"How can I look within to find the transformation my heart desires?" That's the question asked by the QUEEN OF CUPS / ARTIST OF BOTTLES / MOTHER OF CUPS IN THE NORTH / VENUS OF WILLENDORF cards. What follows is a comparison of the imagery and interpretation of the Rider-Waite, The Haindl, and the Collective Tarot decks' respective Queen of the water suit cards.
Rider-Waite and Collective tarot decks both feature mer-people. In Rider Waite, they are cherubs, supporting the throne of the watery queen at the riverside, who stares intensely and devotedly at her cup- "the only one decorated and the only one covered", as Rachel Pollack points out in The New Tarot Handbook, who then goes on to link this to the Ark of the Covenant, where the Shekhinah, female personification of the Hebrew divinity, was said to live. A divinely devoted leader, focused on the mysteries within the angel-guarded cup, the Queen of cups is nothing if not dedicated to using her powers in service.
Haindl's selection of Europe as the Cups suit's inspiration led him to one of the earliest known pieces of artwork ever found, the small statue of the Venus of Willendorf- so named because of projections of patriarchal Roman Empire setting the western habit of absorbing and appropriating all they rested their swords on into their own culture. Many have called this statue a fertility goddess, but there is no evidence beyond her full hips and breasts that this is true. Little is known about this object, which is part of the quality Haindl puts into the Mother or Queen of Cups. Although this is a cup card, no cup is pictured- Venus herself is the cup, holding all the watery mystery in her faceless, footless form. She is half-buried in the earth, perhaps she is the earth itself. The mystery of the ancient depths of our emotional lives are full and present as the earth from which we were carved.
Collective Tarot shows a lighthouse in the background shining on a swan and a merman with a bottle for a heart swimming lovingly together, framed by a ripped fish net. The connection between the merman and the swan seems empathic, intuitive, and loving. That's the nature of this card- its light blue and white coloring is soft and bright, the swan's wings are spread ready to take flight, nurtured and encouraged by its friend the merman. There is also something deeply transformative about the images of the merman and the swan- notions of the ugly duckling as well as the little mermaid come to mind, indicating the deep shifting, transforming waters of the emotional body. The enlightenment from the lighthouse casts brightness into the shadows to protect us from the murkiness of the night in dangerous emotional depths, but everything is still in the waters of the Artist of Bottles.
Thanks to @inthe78cards and @thetruthinstory for hosting this month's awesome challenge on Instagram!