A lone figure faces away and to the left of the viewer. A heavy cloak obscures most of him, leaving only his books, hair, and a portion of his face visible. He is hunched over in a morose stance. On the ground before him are three large chalices. They are lying on the ground and their contents have spilled out into puddles around them. Behind the figure, on the viewer’s right, are two large upright chalices. The ground around them is unmarred giving the suggestion they still hold their contents. In the background, a river runs straight and flows under a bridge in the right distance. On the other side of the river to the left, there is a keep and some trees. The sky is clear, leaving nothing to distract the viewer from the dominating figure.
This card is sometimes a source of comfort, and sometimes a source of contempt. The attitude of the Querent determines which position to take. The Querent that pulls this card has suffered a deep and painful loss. Something broke that can not be fixed, and the Querent must go on without it. The comfort comes when the Querent feels this loss is a complete and total disaster. When they are mistaking the event as evidence of the Tower’s failure. Here I can point out to the Querent that not all is lost. Because the Querent is focusing so intensely on what was broken, they are ignoring what still remains. Usually it is enough for them to rebuild what was lost. Having learned from their mistakes, what is rebuilt is often better than what was broken.
The contempt comes when the card warns that the Querent is focusing on what broke for the wrong reasons. Why cry over the spilled glass of milk, when there is still half a jug in the refrigerator? This card appears when the Querent actively eschews what remains and is still whole for the sake of attempting to use what was broken to accumulate unjustified sympathy. The child that tantrums when forced to share a treat comes to mind. Both interpretations end with the directive to the Querent to express their dismay in proper measure of what was lost, then move on.
Ill-dignified, the card indicates the Querent even more mired in the grieving of what was loss, or giving the appearances of doing so. As such it is not a coddling card, but rather that cold wet slap across the face telling the Querent to snap out of it and take inventory of what remains.
Rarely I have had this card indicate what the Querent has recently received, or is about to receive, is not up to their expectations and that they will react in a very undignified manner. Perhaps they received a new car from their parents as a graduation gift, but instead of being the sports car they wanted, they received a (still stylish) economy car instead. Or instead of the latest gadget with a white cover, they received the same gadget with a black cover. Don’t go there. Don’t be that person. The 5 of Cups is calling you out already.