The Nine of Wands depicted a state of constriction and fear, of brute force mindlessly applied; the Nine of Cups, by contrast, shows us a scene of contentment and plenty. The figure in this card is likewise “surrounded” by his cups as the sentry of the Nine of Wands is surrounded by his wands, yet our merchant is happy with the arrangement. Unlike the sentry, he does not clutch defensively at his element, but delights in flaunting it proudly with arms crossed in great satisfaction; for he is not a fighter but a lover by nature, and the cups are his gift to be shared with the world. More immediately, this is what awaits our seeker in the Eight of Cups at the end of his vision-quest: The joy of discovery, a celebration of life, and the feast that commemorates the reunion of God and man.
Meanings of this card in a reading can include: Dreams come true, wishes fulfilled, pleasantry and mirth in all its aspects; but also dreams deferred, wishes frustrated, repressed emotions and dissatisfaction with life. The journey to love can be long and laborious, but once we have reached the end of it, we should treat ourselves to something special; to God goes all the glory, but as we have kept faith, so too should we be uplifted. We deserve nice things every now and then!