“There are moments in life, when the heart is so full of emotion
That if by chance it be shaken, or into its depths like a pebble
Drops some careless word, it overflows, and its secret,
Spilt on the ground like water, can never be gathered together”
--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (American Poet, 1807-1882)
With some people, you never have to guess what they are feeling, and it's not because they have chosen to display their emotions to the world, it's that they simply cannot do otherwise. Their emotions are the water in which they live and move and by which they navigate their daily lives. Emotions, being inconstant and very powerful, are often mistrusted and therefore thought to be a poor way to make one's decisions, but I wish the Greeks had never disparaged the passions that way and ascribed them to the realm of "women." For in the dualistic Greek philosophies, all things untameable, wild, free and mysterious were seen as base and therefore "feminine." The Greeks did not deny the existence of emotion in men, obviously, but being ruled by one's emotions was believed to be a shortcoming, not a strength. Control over one's passions was a much loftier goal, lest one be found too "womanly."
"Men are no more immune from emotions than women; we think women are more emotional because the culture lets them give free vent to certain feelings, "feminine" ones, that is, no anger please, but it's okay to turn on the waterworks," wrote Una Stannard, feminist author. Here is where the nuances of this Queen as well as her glaring stereotype crystalizes. She represents both the way patriarchal influences have disparaged emotions as being weaker and "feminine" (read: bad), but she also demonstrates the value of emotions and the strength of allowing them to guide and shape our lives.
The negative beliefs about emotionalism still reigns in our attitudes today, and as such the Queen of Cups is often seen as someone who indulges "too much" in waves of feelings, illustrated above as the Queen of Cups from the Tarot of Durer drinks deeply and sensuously from her cup. She's viewed as inconstant, prone to too much idealism and flights of fancy, she's romantic, dreamy, and otherworldly. She cries a lot, laughs a lot, and seems a bit too childlike. Personally, I do not find anything negative about someone who is so in touch with their emotions that they wouldn't understand how to live without them being so prominent and on the surface. This Queen is double water as she embodies the Queen's element of water as well as the cups' water element, so she is "water of water" and yes, that's a lot of water. If one is comfortable and accepting of one's own emotions, this Queen can be seen as more positive than negative, and even honored for her abilities to navigate her own as well as others' emotions with skill and familiarity.
This queen makes a tremendous counselor, artist, mother, and therapist. She is empathic and intuitive, often to a freakishly psychic degree. She may come across as naieve, but she isn't. She has sailed the rough seas and knows how to survive the onslaught of stormy emotional waves. If someone is in crisis, she is the one to call. She'll talk you down from the ledge, soothe your fears, and make sense of the chaos in your heart and soul. She knows the secrets of the heart and honors the pulse of it as it overtly or covertly moves you. Though many of us wish to deny it, she knows the strength of emotions and doesn't try to rationalize or whitewash their importance in logical sounding theories and formulas. In the Queen of Cup's embrace, you are accepted fully.
True enough, she is apt to drown her sorrows in too much drink, too many heartfelt displays of dramatic weeping and wailing, and yet it's not the "drama queen" put on of say, Scarlett O'Hara whose crocodile tears were simply a mechanism of emotional manipulation. Scarlett, I think, is much more a Queen of Wands, but we can debate that if you like. The Queen of Cups truly feels the pain as deeply as is being displayed, though the crisis may only have been a torn hangnail. While the Queen of Cups can and will use emotional manipulation, it is less calculated. It comes so naturally to her, she may not even realize she is doing it, but her skillful knowledge of the emotional landscape of others gives her the advantage that way, and if her emotions turn sour, she is likely to use that knowlege to her own ends. When ill-aspected at her worst, this queen can show symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder, a pathological clinging vine that blows hot and cold emotions as a way of getting her own emotional needs sated.
As an advisor, the Queen of Cups urges getting in touch with your own heart and feeling your way through a situation. She recommends showing how you feel, not hiding your emotions, and recognizing and honoring the emotions of others. She asks you to walk sensitively around your own heart and the hearts of others and to use the emotional lessons you have learned not to grow a hardened shell of emotional protection, but to allow your emotions their just due and respect. Realize that when she shows up in your readings, if she is not representing another person playing a part in the situation, she is telling you to acknowledge emotions first and rather than think your way through things, but turn to your empathic intuition and feel what the right course will be. For emotions, if walled or dammed, will eventually work their way through the slightest opening and forcefully rush and flood the entire landscape. Directing the flow of emotion through one's life is more productive and there's a lot less of a mess to clean up afterwards.
The Tarot of Durer Published by Lo Scarabeo December 2002