Five of Cups

5 of Cups from Anecdotes Tarot: black birds surrounding a kettle and tea cups

When the blackbirds hear tea whistling they rise and clap.
Their applause caws the kettle black.
And we can’t have none of that!

Joanna Newsom, “Monkey & Bear” (Ys, 2006)

Image Description

A gray kettle with a red heart on its side hangs over a small fire. Five dainty pink, white, and gold cups of dark red tea are arranged in an arc around the fire. Five black birds flutter around the kettle and perch on the cups, raising their open beaks to the air in delight.

The sides of the cups are painted with different scenes. The cup on the far left has a picture of horses behind a fence. The next cup has a picture of monkeys surrounding and riding a horse. The next has a picture of a monkey leading a bear through a gate in a fence. The next shows a monkey leading a bear on a leash. The last, on the far right, has a picture of a monkey grinding an organ as a bear dances.


The threat of thieving blackbirds is one of the excuses used by Monkey to manipulate Bear, casting her needs as irrational excesses and making her feel guilty for taking care of herself. Delaying gratification – waiting to have a tea party until well out of blackbird territory – can be a great help and motivation in the right circumstances. But for Bear, it’s certainly not so happy. Adhering to this doctrine can lead to privation with no good reason. Similarly, this card can mean being goaded on by phony rewards and threats.

This card links to the Six of Cups, which shows a lonelier picnic.