The Seven of Cups is the 7th tarot card in the suit of Cups of the Minor Arcana. It represents the double-edged nature of the imagination: on the one hand, it allows us to envision possibilities that don’t yet exist, and on the other, it can conjure strong illusions that bring us into a world of fantasy, a place where it is easy to lose our bearings.

The Seven of Cups is associated with the element of water and the third decan of the astrological zodiac sign Scorpio (20-29 degrees); it is ruled by Venus. In traditional astrology, Venus is considered to be in detriment in Scorpio, suggesting that Venus’ powers of attraction and charm are at odds in this battle-ready, Mars-ruled sign. This creates a tension between desire and reality and between longing and attainment.

Where the key meanings of the Major Arcana focus on life’s overarching themes and events, Minor Arcana cards like the Seven of Cups explore and reveal the more subtle changes impacting one’s day-to-day life and near future. The Seven of Cups also bears similarities with its sibling cards the Seven of Wands, Seven of Pentacles, and Seven of Swords, in that all four deal with mysteries and the deeper meanings embedded in our experiences.

Seven of Cups Keywords

Upright Keywords

Reversed Keywords

illusion, avoidance, imagination, art, fantasy

escapism, addictive impulses, disillusionment, overwhelmed by choices, seeing through illusion

Description of the Seven of Cups Tarot Card

In the Six of Cups, we were transported to an idyllic past, where the emotions and memories of childhood surfaced to remind us of the transience of life. Further down this well of memories, we find the Seven of Cups, where a multitude of desires and longings call out to us, each chalice tempting us to believe that it will provide lasting satisfaction.

In the classic Rider Waite Smith tarot deck, a figure in shadow with their back to us stares at a cloud full of chalices, each one holding a different dream or fright. He stands with his arm outstretched, as if steadying himself from the sight of these fantastical visions which have thrown him off balance. He appears to have lost his sense of grounding, indicating that his judgment may be cloudy.

Each chalice holds a promise; some feel sinister, while others seem fantastical. They appear in a cloud before him as if conjured from thin air and play on his innate hopes and fears. The chalices contain a castle, a pile of precious glittering jewels, a laurel wreath of victory, a dragon seemingly poised to attack, a snake, and a young male’s head.

The central chalice on the top row contains a veiled figure with outstretched arms encircled by a glowing red aura. Perhaps this is a projection of the man himself and his uncertainty about who or what he will become. The shrouded figure may also be a stand-in for mystery or his desire for ultimate transcendence.

Seven of Cups Upright Meaning

The Seven of Cups upright suggests that you are facing lots of options, new opportunities, or competing desires and are feeling unsure of which avenue to pursue. You may be under the spell of strong yearnings (or fears) that could be clouding your vision as you search for the correct path. Certain options may appear more desirable in your imagination and daydreams than in reality, so it is important to be aware of any illusions that you may be operating under.

This card suggests that you may be feeling emotionally ungrounded as you consider the various possibilities before you. In this state, you may be prone to procrastination, avoidance, or an intense desire to escape reality. This card suggests that it may be wise to postpone making any binding decisions at this time, as there may be a discrepancy between what is promised and what will be offered.

The upright Seven of Cups can also speak to a rich imagination and the ability to channel one’s inspiration towards artistic and creative ends. You have a talent for imagining what’s not yet real, and this can be a valuable and generative tool when used in the service of creating art and beauty. Allow your imagination to be a propulsive force that carries you toward the creation of new worlds.

Love and Relationships (Upright Meaning)

In a love tarot reading, the upright Seven of Cups speaks to strong desires or urges that may be leading you off course from what is in your highest good. You may be able to see the best in someone and imagine the potential for a wonderful relationship that has not yet materialized. It speaks to the need for discernment and grounded decisions based on the current reality, not the imagined future.

The Seven of Cups upright asks if you are evaluating your options clearly, or if you are making decisions based on imagined hopes or fears. You may be faced with several different options and are projecting either wonderful or terrible things onto these imagined relationships. This card speaks to the need to make decisions based on clear evidence rather than imagined outcomes.

Love/relationships upright keywords

Career/finance upright keywords

imagining potential, need for discernment, projecting hopes and fears, many different options

confusion, multiple opportunities, caution, creative ideation

Career and Finance (Upright Meaning)

The Seven of Cups upright speaks to a period of confusion as you assess multiple options in your work. You may be faced with different opportunities for advancement and are deliberating on which path to choose. This card advises caution if an offer seems too good to be true and is an encouragement to evaluate your options based on clear evidence and facts.

This card can also speak to a period of creative ideation, where you can focus your energy toward artistic and visionary ends. You can conjure worlds that don’t yet exist with your rich imagination and ability to envision new possibilities. It may be important to simultaneously have a concrete plan of action to bring these dreams to life.

Seven of Cups Reversed Meaning

The reversed Seven of Cups can speak to the feeling of being overwhelmed by the different options you have before you and the need to make a decision that is in your highest good. You may be hindered by a lack of clear vision, or the relevant information necessary may not be available yet. This card urges you to pause, block out the external noise, and attune to the wisdom of your inner knowing.

When the Seven of Cups appears reversed in a tarot spread, it can signify the feeling of disillusionment with your current options for expansion. Because this card can speak to addictive impulses and escapism, it is an encouragement to be mindful of wishful thinking and the ways in which you seek to escape from reality. You may benefit from a reality check where you pause the use of any tools of distraction in order to clearly assess the present moment.

The reversed Seven of Cups can also signify seeing through illusion. You may be waking up to a reality that was previously shrouded in smoke and mirrors and are feeling a renewed sense of clarity as you see things for what they are. You could be snapping out of a dream state and realizing that what previously seemed either so wonderful or scary is not as it appeared to be. 

Love and Relationships (Reversed Meaning)

In the reverse position of a tarot card reading, the Seven of Cups can signify the presence of illusion and deception within a current relationship, either consciously or subconsciously. One or both parties may be operating from the desire to avoid reality or sweep issues under the rug. There may be intense projections, indulgences, or avoidant behaviors that are perpetuating the fog of confusion around the true nature of the issues in the relationship.

The reversed Seven of Cups may also speak to the feeling of waking up to the true nature of a relationship and seeing through previous illusions, projections, or self-deceptions. You may have been trying to convince yourself of a false belief about your partner, yourself, or the relationship and are now getting in touch with the truth of the matter.

Love/relationships reversed keywords

Career/finance reversed keywords

deception or self-deception, avoidance, projections, seeing through illusions

overwhelmed, avoiding a big decision, shift in consciousness, awareness of true desires and goals

Career and Finance (Reversed Meaning)

The reversed Seven of Cups can indicate that you are feeling overwhelmed with confusion about the next steps in your work or career. You could be avoiding making a big decision, or perhaps you are having difficulty seeing through illusions and false promises. If the options before you aren’t in alignment with your highest good, this card suggests the wisdom of waiting until the moment is right to make a decision.

The Seven of Cups reversed can also represent a shift in consciousness, where you become aware of your true desires and goals. You are ready to face the task of making your dreams a reality and taking empowered, decisive action. If you have been avoiding the work of taking practical steps forward, this card comes as a signal that you are ready to stop procrastinating and pursue what your heart desires.