How to read the Queen of Cups and King of Swords

When I reached for my tarot cards last week during a family situation, I wasn’t feeling great. It had been a hard week, there was a disconnect, the mess and clutter wasn’t embraceable, and I simply just needed a moment to center myself.

I picked up my crystal before choosing one of several decks of cards. I liked how this quartz felt; a combination of smooth and rough edges which kind of echoed my turbulent disposition.

I braced myself for what message the energy around me would dispense. What did I need to know? Surely, the tarot would pick up on my despair this week and soothe me back to normal?

The first card that fell out after shuffling for a while was the Queen Cups.

I stared at this card in disbelief. I did not feel like Queen energy at all…

Keywords – Queen of Cups

  • compassionate
  • contained
  • mature
  • responsible
  • intuitive
  • in touch and control of her feelings
  • caring and nurturing
  • emotionally stable

That last one made me laugh. Me? Emotionally stable? Now?

Cups = water energy = emotions, feelings, intuition

I looked closer at the card. The cup in this card is the only one in the entire suit of cups that has a lid. Since cups represent the element water which points to emotions and feelings, and the Queen’s cup is closed, I always interpret that card to mean that the person I’m reading for (in this case myself) is emotionally stable, or at least in control of her emotions.

This is simply not the case at that moment, I thought and returned to shuffle some more in order to clarify the Queen of Cups.

But something stopped me.

I took the card back into my hand and looked more closely at the images.

She’s sitting on a throne on a pebble beach, and her foot touches the pebbles but not the water. This means she’s grounded.

In what? I wondered. In reality? Was this an attempt to demonstrate that even in times of stress and upset, I am capable of finding my footing again, just like the Queen in this card does?

Another way to look at this:

Her cup of emotions is closed and her foot grounded, therefore she is in touch with her emotions but not overwhelmed by them.

Hm… I was beginning to open my mental channels at that point to allow the messages to flow in.

What else did I miss in my card? I looked again and noticed some angels carved into her throne. The one on the bottom was waving directly at me.

How did I miss this before? The angel there could represent my spirit guide, and it’s waving to let me know “I see you, you are not alone, you are safe”.

I suddenly felt better.

Maybe there is something to be said about spirit guides after all, I considered when I noticed the two other angels at the top of the throne.

Guardian angels, I immediately thought.

The cup on the Queen’s lap featured even more angels. Did you notice the handles on her cup resemble angels with large wings?


Intrigued, I checked a couple of my favorite sources online to see what they might say. One of them indicated that the cup being closed points to the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind, as we know, feeds us our habits, memories, beliefs. It was ironic that I had spent the day cleaning and cooking while plugged in to videos and podcasts about the subconscious mind, seeking to understand more about why we react to triggers the way we do.

The card suddenly made more sense to me.

When I first looked at it, I interpreted it as strong female energy who is in control of her emotions. This confused me because I most certainly did not feel in control at all at that moment.

But the card’s symbolism helped me to tap into my intuition and opened the channel to see further than my immediate circumstances.

Perhaps the message was this:

You have what it takes to master your emotions and handle everything that life throws at you with maturity.

Certainly something to aim for, isn’t it.

This was all fine and dandy, but I wanted to know more, so I returned to shuffling. I figured one additional card to clarify and deepen the message of the Queen of Cups might close out a more rounded picture of my present circumstances.

Imagine my surprise when another court card appeared, this time the King of Swords.

Keywords – King of Swords

  • mental clarity
  • reasoning
  • intellectual power
  • maturity
  • authority
  • truth

Immediately I saw myself, a Libra, identify with the sword.

Swords = element air = thoughts and intellect

Libra is an air sign. I am a Libra sun (and a Cancer moon).

Side note: Libra is an air sign and Cancer a water sign. See how the water sign links me back to the Queen of Cups (water element)?

Like Angie said in a previous comment, these two cards together look like an attempt at balancing everything: male and female, subconscious and conscious mind, thinking and feeling, yin and yang

Kings are at the top of their respective suits. He represents strong dominant (male) energy. Given I was feeling disheveled and unsettled by family circumstances, I didn’t understand at first how to connect the king energy to the queen energy I received earlier.

So, just like before, I looked closer at the images and their symbolic meanings to try and figure out what the card was trying to tell me.

The King is sitting on a throne holding a sword and his right hand. I know that the right hand represents the conscious mind, whereas the left hand represents the subconscious mind.

If the King is in touch with his conscious mind and the Queen with the subconscious mind what we are looking at here is a sense of balance.

Remember how I mentioned I was a Libra? The Libra symbol is a scale and Libras are notoriously known for always wanting to be in perfect balance and harmony.

If you look closer at the King of Swords card you can see that he is pointing his sword straight upward and tilted slightly to the left (my left, looking at the card from my vantage point). I knew that pointing upward meant something to do with thoughts and I know that the left side was linked to the subconscious.

Pointing up = thoughts

Pointing left = subconscious

Meaning this:

Decisions are mostly made on intellectual understanding of circumstances but the King of Swords remains open to the intuitive side, which comes from the subconscious mind, before he dispenses his ruling.

This means that the King has a firm hold on decision making (he stands by his ruling) but remains flexible in matters presented to him (allows it to influence his ruling).

Like a Libra he desires fair results for all.

There was other smaller symbolism I almost missed, but remembering the Queen of Cups card, I cast another look at my King card.

See the angel carved into the throne, just beside the King’s head? Is this another spirit guide, whispering encouragement into the King’s ear?

The butterfly above the King’s head, also carved into the throne, means something is undergoing a transformation.

So what does this mean for me?

I began to conclude that realignment has begun. Is my phase of family disconnect and disharmony on its way toward resolution?

Queen’s intuitive energy taps into her emotions, King’s intellectual energy keeps things fair for all.
Together they feed and nurture each other until they balance in perfect harmony.

This is what I need, I thought, looking at my cards. Are they telling me I am on the path to realignment?

The King energy reminded me I am well-positioned to judge my situation appropriately and identify any limiting behaviours getting in the way.

Which, up until that point, didn’t exactly hold true. But this was exactly the right message I needed to hear to clear up my self-limiting thoughts (which, at the time, were mostly about feeling inadequate at parenting teenagers).

There was another message that the King energy illustrates:

As he sits there all alone on his throne, he embodies a sense of detachment.

The message to me is clear:

Perhaps worrying about life events surrounding the family circumstances, one might appear as not particularly caring or sympathetic toward others. To be clear, you are caring and sympathetic in principle, but you keep a sense of detachment in order to preserve your mental bandwidth at selected times.

Reminder: You are not responsible for the thoughts of other people, you are only responsible for your own thoughts. And if detachment is needed right now, then so be it.

While you may worry that you are not being particularly caring or sympathetic with others at the moment, this detachment is what you need most right now. Detachment doesn’t have to be a bad thing; sometimes, solitude can lead to self-reflection which may provide the mental clarity one desires but is unable to attain during the heated engagement with others.

Take the well-deserved moments of pause and consider it an exercise in self-love and self-care.

This is my interpretation of the two cards, the Queen of Cups and the King of Swords.

Thank you for stopping by Tarot Tuesday. See you in the comments!

This is an analysis of two tarot cards which describes, in detail, the symbolism of the artistic interpretation. I was able to apply the symbolism to my personal situation, but the description of the cards and meaning behind the symbolism may help you in a personal situation. If nothing else, the cards may demonstrate how for some people, like me, they can become a tool to help achieve deeper understanding leading to mental clarity. I do other deep analysis of tarot and oracle cards and provide them in form of PDFs which can be accessible here.


5 thoughts on “How to read the Queen of Cups and King of Swords

  1. The is brilliant, “solitude can lead to self-reflection which may provide the mental clarity one desires but is unable to attain during the heated engagement with others.” Sometimes I long for solitude above all else! Here’s to finding some clarity. Hugs, C

    Liked by 1 person

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