The Tarot Queens and the Kama Sutra
Man's efforts to be virtuous are impossible outside of conjugal
There is no doubt that women are a source of
An ancient principle of Indian
civilization was the teaching of the Kama Sutra and the sixty-four arts that a
woman should acquire as knowledge. This was called kala. These were considered
to be accomplishments in the teaching of erotic techniques and were taught to
all girls regardless of their social standing.
It was advised that women should teach this subject to young girls as long as
they were trustworthy, well born, independent and understood the meaning of the
words. She could be a woman used to sleeping with men, a girlfriend who was
already initiated, a maternal aunt close to her own age, a serving woman treated
as an aunt and confidant, a nun known for a long time or an older, trusted
sister who has had experience with men. Even if it was not possible to master
all sixty-four arts, it was felt that at least some should be practiced.
Courtesans were highly respected in this society for their beauty, knowledge,
usefulness and their social role. Princes and princesses were sent to them for
instruction in the arts, social graces, pleasure and music.
In keeping with the flexibility of Tarot interpretation, I have applied these
arts as qualities and attributes of the Tarot Queens. Court cards can be
confusing for although they can represent specific people, they also represent
universal patterns of behaviour, the feminine side of your nature and the
mental, physical and spiritual development of the individual. As a person grows,
matures and acquires wisdom and knowledge or declines in these areas, the
changes can be marked by changes of the suit of the Court cards which represents
For the purpose of this article, each of the Queens of the Tarot will
represent 16 of the sixty-four arts which a woman (or a man) should achieve
mastery of. No blushing is required here.
Queen of CupsWater represents the origins and the unconscious. In
India, water is the symbol of superior consciousness. The rivers in this
superior world produce soma, the drink of the gods, symbolizing the rise of
libidinous urges. This is a vital force which is closely guarded as it stems
from animal instincts that require mastery before true pleasure is available.
1. Vocal music
6. Carpets of flowers or coloured rice
8. Dyes and colorants for the body
10. Bed arrangements
11. Musical instruments made from bowls of water
12. Water games
13. Use of charms, drugs, magic wands
14. Garland making
15. Crown and head ornaments
16. The art of dressing
Queen of WandsFire is the vital cosmic force which transforms and
transmutes. Since fire was originally produced by rubbing two sticks together,
the act of making a fire this way symbolizes sex in folk stories and legends
from around the world.
17. Ivory or mother of pearl ornaments
18. Preparation of perfumes
23. The art of cooking
24. Preparation of drinks
27. The art of playing the drum
29. The art of completing quotations
32. The art of telling stories
Queen of CoinsEarth is the symbol of the Universal Mother, motherhood,
fertility, regeneration and receptivity.
33. Quoting the classics in answering questions.
34. Weaving, plaiting
37. House furnishings and decorations.
38. Expert knowledge in stones and gems
39. Mixing and polishing metals
40. Valuing the shape and colour of stones
41. Arboriculture, the care of trees
42. Stock breeding
43. Teaching birds to speak
44. Massage and care of the body and hair
45. Sign language
46. Foreign languages
47. Regional languages
48. Decorating vehicles with flowers
Queen of Swords
Air is the symbol of spiritualization, where divine inspiration is
manifested. Air is the intermediary between heaven and earth, fire and water.
49. Observing the omens
50. Fabricating machines
51. Developing memory
52. Alternate reciting of texts
54. Knowledge of the dictionary
55. Poetic meter
56. Versification and literary forms
57. The art of cheating
58. The art of disguise
59. The art of gaming, the art of dice
60. The game of chess
61. Children's games
62. Good manners
63. The rules for success: "Even when conquered by fate, man wins by a battle."
64. Physical culture (prepared to defend what is hers)
Perhaps this will allow us all to look at these ladies of the Tarot with a
deeper understanding of their potentials and recognition of abilities. If we
follow "The Three Aims of Life" as outlined in the Kama Sutra, we must realize
ourselves on three levels. Virtue, wealth and love must be harmonized so that
none of them are prejudicial to the others.
excess of ascetism...destroys material success...an exaggerated pursuit of
riches... grief in virtue and love."
It is interesting to note that the Kama Sutra recommends abstinence and study
in an isolated spot until your studies were completed. It was felt as essential
to study music, because it belongs to the heart of love, as it was to study your
sexuality. If a girl studied the erotic sciences she would know how to behave in
her youth, in her married life and ignorance would never be her trap.
Thought provoking isn't it?
"The Complete Kama Sutra"
Translated by Alain Danielou
Park Street Press
Rochester, NY, 1994
"The Mammoth Dictionary of Symbols"
London, UK, 1996
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