The Three of Cups is the third tarot card in the Minor Arcana suit of Cups and represents a feeling of joy and connection that’s shared between friends, collaborators, or community members. They come together in an atmosphere of relaxation, pleasure, and a celebration of life.

The Three of Cups is associated with the element of water and with the second decan of the astrological zodiac sign Cancer (10-19 degrees), which is symbolized by the crab. Its connection to Cancer highlights the importance of creating a protective enclosure (similar to the crab’s shell) around the connections that bring you joy. It’s ruled by Mercury, which draws in themes of play and lively, emotional conversations.

Where the key meanings of the Major Arcana focus on life’s overarching themes and events, Minor Arcana cards like the Three of Cups explore and reveal the more subtle changes impacting one’s day-to-day life and near future.

Three of Cups Keywords

Upright Keywords

Reversed Keywords

joy, friendship, enjoyment of life’s pleasures, creative collaborations, abundance

social isolation, fear of not having enough, a need to make time for pleasure, preoccupied with worry

Description of the Three of Cups Tarot Card

The Three of Cups builds on the theme of the soul connection between the two figures in the Two of Cups with the introduction of a third figure, which widens the circle of love to include friends, family members, and creative collaborators. The suit of Cups speaks to our emotional world and our capacity to love, and in this card, the love is expressed between friends and allies.

In the classic Rider Waite Smith tarot deck, the Three of Cups shows three women dancing in a circle while raising their cups to cheer each other. They are swept up in the celebratory atmosphere of the moment and are basking in the camaraderie and delight of their friendship. As they freely share the joy and affection of their sisterhood, they remind us to celebrate life’s happy times of connection and pleasure.

Wreaths adorn the women’s heads. They are dressed in red, white, and gold robes, which recall triads of goddesses from ancient Greek mythology: the three fates, the three graces, and the three faces of Hekate (also known as the maiden, mother, and crone archetypes). The cornucopia of fruits and vegetables at their feet signifies an abundant harvest and the ability to take satisfaction in life’s sweetness.

Three of Cups Upright Meaning

The Three of Cups upright speaks to the abundance of connection and friendship in your life and is a reminder to spend time with those you love. It is an encouragement to seize the day and make your leisure time a priority, whether that’s through a decadent meal with friends or an impromptu social gathering. This card speaks to the importance of having time to foster your social circle and refill your own emotional cup with positive energy.

The fruits and vegetables that surround the dancing women speak to the opportunities for abundance in your life that are built on your relationships. There is the sense that there is enough goodness to go around for everyone and that your relationships are built on mutual support and appreciation. When you receive the gifts in your life with gratitude and a willingness to share your overflow, you invite more blessings into your world.

The upright Three of Cups can also speak to creative collaborations. In coming together with others in a spirit of play, openness, and appreciation for each person’s unique talents, you can create something that supersedes what you would be able to achieve on your own. It is an encouragement to connect with others in order to achieve your dreams and goals because you will get farther together and find that you enjoy the process along the way.

Love and Relationships (Upright Meaning)

In a love tarot reading, The upright Three of Cups speaks to a joyous feeling of connection that may indicate the beginnings of a romantic relationship. The foundation of this connection is your friendship and shared enjoyment of each other, and it has the potential to grow into a deeper bond. It is an encouragement to approach new connections with a light-hearted spirit of play, openness, and warmth.

Within the context of a relationship, the Three of Cups can signify that you’re entering a period where you can rekindle your spark by making time for pleasure, enjoyment, and social activities. If you have felt bogged down by the demands of everyday life, this card is an encouragement to make time to celebrate each other and the joy that your connection brings you.

Love/relationships upright keywords

Career/finance upright keywords

beginning stages of a romance, love built on friendship, light-hearted play, making time for pleasure

collaboration, abundance, success, bounty, making time for connection

Career and Finance (Upright Meaning)

The Three of Cups upright speaks to the importance of your friendships to the trajectory of your work and is an encouragement to approach your collaborations with a spirit of open-hearted play. This teamwork approach is an avenue for your creative expression and can lead to success and abundance for everyone involved. It speaks to having more than enough to go around and of sharing your bounty with others.

If you have been overly focused on hard work, this card is an encouragement to make time in your schedule to reconnect with your loved ones and social life. The Three of Cups symbolizes relishing the positive relationships in your life and is a reminder that making time for pleasure, connection, and social events is equally as important as work.

Three of Cups Reversed Meaning

When a tarot spread includes a reversed Three of Cups, it may suggest that you feel isolated socially and cut off from meaningful friendships in your life. Perhaps the demands of daily life have taken you away from your ability to socialize, or you’ve become stuck in a rut and are finding it difficult to engage with the world. This card is a reminder that friendship and connection are available to you if you make an effort to reconnect to those you care about.

The reversed Three of Cups can also speak to a feeling of being preoccupied with worry and rumination. You may be focusing on what you don’t have, worrying about a lack of resources, or feeling disconnected from your natural sense of optimism. This card is a reminder to reconnect to what lights you up and find small ways of awakening delight by remembering the gifts that you do have in your life.

The women on this card are relishing the moment and riding the wave of positive feelings shared between them. When reversed, this card can speak to the importance of consciously cultivating moments of joy. It can symbolize the feeling that life is moving quickly and that opportunities for connection and celebration must be taken whenever possible, or else you risk letting them pass you by.

Love and Relationships (Reversed Meaning)

In the reversed position of a love reading, the Three of Cups can signify that the impulse to celebrate and live in the moment has become imbalanced. It can speak to being overly preoccupied with having a good time socializing at the expense of forming a deeper connection. The desire to feel good in the moment is being prioritized over creating lasting bonds slowly and over time.

Within the context of a relationship, the Three of Cups reversed can speak to a feeling of emotional disconnection from your partner and the need to rekindle your spark by focusing on moments of connection, enjoyment, and fun. It is an encouragement to make it a priority to show appreciation for each other in order to rekindle feelings of love.

Love/relationships reversed keywords

Career/finance reversed keywords

over-indulgence, disinterest in creating a lasting bond, emotional disconnection, a need to show appreciation

preoccupied with worry and stress, consumed with tedious aspects of work, dissolving collaborations and partnerships, working independently

Career and Finance (Reversed Meaning)

The Three of Cups reversed signifies that you may be preoccupied with worries and financial stress, which is causing you to feel like you’ve lost your connection to the joy in your work. If you’ve become consumed with attending to the mundane tasks of everyday life or the tedious aspects of your business, this card is an encouragement to find moments of joy within the daily grind.

The reversed Three of Cups may also signify that your creative collaborations, business partnerships, or alliances no longer feel generative or mutually supportive. It may be time to re-evaluate who you chose to spend your energy and time with, take some time away from any partnerships which no longer feel aligned, and focus on your independent goals and desires.