Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Tarot Tales: Q is for the Queens

Welcome to the 2021 A to Z Blogging Challenge! My theme this year is Tarot Tales. I am making a selection of folktales, legends, and other traditional stories that correspond to tarot cards. Storytelling and tarot go well together. Do other stories come to mind? Let me know in the comments!

Once again, I am doing Court Cards from the Minor Arcana, so there will be four stories instead of one.

Queen of Cups: The king who trusted his kingdom to his daughters (Jewish tale)

This Queen is about compassion, caring, and empathy. She is a mom friend, a naturally loving and nurturing person. She feels everything deeply, but she does not get lost in her emotions. For this card, I chose the tale with the very long title above; I blogged about it in detail in my Feminist Folktales series here. It features a princess who is very compassionate. She finds a way to turn her tears into diamonds, and uses the gems to help people in need. In the end, she becomes a beloved queen. 

Queen of Swords: Balqis, Queen of Sheba 

This Queen is smart, direct, outspoken, and just. She is independent and respected, an authority by her own right, and she likes clear things - be it communication, boundaries, or logical, unbiased solutions to problems. Since I had King Solomon as King of Swords, I thought it would be fitting to have his intellectual and political equal, the Queen of Sheba as Queen of Swords. 
There are many legends about her from many cultures; I especially like the Arabic stories. Balqis (or Bilquis) is the ruler of the Land of Sheba (associated with Yemen). When she hears about King Suleyman (Solomon), the two of them start up an exchange of messages with the help of a hoopoe. Balqis sends Suleyman some riddles to solve and tricky tasks to fulfill to test him; when he passes the tests, she goes to visit him herself. Upon arrival Suleyman managed to trick her too (out of all things, he wants her to lift her skirt to see if her legs are hairy... and they are). Balqis asks a series of riddles, which Suleyman manages to answer, and they ascertain that they are well matched in wisdom and intellect. In some legends they get married (or at least sleep together), but in most stories Balqis eventually returns to her own country to rule in her own right. (Read another version here.)

Queen of Wands: Brave Seventee Bai (India)

This Queen gets things done. She is brave, active, determined, and confident. She is a force to be reckoned with, and draws a lot of attention. She is a social butterfly with a lot of connections; she is just all-around very likable, friendly, and warm. 
For this card I chose an Indian folktale hero, Seventee Bai. She is the daughter of a wazir who becomes a prince's second wife. However, when the family is exiled into the wilderness, the prince bails on his wives. Seventee puts on his clothes and moves on, saving herself and her co-wife. They live in another kingdom for 12 years, and Seventee becomes the beloved and trusted advisor of the local raja. Eventually he sends Seventee out on various quests and errands, all of which she fulfills, rescuing/winning six other princesses in the process. Magic trees, giant snakes, horse races, nothing is impossible to Seventee Bai. Eventually her husband returns from the wilderness as a wretched beggar - and she hands over all seven princesses and the wealth she gained to him. Not gonna lie, I'm infinitely miffed about that ending. But it's a very cool story almost all the way.

Queen of Pentacles: Queen Anait (Armenia)

This Queen is also a nurturing person, but in a more practical sense. She is a person who creates a safe home, a loving environment, provides food and financial security as her way of showing affection. She is practical, hands-on, supportive, and independent. She immediately reminded me of Queen Anait from Armenia, one of my favorite feminist folktales. The Anait in the story weaves beautiful carpets and teaches people to read and write. She is only willing to marry a man who has a practical profession, and when she becomes queen, this principle saves her husband's life and the entire kingdom. 

Do you have women like these in your life? Are you one of them? Do they remind you of anyone?


  1. I was born to the Queen of Pentacles and married the Queen of Cups.

  2. He wants to know if the Queen of Sheba's legs are hairy? How odd!
    Very wise to marry a man with a "practical profession!" Some would want to marry a queen to live an easy life.

  3. I love John's comment! The Queen of Pentacles is very common in my family ;)

  4. Love this feminist take on "the queens." Some great stories as always. (I also like the asides!)

    Anne from annehiga.com

  5. Love your story choices, and think choosing Sheba since you chose Solomon was a great connection. The Seventeen Bai tale does need a revised ending, but yay to all the strong, wise, and resourceful women/queens. And what a wonderful talent turning tears into diamonds.

  6. Lovely tales, all, but I think the Queen of Swords is my favorite. In my own stories, most of my heroines are independent women who don't need men much. None of them are fighters or wield swords, but all of them make their own decisions and chose their own paths, and woe to any man who stands in their way.

  7. My father taught me card tricks as a child so that I could identify cards from his verbal messages. The secret code for the four queens was my mother. She was strong, resourceful and resilient after his early death. I think she was closest to Seventeen Bai although her husband did not come back.

  8. Love these queens!

    Ronel visiting for the A-Z Challenge with an A-Z of Faerie: Season Fae