The Pictorial Key to
the Tarot of the King
of Cups in Tatters
By James W. Revak



The FoolThe Fool.  Warning: You’re dressed to the nines with nowhere to go but down.  This card clearly shows that you’re still an unregenerate, dumb-as-an-ox fool—flashy clothing notwithstanding.  Contrary to what Waite and his Golden Dawn cohort say in their ignorance, this Key does not correspond to zero, but does correspond to Nothing.  (Big difference; think about it.)  For our lady readers: On a lower level this card implies that a Mary Kay or Avon representative will visit you soon.  For our male readers (at least some of you and you know who you are): DittoBy the way, don’t you think Waite’s wastrel should have a seeing-eye dog rather than the silly little terrier?

The Bearer of the BatonThe Bearer of the Baton (Bateleur) (vulgarly and incorrectly denominated the Magician).  Divine Hermes tells us: “Truly it is said that which goes up must come down, and that which comes down must go back up.” Daughter/Son of Earth, contemplate this truth, as enshrined in this Arcanum, with one-pointedness-of-mind.  Use your spiritual antennae to tune to the Cosmic Mind.  Plug into the Power and Voltage of Universal Spirit.

The PapessThe Papess (vulgarly and incorrectly denominated The High Priestess).  Waite writes that “her truest and highest name in symbolism is Shekinah—the co-habiting glory.”  Translated from the Waitean dialect of Cabala-speak, this means: The Papess shacks up with God.  Sex is sacred.  Sex is good.  Be happy.  Now, isn’t that much easier to understand?  And, no, despite what your Inner Teacher tells you, Shekinah does not reference the renowned rap artist Queen Shekinah.  Finally, contrary to some previous ignorant commentators, this Key does not imply the the first leg of the tired cliché called the “Fool’s Journey”, wherein the Fool has a sex-change operation and becomes The Papess.

The EmpressThe Empress.  Daughter/Son of Earth, know that She is Regina Coeli, Sanctus Sanctorum, Mater Factotum, Yoni Yonorum, and Virgo Lesborum.  This card, in the Highest Mysteries of Hrusappho, intimates even more profound verities, but I have no intention of communicating them to someone as spiritually undeveloped as you.  On the other hand, if you want to join my top-secret magic(k)al fraternity, The Order of the Gold and Rosy Bone of the Divine Fifi, for a modest fee. . . .  But I digress.  Back to fortune-telling.  If you are a woman under forty: You are pregnant.  If you are a woman over forty: You are not pregnant.  If you are a man: You suffer from womb envy. 

The EmperorThe Emperor.  Some commentators say that he is Philosophic Sulfur, burning hot and bright.  Some say he is Jupiter, King of the Gods.  Some say he is the Sun King (no, not Louis XIV) who dies yearly.  Some say he is Neoplatonic Nous.  Some say he is the Mighty Force of Priapic Fecundity yet remains virgo intacta (which is admittedly a tough act to pull off).  Some say he is tyrannical, oppressive, and restrictive Patriarchy (boo! hiss!).  Some say he is a self-portrait of the inventor of Tarot.  Some say he is the Mighty Son of Morning, Afternoon, and Evening.  In practical Tarot work, such “interpretations” prove that anyone can say anything they want about a card.  Everyone is both right and wrong.  Unfortunately, The Emperor is erroneously represented in Waite’s deck as a grouchy, grim, gray-haired, old coot, which only confuses the matter further.  Naturally, We have corrected this error.  By the way, he’s also the Holy Roman Emperor (duh!).

The PopeThe Pope (vulgarly and incorrectly denominated The Hierophant).  He is the archetype of Exoteric and Institutionalized Religion.  He is the archetype of Esotericism and Occultism.  He is the archetype of the Universal Toll Bridge Between God and Humankind.  He is the archetype of the compassionate and wise Teacher of Tarot.  Truly, he is four archetypes in one.  In practical Tarot work, such “insights” remind you that commentators, are often full of pseudo-Jungian BS, which you should ignore.  However, initiates of the Philosophus Grandississimus 99=1 Degree of the Order of the Gold and Rosy Bone of the Divine Fifi know that this Key unlocks the mysterium hidden in the ancient formula R:.L:.E:.C:.F:.E:. (Roma Locuta Est Causa Finita Est).  I am not at liberty to say more.

The LoversThe Lovers.  Waite writes that “the figures suggest youth, virginity, innocence and love before it is contaminated by gross material.”  None of this applies to you.  If ill-dignified: You are an innocent virgin, who has never been contaminated by gross material.  And that’s a damned shame!


The ChariotThe Chariot.  This card indicates felicity, success, and victorious issue with regard to wars, conflicts, contests, and horse races.  It also intimates that Urim and Thummim will run one-two in the eighth at Santa Anita Saturday; bet accordingly.  Further, know, Daughter/Son of Earth, that although the Charioteer might approach The Papess he cannot read the scroll which she holds, unless, of course, it is The Daily Racing Form.  Finally, if you are an egghead: Read Plato’s Phaedrus for the real dope on this profound Arcanum.

JusticeJustice.  You will soon meet a sensitive, compassionate, and loving lawyer.  If ill-dignified: You will soon meet a real lawyer.  Interestingly, Justice was the soul card of Earl Warren and Judge Crater.  Isn’t it uncanny how Tarot works?  Finally, despite the ravings of Waite and his Golden Dawn cohort, the correct number of this Key was, is, and always will be eight.


The HermitThe Hermit.  Get a good night’s sleep—not to mention a life!  This card implies isolation and an actual hermit.  In fact, it was the soul card of Howard Hughes.  It is understood quite incorrectly when it is intimately connected with the idea of the Ancient of Days, the Light of the World, and similar claptrap.  However, The Hermit may also symbolize a priest, minister, rabbi, or other upstanding member of your community.  If ill-dignified: He symbolizes a flasher.

The Wheel of FortuneThe Wheel of Fortune.  A trip to your stockbroker or Vegas is indicated.  In either case, bet with your head not over it.  On a higher level, some say that this Arcanum expresses the general notion which denies chance, fatality, and all which is implied therein.  The fatuous ravings of telephone “psychics” are better than this on their own tawdry plane.  Instead, this card truly intimates fortuitous greatness of soul and all which pertains to it, especially with regard to one of the least understood explicators of Tarot.  Examined counterclockwise with spiritual eyes, the Wheel reveals anagram of anagram.  Examined clockwise with same spiritual eyes, it reveals but an anagram.  Whichever way you look at it, it is verily conundrum profundum.  Let those with eyes, see.

Copyright © 2000 James W. Revak.  All rights reserved.  Version 1.0 (4/12/00).