Ace of Cups – Flourish
In the image of this Ace is a hand extending from a cloud holding a chalice with streams of water flowing out of it amd landing in a pool of water lilies. This image is most suitable to denote the first card in the suit governed by the element of water.
Humanity has evolved with the knowledge that water is the source of life. Many cultures have creation myths depicting how life began in water. We have always revered this element and knew that many secrets of life can be unearthed by observing the quality of this nourishing element.
One of the most amazing qualities of water is that it holds no shape of its own. It does not force its will upon the world but meekly follows the contours of the earth. At the same time, however, the flow of water can change landscapes. This quality is comparable to human emotions. Like water, we hold no emotion permanently; rather, our feelings change along with environment and circumstances. Also like water, our emotions are fluid but not weak.
While the Ace of Wands is paired with the I Ching image of Sprouting, the Ace of Cups can be compared to the image of flourishing. The first Wand describes the work and preparation required for success while the first Cup describes the next stage of a person’s growth and development. We all need to work hard to carve our place in the world but physical achievements do not complete us. Once our basic needs are met, we are naturally inclined to seek a higher level of satisfaction – joy and love.
The lesson in the Ace of Cups can be found in the water flowing out of the cup to nourish the pond underneath it. The pathway to emotional fulfillment lies in giving and caring. Unlike the material world, our emotions do not follow the laws of physics; there is no diminishing return. Rather, the more we give of one emotion, the more we receive in return. If we breed fear and hatred, the world will respond in kind. But if we offer others love and kindness, we will receive those affections in return.
Hexagram 19 – Approaching
The two yang lines at the bottom of this hexagram are rising while the yin lines are retreating. This increase in yang energy creates the image of spring approaching, when light and warmth return after a cold and dark winter. This is a time when flowers bloom and animals mate.
Love and beauty is in the air; this is a time when our emotions begin to stir and we are called into action. The composition of the hexagram shows us how to attain the greatness that this colourful season has to offer. The lower trigram, also referred to as the inner trigram, is Lake and the upper, or outer, trigram is Earth. Lake is associated with the qualities of peace and joy while earth is the symbol of receptiveness. Together, they teach us to be peaceful and joyous internally and receptive to the external world through an open mind and heart.
Nine on line 1:
When things begin to stir, people are naturally drawn to the action. It is wise to join the movement only if it accords to your own motives and values. When you act, know that you are acting because you are adhering to what is right and proper and not because you got carried away by the current.
Nine on line 2:
When the call for action comes from within, we must allow ourselves to be led by this feeling. The times when our inner truths and the flow of nature are in harmony are the times when we are in greatest control of our own destinies.
Six on line 3:
Following what is sweet is easy, but is it right? Things that are too sweet are rarely the things that are good for us. When things are easy, consider if we are still following the right path or if we’re merely following the path of least resistance. Being constantly mindful of this, even if we stray, we shall not stray too far.
Six on line 4:
What is approaching has arrived. Everything has settled in their proper place and we are now in a position of control. What will we do?
Six on line 5:
Arrival brings wisdom. Wisdom is a balance between measuring and reacting to a situation and trusting our own insight; the right mixture of rules and spontaneity. Such balance produces harmony between emotions and reality.
Six on line 6:
Approaching generously and kindly and without selfish motives will produce lasting gains. The rewards derived from such an approach fill the heart, not the wallet, and can never be taken away.
Many people mistaken money and power as end goals but they are just tools to achieve one’s desires. Even the material things that can be gained from these tools are not the real prize. The true motivation for anything in life is to satisfy our emotions. What we all truly crave is to feel – whether it be excitement, joy, love, pride or anything else.
While it is our will and determination that creates success, it is our emotions that produce meaning in life. Thus, the key to happiness lies in our ability to master our emotions. This cannot be achieved through force. We cannot tame emotion the way animals are beaten into submission. And yet, we also cannot simply just sit idly while it runs wild. We are inevitably connected to the world through our emotions and we will be dragged into places we don’t want to be if we allow our emotions to reign unchecked. Instead, we should nurture our emotions and be receptive to it. Know when to let it guide us and know when we need to guide it. This is how we grow strong and flourish.