Happiness. Pleasure. Memories of the past.
The Six of Cups has a happy, harmonious, and sometimes a nostalgic feel to it. It’s also about fun.
Nostalgia and memories of the past are stressed, and the happiness related to these. Memories of childhood, or just of the past in general.
Although the meaning is usually for the past, it can also show present happiness or enjoyment.
Sometimes it shows success or gain.
Depending on the other cards drawn, it’s possible that you’ll have the chance to meet or reconnect with old friends again; there may be some sort of reunion.
Simple joys and pleasures are stressed.
Kindness may be indicated.
The Six of Cups reversed can show the opposites of the upright meanings, and it can look to the future rather than the past. Some sort of renewal may be coming.
There may be thanklessness about a situation.
Reversed cards can also show blockages relating to the upright meanings, or an internalization of the energy—so it could relate to inner pleasures, or nostalgia that’s not expressed (but possibly should be—according to the other cards drawn).
The Animal Totem Six of Cups stresses pure joy, fun, and playfulness.
The original RWS Six of Cups shows a boy giving an old woman a cup with a white flower inside it. They stand in a garden or courtyard of a castle or manor house. A guard carries a staff or spear—both the buildings and guard signify protection as given in childhood.
It’s interesting how the various editions of the RWS Six of Cups have changed over the years. The original RWS (as described) signifies karmic connections from generation to generation. In the Radiant RWS deck, the images are of a boy and a young woman. In the Universal RWS tarot, both the boy and girl are much younger.
Many other tarot decks follow a similar theme. In the Shadowscapes Tarot, a little girl is having a teddy bears picnic in a magical forest. The Animal Totem tarot (shown above) stresses the happiness, fun, and playful parts of this card with otters playing in a river.
The esoteric title of the card is the Lord of Pleasure.
Astrologically, the Six of Cups represents the Sun in Scorpio.