An arid valley with a river running through it. A knight astride a gray horse rides across the valley, extending a goblet with his right hand. His helmet and boots are adorned with wings, and images of fishes are embroidered on his vest. In the distance, steep mountains await, but wherever the Prince and his mount are going, they will need to cross the river to reach their destination.
The Prince of Cups represents the “airy” element of water, which is to say the most unstable and unpredictable, and this is why he is generally associated with moody or dreamlike behavior; if we’ve ever met someone whose emotions seem to “blow hot and cold, “ we have the symbolic representation of that person here.
The wings on the Knight’s helmet and boots associate him with the Roman god Mercury, who is often portrayed in flight:
Mercury was the god of commerce and exchange, but he was also the god of trickery and deceit: A good businessman and an accomplished con man in one deity. Might we conclude that this Prince might just possess a similar “mercurial” or “flighty” personality?
Like the Princess, the Prince is associated with the fish—as symbolized by the pattern of his vest—and the religious impulse it signifies; and also like the Princess, the Prince is assigned to the astrological sign of Scorpio, so this could be a card of sexual awakening—though of a masculine, active nature—or it could imply someone trapped in sexual fantasies that can never be fulfilled. For some people, their moods depend on which way the wind is blowing on any given day. Our Knight may decide to ford the river and ascend the hill, or he could turn around and head home.
Meanings in a reading can include: Unexpected news arrives or departs, loyalty and fidelity, courtly love, dreams fulfilled, emotions under control, or conventionally, a young man born under a water sign; but also unpredictability and erratic behavior in general, indecision and dithering, sexual obsession and infidelity, and living in a “fantasy world.” As we shall see tomorrow, the Princess reminds us of the importance of talking with, and listening to, our “inner voice.” But we should also take care not to let doubt or fear enter into the dialogue; When we start second-guessing ourselves and keep changing our minds—as this Prince is often wont to do—we lose the trust of others, and we betray our own nature.