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Designed by Karen Vogel and Vicki Noble, this is probably the first round tarot deck. All 78 cards are 4.5 inches in diameter, with a yellow and orange back. It is published by U.S. Games in Belgium, and was first released in 1981. A small 24-page booklet is included. Unlike later feminist decks, this one does include men on cards and is not especially militant in design. Books were released by the designers to accompany the deck, including Vicki Noble's Motherpeace: A Way to the Goddess Through Myth, Karen Vogel's Motherpeace Tarot Guidebook, and the Motherpeace Tarot Playbook by Vicki Noble and Jonathan Tenney. A miniature version of the deck is also available, with cards three inches in diameter.

Official website: http://www.motherpeace.com/


Design information coming as soon as I look through the deck and write it. Thanks for your patience.

Tarot cards date back to Medieval Europe and were used for the purposes of divination, meditation, and spiritual enlightenment, as well as for game playing. One purpose was to teach heretical concepts, through the use of images, to Europe's 98 per cent illiterate population. The Motherpeace deck arose quite later, in the midst of the feminist spirtuality and peace movements of the 1970s. Co-Creator Vicki Noble found that the images of traditional tarot decks did not address women's place in the larger social structure as well as their unique contributions to human history (or is that herstory...?)

The images of the Motherpeace deck, like other tarot decks, contain 56 Minor Arcana and 22 Major Arcana. The Minor generally relate to mundane/profane facets of life such as cooking and working and such day to day activities, whereas the Major represent more divine forces at work within one's life. The Motherpeace deck pictures women and a few men in various times dating back to the Paleolithic to an imagined modern Utopia, from various societies and cultures, and engaged in a myriad of activities, both sacred and profane.

This deck seems to be largely focused on the myth of the "pre-Agricultural pre-Monotheistic Matriarchy", which is a nice myth but is challenged by many feminist anthropologists such as myself. According to this myth, the world was peaceful and harmonious until a patriarchal god came in and overthrew the Great Mother and made war, domination, and hierarchy the primary themes of human existence. For instance, the Major Aracana card of the Hierophant in most tarot decks represents male religious figures in a positive light, as a leader or spiritual advisor to the people, but in the Motherpeace deck he comes to symbolize the dangers of organized i.e. "patriarchal" religion.

I've found that these cards seem to be telling a story more than offering a means to divination. When I read them for myself or others, I look at each image and ask myself or the other person what that image evokes. This serves as a means for psychological exploration, if for example, you find yourself saying, "That Death card really doesn't scare me but the one of the woman rolling tortillas does." One nurse practitioner in Jefferson, Oregon, uses them to assess the fears and desires of her patients. But you don't need to go to Jefferson, nor would you want to. Read these cards for yourself, and I'd be leary about ever paying for a reading.

One other important way that these cards differ from traditional decks is their round shape. Indeed, one other popular feminist tarot, Daughters of the Moon by Ffiona Morgan, is round as well. This is done so that the cards are not simply upside down or rightside up, but so that the positions they can be placed are infinite. Keep in mind that feminist spiritualists tend to reject dualistic thinking and view it as a product of the patriarchal overthrow.

Admittedly, and as co-creator Karen Vogel points out, the cards are not necessarily historically accurate, nor are they intended to be. Images such as a woman in Africa carrying an artifact found in North America is not uncommon in these decks. They are not meant to be taken literally. In the words of my good friend D_: "Its not literal; it's all about myth and symbolism and archetypes."

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