Kuan Yin is a powerful goddess highly revered throughout the Japanese Islands, China, Taiwan, Korea, Thailand and other parts of South-East Asia. Though she is said to have the strength to dissociate lightening from its power, she is rarely remembered in that capacity. Kuan Yin is depicted as a petite goddess garbed in white, either standing on a lotus or being carried by a dragon. The love she has, and the overwhelming compassion she carries is the spirit of the Ace of Cups.
Kuan Yin is said to have begun her life as a man, and some cultures trace her origin back to the Indian Bodhisattva Avlokiteshwara. She can change her sex and manifest herself as a woman. She chose to stay in a feminine form since women were marginalized culturally at that time. She is the goddess of Mercy and Compassion.
Kuan Shih Yin’s very name means the one “who hears the cries” of every living creature in this world. Kuan Yin is the guardian and defender of women, children, sailors, craftsmen , and merchants. Her empathy and tenderness to see through the misery of every creature make her the patron goddess of the marginalized, the underdog, and those living on the fringes of society such as criminals and those undergoing persecutions.
Kuan Yin’s empathy and benevolence exclude no one. She is depicted with a pitcher in her hand. The pitcher she carries in her hand is akin to the Ace of Cups, which contains in it the powerful emotional force of love so limitless that it cannot be contained and focused on one person or group and can only be felt as omnipresent, encompassing everything.
Love in the Ace of Cups, if it were possible to define it could be romantic, spiritual, philanthropic, unselfish, or personal love. Though there are many myths regarding the origin of Kuan Yin, they are usually variations of the following story.
The earthly name of Kuan Yin was Princess Maio Shan, who was the youngest of three sisters, born to a father who wanted a son to carry on his bloodline. As soon as she reached puberty her father was eager to get her married as her sisters before her, but she refused instead requesting that she be allowed to lead a life of servitude to God. Her father gave in to her feeling that she may realize that such a difficult life was not meant for her. He tried many times to bend her will, but when she refused and held her ground, he had his henchmen behead his disobedient daughter. Upon her demise, Maio Shan instantaneously went to the underworld, which immediately let go of its tormented souls, since her purity was so great. Next, she went to Heaven, since she had led a pious and virtuous life. However, as she was about to cross into the Heavenly Paradise, she heard the cries of those suffering on earth and made a vow to enter Heaven only when there was no more suffering. Love as represented in the Ace Of Cups is a very powerful force and should never be mistaken for weakness. It takes more strength to love than to give into other emotions.
Kuan Yin features in the novel Journey to the West, which demonstrates her commitment to ending suffering. She charts the way from India to China so that pilgrims can travel from China to India and back to carry the Buddha’s scriptures home to China to help ease the suffering of the people there. It is while she undertakes this perilous journey that she converts from evil and assembles an unlikely company of a repugnant sandy-haired monster, a ghastly-smelling pig, a traumatized dragon, and the incorrigible Monkey King. Later when the monk San Zang and his improbable friends travel to India, she guides their journey and protects them.
Dignified: As a personification of the energy of the Ace Of Cups, Kuan Yin appears with the nectar-filled cup and bequeaths unconditional love, wisdom and compassion to you. This is a gift of potent emotive quintessence. Kuan Yin’s cup like the proverbial Ace Of Cups runs over with joy and represents love so persuasive that it flows over and touches everything in its path.
Perhaps it is time to reach in within yourself and find the core of your being, which emanates only love and forgive yourself, and those who have hurt or wronged you. When we take on the path of forgiveness then we can access the goodness of Kuan Yin within ourselves and also find the strength to help others and ourselves.
The Ace Of Cups may also suggest the beginning of romantic love, but it definitely assets that love will enter your life and permeate your essence. While this card may point to the beginning of a relationship, it points only at the potential. In our modern world, we are aware that “Happily ever after” is not a fairy tale but hard work!
The five streams of the overflowing Ace Of Cups in the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot represent not only love that is spiritual but includes the love that covers the five senses, and also the goddess’s virtues of compassion forgiveness, friendship, joy, pure unselfish unrestrained love.
There is a sense of rebirth and there may actually be a new project or a pregnancy indicated. Kuan Yin is known as the “Madonna of the East”, and childless couples would pray to her for the gift of a child. She is equally important and offers her protection to women during childbirth, so in a way, it is fitting that the card should herald a pregnancy.
Reversed or Weakly Aspected: The Ace Of Cups reversed may indicate that you are disconnected from your inner essence. Let go of the anger and connect with the quintessence of your soul. Know that with love, you can conquer anything.
Collier, I. D. (January 2001). Chinese Mythology. Enslow Publishers.
Wu, C., & Yu, A. C. (2006). The monkey & the monk: a revised abridgment of The journey to the west. University of Chicago Press.
Schenker, D. (2007). Kuan Yin: Accessing the Power of the Divine Feminine.