The King of Cups, like his wife, represents beauty, poetry, and dreams. He is the King of the emotional realm, the watery subconscious. He is romantic and poetic. He is the masculine principle of unconditional love and devotion.
Dolphins, the playful mammals that live in the sea, represent the King of Cups' comfort both in the land of reason and in the water of feeling. The King of Cups is aware that the human imagination and capacity for compassion is limitless, like the ocean itself.
The King is gazing far off, indicating the intuition associated with Water signs. The King of Cups can see into the future, using his heart (or his gut) as his guide. The watery King does not rely exclusively on his brain. Because he is so empathetic, he is also pretty good at anticipating what another person may need. However, because the person in question is a human being, don't be too hard on them when they don't!
Robin Wood's King of Cups is dressed in the same watery yet powerful colors his wife the Queen wears, and the background is colored in pale, soft, colors. These colors show both the majesty, splendor, and tenderness of the King of Cups.
The King of Cups is a man who is "in touch with his feminine side." He is nurturing, and has a comforting presence. As you can see here, on Kris Waldherr's King of Cups, the King is dressed in the feminine color of lavender; however, the King of Cups should never be thought of as weak. The people whom this card represents are loyal, strong, and true, and willing to take on anything for the people whom they love. Lavender is a healing, peaceful color, and peace takes power and courage, perhaps a different kind of courage than the more masculine Wands and Swords, but courage nevertheless. The soft glow that surrounds this King is his true nature, but keep in mind that the Water signs can be intimidating--Lunas have claws, Scorpios have the stinger, and Pisces--well, you've heard of barracuda, piranha, and great white sharks.
The King of Cups has a pensive, dreamy quality, which can be seen in the way the King gazes down into his cup. That cup is full of mysteries and wonders of the subconscious, the beauty and power inside every person, and the inner peace accessible to all.
Little side note: the Suit of Cups are sometimes associated with blondes.
The Celtic King of Cups looks concerned, even though he has all the qualities embodied in the King of Cups. This can be a common pitfall of the King of Cups--even though he has all of these loving qualities, and intuition, and imagination, they can be plagued by insecurity and doubt. Yet, this vulnerability can be a great strength. Openness and exposure is an act of courage.
Barbara G. Walker chose the Welsh god of the sea, Dewi, to be the King of Cups for her deck. Dewi later became known as Davy Jones, and Saint David (Walker 24). He is the ruler of all the oceans, the symbol for the subconscious, its mystery, its power, its beauty, and its terrors. The Welsh god was a protector, like all King of Cups who are balanced and whole, and was a symbol of "ageless power and strength, [and] irresistible forces underlying a calm surface" (Walker 25). Still waters run deep.
The King of Cups, like all Kings in a tarot deck, typically represents a father figure. The King of Cups is the kind, loving, affectionate, and nurturing father.
When the King of Cups is imbalanced, he can be narcissistic, needy, estranged, or even bipolar. He can also be emotionally cruel or abandoning.
Archetypes and people associated with the King of Cups
Kind, loving fathers
A Sensitive Man
A good therapist
Males born under the Water signs and have a lot of that energy
Walker, Barbara G. Barbara Walker Tarot. Stamford: US Games Systems, Inc. 1986
Like my Emperor post, which was dedicated to my beloved Grandpa, I dedicate this post to my dear Uncle Tim, who passed away November 13th (and who was a Pisces), and my lovely Uncle Mike, who just celebrated his birthday, and is a Scorpio.