Description & Symbolism
Traditionally the Queen of Cups appears as a very passive figure,
her most positive qualities shining through. This card attempts
to reflect the Queen of Cups in her totality without the necessity
of card reversal to interpret her darker or blocked energies.
From an elemental perspective,
the Queen of Cups is “water of water” (cups = water,
queens = water), and according to Rachel Pollack one, if not the
most balanced card in the Minor Arcana. The cardinal direction
associated with cups is West, which corresponds to the cardinal
association with magic. In Tarot, water is said to represent emotions,
intuitiveness, and mystical connections. Outside of Tarot we also
see water associated with sensuality. During the research and
design phase I found myself reflecting on how the Queen of Cups
also embodies some of the qualities of various Major Arcana cards:
the High Priestess, Empress, Temperance and of the Moon card.
This card was designed taking all of these elements into consideration,
and giving life to my concept of the Queen of the Cups.
The card features a
mermaid as its central figure. Throughout the world we find myths
and art featuring mermaids. Mermaid lore ranges from mermaids
rescuing the lost at sea, nurturing caring creatures who sometimes
marry human males, and others as a vain and evil seductress leading
sailors to their death. Her sensuality and beauty is acknowledged
by most, whether as a virtue or as her weapon. Taken collectively
I find these myths and legends to represent both the light and
darker sides of the Queen of Cups, which is why a mermaid was
chosen to represent this court card. In addition, in studying
faerie lore I have learned that mermaids are sometimes classified
as being faeries, which adds to the sensual, mysterious and mystical
side of this queen. Furthermore, in some myths and lore (including
faerie lore) dolphins have been believed to be mermaids in disguise
hence the image of the dolphin leaping basically out of the mermaid.
The Mermaid represents
the mother, Empress and High Priestess of the sea, and embodies
the life giving forces of the sea, which can be associated with
love, creativity, sensuality and spirituality. Her half-human
half fish form is the meeting of land and sea (Temperance) to
create life. This is also reflected in the bay from which she
emerges. As water and land meet life is created as depicted by
the green patch of land with white flowers on the right hand side
of the card. The bay is the uterus, and the earth the mother.
The two mountains in the background represent the nurturing breast
of mother earth. The cup she holds is in an opened oyster shell,
which reveals a pearl. The cup is held above her in her left hand,
both symbols of her femininity and receptivity. The mermaid faces
left signaling the magic and mystery that she holds. Her crown
is silver like the moon, again a representation of her femininity,
mystery and allure. The crown has three peaks, each representing
a face of the Triple Goddess.
The bay is calm, or
appears calm, a quality that can be quite deceiving in the sea.
The mermaid emerges from the bay in an unrealistic position, almost
standing upright with her tail only slightly bent and behind her.
This ethereal quality of emerging and floating is reflective of
the illusions she can create: her veil of illusion. She is also
singing with her eyes closed, her song could be one of empathy,
love and compassion or one designed to entrance us and lead us
It is in her
extremes that I concur with Rachel Pollack that she is very balanced,
she is a message to remember middle ground. Not be ruled by emotions
or blinded by them. She is also a reminder that to truly be able
to give of ourselves to we need to learn to receive others.
The Queen of Cups symbolizes love (motherly and/or sensual),
receptivity, and sensuality. Depending on the question and location
in a spread she can reflect peace and harmony or warn us that
we are creating a veil of illusion for ourselves. Emotional balance
is needed for healthy relationships of all types, and for true
nurturing and love to take place. Too much of a good thing can
be addictive and lead us to disaster, even if it seems harmless
at the time. When we wake from the fantasy we have created for
ourselves we could find ourselves in trouble. Her gentle and loving
side is also very spiritual and intuitive; however, when we get
lost in her song we can fall prey to over-fantasizing. Like the
calm waters, she is more active than she appears.
The original painting of this card, by Jewel, was done in acrylics,
on an 8” X 10” canvas. The canvas was then scanned
and graphically enhanced by Pollux in Paint Shop Pro 7.0.
Jewel has been studying tarot for over 8 years, and considers
herself an eternal student of the tarot with a major interest
in its academic aspects and use for personal growth. Her uses
of tarot vary from comparative studies between decks, to spiritual
development, to story telling. Her dream is to understand the
Qabalistic associations of the tarot enough to publish a comparative
study of various decks in a manner that new students could follow
see and understand. She is an avid deck collector, with over 100
decks. Her primary deck of choice the Cosmic Tribe.
Go back to the project index, read the traditional card meaning, or get a free tarot reading with this deck.