  So what would a Zero of cups represent? Emotional detachment: an unbiased position and/or a balanced outlook.

None of the existing cards of the suit of cups are truly detached, emotionally speaking. Even the ‘negative’ cards in the suit have emotional content; the four, five and eight of cups are entirely about emotional investment, loss and rejection.  The closest card in the suit of cups to non-involvement might be the seventh, but the Seven of Cups is about desire; the dream for what could be or was. The Four of Cups could almost be considered balanced if there were two goblets being offered from the heavens and two on the ground (instead of three on the ground and one from on high), but it is not.

No (current) card in the suit of cups represents the anti-cup; the state of emotional detachment. I believe it is important to be able to reach that state. Merely drawing a card from another suit doesn’t count. That’s answering a different question than what is being asked; like a joke about impressionist art: “How many rectangles does it take to change a light bulb? Bananas.” There needs to be a card that symbolizes the lack of emotional connection to a subject or issue.

What’s so important about emotional detachment?

Emotions aren’t rational; they don’t conform to the logical expectations of the mind. They chafe under the social pacts we agree to and rebel against cold hard facts and mathematics. Making a rational decision when emotional contexts are involved is an order of magnitude harder because the head and the heart don’t speak the same language. Even when we ‘know’ what is right; the emotional part of our being can still yearn for the alternatives. Emotional satiation is more rewarding than intellectual satisfaction. To paraphrase something Yoda said of the Dark Side of the Force: feeding emotional needs over intellectual ones is ‘not stronger, but quicker and easier.’

So how does a Zero of Cups come into play? It can be the objective of the reading: e.g. “How do I reach this nirvana?” When it comes up in a reading it can mean that, all things given, what the querent is feeling on the subject is the balance point; no adjustment is necessary or possible. Or it can mean that the emotional context of the question is null and void, irrelevant. The querent can stick to the facts of the matter and make their choices without worrying about emotional effects.

Oh, and one should always be careful not to overindulge anyway.