King of Cups

King of Cups from Anecdotes Tarot sits in a tree house and watches a brown bird fly away

Well she’d lain, as still as a stone, in my palm, for a lifetime or two;
then saw the treetops, cocked her head, and up and flew.

Joanna Newsom, “Only Skin” (Ys, 2006)

Image Description

A person sits on a tree stump on a wooden platform high above a green and gold pine forest. She looks to the right side of the card, watching a small brown bird that flies away from her with a red spider in its beak. One of the bird’s feathers rests in her left hand. In her right hand she holds a golden goblet with a long stem and red inside. She wears a gold crown with four-petaled flowers on its points and red hearts around it. Under the crown, she has a pink veil decorated with a jade green seashell. She wears a red sash with jade trim with a pattern of flowers with four heart-shaped petals each. She also wears a red pants and a red jacket with puffy purple sleeves, with gold trim and gold buttons with hearts on them, and matching red and gold shoes. On the right side of the card, green poison oak vines wrap around the railing of the platform. On her right side, there are blue trumpet flowers on vines around the railing instead. In the distance behind her are gray mountains and the sky is light blue.


The King of Cups sits high in the trees, the only one of the court who has left the seashore. She looks kindly at the bird who was resurrected in his hands. A mystical interpretation makes her a miraculous healer. In a more everyday setting, she is someone who gives second chances.

Seen in a positive light, this King is fair, charitable, and generous. On the negative side, she can be selfish and manipulative, raising herself too highly above others.