Queen of Alembics


Queen of Alembics (Cups)

Planetary: Saturn (Above) / Earth (Below)

Diamond Path: Binah, Understanding (Above) / Malkuth, Kingdom (Below)

Geomantic Figure: Populus

Tetragram: Water (Above) / Water (Below)

Keywords: Love in Action, Deep Introspection, Higher Standards, Dangerous, Creativity, Memory, Stillness, Calm Before the Storm, Floods, Culling, Evolution, Lady of the Lake, Eco-warrior, Nature Red in Tooth and Claw

Keywords (Ill-Dignified): Overwhelmed, Weak Will, Failing to Follow the Will of Heaven, Getting Lost, Confined, Trapped, Misandry


Historical: The Queen of Alembics is a very dangerous monarch, and gets underestimated in nearly every accounting that is done on her. Some accountings are practically insulting, pigeonholing her as an emotionally fragile simpleton.
     The Pierpont Morgan-Bergamo Visconti-Sforza pack has a Queen facing the viewer, looking askance. She is wearing a lapis blue cloak and an ornately decorated golden dress with a Visconti solar disc, with spiral arms all over it. Standing on a hexagon, her green-gloved hands hold a huge ornate goblet and the other hand is raised in blessing.

Golden Dawn: Called The Queen of Cups, Queen of the Thrones of the Waters, The Queen of Cups card corresponds to the zodiacals Gemini and Cancer and places at Sephira #3 (Binah,) in the Golden Dawn system.
     A dopey looking (supposedly dreamy,) looking girl is flanked by flowing ribbons of water on most versions of the Golden Dawn tarot, including the Hermetic Tarot by Godfrey Dowson. A lobster in a cup and an ibis are traditionally shown. A halo surrounds her crowned head and she is wearing a scaled breastplate and a flowing dress. The water is flowing out of her dress.

Thoth: Attraction, reflection and mimicry, are the powers assigned to her. Although he does properly identify her powers, Crowley fails to understand or to explain how intentional she can be when performing her sorcery, or how deadly, and the imagery is milquetoast at best. At worst, it has the corpse-like appearance of the worst Golden Dawn figures, although, it isn’t as bad as the zombie we find on the Princess of Cups. A redeeming quality is the looping geometry signifying illusion.

Mutational Alchemy Interpretation: Deadly, mysterious and utterly enchanting, the Queen of Alembics has, for too long, been heaped upon with symbols that carry all of the effectiveness of an anchovy, or a sieve, since her former days of glory on the Visconti-Sforza tarot. In the signs however, we find she is actually a very efficient and ruthless tactician. Her path is a no nonsense straight arrow from Geburah to Malkuth, meaning, she is one who changes circumstances at a fundamental level, and she carries the tetragram of double Yin, Water over Water or Old Yin over Old Yin – this is the dark side. It makes her an especial ally of Yang and Heaven, so this may be where her rumored ethereal beauty comes from. She should never have been assigned the passive pigeon role, anywhere, at any time. Even though Yin is classically called *The Receptive*, this in no way makes her passive, she is quite volatile, in fact one might be better off attributing oil to Yin, than water, or anything that is flammable.
     She will also share the nature of Yin to follow loyally, like a mare, and she, the so-called Valley Spirit, is tireless. Depending on the circumstances she will be a fiercely loyal and tireless, or one’s worst and most slippery enemy, dauntless and full of capability and of course, many powerful allies.

The Scene: Thalassa or Tethys is the personification of the lonely ocean, called The Fish Mother, daughter of Air and Daytime.  Not much remains of the old Titan’s lore. We know that she was identified at least part of the time, in history, as the mother of the nine Telchines, excellent metallurgists, who carried snow, hail and rain and eventually became hateful towards humans and poisoned their water supply. Along with the ocean, she governed over all major rivers. Her consort was Pontus, father of the Old Man of the Sea, Nereus. Pontus is therefore a kind of grandfather, and Tethys a grandmother. Pontus is born of Gaia, without a father, meeting the definition of a self created deity and thus very lofty, like the self created god-serpent, Atum of Egypt

“She [Gaia] bore also the fruitless deep with his raging swell, Pontus, without sweet union of love.”

— Hesiod, Theogony (130)

With Pontus, she gave birth to not only the Telchines, but to Halia, mother of a hybrid race of serpents and all of the living creatures in the sea. Tethys is literally the sea, wild and unpredictable, with the pervading life giving bounty, that supported the Greek people for millennia. She was an associate of Poseidon later on, as the temples of Poseidon included statues of her, but her origins are Pre-Olympian. She was a nurse to Hera, and it is through this story we learn that Tethys has the power to rearrange the stars in the sky, per her command, as Hera asks her “nurse” to do this for her.
     She sometimes is depicted in mosaics as accompanied by a great sea serpent. She and her husband’s horns, like crab’s arms, indicate their divine prerogative and echo the ram’s horns of Khepri, counterpart to Atum, who is represented as a ram-headed scarab. In some depictions, only her husband has horns, and she has two grey bird’s wings, like that of Hermes, on her forehead.
     The power of Yin can best define this character, and as the Queen of Alembics moves from Binah to Malkuth, she coming from a very high place, the residence of Tiamat, the Sumerian oceanic creatrix. (Tiamat, herself, is depicted on the Major Arcana, The Empress, but more than encompasses all of the traits of the Queen of Alembics as well) Binah, the Mother, is also referred to as the Sea of Binah. Some of the negative attributions that are given to her as an ill-dignified interpretation properly belong to her dignified orientation. Her cool and indifferent personality are a part of herself, naturally, contrary to the warm and loving prattle that is automatically applied to her in nearly every rehashed Tarot book. Saturn in the above and Earth in the below, clearly illustrate this dangerous but down to earth contradiction. like Tethys, or the ocean, she is faithful only to the Great Sea itself, and the sea serpent that accompanies her, represents the Great Beast, the All-Father to whom Yin and Water cleaves, alone. The sunken ship in the distance underscores her treacherous nature to mere mortals.
      To impress her, you need to hold to universal law – she demands it, and does so herself. Contrary to being emotional, she is about action, based on emotions. She loves her consort, and will do anything for him based on that alone, no matter the cost. This makes her treacherous and dangerous, but ultimately predictable, as he is the Lord of Life. Anything that threatens her Lord or  Life overall will be an affront to her, personally, repaid with both vengeance and healing. Evolution, with its horrible dramas of Life and Death are ultimately a machination that serves to preserve Life, overall. She is not a nice person in the traditional sense of the word, she is the great Mother of all Life, not just humans. A strong modern interpretation for this card is caring for ecosystems, but also, the turbulent and violent energy of wild nature.

Significant Revisions/Additions:

Geomantic: Called Populus (Latin for *the People*) in its medieval interpretation, the correct Elemental association should define it as a (Mature) Feminine/Emotional character corresponding to the qabbalistic Briah (Creation) in the Four Celestial (or Elemental) Worlds.

Jungian Type:  Idealists Class / INFP (Healer) Type

Quiet yet sociable and pleasant, The INFP are passionate about their ethics and are excellent diplomats when it comes to building bridges with others in order to share and sway others to their view. They are helpful and artistic, caring primarily about the wellbeing of people and the quality of their creative projects.