How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong -- because someday you will have been all of these.
-George Washington Carver, US horticulturist (1864 - 1943)
Most of us are really very fond of the King of Cups. He represents the generously tolerant, compassionate and wise man, a softie that doesn't hide his true emotions and yet doesn't allow them to get the upper hand either. He's quite comfortable with the entire spectrum of emotion, from sorrow to laughter and seems to find that wonderful gem of insightful truth no matter what the situation, delivering it with genuine care and warmth with just the right words at the right time. The King of Cups in the Lunatic Tarot stands as a pillar in his oceanic robes, which is just as the King of Cups does. He is the one to cling to when your own emotional storms are threatening to do you in.
His compassionate nature allows him to be very tolerant and patient with others, as he has plunged the depths of his own self and soul and found the frailty and weaknesses common to the human condition. He does not judge but accepts and encourages one to reach one's highest potential.
Sounds like Mr. Perfect, right? Well....um...no. He is "air of water," which means that, as a King, his air element gives him a sharp intellect and a forward moving active drive, and his suit element of water tempers his intellect with emotion, but when out of balance or ill dignified, this King can be a seducer, emotional manipulator, and the least reliable of all the Kings. He can be prone to alcoholism, emotional rages, and narcissistic self-absorbtion. Oh, but he means well.
He is less a romantic adventurer than his Knight and sometimes upsets his Queen with his rather lacksidaisical ways, but as an artist, a poet, or a writer he is supreme. The wells of wisdom from which he draws his inspiration are bottomless and deep, though sometimes dark and mysterious. These are people like Albert Schwietzer, St. Francis, Mother Theresa, and even former U.S. President, Jimmy Carter. Sure, they have their flaws and yet they more than make up for them with the richness they lend to the world. They have an openness about them that makes them approachable and genuine.
In a reading, the King of Cups often calls you to act with emotional maturity, to look to compassion and meet the situation with a calm, intelligence that is neither dispassionate nor overly passionate. Weigh the facts but consider as well the feelings and needs of all involved. Watch that you aren't slogging through this king's negative tendencies, and if you are, seek higher ground. It means you've gotten wiped out in one of his emotional waves. Taking hold of the air element in this card will allow you just the right measure of emotional detachment needed to dry yourself off.
Lunatic Tarot By Evan Yi Feng Published by Evan Yi Feng. China 2005