In this article Knight of Cups Symbols, I refer to the Knight of Cups card from the Rider Waite Tarot deck, also known as the Waite-Smith, or Rider-Waite-Smith, or Rider tarot deck. In the Thoth Tarot deck this card is called Knight of Cups and esoteric name is The Lord of The Waves and The Waters.
The symbolism found on this card is primarily drawn from mythology, alchemy, parapsychology and religious text.
- Knight of Cups: Key Symbols
- What Does Armor Symbolize in The Knight of Cups?
- What is The Meaning of The Horse?
- Why Does This Knight Have Wings on His Helmet and Boots?
- Why Are There Fish on The Knight of Cup's Tunic?
- What Does The River Symbolize in This Tarot Card?
- What Does The Mountain Symbolize in The Knight of Cups?
- What do Trees Symbolize in This Tarot Card?
Knight of Cups: Key Symbols
Armor, horse, wings, fish, river, mountain, trees
“Graceful, but not warlike; riding quietly, wearing a winged helmet, referring to those higher graces of the imagination which sometimes characterize this card. He too is a dreamer, but the images of the side of sense haunt him in his vision.”A.E.Waite
The Original Rider Waite Pictorial Key to The Tarot
Imagery of the Knight of Cups: symbol meanings, metaphors, allegories and mythological legend
Complete A-Z List: Tarot Card Symbols
What Does Armor Symbolize in The Knight of Cups?
Here we have a Knight in shining armor.
Armor is a form of defense and in a Tarot reading, the appearance of armor signals that the querent is feeling vulnerable. One should look at how much armor the Knight is wearing, in order to assess the level of vulnerability.
If you notice, the Knight of Cups has bare hands, he does not wear gloves. The Knights of Pentacles and Knight of Wands, both wear gloves and the Knight of Swords has one gloved hand. The fact that the Knight of Cups has two exposed hands, indicates his high level of exposure, whether he knows it or not. This Knight deals with matters of the heart, so this is no surprise. The Knight’s bare hands also indicate a delicate touch, the touch of a lover or a warrior of the heart.
The Knight is holding the Ace of Cups in his bare hand. Whatever opportunity the Ace delivers, he is treating it with the reverence and respect it deserves.
At the same time, armor symbolizes preparation in Tarot. This Knight is intuitively aware that his heart may do battle one day, but he is hoping for the best.
This Knight reminds us:
“Being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure.”Bob Marley
What is The Meaning of The Horse?
Firstly, for practical reasons it is difficult to imagine a Knight without his horse. The horse serves a practical purpose in helping the Knight move from one place to another.
When the horse catches your attention in a Tarot card, it means you are ready to move forward in life. In this particular card, it signals you are ready to explore the extent of your feelings and emotions. For example, perhaps you are ready to explore romance, parenthood, or spiritual growth.
As a totem or spirit animal, the horse represents courage and freeing yourself of restrictions. The horse in the Knight of Cups is associated with ‘spiritual’ travel, investigating other spiritual dimensions through astral travel, Akashic Record meditation or shamanic journeying.
In the Bible, horses represent determination and a new beginning:
“Who led them through the depths? Like a horse in the desert, they did not stumble.”Isaiah 63:13
Why Does This Knight Have Wings on His Helmet and Boots?
The Knight of Cups has wings on his helmet and boots, which is a reference to the God Hermes. In mythology, Hermes was the emissary and messenger of the gods and he could pass messages between the world of mortals, the underworld and divine realms. His winged helmet enabled him to ‘fly’ between worlds. Hermes was the only Olympian capable of crossing the divide between the living and the dead.
The message here is clear, wings enable us to fly free and high. A more modern version could be ‘Red Bull gives you wings.’
The Knight of Cups is the most romantic, whimsical and ethereal of the all the Knights, and so it is no coincidence that he has been depicted with wings by the artist Pamela Colman Smith.
Why Are There Fish on The Knight of Cup’s Tunic?
All creatures who live beneath water need water to survive and thrive. This is why the fish symbolizes life, fertility and creativity.
The Knight of Cups chooses the fish as his tunic symbol because he feels, that of all the classical elements of alchemy (water, earth, fire, air), he cannot survive without water. I’m not just talking about drinking water, but rather the more ephemeral things that water symbolizes. He is moved by matters of the heart, relating to people, love and communication; rather than money, prestige or grandiose concepts.
This Knight may also be drawn to metaphysical studies such as reincarnation, ancestor worship, faith healing or any area of parapsychology.
⭐Fish also appear in this Tarot card: Page of Cups
What Does The River Symbolize in This Tarot Card?
Rivers in Tarot represent an obstacle that you need to get past, something blocking your path or progress.
The river in the Knight of Cups is calm and easily traversed. This means the Knight is optimistic about his future and doesn’t anticipate too many obstacles. This is probably the right mindset, as showing up is half the battle in life.
⭐A river also appears in these Tarot cards: Temperance, 5 of Cups, 8 of Cups, 10 of Cups, 4 of Wands and 8 of Wands
What Does The Mountain Symbolize in The Knight of Cups?
In Tarot, mountains represent obstacles to overcome in the future. When in the future, depends on how far away the mountains are in the distance. The further away the mountain, the further away the problems. In the Knight of Cups, the mountains appear to be directly in front of him, across the river.
So while our Knight has a positive can-do attitude, he is likely to face an obstacle which might challenge his optimism very soon. That said, perhaps he will find a way to navigate around the mountain (and obstacle) as there appears to be flat land to the left of the mountain. Compare this to the Eight of Cups, where one feels the traveler has no choice, but to navigate his way through the mountain range.
What do Trees Symbolize in This Tarot Card?
In Tarot, trees represent future plans and prosperity. The closer the trees, the more solid your plans and the sooner they are likely to be realized.
In the Knight of Cups, the trees are still far away in the distance, meaning, this romantic Knight is still a little bit fuzzy about his future. Yet, he clearly has faith that all will work out and his only task now, is to move forward.
⭐Trees appear in 23 cards, including: The Empress, The Lovers, The Hanged Man, The Star, The Tower
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Complete List: Tarot Card Symbolism
Karina, author of Tarot in 5 Minutes.
The Ultimate Guide to Knight of Cups Symbols