Reversed Queen Of Cups

Anyone who has ever remotely worked on a committee or in a group effort, often will see certain human traits that surface in themselves and others. Archetypes that show up again and again and human frailties and booby traps we can all fall into.

There is the very self sacrificing person who perpetually saves the day, does too much and is often teetering on the brink of burnout. They often hear “we don’t know how we’d get by without you”, but the flip side (which can be detrimental) is the organization then is one person away from falling apart.

Martyrs aren’t great role models. It is a great truth that healthy compassion is not about needlessly suffering along with others, but rather being in a place of well being and caring from there. This is not easy (at least it hasn’t been for me, I don’t know, but if it’s been a walk in the park for you from the get go then I’d love to read YOUR blog, send me the link). 

I often remember a quote from Dorothy Parker -one of my favorite authors (see left), -she was very ironic and a lightning wit.

Someone once commented that Claire Booth Luce (see right) – who Dorothy didn’t like – just “lived for others”, to which Dorothy replied “Yup and you can tell the “others” by their hunted look”.

In another instance, someone said “Claire is so kind to her inferiors” and Dorothy responded “wherever does she find them?”

I’d probably put Dot’s take on Claire as Queen of Cups reversed. Important to note though that Dorothy was at times a suicidally romantic alcoholic, (rather Queen of Cups reversed-ish herself). Maybe that’s why Claire rankled her so, there is an ancient saying; “who smelt it dealt it”.

Righting The Reversal

Personally I’ve had to go through bumps and discomforts (and no doubt still will from time to time) before I’ve seen my own patterns and baggage and been able to find release from them. I sometimes have cycles where I find I’m doing way too much in some areas and am off track in others. 

I have found that whenever I am living under the threat of an “or else”, that in some way I am already in it. The first times I had to recognize this were the hardest. Many of the people who were around playing into that pattern DID leave, they found another person to play into that pattern with, some got fed up and moved on in their growth. The crisis of letting go of that addictive behavior of rescuing was frightening but moving through that “or else” turned out to be one of the most positive things I could do. I had a lot of help (we usually do when we are honestly trying to move beyond this).

I listened to what some good people had been trying to tell me all along. I spent time alone and found it wasn’t bad, as a matter of fact it was nourishing. I sought (and still seek) the counsel of others with experience. I know I haven’t seen the last of these lessons, in truth I think we always are moving through them in some way. I can tell you it does get easier, and the neat thing is, it’s very very ok. We can see it more readily and move through it more gently. When the poop hits the fan and that “or else” plays out, there’s a lot more that comes into view, a lot of it very good possibilities and potentials that are hard to see when you’re busy turning yourself into a pretzel. It’s usually been there all along waiting to be discovered.

After a while, we start to see too, that the universe never gave us a gift by mistake. It didn’t get the name tags mixed up on the presents. If we have been abusing gifts, they sustain damage, but the human spirit is very resilient. When we recognize that we’re in that trap, when we release the “or else”, there’s an opportunity to come back and work with our gifts. They come into more graceful use, they evolve. We are given the chance to see something more than acceptance. Acceptance is important but there is something greater, recognition is seeing the genuine potential that has always been there and the use of the gift starts coming from that place instead. We start being kind for kindness sake (instead of a gritted teeth kind of NICE), we can give more freely with less of a drain or a price tag. People find us more comfortable to be with as we are more on a level playing field. Reciprocation goes on and we start to experience the intimacy of sharing ourselves and being shared with.

On that perky note -I have a good friend who closes most of his messages with “LIFD”: Life Is Fabulous Dahling!

Eight Of Cups


All of the four suits have to do with the elements in interaction with one another(with the exception of the Aces, which are the awakening of the element). Another example of the head / heart interaction is the eight of cups. A figure is making his way on a tricky landscape, there is no clear road to follow. In the foreground an arrangement of cups is incomplete, there is a gap. Above it all is, what for the longest time I thought was, an oddly shaped moon.

I will digress here, for a moment. It just goes to show that you never stop learning with Tarot, it never stops surprising you, if it does stop…put them away for awhile. I have to always be on the lookout for new inflection and possibility. In the case of the eight of cups, I had been working with Tarot for a good 10 or 12 years when one day, while reading cards in a restaurant ( the now defunct Eastside Exchange) one of my co-workers was looking at my cards. His name was Ken and he’s a writer, amongst other things. He looked at the eight of cups, HAVING NEVER SEEN IT BEFORE, and said “oh there’s an eclipse”! I looked at it, and frankly, I was gobsmacked!

Pamela Coleman Smith, the illustrator of the deck, clearly knew how to draw a proper circle. She also knew how to draw a moon and a sun (as they are part of the major arcana). On the eight of cups she didnt simply draw a moon or a sun. It was clear (in that moment- thanks to Ken) that it is a circle over a circle, most certainly an eclipse. This makes even more sense when we consider the association of the moon card with the unconscious, the primal and instinctive and the sun card with the rational, out in the light of day clarity of consciousness, The eight of cups takes on a greater deeper (and I think far more constructive) meaning.

If you were having to make a difficult journey on uncertain terrain, in the hopes of finding fulfillment, it would stand to reason that you would want to take a careful, practical approach, just traveling by daylight and watching your step. But true fulfillment isn’t something you can plan and schedule. It’s not a scheduled enlightenment weekend at Mount Shasta. Nor is uncertainty a bad thing. Fulfillment has to catch us off guard, it has to have an irrational component. Sooner or later in every one’s life, there are those rare times, like an eclipse, where it is dark in midday and we have to allow our instincts and urges to also have their say.

Many traditional interpretations of the eight of cups refer to it as a time of uncertainty, disillusion and confusion. I think it is the uncertainty we HAVE to travel through. It’s not the same as confusion where we are wandering around in circles in the same part of the forest saying “didn’t I pass that tree three times already?” It is the BLESSED confusion of being outside our usual comfort zone, on unfamiliar ground, allowing ourselves to venture towards what we have not yet experienced. When we know that we can take a certain amount of pressure off of ourselves and use the experience more wisely and deeply.