Meditations on the Ten of Cups – Mars in Pisces

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Ten of Cups: Mars Ruling the Third Decan of Pisces

Mars enters the third decan of Pisces this evening around 8 p.m. and stays there until December 31, 2018, moving into the first decan of Aries at 7:20 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. Mars moves through the third decan of Pisces approximately once every two years. Today’s article is a reprint of my meditations on the Ten of Cups that I first published in 2012. You might also find my recent post Ten of Cups: Mars in Pisces and my tarot card astrology series of interest.

Decan: Third, the mutable decan (transitioning, distributing)
Calendar dates for the decan: March 11-20
Decan ruler: Mars (the warrior) – The Tower
Tarot Card for this decan: Ten of Cups
Card Title: Lord of Perpetual Success
(For a full list of the decans and associated cards, please see the Astrological Decans Chart)

RWS Ten of Cups
“Ten of Cups” from the Rider Waite Smith Tarot by A. E. Waite and Pamela Colman Smith, Pamela-A edition. During my meditations on the Ten of Cups I noticed that the apparent stream does not flow all the way through the card, helping me recognize that it is actually water receding from a flood.

The third decan of Pisces, from approximately March 11 to March 20, is traditionally ruled by the planet Mars. This is the last of the thirty-six decans, closing the cycle. Mars (the Tower) is a fiery planet, associated with warfare, destruction and injury but also with desire, sexuality and passion. Pisces (the Moon) is a mutable water sign; like the ocean it is vast and deep and its boundaries ebb and flow. Pisces is empathic, dreamy, gestating. Pisces can dissipate the energy and drive of Mars; ambition can be lost to reverie like a flaming torch tossed into a lake.

But there is an important instance when fire-in-water can work: the lightning strike which transforms the primordial ooze into life. The last decan of Pisces dissolves all into its boundless oblivion of uniformity and then Zeus, the ruler of the second Piscean decan, as his parting gift launches a last thunderbolt. This fructifying force pierces the deep like a warrior’s sword and soon new life will crawl out at the Arian shore.

The card assigned to the primal stirring of life is the carefree and happy 10 of Cups. A simple country scene. A happy couple. Children dancing. A distant cottage. Blue water against green hills. Overhead a rainbow arching across the sky, ten golden cups floating within its curve. The title of the card is Perpetual Success. In many ways this card is too simple, too worldly, too content to derive from the potent Mars in Pisces symbolism. Nevertheless taking a more straightforward approach, we can find the Martial fire and dreamy water in this imagery.

When examining the element fire, Plato suggested that it has three manifestations: flame that burns, light, and the warmth of glowing embers. The rainbow over the scene is the result of one aspect of fire—light—refracting through water droplets. Suddenly the fog lifts from our Mars in Pisces symbolism. Pisces is a dreamy reverie, Mars a driving passion. When we allow ourselves to truly dream without limitations, and when we correspondingly allow our fearless ambition to pursue those dreams, driving us unrelentingly through storms to the rainbow’s end, the result is invariably success.

Although a lovely interpretation of the card, this still does not seem to connect with the primal power of Mars in Pisces. We must turn our attention more closely to the details of the card. Further hints are provided by the water. It has a stream-like look but the blue clearly doesn’t cross the whole card. Examining the inconsistent shape of the water and noticing how it thins out on higher ground and is still pooling on the lower ground by the bottom left corner of the card, it becomes clear what this water is—the remnants of a flood. This gives the overall narrative of the card much more depth. The happy and seemingly carefree family has survived not just a storm, but the terrifying destruction of a flood. Mars in Pisces from a new perspective—the angry, fast, furious attack of normally placid water. Our card now takes on a new dimension referencing the Biblical deluge and the rainbow of promise made by God to man to never again destroy all living things by flood.

Looking at other flood stories we see that in the Sumero-Babylonian stories what is promised to the protagonist of our drama is everlasting life: previously our hero was a mortal man, but after the Divine blessing “he and his wife shall live in the distance at the mouth of the rivers”: they become equal to the gods (from the Epic of Gilgamesh). This reference to immortality gives new meaning to the flood waters. They might destroy, but floods also wash away all in a symbolic baptism. Our creation myth had come full circle as we are not only born, but born into everlasting life. Mars ruling the 36th decan, the third and final decan of Pisces, becomes clear. At this end of the cycle, all must be washed away in near total destruction so that a new cycle, a cycle of everlasting life, of perpetual success, may be initiated.


Originally published on Facebook, April 2, 2012. Like JVTR on Facebook for more great content!

Joy Vernon
Joy Vernon

Joy Vernon is widely recognized as an expert tarot teacher and respected community leader. With over twenty-five years’ experience teaching energetic and esoteric modalities, Joy brings expertise and practiced familiarity to her specialty of esoteric tarot, which layers astrological and qabalistic symbolism onto the traditional tarot structure. Under her leadership, the Denver Tarot Meetup grew into one of the largest and most active tarot-specific meetups in the world. Now Joy runs the Greater Seattle Tarot Meetup. Joy works as a tarot reader, astrologer, and teacher in Burien, Washington. To learn more, please visit

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