Four of Cups

4 of Cups from Anecdotes Tarot: a woman wheeling a barrow of chopped wood

It is terribly good to carry water and chop wood

Joanna Newsom, “Sawdust & Diamonds” (Ys, 2006)

Image Description

A person dressed in blue with large red boots stands in a circle of tree stumps in a forest. Her back is to the viewer and wheels a red barrow full of chopped wood out of the forest. Three gold cups of water, decorated with crosses, sit on three of the tree stumps. An axe is stuck in another tree stump, with a small brown bird perched on its red handle. A donkey with a long white face and long dark brown ears pokes its head out between the trees.


One moves past the languor of the Three of Cups to make oneself useful. As the maxim goes, “Before enlightenment: chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment: chop wood, carry water.” The simple necessities of life are a constant, balancing out whatever drama plays in the soul. This card shows someone living a well-tempered life, pushing forward through spiritual excess by useful work. In a negative light, it could also signify ennui or boredom with a routine.

This card links to the Seven of Cups, whose character also goes out to forage.