The Thoth Tarot 4 of Cups-Luxury & The Night Sun Tarot-4 of Cups, refers to the 4th Sephira Chesed in the suit of Water.
Here the Pure Water of the Supernal Triangle (the upper 3) has passed through the Abyss to Chesed (Mercy) and although ordered, balanced, or stabilized, it has lost the purity of its conception. You might say, that instead of pure energy in motion, it is now an emotional idea held in conceptional confinement. Understanding the importance of idea, may be helped by knowing that the word, idea, comes from the Greek-Eide-which means "the goddess within" and/or Imagination.
Being that the Moon is in the goddess's own house, the zodiacal sign of Cancer, one would think it was well placed. However, Cancer is so placed that this implies a certain weakness, an abandonment to desire, causing one to overly fantasize. Which reminds me of the statement made by the boxing champ Mike Tyson:" Everybody has a plan until they get hit".
On the Thoth Tarot card, the calm Sea of the 3 of cups is still present in the 4, but slightly ruffled, implying a disturbance is building, making the 4 Cups standing on it less stable. The Spirit of the Lotus, the Dryad, has gathered strength, growing multiple stems, supporting one Lotus Blossom, spewing forth water. The Four stems, are the number of manifestation of the Dryad, it is also secretly preparing catastrophe by emphasizing individuality.
The Night Sun Tarot- 4 of Cups-, handsomely illustrates this instability by showing the "Sacred Octagon" crowned Dryad, supporting 4 cups in a precarious position, while standing on one leg , on her toes. Here, by supporting each individual cup on its own platform, she is also secretly preparing a catastrophe.The balancing act is one that must be applauded, but being precarious, it can't be kept for long.
By understanding that the number 4 is an "awkward" number; alone among the natural numbers, as it is impossible to construct a "Magic Square" of four cells. Four being a "dead stop" number, a different idea of Order is necessary to carry on the series as the only motion now is towards decline. Thus, for now everything is seemingly luxurious in stability, but the Changing of the Moon, its waxing and waning, is such that this won't last, i.e., the "hit" is on its way.
In the Hermetic Qabalah and Tarot, the 4s represent solidification and manifestation accomplished by the union of the four worlds and are attributed to Chesed (mercy)-The Architect . The 4s are "below the Abyss" and express the Rule of Law (Laws of Physics etc.) which is represented by the Major Arcana Key 4- The Emperor.
It is done, and now it belongs to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, which is enforced by the Emperor/Chesed. This law states: "All things proceed from order to disorder", this is often called the "law of entropy", showing the imbalance of the 4's, for as all energy forms must transform, entropy is the next step after solidification.
Hence, the 4 is a very solid number as it has dominating influence on all the cards, for it is the " Manifested Form of the thing", a type of oppression that will come undone.
Therefore, the 4 of Cups-Luxury, acts "watery", and thus less concise as there is a natural weakness in water (to take on the impurities of its environment) that threatens its purity; it is not quite strong enough to control itself properly and is therefore controlled by environmental circumstances. This makes Luxury a little unstable as the process of internal satisfaction has made it impure. The Luxury implied here is thus known to be fleeting as it slowly transforms into the 5.
Since the element-water represents emotion (Energy in Motion) and since energy is kept pure by constantly moving, the damning effort of the number 4, will fail. Change is the formula for motion. (Change=Stability). 4 is the number of restriction, as in "Four walls" etc, and as a cage, it shows a certain amount of stability, until the energy gets tired of confinement. We all know the weakness of putrefaction in stable water; it must keep moving to stay pure or become a stagnant swamp. We also know that whatever keeps out the "bogey man", becomes a prison and locks one in. So it behooves one to be very flexible in their enjoyment of luxury and accept changes with gratitude.
Therefore, the 4 of cups, being the Moon in Cancer, as shown on both cards, is the influence of Chessed (Mercy) in the unconscious mental realm. There is a certain self-satisfaction with this card as an emotional luxury that is often felt as pleasure flowing from an unconscious source.
The outpouring of emotional luxury from above, is not overflowing in the lower cups, symbolizing that this pleasure will soon end but for now, the feeling of you having everything you need in your life is luxuriant and you are not now open for suggestions. One is more or less, "resting on their laurels", as a cycle ends. Chokma or Hokma (Wisdom), the second Sephiroth on the Tree of Life, is really the energy of Chesed, Mercy, but as Chesed is below the Abyss, this makes Mercy unbalanced.
However, there is Promise here; a promise of mercy, healing, empathy, trans-personal love, forgiveness and taking away of soul burdens.
We may feel a soon fleeing-easy compassion and are forgiving of those who trespass against us. There is a luxuriant feeling that we all belong to each other: a larger sense of emotional-family than is normal. This is a hard one to hold in this realm of fear and coventness. For it is the pussilanimous invertebrates and witless sycophants, that make money their life; who value money as life, and see not the luxury of Life itself even though it is all around them and in them, in its luxuriant displays of creation.
When the 4 of Cups card is thrown during a reading, it represents:
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