Awhile back, I was talking about symbolism during one of my Tarot classes and one of the students asked me about the significance of black cat in the Queen of Wands card.
I have to admit that in the past, I had not given too much thought to the cat. When people think of cats, often they think of feminine qualities. To me, cats are also a creature of independent spirit (what’s that old saying about trying to herd cats?). So in the past, I always thought of this card as representing the feminine side of this queen as well as her independence – she is, after all, the businesswoman par excellence.
But the question got me thinking so I decided to do a bit of research. In Rachel Pollack’s book “Seventy-eight Degrees of Wisdom”, she states:
“In Christian folklore, the Devil gave a black cat to a witch to guard her from attach. The meaning here is less melodramatic. Sometimes if a person loves life, the world appears to respond by protecting the person from harm and send her or him joyous experiences. We cannot understand the way in which this happens without reaching the complex and inner knowledge of the universe symbolized by the last cards of the Major Arcana. Nevertheless, it can happen, and the black cat shows this response to nature to someone who approaches it with fiery joy”.
I can certainly see this in the card – the cat does look as if it is guarding the queen, protecting her (while the queen seems to be oblivious to its presence – or is simply ignoring the cat). Here, the cat can represent some sort of a guardian – someone that has got your back. Or may also indicate the protective qualities of the Queen of Wands – and the extent she will go to in order to guard her loved ones.
The cat could also be an indication of luck – in afro-cuban folklore, the presence of cat with its tail pointing upwards (as it is doing in this card) suggests a positive change in luck for that which you hold dear.
Behind the queen are two lions. Lions represent Leo and the element of fire. When one thinks of a lion, qualities such as power, leadership, courage and strength come to mind. With the unharnessed energy of fire, those qualities can be difficult to control at times (the Queen of Wands can represent burning passions & intense desires – and can be “hot” tempered). Perhaps the cat represents the domestication of those qualities – the queen takes the raw power of the lion and tames it, making it useful. As the cat can represent domesticity, so to the Queen of Wands is the ruler of hearth and home. But there is power and strength underneath, waiting to come forth when needed.
Of course, many associate the black cat with witches and witchcraft, perhaps suggesting a darker side of this card. According to Eden Gray, the black cat represents “the sinister side of Venus”. The Queen of Wands does have a charismatic personality – perhaps almost the ability to “bewitch” others with her charm. But to me, the “witchiness” of the black cat suggests not only intuition but also occult feminine power. In Irish, Welsh and Breton folklore, the cat is sacred to the Goddess. In ancient Rome, the cat was also sacred to Diana, the Moon goddess – and of course in ancient Egypt, to the Goddess Bast.
I work with the Druid Animal Oracle deck by Philip Carr-Gomm from time to time and decided to take a peek at the companion book, as the cat was considered a sacred animal of the Druid Tradition (the Goddess Brighid had a cat as a companion). The book gives the keywords “Guardianship, Detachment and Sensuality” and goes on to say that:
“Cat brings us the ability to observe situations quietly without judgement, before making decisions. Apparently asleep, but really listening, a cat can sit for hours until it acts with decisiveness. Remember the saying ‘a cat may look at a king.’ You have the right to know and to judge important issues for yourself in your own time”
We all know that cats can be fiercely independent much like the Queen of Wands. Cats can also be playful, mysterious, secretive, intuitive, unconventional, intelligent, watchful, finicky, watchful, lovable and ruthless when necessary – all qualities that can be applied to this queen depending on the situation – or position in the spread.
So when interpreting this card, keep in mind some of the different possibilities that this cat can represent – as this can certainly add additional depth and understanding to the card.