The Tarot Queens and the Kama Sutra
(c) Cheryl Lynne Bradley 2001

'"Being the source of virtue, woman is the best means of reaching heaven.
Man's efforts to be virtuous are impossible outside of conjugal virtue...
There is no doubt that women are a source of happiness."'

Cheryl Lynne BradleyAn 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 them.

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 Cups

Water 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
2.  Instruments
3.  Dance
4.  Drawing
5.  Cutouts
6.  Carpets of flowers or coloured rice
7.  Bouquets
8.  Dyes and colorants for the body
9.  Mosaics
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 Wands

Fire 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
19. Jewellery
20. Conjuring
21. Magic
22. Manicure
23. The art of cooking
24. Preparation of drinks
25. Needlework
26. Lacemaking
27. The art of playing the drum
28. Conundrums
29. The art of completing quotations
30. Riddles
31. Bookbinding
32. The art of telling stories

Queen of Coins

Earth is the symbol of the Universal Mother, motherhood, fertility, regeneration and receptivity.

33. Quoting the classics in answering questions.
34. Weaving, plaiting
35. Woodwork
36. Carpentry
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
53. Puns
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)
A fun reading to ascertain the future of potential relationship or just to understand the ladies in your life, involves separating the Queens from the deck. You then proceed to lay the Queens cards out side by side in this order: Cups, Wands, Coins and Swords. Assign a name of someone you are involved with, friends, coworkers or just interested in to each card. You can choose "Unknown" for one of them. Shuffle the cards and ask a question. ie: Who do I have the best chance of having a successful relationship?; Who will I marry? Who will I date next? Who will I hear from next? Who will marry first? Who will be pregnant next? Who is most loyal to me?

Deal out the cards face up, laying them out one at a time on one of the Trumps, proceeding across all four and returning to the beginning if required. Your question is answered when you deal a matching suit on one of the Queens. Ask another question and start laying down cards from the beginning of the row again, stopping again when a suit matches a trump. After all of the cards have been dealt, pick up each stack and count the number of cards of each suit. Consider the interpretations offered above, as well as standard tarot definitions, as you read the cards presented for each of our ladies. The more you have of one suit indicates the predominant influence or potential asset of that relationship or within that relationship.

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.

"An excess of charity is an obstacle to the fulfillment of duty....An excess of ascetism...destroys material 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
ISBN 0-89281-492-6

"The Mammoth Dictionary of Symbols" Nadia Julien Robinson Publishing London, UK, 1996 ISBN 1-85487-273-7

Social Navigator Tarot Layout (c) Cheryl Lynne Bradley 2001-2

Art and Articles List Tarot Canada Homepage Creative Works 3

This page was created April 27, 2001 and updated September 14, 2006.