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The illusions of Tarot Card Seven of Cups

Tarotkaart Bekers Zeven uit het Rider Waite Smith tarotdeck: de illusiekaart

“The highest wealth is that we obtain through an illusion, which indeed comes to us through a gift from God”

Plato (from: “phaedrus” ca 360 BC)

The tarot card Seven of Cups is sometimes called the ‘Illusion Card’; Meanings attributed to it are often negative; For example, coveting superficial things, making wrong choices, living in a dream world, something seems too good to be true, chasing illusions. But when you look at the card with a Jungian perspective, there is another layer in this card with which you can illuminate another side.

As a human being, you know very little about your ‘self’. Your conscious is just a small tip of a giant iceberg that is completely submerged. Most of it is hidden from you. This is the unconscious. In the unconscious holds the core of your being, as well as your talents, wishes and dreams. But also your fears, a ‘dark’ side and the things you have repressed (your shadow). According to Jung, it is the intention that during his life a person allows the unconscious little by little into the conscious so that he fully knows himself and becomes a ‘whole’ person. Jung referred to this as  ‘The individuation process’.

The unconscious is not logical, not rational and has no knowledge of your situation in the ‘outside world’. It only knows your core or soul and tries to communicate with your conscious through images and symbols. You receive these images and symbols through dreams, thoughts that suddenly come to mind, fantasies, reactions to art & music and… on Tarot cards! Many Tarot cards are specifically about (the relationship between) the conscious and unconscious. Your unconscious brings up all kinds of ideas that she thinks are a good fit for you; For example, it is possible that you suddenly feel like painting. Or kite flying. Or you fantasize that you are a star chef. Your conscious (the Ego) – who makes the choice whether or not to listen to the unconscious – often dismisses those kinds of ideas as ‘nonsense’ or ‘illusions’. You can’t paint, you don’t have time to fly a kite and you can’t become a star chef anymore because you’ve already become an accountant. It is a good thing that your conscious is a bit ‘strict’, because as said, the unconscious has no knowledge of ‘the outside world’. It does not know what the norms and laws of your culture are, what your financial situation is and what your responsibilities to others are. The unconscious is pretty selfish! If you were to give in to all the impulses you get from your unconscious, your life would be quite a chaos.

However, what your subconscious does know is what things suit you well! And so it sometimes happens that you do ‘listen’ and you will come out of this having a passionate hobby. The things you don’t choose, they don’t go away. They are stored in a large container and once in a while the unconscious knocks on your door again. This is all fine until….. you choose the same thing every time. Unilateral choices is something your unconscious does not like. To know who you are and to be able to grow, you have to listen to your unconscious from time to time and choose something different from what you already know; In other words: stepping out of your comfort zone.

The tarot card Seven of Cups can therefore appear in a spread of someone who could be paying more attention to the unconscious more often; The possibilities and ideas that the unconscious offers are numerous and diverse. It doesn’t matter whether or not something is seen as ‘superficial’ or as a ‘delusion’ by others. It’s about whether something suits you or not. And even if you are ‘ashamed’ of some wishes or dreams, it is good to acknowledge that they are part of you and that it is part of your shadow. The cups on the card show all options and possibilities and the shadow in the foreground symbolizes that it comes from your unconscious and is unknown, but also that it may come from your ‘shadow side’. And so it’s time to explore them even though they still seem so ‘unrealistic’. When you think ‘that doesn’t fit me’, remember that 90% of your ‘self’ is hidden from you and that your unconscious does know it! ‘Delusions’ and ‘Illusions’ can be a beautiful gift!

Tarot Card 7 of cups from an unknown deck

Waite did not attribute any ‘negative’ meanings to the Seven of Cups in the ‘Pictorial Key To The Tarot’, He does write that things are achieved, but that they are not ‘essential’. But that is of course because in 1911 Jung’s theory had not yet been published so extensively.

Strange chalices of vision, but the images are more especially those of the fantastic spirit. Divinatory meanings: Fairy Favours, images of reflection, sentiment, imagination, things seen in the glass of contemplation; some attainment in these degrees, but nothing permanent or substantial is suggested. Reversed: desire, will, determination, project

Arthur Edward Waite, ‘Pictorial Key to the Tarot, 1911

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