The Motherpeace Tarot is a feminist-inspired deck of tarot cards, in which most of the figures are female. It was created in the late 1970s by two women from Berkeley, California, Karen Vogel and Vicki Noble. The idea for the deck came to them in a vision in 1978. The artwork in the deck is original. Despite its departure from more traditional Tarot iconography, the deck is still in print and widely distributed. Inspiration for the deck comes from myth and literature by and about women, including Greek and Roman myth, and contemporary writers, such as Alice Walker.
"Karen felt our room literally tilt, and Vicki proceeded to have a life changing vision of Goddess energy and transmission of ancient wisdom."
They began working on their own tarot shortly after. The women began devising their new, feminist based deck based on their personal knowledge of feminism, history, alternative healing, and psychic studies. Vogel and Noble explored feminism on each continent. They followed traditions back to their origins, finding out how important women were in indigenous cultures. The Goddess was a very important figure in ancient cultures.
The cards contain custom artwork by Vogel and Noble. All of the scenes depicted are centered on women. The images are meant to focus on the importance of ritual, artistic expression, uniqueness and the idea of a culture that supports one another.
At the time this deck was created, the feminist movement was experiencing a surge in popularity. Women were empowering themselves in a variety of ways, but a great deal of attention was placed on feminist art and the relationships forged between the artist, the work, and the viewer. This time period is often viewed as one of the most progressive eras of feminist artwork. Although the mood of the 1970s was reported to be somewhat dark and uncertain, particularly in the Berkeley area where Vogel and Noble resided, the empowerment that many women gained through exploring their spirituality and artistic selves helped to push them through the decade.
The round shape of the cards is significant. The departure from the normally rectangular shape is meant to represent fertility of women. This draws from classic feminist artwork which also uses many different symbols of fertility and femininity. However, the round shape is not particular to this single deck. Fiona Morgan also created her own deck with round cards. The cards are hard to handle because of their shape but skilled hands can handle them deftly.
There are some differences between the Motherpeace deck and other traditional tarot decks.
- VIII is Justice as opposed to Strength
- IX is The Crone as opposed to The Hermit
- XI is Strength as opposed to Justice
- XII is The Hanged One as opposed to The Hanged Man
The changes in the Motherpeace's Minor Arcana are seen in the Court Cards
- Daughter replaces the Page
- Son replaces the Knight
- Priestess replaces the Queen
- Shaman replaces the King
These changes bring the mind back to the family rather than the monarchy that no longer exists. By having these characters instead of the originals the Motherpeace deck suggests that we can make our own future.
This deck has its own tarot spread. The spread consists of eleven card set in a circular pattern. The circular pattern is repeated in the cards used. The circle is the symbol of women and femininity. The cards are read in a particular pattern, each card meaning something different.
1 Who or where you are at the moment.
2 Atmosphere what's behind the question.
3 Cross Current The lesson you need to learn.
4 Root unconscious influences in the body.
5 Sky Personality, spirit, how you behave.
6 Passing Away events up to last week.
7 Near future Tomorrow to next week.
8 Self Concept How you see yourself.
9 Hopes and fears if Major Arcana, a reality.
10 House Group/persons you are connected to.
11 Outcome Should be Major Arcana. If not,draw up to three cards until Major Arcana appears.If none, outcome is mixed.
- "Motherpeace Tarot :: Welcome", n.d., http://www.motherpeace.com/index.php.
- "Origins of the Motherpeace Tarot". Retrieved September 30, 2011.
- Broude, Garrard, and Brodsky, power of feminist art: the American movement of the 1970s, history and impact (New York: H.N. Abrams, 1994).
- William Graebner, Patty's Got A Gun (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008).
- Zajko and Leonard, Laughing with Medusa: classical myth and feminist thought, Classical presences (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006).
- Greer, Mary K. (2002). Tarot for your self a workbook for personal transformation. Franklin Lakes, NJ: New Page Books. p. 216.
- Joyce Goggin, "A History of Otherness: Tarot and Playing Cards from Early Modern Europe," Journal for the Academic Study of Magic, no. 1 (2003): 45-73.