Motherpeace Round Tarot Court Cards
Women of Diversity
What the Deck is About
The Motherpeace round tarot deck is original and unique for several reasons. It was the first tarot deck comprised of round cards, a whimsical twist which made the deck more interesting than others available at that time. Most importantly, it was the first deck which viewed life through the lens of Feminism, as it was created during the height of the first Women’s Liberation movement in the United States during the 1970’s. These images were the brainchild of Vicki Noble and Karen Vogel, two writing and research partners in California, who drew on their combined knowledge and inspiration of the ancient archaeology, history and art of women from all cultures.
The U.S. was also engaged in the very unpopular Vietnam War during this same period, and both women had anti-war philosophies. They knew from their careers in various women’s studies that in prehistoric times, matriarchal societies lived together in harmony and peace. They grew food, raised their children, and cared for their bodies in tune with the cycles of the Earth and Moon. Everyone helped with everyday tasks together, all the children taken care of by everyone as if they were all one family, as can be seen on pictures in caves which portray mothers sharing food with their offspring, food which the men gathered for all the tribe to eat. These children were heirs to the female line of descent, and though men were a big part of the social structure, there was no such concept of paternity as it is known today. These were the actions of a culture which survived through people caring for and nurturing each other, sharing the Earth’s bounty, not people trying to make war and kill each other.
Together, Ms. Noble and Ms. Vogel delved into studies of diverse cultures and artwork of goddess art figures dating back to 30,000 years. They saw how women evolved for five million years in Africa, The Americas, Australia, Asia and Europe. They found evidence of women healers, shamans, artists and storytellers. In ancient times most important facts and events were passed on to other generations through stories or art and song. The learned ones thought their histories could more safely be preserved in the form of a game, so this is how much of their spiritual identity and philosophy was saved and passed on, in a game called the Tarot. Occult wisdom and customs could be passed if they could be hidden so it would be available for the future. Women feared that male leaders would not want women to gain power.
The message in the Motherpeace round tarot cards is one of a world view from early times, when people respected the Earth and lived by its cycles. A high value was placed on emotional expression and the celebrations of rituals and rites of passage. Each person was celebrated as unique and a wanted individual with something good to contribute to society. But it is approached in a more heart-centered and healing type of way. Its role is to teach women to reclaim their strength and power, to assure them they have no limitations, although men often try to place limits on them. This deck is an artistic attempt to show how a culture can once again exist in peace, and use its energies to heal, and not to destroy, our civilization.
These are the larger 5" diameter cards, and I recommend them because you can see the extreme amount of detail clearly. These are a unique and great gift for anyone who is interested in Tarot, art, or women's rights, as the deck was drawn at the height of the Feminist movement of the '60s!
Matriarchal Societies Without War
Many early pictures and sculptures of “Venus” were found in Stone Age Europe and in pre-Columbian statues found in Mexico and the Americas. This helps to prove that goddesses were respected and revered mythic presences all around the world. During the Ice Age, around 10,000 B.C., pictures were found on cave walls which portrayed male figures wearing animal skins and dancing. These are Shamanic rituals, as they show figures that are part man, part animal.
But the earliest images of people that are known were in a cave in Pech-Merle, France, a cave sanctuary which shows pictures of two women. One has no head, and the other is a bird-headed female, apparently ready to leave her body to set off on a shamanic journey to the spirit world. Shamanism is a religion where the Shaman had the ability to leave the physical body and go on journeys, usually to heal the physical body or the spirit, and then return to the body. This was thought to be a male religion, and the shaman also had assistance from the animal world. Our most recent shamans are the Native American medicine men and women. Our current return to the goddess is showing up in our culture with renewed interest. Many professionals who study sleep habits and dreams believe that people can and do leave their physical bodies during sleep.
These goddesses also represented fertility, as most were portrayed as pregnant, making no attempt to hide their rounded bellies or pendulous breasts. This sexual-creative power made men uncomfortable, because women could bleed without dying and give birth, two powers men did not possess. In the Middle East, pregnant women were known as Priestesses or “Holy Women of the Goddess”, and lived in temples, in the center of their communities. They owned property, transacted business, and were able to carry on their affairs freely. They performed goddess rituals, to Inanna, Ishtar, Aphrodite, and Isis, in the land of Canaan. This seems ironic in a time where the lives of women are oppressed more in the Middle Eastern culture than anywhere else in the world now.
The Wands Court
Wands Court Cards
All cards which depict people in the Motherpeace Round Tarot deck are based on Carl Jung’s archetypes, people with certain personality characteristics that are familiar to everyone. We all have people like these in our lives. The Rider- Waite Tarot deck is the most common and well loved deck, and beginners usually learn to read with it. The Court Cards consist of Pages, Knights, Queens and Kings. Each deck calls them by different names, although their element (fire, water, air or earth) usually stays the same. The Motherpeace Round Tarot Deck has changed the Court Cards to Daughters, Sons, Priestesses and Shamans. The remaining fifty-six cards are still ruled by the four elements, but are called either Minor Arcana cards or pip cards. These cards cover all the possible situations a person will find themselves in during the course of everyday life. Many have come to love Motherpeace's unique and beautiful imagery. Most Tarot readers use the Rider-Waite deck, but are acquainted with several other favorites they also use to read.
Wands symbolize fire energy, power and authority—a time to act, because from those actions growth will take place. Wands stand for energy which is passionate, filled with the spirit. Daughters are young and filled with energy. They symbolize the “inner child” in all of us, emotions, and basic drives. The Daughter of Wands expresses herself by dancing and movement. She embraces change joyfully, and grows quickly. She is very expressive, wild and untamed. She wants to burst free, to run, dance and sing. Her passion demands to be let out, as this is a time of transformation for her, and her energy will carry her through this period of growth.
The Son of Wands represents ancient Shamanistic religion and contemporary witchcraft. His energy is also untamed, but he directs his warmth to focus his energy. He uses the power of his mind filled up with intuition and joy. He represents a time when fatherhood was an act of loving union and a natural progression in life, not a mode of ownership. This card comes up at a time when you feel alive, delighted, amusing and attractive. You are witty, charming, have lots of sexual energy, and it’s a period of playfulness and creativity.
The Priestess of Wands is a very powerful woman or witch in action. She Mothers the group and is leader of the community. She collects energy and can meditate, to use her kundalini energies. These begin at the base of the spine and travel upward through the chakras of the body, ending at the top of the head at the crown chakra. She is warm, kind, and inspires people to accomplish tasks that are seemingly magical. She radiates healing light and blesses all who are near. The lioness who walks beside her is her friend and familiar. When you get this card in a reading, you are feeling self-assured and have a strong sense of purpose. You have charisma, are powerful, and filled with energy. You know how to channel this energy in the right ways.
The Shaman of Wands represents positive male power and acts well in complex situations. The throne of the Pharaoh, and the Sun-god of Horus are the symbols that kingship and of patriarchal power are his. His hand is open in invitation, he is willing to explain himself, also ready to interact and listen to others. Shamans represent the time period from around 3,000 B.C, when Horus the falcon-god was deity of all Egypt. Now this shaman represents old matriarchal traditions and is a good liaison between men and women. He respects women, but has much personal power in his world—so is a strong and liberal presence. When this card shows up in a reading, a powerful personality is capable of accomplishing long term goals, has a warm, friendly personality and makes others want to cooperate.
The Disc Court
Disc Court Cards
Discs depict Earth and whatever is physical to us, our bodies, money, or whatever is on the physical plane. They represent our health, the economy, the crops that grow in the soil, tangible things, our bodies, and our comfort levels. Pictures of Native American tribes are shown doing practical everyday chores, weaving, cooking, caring for children, all in harmony with nature. Discs, being circles, stand for feminine reproduction and perpetuation of our species, the beginning and the end of life. They symbolize barter and a fruitful harvest. They show a communal style of life, where the mother-child bond and group sharing are central, work is appreciated and meaningful, and everyone still makes time for art and music. Like Pentacles or symbols of womanhood, discs represent what is sacred and secret. The religion of the goddess is a religion of the Earth which considers the planet and all its energies sacred.
The Daughter of Discs is a young girl on a vision quest, when she goes off alone in the desert seeking her life’s purpose through fasting and prayer. Most young Native American women leave their tribal homes for a few days to survive alone, asking for protection from nature and the Earth. She makes a stone circle of safety, and will sleep in a cave while waiting for a visionary dream. She will have a pipe handed down by an elder woman of the Lakota Sioux, and the advice, “With this sacred pipe you will walk upon the Earth, for the Earth is sacred. Every step taken on her should be a prayer. When you pray with this pipe, it becomes a Universal channel between the Daughter and the Earth Mother. It begins your journey as a Shaman.” When she returns from this journey, she will be transformed. She will know what her life task will be, and her psychic channels will be opened. Her power is beginning to rise. In a more modern take, this card signals a time of solitude for a young woman, as she learns to trust the wisdom of her changing body, and how to rely on her instincts. As she seeks truth, she will learn courage. Asking Earth for guidance gives her positive powers from the Universe.
The Son of Discs seen in the Motherpeace deck is an archer, ready to hit the bulls-eye with his bow. He is steady with both feet on the ground, very earthy and sensual. He enjoys the physical activity, but as he is in tune with nature, will not kill any more than he must to eat. His clothing is green like Robin Hood, or the Jack in the Green found in British and Scottish folklore. Dressing in green to be hidden in the trees would have been a protection for him. During the Middle Ages, people were killed for living the old Pagan traditions, both men and women. This young man is a builder and hard worker who enjoys working with his hands. He is faithful and reliable, never losing sight of his goals once they are set. When this card is seen in a reading, it shows the body is in good shape, health is good, and the plans you made and executed so perfectly will be fulfilled.
The Priestess of Discs represents the joys and nurturing aspects of Motherhood. She is exhilarated to play with this beautiful child that came from her own body, and respects her body by practicing yoga, eating healthy and natural foods. She represents agriculture by planting and harvesting and celebrating the Earth for its ability to provide for her needs. She is practicing yoga while her baby rests, and gathering her kundalini energies. Her Hopi shield shows two serpents biting each other’s tails, a circle of energy. She is able to attract money to herself when she needs it, and enjoys sculpting and painting. She has visions and understands them. She is very grounded in the physical world, in harmony with nature. She has inner calm and ESP, and when in discomfort, knows natural remedies to cure what ails her. She passes on the gift of her loving touch, attuned so that she can heal others.
The Shaman of Discs is a strong woman who knows what she wants and will not be swayed from her path. She has a strong sense of her internal direction. She knows what tasks are most important for her to accomplish for the sake of her karma, but she can still enjoy her solitary journey through the desert because of its natural beauty. Her mule is very sure-footed on the canyon trail. Physical Motherhood may be behind her now, and she may be starting to enjoy this new period of life where her childbearing and rearing years are over, and she can concentrate on her own desires, with less domestic work. The bald eagle on her side indicates clarity and long distance vision, plus wisdom. She may one of the Indian women who lived in the cliff dwellings in the southwestern U.S. This woman has reached an “elder” status, filled with self-discipline, perseverance, patience and strength. When you get this card, you know where you are going and how to get there. You have your own path to success. You are calm, trustworthy, and capable of working on your own. You have had much experience in the world, and want to try more!
The Cups Court
Cups Court Cards
Cups are a feminine symbol of a vessel which holds water, or emotions, feelings, desires, dreams and visions. Cups are lunar and astral. They are represented by the Moon, or by silver. They are about female modes of expression, listening from within, deep, psychic feelings, symbols of the breasts and womb. The images are taken from the island of Crete, where goddess culture once thrived. The blues and greens of the sea make one think of the realms of the dream world, where she gets plenty of her creative ideas. She experiences much pleasure in the water suit, a little moon magic and madness. Water is the element of ecstasy and bliss, where the heart is opened and love flows freely.
The Daughter of Cups represents the playful and affectionate part of the personality. She has a great sense of humor and likes to feel good. She knows when it is time to take a rest or day off, and is seen here floating on a lily pad, relaxing by a waterfall. Sometimes one must enjoy the beauty of nature and get away from the everyday rush, taking time to reassess their inner world. This young woman is receptive to all around her, and has creative visualizations, aiding in making her dreams come true. She can trust her feelings and psychic abilities. When you get this card in a reading, you are feeling very deep emotions. You have to pay some attention to your “inner child” and listen to your feelings, whether they are happy or sad ones. You do not have to work and be serious all the time. The relaxation time will pay off in all you learn about self-realization.
The Son of Cups is artistic, romantic and dreamy. He is a talented writer or musician. He represents the inner and thoughtful aspect of manhood, the quiet mind of meditation. The Son of Cups is the man most capable of expressing his feelings in this deck. He seems to float on the water as he plays his flute, in a symbolism of Krishna, the flute playing god of play and sexuality. He normally brings a gift, a message of good news, or a symbol of love. He sits in a trance state as he practices yoga. He can connect with both his mind and his feelings, and is capable of taking a Shamanic journey to bring back information from other realms. He offers his artistic creations as a gift straight from the heart, the deepest part of himself. When you get this card in a reading, you are ready to open your heart, forgive someone, or fall in love.
The Priestess of Cups is the muse, she knows how to best channel her emotions and inner visions into what she desires. She is shown as a mermaid, which is short for “Merry Maid” the witch name for a coven’s High Priestess. She represents the soul, the inner part of our being and meditates between our world, the sky and the Earth. This woman is the Enchantress. In mythology, she entices young male heroes to forego their quests for awhile to just enjoy spending some time with her. Odysseus was drawn by the enchantress Calypso, just as Ulysses is seduced by Circe, daughter of Hecate the Crone, remaining on her island for seven years. When you get this card in a reading, draw your power into yourself. You could be pregnant, or ready to give birth to a new creative project that you have worked on for a long time. Your feelings and desires may make it hard for you to focus on everyday tasks.
The Shaman of Cups is a symbol of the dark powers of the Moon. The Shaman has painted her face white to mask herself for spiritual work. She represents feelings that are under control, passion transmuted into a sort of detached awareness. She has a large cauldron and adds ingredients to practice the art of Alchemy, changing one element into another. This Shaman magically controls her environment, and works on spells that will benefit her neighborhood and the religion of the Goddess. She is a good judge of character and situations. She has confronted and conquered Death, realizing it is only a form of change, so has the courage and willingness to do whatever needs to be done. Sometimes her wisdom is something one does not want to hear, although it will definitely benefit them. When you get this card, know that you will need to put all your energy and focus into the task at hand. You may have to sacrifice your personal goals for the goals of your family or the group. This is why the mask helps you to hide your feelings, as it is hard to give up something we want for the good of all.
The Swords Court
Sword Court Cards
The Daughter of Swords can be impulsive and wants things to happen right now. She has lots of good ideas, but is innocent and not yet sure how to bring them to fruition. This Daughter is a rebel, constantly busy and changing. Her hair blows in the winds of change, and she has her sword raised high and ready to fight if necessary. She can remain grounded however, as she is portrayed standing upon steady rocks. When someone wants something that requires more than their own power, they call to the winds of fate. The Daughter of Swords has called the north wind and it is rushing to meet her. She is a highly intelligent whirlwind. You will be involved in many activities and have much energy if you get this card in a reading. Just be careful not to make hasty decisions. Concentrate on where your thoughts and energies will do the most good.
The Son of Swords is the most mentally active of the Swords people, constantly thinking about many subjects at once. The Motherpeace artists are pretty rough on the Son of Swords, believing he tries to “slay the Goddess” by putting women down, rapes women, and does not respect his Mother. Although I have tried to stay true to the original meanings of this deck, my views on young men and men in general are not this negative. This is a smart and attractive man, who at worst may try to play mind games with people. His intelligence can be used in a positive way, and he is very good at science and math. He may seem impersonal, but people ruled by the mind tend to be that way. This card in a reading means you are looking at your problems in a rational way, which can be good or bad, depending on the issue. You need to watch your words to remember that words can wound someone deeply.
The Priestess of Swords is a beautiful woman standing alone on a clear, white vista of snow, where we can see her thoughts crystallize. She is guided by the wisdom of the snowy owl, and as she is ruled by her thoughts, is perceived as being cold. We see that some of the ice is shaded pink from the sunset though, so we know that this Priestess has emotions that she does not want to show. Her mind is critical, but although she is stern, she is also reasonable and clear-headed. The gold axe she rests upon keeps her in touch with the Earth. Her white coat is made from polar bear fur, linking her to Ursa Major, showing the ancient power of the female group who knew about stars and the turning of the zodiac wheel. The Priestess of Swords is a writer and speaker. Her owl goes on Shamanic flights. When you see this card you know to try to solve your issue through your intellect. You may feel “out in the cold” and have to get in touch with your feelings more.
The Shaman of Swords represents intellect, clarity of thought and abstract thought. This image is a powerful one, showing moving thoughts that are quick and changing, in brilliant colors. This is a mind that is willing to go places a more traditional thinker would not go. This Shaman takes responsibility for her thoughts. She symbolizes all Shamans and is pictured with a ladder to symbolize her steps up into the Shamanic flights she is capable of going on. There is a kite at the top of the ladder, showing how most Swords people are more at home “in the air” or in their minds. There is also a flower with four petals to represent the four directions of the winds and the four elements. The point of union is the fifth, or ether, the element of spirit which cannot be seen. When you get this card in a reading, speak your truth and do not hold it back. Share your visions, hopes and dreams. The energy of your thoughts is so strong you will not be able to keep them to yourself. Be gentle with others though, do not speak your truth to hurt anyone.
The Deck Remains Relevant
Times have changed since the Motherpeace Tarot was created, and men and women have come a long way in their relationships with each other since the 1970’s. Unfortunately, we have not put an end to war, as too many people profit and gain from it, usually the rich minority. We also fail to care for our beautiful planet Earth as we should as faithful stewards of it. But there is still time to change, and humans do have an amazing capacity to adapt to changing situations.
Vicki Noble and Karen Vogel left us a wonderful blueprint of what life was like at the time they wrote this book and created the lovely artwork for this round and different tarot deck, and it is still very relevant today. Because the cards are round, you do not read them as only upright or reversed as in a traditional deck. Those two positions are still valid. But if the card is tilted toward the left, the card's meaning is just beginning to manifest in the person, or they are only beginning to feel the card’s energies. When the card leans to the right, the energies are being fully acted upon, perhaps needing to be toned down a little bit.
Most tarot card readers have more than one deck, and this one is a must have for your collection. As it approaches life from a heart and emotionally centered point of view, one can gain much perspective from it as a tarot reader. Each card is a work of art in itself, and it is worth it to buy the deck just to admire the lovely pictures, to enjoy them or to meditate with them.
Questions & Answers
© 2011 Jean Bakula