The Cups are pomegranates: they are filled bountifully to overflowing from a single lotus, arising from the dark calm sea characteristic of Binah. There is here the fulfilment of the Will of Love in abounding joy. It is the spiritual basis of fertility.[1]

The Thoth Threes and the Binah Sea

The Thoth 3 of Cups is such a beautiful card. The rich, vibrant crimson of the cups, the calming blue of the water, and the free-flowing fountain of blessings are all so magical. The official colour of Sephira 3, Binah, is black sometimes trimmed with a deep sea green: black as the colour of emptiness in the sense of potential and the Sephira’s symbol is the vast ‘great sea’. Those colours appear in two of the 3s, the 3 of Swords where the sea is prickly, black shards and in the 3 of Disks, which has the sharp sprays you get from active gusts of wind on water. In the 3 of Cups the sea is a calm, beautiful blue.[2] You can see the rings in the water around the bases of the cups, just gently recognising they are there.

The Thoth 3 of Cups

In the Thoth 3 of Cups we see three cups made from pomegranate seeds. They are overflowing with water that comes from the interplay of eight golden lotuses – a reference to Hod and Mercury, who rules this card in Cancer. If we see the water as blessings, as abundance, there is a constant, joyful flow being maintained by the lotuses. Lotuses are of course symbols of water, but since there are 8 of them, here they are also tools of Mercury, the mind.

Something I find really interesting is how this cycle of water works. The waterworks. It looks like a closed system … but also not. Let’s say the blessings start with the top two lotuses, the water flows into the top cup and then over its edge into the bottom two cups. But it also flows over the edge of that top cup back into the water, and the same thing happens with the blessings that flow into the bottom two cups – back into the Binah sea it goes.

Pomegranate Seeds

At the bottom there is a lotus lower than all the others, forming the base of the whole structure, or maybe the point of origin. Its seven stems provide two lotuses per cup: one as a foundation and one (two in the case of the top cup) that pours out the blessings. Why seven stems? When six would do?

The Tree of Life showing the paths of the Major Arcana (Thoth arrangement)

Setting aside the obvious, that it makes for a pretty picture, the number seven associates the 3 of Cups with Venus in Netzach, the ‘flip-side’ of Binah (i.e. on the other side of Tiphareth). Binah is the heavenly divine feminine, and Netzach, her ‘daughter’, is the earthly divine feminine. It is also, I would say, a reference to the number 7 of Babalon, and the divine abundance that we align with when we find and follow our True Will.

The water in the 3 of Cups all flows down and back into the sea … but there is no point where a stem has access to the sea. The abundance is always there – it has no beginning and no end. It just is.

Three Cups, Three Fates | The Three Fates by Alexander Rothaug, c. 1910

There is also a temporality to the 3 of Cups, a reminder that the nature of life is a cycle of ups and downs. Pomegranates represent fertility and abundance all on their own, but the reference to Persephone adds that touch of wistful awareness that part of the reason we appreciate abundance is that it is impermanent, just like everything else. Or at least, we should. Saturn is the ruler of Binah, the imposer of limits and restrictions. This isn’t to say we shouldn’t enjoy abundance, but to not allow ourselves to become too attached to it. We can be aware of how we respond.

The association with the 3 of Cups with the number 8, Hod and Mercury, reminds us that our mind plays a huge part in abundance. Open awareness facilitates abundance, and worry diminishes it. Abundance, like the Spice, must flow.[3]

“The spice must flow …” a still from the film ‘Dune’


[1] Aleister Crowley, The Book of Thoth (Weiser Books), p. 196.

[2] The 3 of Wands, despite being at home in Binah, is so fiery, positive, and forceful that it’s hard to pick out any aspect of the great sea at all.

[3] The new ‘Dune’ movie is coming out soon and it’s just on my mind … I can’t use the word ‘flow’ without referring to it, of course.