The Queen of Cups with Herbal Pairing Holy Basil
The Queen of Cups sits calmly on a throne surrounded by water, a sandy shore of pebbles at her feet with gently rolling, fertile, green hills in the distance. Cherubs with mermaid tails are carved within her throne and pearls adorn her crown. She holds the most ornately decorated cup in the entire Tarot, and stares at it intensely, begging the querent to do the same. As we gaze at this goblet, we may ask ourselves, how does our own cup flow? With sweetness? Or is it a bitter brew that fills our days? Do we drink to remember? Or do we drink to forget? The Queen shows us how to remember – how to connect seamlessly with our intuitive selves, just as her own blue royal robes merge with the limitless turquoise waters around her. She has been chosen by her people as a leader who guides with love. With kindness. With maturity. And the miraculous, life-giving power that water brings. With it, also, is the connection to the great sea of unconsciousness to which we are all a part of, and to which our empathetic intelligence can grow in leaps and bounds if we so let it. The Queen is a master at this art, and like the High Priestess, another powerful player in the Tarot, has an awareness of herself and her own intuitive nature that she has chosen to respect, tone, nourish and protect. The Queen of Cups has not reached this position of power – and still retained such a highly intuitive state of mind and emotionally charged center – by accident. Indeed, her creativity, love, compassion, and connectivity are what brought her here, but it was also her ability to manage, shape and drive these feelings and emotions with the same force of will that we see on her face as she gazes at her chalice.
When the Queen of Cups invites us to spill tea with her during a reading, we are about to realize something about ourselves that we already know. To remember something about ourselves long forgotten. To acknowledge some aspect of ourselves no one else has yet seen. The Queen though – she can see into our hidden desires, our long-forgotten dreams, our smoldering talents, our shy, creative urges. She is not afraid of our artistic impulses, our poetic inclinations, our empathetic moments. That’s how she got to her throne, by taking the less-walked path. By holding her breath and not being afraid to dive deep under the water. And she’ll take us. If we are willing. So the question becomes, are we?
To take the journey, we must be brave. A nourishing plant companion would do us well, and the perfect companion on this type of journey is Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum). An aromatic perennial that reaches just a little over a foot in height, this pungent herb with small pink flowers grows wild in Asia and Africa, though varieties of it are cultivated globally for culinary dishes. Also commonly known as Holy Basil, it is considered within Ayurveda to be “The Incomparable One,” or “Mother Medicine of Nature” and “The Queen of Herbs,” adopted into spiritual rituals and lifestyle practices within India and grown within many an Indian garden. It contains a rich supply of nutrients and minerals like Calcium, Zinc, and Iron as well as antioxidants like Vitamins C and A. The essential oil in Holy Basil, eugenol, is anti-inflammatory and is being studied for its ability to inhibit cancer cell growth. Research also shows that it can reduce blood sugar levels for those who have prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, lowering cholesterol, insulin resistance, hypertension, and weight gain. It exhibits adaptogenic qualities – increasing our resistance to the physiological harm that stress causes, reducing exhaustion, depressive symptoms, and anxious thoughts while also creating more equilibrium within the hormones related to the stress response. This ancient herb also contains compounds that aid in digestion and nutrient absorption in the digestive tract, making it a good addition to the diets of those with chronic digestive issues or for those who suffer from stress-induced ulcers.
For journeys that require a higher awareness or a deeper sense of inner mindfulness, the Queen of Cups and a hot cup of Tulsi are all we need to become reacquainted with ourselves. Ready to dive in?
*Tarot reading is based on the Rider-Waite Tarot Card deck, illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith.
Cohen, Maurice Marc. “Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum): An Herb for All Reasons.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, 5 December 2014. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4296439/
Krans, Brian. “The Health Benefits of Holy Basil,” Healthline, 3 November 2020.
Negar, Jamshidi. “The Clinical Efficacy and Safety of Tulsi in Humans: A Systematic Review of the Literature.” Hindawi Journals, 16 March 2017. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2017/9217567/
Pollack, Rachel. Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom. San Francisco, Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC, 2007. P188-189