2 of Cups – Bond
The Two of Cups shows a couple each holding a chalice and looking lovingly at each other. At first glance, it is easy to interpret this as love – and it is definitely implied that there is love between them – but love is not the theme of this card. Rather, it is the bond between them.
A bond is what fuses two separate elements together. In the field of chemistry, it is a permanent and irreversible act. Elements bond to create compounds that possess characteristics entirely different from their parents and are much more than the sum of their parts.
In tarot, it is the building block of any loving relationship. It is represented in the Two of Cups by the red lion head with wings set upon a caduceus. The fierce and bold red lion head symbolizes the raw energies of passion. It is the drive, motivation and attraction. The caduceus, an old symbol used for commerce, signifies a relationship where each party brings something of value. In other words, it represents an exchange between equals.
The two parts of this symbol combined teaches us how to create lasting relationships. First, there needs to be a mutual attraction that draws people together. This attraction is then fostered into a connection through respect and balance.
Note that equality in a relationship is not defined by each party having the same things. Rather, it is about compatibility. When two people are compatible, they fit like pieces of a puzzle, where the protrusion of one fits into the groove of the other. When two people fit nicely together like this, harmony is established and the bond is solidified.
Thus, a bond is something that is natural but reinforced through effort. The effort of kindling a flame keeps the initial spark alive. The warmth of the fire, in turn, provides the strength to keep the effort going. In this way, the bond is self-sustaining and has the potential to be ever-lasting.
Hexagram 31 – Mutual Influence
The I Ching is split into the upper and lower canons to reveal the Tao of Heaven and the Tao of Humanity. The first thirty hexagrams belong to the upper canon and, therefore, Hexagram 31 is the beginning of the lower canon.
While the upper canon starts with the two hexagrams of Heaven and Earth, the lower canon opens with the union of Mountain below Lake. Mountain is the youngest yang force. The yang energy is activated through expansion and motion but a mountain is characterized by its stillness. As such, this trigram represents the act of stilling one’s own ambitions. In this hexagram, it is placing itself beneath Lake, the youngest and most refined of the yin energies.
In nature, lakes and other bodies of water are places that animals from all over the land gather for nourishment. As such, the Lake trigram represents peace and joy. Together with Mountain underneath it for support, they form the first hexagram in the lower canon, Mutual Influence. This initiates our learning of the Tao of Humanity.
This hexagram teaches that human relationships, from the most basic civility between strangers to the most cherished union between man and woman, are based on mutual influence. The key to influencing others is to first open up one’s own mind and heart so that we may accept others without prejudice. Only through such receptivity can there be genuine communication and only through communication can love and respect develop. Thus, the sages teach by accepting others’ ideas and opinions and the lovers give by receiving their partners as they are.
Six on Line 1:
Influence begins in the most subtle ways. It is a slight stirring in our hearts and minds. At this stage, it is little more than a feeling without any outward expression. It can amount to nothing or it can be the beginning of everything. Still the mind so that one can rationally contemplate and determine whether this feeling derives from lowly impulses or something that is pure and worth pursuing.
Six on Line 2:
Once it has been determined that we do desire what the initial influence has set forth, we must determine why we desire this. When acting upon influences of feelings, it is of utmost importance to be truly aware of one’s own intentions and ensure that it corresponds with our morals and beliefs.
Nine on Line 3:
Do not blindly accept others’ opinions and do not follow your peers without first knowing where it is that you want to go.
All three lines in the lower hexagram advise stillness over motion. Thus, the I Ching teaches us that one should respond to the power of influence with constancy. Feelings can lead to many places and they should always be guided by consciousness and conscientiousness.
Nine on Line 4:
While the first three lines stresses the importance of clear understanding in order to prevent actions influenced by unsound desires, this line urges us to overcome our fears and anxiety. If careful consideration has been given and it has been determined that the influence comes from the purity of the heart, have courage and act with firmness.
Nine of Line 5:
Here, actions and thoughts are supported by one’s beliefs. It is the source of one’s strengths and confidence. When guided by one’s conscious, there will be no cause for regret.
Six on Line 6:
Influence cannot be based on words alone. Do not be influenced and try to influence through words only. Sweet words and empty promises cannot be the foundation of lasting relationships and accomplishments. Instead of trying to convince others through flattery, lead by example and demonstrate sincerity through action.
Creation is the merging of yin and yang. This merger begins with the feeling of attraction, which is the natural desire to bond and engage with others. It is also a yearning to become more than what we are and what we can achieve on our own. When the attraction between two parties are mutual and each unit involved treats the other as equals, bonds are formed and they are both free to give what they have of themselves and receive what the other has to offer.