Kings are associated with control, mastery, discipline and resolve. Cups represent emotions, love, pleasures in life; matters pertaining to the unconscious, intuition and the inner planes, and the element of water. The King of Cups is both a romantic, loving person who does not let his emotions lead him down the wrong path. He has enough life experience to know that while he desires love and pleasure in life sometimes that can lead to unhealthy choices.
"An emotion has run its course and is no longer operative in your life. This could mean that a relationship is ending. This old pattern has become a habit that is no longer meaningful or satisfying. Nothing can be done now to retain or reclaim the vigor of the original feelings. You need to make some real or symbolic gesture that shows you're reached a point of closure or completion around this feeling or relationship. You may need to fully experience your grief and mourn its passing." - Gail Fairfield.
Looking at these two cards I see two very different images. The Fenestra King of Cups looks rather elf-life, almost androgynous. And yet he stills conveys a sense of strength and mastery. He is holding the cup and calmly stands there while a wave appears to be cresting next to him; ready to wash him away if he's not careful. The King of Light in the Dante Tarot is an abstract image. I almost get the sense of one's soul being prostrate before the divine power present in the light hovering overhead. Eyes seem to peer out from the midst of the abstract light as though observing the figure beneath, ready to assess the soul within. Again, despite not having a familiar human form, this card is able to convey a sense of power and mastery.
In the Dante LWB the King of Lights is described as "The Everlasting Light. Old man. Just, feared, and respected professional." That certainly fits the sense I get from this card - as thought that light is a stern but fair mentor judging our progress. I get the sense this light can see through our physical body, through the facade we present to the world and see directly to the soul within. Although the light looks intimidating, I get the sense that its goal is not punishment but correction and guidance. It is seeking out the flaws and weaknesses within the soul beneath so that it can offer guidance and ways to heal those weaknesses and erase those flaws.
So am I the judge or the one being judged? It's never really that simple is it? In reality, each time we judge someone else without compassion or understanding (certainly traits I would attribute to the suit of Cups), we are saying more about ourselves than we are about that person. I have sometimes seen the King of Cups described as the counselor or psychologist card. It represents a figure who is able to control or master his or her own emotions and as a result can now offer to guide others along this same path. That doesn't mean the King of Cups doesn't feel, indeed I get the sense he feels deeply, but that he does not lose himself within those emotions. He does not allow them to subsume him and wash him away. It is possible that he has gone through this experience in the past and has learned techniques to prevent it from happening again.
In the past, I have been very vocal about my avoidance of and aversion to the suit of Cups. In fact a running joke during one past Readers Studio was that I had a "yuck" reaction each time a Cups card appeared for me (which of course meant they appeared with frightening frequency). Since that time I have come to appreciate and value Cups energy in my life. My avoidance was due to the fact that in my past experience, emotions, intuition and other Cups energies were used to manipulate and control. In a relationship, they were used to earn points and dominate. I found this stifling and infuriating. Nothing could have been better designed to trigger my aversion reaction.
As I grow older and (hopefully) mature, I'm realizing that this type of behavior is unhealthy and actually an expression of negative Cups energy (or maybe that's a negative expression of Cups energy). I've been blessed to make a number of friends over the years who have manifested a positive Cups energy in my life. They have shown me the strength in water and the blessings of emotional ties. They have helped me learn that it can enrich and enhance your life and doesn't have to be perverted for personal power.
So maybe one of my tasks today is to manifest this wonderful, positive and powerful energies for those in my life. How can I be a King of Cups to my friends, loved ones and community today? I'm not sure yet but we'll see how it goes.