Something that’s been nagging at me since I launched my online tarot practice is a feeling that I have trouble defining exactly. If I had to try, I suppose I’d say inadeguatezza, which translates literally as inadequacy, but in Italian feels more like a concept to me than simply a word. It represents to me a nebulous feeling of not being quite good enough, of not having what it takes, or somehow being just out of reach of success.
Frankly I have no idea why these feelings are bothering me, because I’ve been fortunate in my life to have had success in various careers and in various projects. I’ve always been an extremely hard worker and always dedicate myself to the task until I see it through and succeed. What’s more, and fortunately, my tarot practice doesn’t serve as my sole source of income from work, so therefore I don’t have to and shouldn’t approach it from a place of desperation, need, or fear.
Nonetheless, something about launching my tarot practice has me confronting an indefinable feeling of shaky ground beneath me. I suppose part of it is because this is an entirely new field for me to venture in professionally: the metaphysical realm and all the ambiguities that come in a field with such a wide spectrum of practitioners ranging from dedicated, caring professionals all the way across to rather shady characters looking to make a quick buck. In addition, it seems to me as I look out from my starting point in the professional reading world, that there is so much competition online and such a wide range of truly talented professionals that one could choose from for a reading, that I end up asking myself where I might possibly fit into the mix, despite knowing from my clients and my own experiences that I have something valuable to offer as well.
This got me to thinking of the larger picture, and an issue that many of us face at one time or another in our lives in various areas whether it be career, or relationships, or as parents, or any number of other areas in which we might be tempted to see others as somehow “better” or more capable than we.
How can we stop comparing ourselves to others and start nurturing and expanding our own unique talents and gifts to share with the world?
For a response to this question through the assistance of the tarot I drew one card, and it was the Queen of Pentacles. One-card readings allow us to focus on a message more closely and in more detail than we might normally do in a reading with multiple cards. Because it stands alone here, it can tell its story directly. By observing the Queen of Pentacles in depth and “full strength” as the answer to my question, I allowed it to reveal its specific messages about my uncomfortable and inexplicable feelings of inadequacy, and what it wants to tell me regarding this.
Of course being that I practice the tarot professionally, I have a range of responses to this card that come to the surface immediately, based on years of practice. Clearly we’re going to get certain baseline impressions of the Queen of Pentacles right off the bat: abundance, nurturing, being taken care of and taking care of others. In fact the Queen of Pentacles is very similar to The Empress in this sense. There are lots of ways to define the subtle differences between these two cards, however, and here’s just one example of a forum discussion of this very topic.
Now though, let’s take a broader look at what this card can tell all of us about how we can stop comparing ourselves negatively to others, and why we don’t need to–and shouldn’t–do so.
Look first at how lovingly the Queen holds and gazes at the pentacle, or coin, in her hand. The pentacle here represents our inner gifts and talents and how we manifest them in the external world, the material world, the realm of the suit of pentacles. The queen’s energy here is a caring energy that gently reminds us to be compassionate both with ourselves and in respect to our own very unique, very individual talents that we alone can contribute to the world.
The queen here is telling us that we don’t need to compare ourselves to others, because what we have to offer the world in terms of our practical skills and gifts can only come from us, and so we need to honor and nurture our own unique contributions.
This message is particularly important when comparing ourselves negatively to others in terms of career or vocation, because it reminds us that comparing is useless: every individual possesses their own unique treasure (here in the form of the pentacle itself) to bring into the physical world. By comparing, we neglect to honor our unique value and skills, thereby bringing ourselves down while at the same time diminishing the very energy and power we could be feeding to grow our personal talents.
This queen is surrounded by a variety of blooming plants and flowers, rich soil from the ground, the colors of spring, and a flowering that extends to the very borders of the card itself, giving the impression of unlimited growth that extends outward from her very being. This queen already has everything that she needs in order to be successful. Her external environment supports her in helping her manifest her unique contribution in the physical world, and the throne that she sits on stabilizes her within her nurturing environment. (Quite in contrast to my own feelings of “shaky ground beneath my feet”!)
The queen’s surroundings support her compassion for her unique gifts. When we compare ourselves to others and look longingly or enviously to what others have, we neglect to see what supports us in our immediate external environment. We are then unable to appreciate and draw on the resources that we already have at our disposal for nurturing our success.
Have you ever noticed the little brown rabbit in the lower right-hand corner of the card? It’s a detail that could easily be overlooked if one wasn’t careful about considering the value of everything in the card of the Queen of Pentacles.
Rabbits are often associated with fertility because of their ability to reproduce so quickly. Of course they’re also in Western culture traditionally associated with spring and Easter, so therefore with new growth. They’re adventurous and leap quickly at opportunities without letting them pass by. They’re grounded and close to the material resources of Mother Earth.
What does this symbolism tell us about not comparing ourselves to others? Again, we are shown to trust in and honor our own innate ability to produce and reproduce abundantly what only we ourselves–not others–can offer the world. We’re encouraged to become acquainted with, intimately know, and then have unshakeable faith in the necessity and wisdom of the cycles of the Earth and of life itself: death as an inevitable and necessary part of winter followed by growth and rebirth upon the return of spring.
In short, the Queen of Pentacles reminds us and teaches us that we are all one-of-a-kind beings, and as such, each of us is endowed with an intrinsic, natural worth and inborn value. She shows us that it’s our own responsibility however to cultivate our talents, gifts, and interests with both compassion and nurturing.
Because no one else can do this for us, the Queen of Pentacles calls us to be our own best friend. A best friend wouldn’t say cruelly to us “Look at how much better X is than you are! You’ll never make it like they do!” and so, we shouldn’t be our own worst enemies either. This queen isn’t looking at others, but rather is lovingly focused on and secure in her own abundance and the abundance of her surrounding Universe, trusting innately that she is taken care of, by virtue of the unique gifts she brings to the physical world.