Translating the Minor Arcana into a modern bridge deck, this Two of Cups would be the Two of Hearts. Tarot Universal Dali frames two famous hearts – Cupid and Psyche from L’Amour et Psyche’ (1817) by Francois-Edouard Picot http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:L’Amour_et_Psyché_(Picot).jpg.
Dali captures the illicit lovers – Cupid, the Greek god (though the story is told also of Eros and even farther back, Amour), hiding his identity from his wife, the mortal Psyche, to keep the marriage secret from Venus, his mother. It is an old story.
Yet the Two – a number of balance and union; and Cups—the suit of water and love – this should be a card of beginnings and deep sharing. But Dali does not frame this intense meaning with the traditional warm red colors of love. Dali frames this love story told through centuries in a cool Cerulean.
The frame itself a profile of a lumpy headed old man with wisps of hair far back upon his cranium and upon his chin. His startled eye stares from Psyche’s navel. Or is that not the man’s eye but rather the head of a bird?
And at that the frame transforms into a bird – the lumpy headed man’s lips are the bird’s head, wings can now be seen in the place of chin or crown and this disappearing old man’s beard and hair become feathers.
No need to say Optical with Salvador Dali who knew all life was Illusion. He stuck crutches everywhere, trying to prop open for us to see, showing us peeks into the dimensions hidden from our parochial sight.
It is hard to trust this moment of the truest of true love, which is what this last moment is for Cupid and Psyche. Very soon Psyche will begin suffering the extraordinary ravishment Love can wreak upon a mortal. Is this idyllic moment, the moment before her life's tribulations begin, is this the Illusion? It is through arduous solo journeys she achieves the love and balance this card traditionally purports. Is this last idyllic moment only in the mind of the lumpy headed old man? Is the bird soaring or plummeting? What are we to carry forward from this into the week ahead?
As Cupid is Love, Psyche is Soul. Is that the warning we feel here, at this number in this suit of Tarot Universal Dali? Beware the Soul’s ravishment by Love.
Traditionally the Two of Cups speaks to balance, beginnings, partnerships, unions and love. Tarot Universal Dali bows to tradition here with the winged lion – carnality elevated above lust – and the caduceus’ opposites intertwined – the same Two of Cups header as in the modern tarot standard bearer, the Rider-Waite set.
Comment: Salvador Dali painted the 72-card Tarot Universal Dali for his muse Gala, one of the great gifts that powered Dali's Genius. But was Gala his beloved? Of course. But it's complicated.
There is not so much Great Love shown by Picot, re-imagined by Dali – rather Ravishment verily moans from the Dos de Copas of Tarot Universal Dali. Maybe the implicit warning is a kindness offered. I think it is a Dali crutch, giving us a glimpse into a week of twists and turns, not of gentle harmony. Love and Soul are both involved. A promise of ravishing pleasure; a warning of ravishing dénouement. Balance. Opposites entwined.