Motherpeace Tarot

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The Motherpeace Tarot is a deck of tarot cards inspired by the Goddess movement and second-wave feminism. Created in the 1970s, it has never been out of print, and in 2017 was given a new lease of life in a Christian Dior fashion collection.


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.[1] 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.[2]

Artistic creation[edit]

Motherpeace was created by two women from Berkeley, California, Karen Vogel and Vicki Noble, friends who had studied anthropology, women's studies and history.[3] In the late 1970s, Vogel and Noble were roommates who shared common interests in Goddess spirituality, psychic studies, and the occult. One night in 1978, inspiration struck in an event where "Karen felt our room literally tilt, and Vicki proceeded to have a life changing vision of Goddess energy and transmission of ancient wisdom."[4] Shortly afterwards, they began devising a feminist deck based on their knowledge of history, alternative healing, and psychic studies.[5]


According to A Cultural History of Tarot, Motherpeace was designed to "fulfil a feminist agenda", with round cards to represent the Moon, "long associated with female energies and the Mother Goddess", and symbology drawn from cultures across the world[6].

Vogel and Noble's artwork is a departure from more traditional tarot iconography such as the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, as it features predominantly female figures. Inspiration for the deck comes from myth and literature by and about women, including Greek and Roman mythology, and contemporary writers such as Alice Walker. 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.[5] 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.[4]

The round shape of the cards is significant, both in symbolism and for being the first round tarot deck. The departure from the normally rectangular shape is meant to represent fertility of women.[4] This draws from classic feminist artwork which also uses many different symbols of fertility and femininity.[7] The cards are hard to handle because of their shape but skilled hands can handle them deftly.[8]

Cultural legacy[edit]

Motherpeace was so influential in one strand of lesbian culture of the 1980s that it serves as a chapter title in the memoir of New Zealand academic Aorewa McLeod[9], and a shorthand for the lesbian feminist experience in London[10].

In 2017, Christian Dior, the fashion house, approached Vogel and Noble for permission to design clothing based on the pair's 1970s artwork. This was one of the first shows since Maria Grazia Chiuri became creative director. The Vogue review of the "Resort" collection picked out the dress using the motif from the Death card; Vogel explained the metaphor of renewal rather than physical death. This marked the first time that Vogel and Noble had allowed any use of their images, saying that the time felt right.[11]

Following the release of the "ethereal" haute couture dresses, sales of Motherpeace Tarot doubled in a few months, and sales of other tarot decks increased as well.[12]


There are some differences between the Motherpeace deck and more traditional tarot decks.[13]

Major Arcana[edit]

  • 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

Minor Arcana[edit]

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.[8]


This deck has its own tarot spread, consisting of eleven cards laid out in a circular pattern. The circle is the symbol of women and femininity (see Venus symbol). The cards are read in a particular pattern, each position 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.


  1. ^ Broude, Garrard, and Brodsky, power of feminist art: the American movement of the 1970s, history and impact (New York: H.N. Abrams, 1994).
  2. ^ William Graebner, Patty's Got A Gun (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008).
  3. ^ Tali, Didem (17 June 2018). "The tarot revival thanks to Brexit, Trump and Dior". BBC News. Retrieved 17 June 2018.
  4. ^ a b c "Motherpeace Tarot :: Welcome", n.d.,
  5. ^ a b "Origins of the Motherpeace Tarot". Retrieved September 30, 2011.
  6. ^ Farley, Helen (2009). A cultural history of tarot : from entertainment to esotericism ([Online-Ausg.]. ed.). London: I. B. Tauris. ISBN 9781848850538.
  7. ^ Zajko and Leonard, Laughing with Medusa: classical myth and feminist thought, Classical presences (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006).
  8. ^ a b Greer, Mary K. (2002). Tarot for your self a workbook for personal transformation. Franklin Lakes, NJ: New Page Books. p. 216.
  9. ^ McLeod, Aorewa (2013). Who was that woman, anyway? : snapshots of a lesbian life. Wellington, N.Z.: Victoria University Press. ISBN 9780864738783.
  10. ^ [1]
  11. ^ "Meet the Makers of Motherpeace Tarot, the Feminist Deck That Inspired Dior's Resort Collection". Vogue. Retrieved 17 June 2018.
  12. ^ Tali, Didem (17 June 2018). "The tarot revival thanks to Brexit, Trump and Dior". BBC News. Retrieved 17 June 2018.
  13. ^ 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.