Compassion Isn’t Just Something We Feel For Other People

The Queen of Cups has been showing up a lot in my readings lately.

Often referred to as the ‘Mother Card’, she represents nurture and compassion. Strangely enough, even though these are the qualities I would like to develop in myself and receive from others, I have never been able to empathize with this card. When I first learned to read tarot, one of the exercises I did to gain better understanding of the court cards (similar to the Jacks, Queens and Kings in a playing card deck) was to categorize the courts into two piles of like and dislike. No matter which deck I used, she was always in the dislike pile.

That is, until recently, when I used the So Below Deck by Barbara Moore.


I felt a connection to this card for the first time in my life. This was quickly followed by a very surprising realization that I was empathizing with the wrong person in the card!

This deck portrays the courts differently from most other decks. Instead of depicting four separate people, the court cards in each suit portray the same person in different situations. Furthermore, the feminine suits use male characters while the masculine suits use female characters. Having forgotten this because I haven’t used this deck in some time, the person I had naturally empathized with was the sick/sad woman in the card instead of the caretaker.

For the first time in my life, I consciously acknowledged the aspect of myself that was, not only weak, but indulged in being weak. I looked back on my life and saw all those moments of self-imposed sadness because I had convinced myself that I wasn’t good enough or that no one can possibly care about the things that were important to me. I thought about all the times that I gave up instead of giving myself a chance.

This was a very important revelation to me. I had never thought of myself as a person of low self-esteem. I think, subconsciously, I had believed that low self-esteem was something that belonged to obviously miserable people – the type of people who slouch, can’t look people in the eyes and cover up all the mirrors at home.

I see now that it is a bad habit many people possess. Most of us feel bad about ourselves one way or another. We punish and berate ourselves for things that we would never even dream of faulting other people for.

I am reminded of a conversation I had with a colleague of mine. I saw her walking down the hallway one day in an outfit that I particularly liked. In addition to that, she had also done something different with her hair. I thought she looked fantastic and told her so. Instead of accepting the compliment, she pointed out all the things about her appearance that she believed to be flawed. I told her that I don’t see any of the things she mentioned and that we all see the worst in ourselves. She eventually agreed and asked, “Why do we bully ourselves?”

Why do we bully ourselves? Is it a misguided attempt to be humble? Are we constantly comparing ourselves to others? Do we have unreasonable expectations of ourselves?

For me, I think it’s a mixture of all of the above. It’s a deeply ingrained habit that will take time to fix.

Until I am ‘cured’, the Queen of Cups serves as a reminder that compassion isn’t just something we reserve for other people – it’s something that we need to feel for ourselves as well.

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