Today I drew the Ten of Cups, from the incredible Mary-el Tarot by Marie White. Well, frankly I’ve never seen such a terrifying image, and especially not on a card that normally depicts smoochy couples and cute kids. Ew.
The Mary-el Ten of Cups gives us a wild scarlet horse, twisting and leaping, its mane flaming snake-like around it. The horse emerges from a thick black cloud which seems to weigh upon its hind like rock.
Above this is a hideous mother-and-child – grinning skeletons wrapped in a maternal embrace, tendrils of black cloud snaking about their bones. The mother tips away a cup of blood-red wine as she gazes down at her baby.
The Ten of Cups, from the Mary-el Tarot by Marie White
The Ten of Cups is a card I often struggle with. Too frequently, it seems to suggest that the pinnacle of human happiness is the whole marriage, house and babies shebang – a repressive and irritating way to depict emotional fulfilment. So I sometimes read this card as an indication of societal expectations of these things, so often a source of conflict and confusion in a querent’s life.
So what the hell is going on with Mary-el? Marie White describes that for her, the Ten of Cups is a message to appreciate the good things we have. The card centres around understanding that life is temporal, that death is a huge part of life and that we will all ultimately die. If we can truly comprehend this and get over it, we are free to live happy and fulfilling lives:
The Mother and Child are Memento Mori which in Latin means to remember your own mortality. Death comes for each of us equally and often without warning; one should always be prepared for it and should live life to the fullest every day, carpe diem.
This card seeks to capture the full spectrum of experiences that make up our lives: ‘love, joy, relationships, emotions, peace, interconnectedness and their opposites, war, loss, grief, sadness, suffering, separation.’
I love this focus on living life to the full and experiencing this whole spectrum of emotions. When I think of my friends, those I love the dearest are those who live hard, who love hard, who feel everything…hard, strong. They do not fear or shy away from the difficult experiences, because this would reduce the opportunity to feel the very best that life can offer.
And finally, what of that red horse? It is a heart pumping blood – a beautiful metaphor to tie this card together:
The red horse is the heart, his thundering hooves the smooth beat of the turning wheel which pumps the blood, drawing in and pushing out the ancient bloodline. Every one of us rides this horse in our short lives.
I’m a 30-something writer, artist, tarot reader, and perpetual explorer of the space between thought, feeling, and action.
I believe that spirituality and ritual are for everybody. I’m about the journey, in all of its messy, non-linear, chaotic iterations. I am excited by anticapitalist business and living with my whole entire self present. I use tarot cards to bring forth hidden truth, and ritual to affirm my commitment, over and over, to my ever-shifting path.