The Major Arcana

The Major Arcana of the tarot deck are most often referred to as the cards of ‘Fate’.  These cards will force you to face that which you’ve been denying, avoiding, or trying to hide– either from yourself or others–  Life’s Lessons 101 , with no opportunity to cram for the exam.

At a deeper level, when used for personal meditation and introspection, these cards will open the deepest recesses of your subconscious, revealing the lush world of color beneath the mundane and ordinary surface– much as Dorothy opened the door of her black and white world to reveal the Technicolor of Oz.

0 Fool: The character on this card is doing handsprings along a running stream, surrounded by a vulture, a cat, and an alligator. At the end of the stream, right in the midst of it, stands a blossoming lotus. This card tells us not to be afraid of the future, to live life with gusto and joy. A satchel is balanced on her foot, along with a peacock’s feather, reminding us to take with us into life all that we need, be prepared; and hold tight to a sense of high self-esteem. You’re not alone, The Fool tells us. Although in essence everyone’s journey through life is solitary, it’s punctuated and altered by all those we meet and those who touch our lives, if even for the briefest moment. Discern who are your friends and who would wish you ill. Keep your eyes open on this journey, but don’t let fear or indecision stand in your way.

1 Magician: Stealth, illusion, power, and mystery are encased within the figure on this card, a female figure wearing the skin of a leopard. “You shall see what I wish you to see.”, says this mistress of magick. The four elements are held in the palm of her hand and directed by her will: the passion of fire, the visions of water, the wisdom of air, and the balance of earth. They rule, and she rules them, teaching us that the power is ours, hidden within ancient ancestral memories, buried beneath centuries of oppression, it has been set free…and so have we.

2 High Priestess:  She encompasses woman at her most base level, and you’d think she wouldn’t, but she does.  The High Priestess should be all spiritual and above the physical world, but she isn’t; it’s all entwined together for us…for women.  Each new physical experience, from first menstruation, to sexual awakening, to childbirth, elevates us to a new spiritual level.  It is the way of woman.  The squatting primitive figure on this card, sitting with open outstretched hands and spread legs, is drawing into herself wisdom from the past, from her sisters, from her ancestors, from the divine feminine.  She is imbued with power and inner strength, she’s open to the energy.  That’s what this card is all about– being open to the energy.

3 Empress: This card is wide hips and breasts full of milk, knowledge, history, and strength. It reaches into the past, far beyond the clutches of Christianity, to a deeper time when we were more connected to the earth and nature’s natural cycles. It dances the joyful dance of femininity, the dance of the wise-woman. The Empress luxuriates in all that is hidden and cloistered within our sub-conscious. She is our base raw sexuality, she is the essence of the witch, the female shaman, the matriarch in all her old glory. Through her lineage all women are connected, and one day the world will turn once more to the Divine Matriarch and set destiny upon an old new path.

4 Emperor:  This card is all about male energy, so how can we incorporate this card on a spiritually feminist journey?  Easy, this card is all about accepting the stronger aspects of your personality; it’s about embracing the masculine side of yourself, learning to grow with it, learning to run with it, learning to configure this energy into your daily life when necessary.  So many women shy away from this side of themselves, perhaps because it goes against what they feel is expected from them as females– to be all soft and nurturing, forgiving, loving, and gentle.  The Emperor helps us embrace the idea that sometimes we will come to periods, or situations, in life where we will need to draw on the masculine side of ourselves to be gritty, to be strong, and even ruthless.

5 Hierophant:  Spirituality– this is the card that wreaks of spirituality.  In traditional decks it is stamped with ‘conformity’, but not here, not in the Motherpeace Tarot.  From the bare-breasted priestess with arms extended and palms raised sky-ward, to the scrolls and other religious symbols portrayed among a group of women, the energy on this card completely envelops our spiritual side.  It acknowledges the varied spiritual paths available to us, it acknowledges the fact that each individual must follow the spiritual path that feels right for them, and it acknowledges the fact that many of us will spend a lifetime (or several lifetimes) experimenting before we find our way.  The male figure in the background, a sword in both hands raised in reverence and worship, reminds us that the Goddess is also mother to our fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons.  Help the men in your life embrace the feminine divine.

6 Lovers: More than physical love and passion, this card is about ‘balance’ and the spiritual connection between two souls. The yin/yang principle is illustrated with two abstract figures that highlight the center of the card, and this theme of duality is carried throughout with other images. The Lovers card in Motherpeace reminds us that in order to achieve a real connection with someone, which involves focusing on all that encompasses human development– emotional, mental, and physical aspects, we often have to overcome obstacles and build a relationship one stone at a time, from the ground up. It’s this type of foundation that lends itself to magickal connections that last a lifetime.

7 Chariot: With freedom comes movement, with movement comes choices, with choices comes decisions, with decisions comes responsibility. The Chariot is telling us that in the end we are responsible for plotting our own course, for turning the direction of our lives around, for making changes within the arena of daily living that sweeps us to new levels of awareness. And The Chariot of the Motherpeace deck reminds us that as women, the movement we precipitate affects not only us, but all those around us…the bystanders– children, mates, friends, and family. Freedom may ring loudly and boisterously, but in the background responsibility sits quietly and heavily, riding upon our coattails, even as we run barefoot through the meadow, pretending we are completely carefree.

8 Justice:  There are three figures on this card, one with her hand on a horned stag (truth and justice through the god), one holding her hand in the running water of a falls (truth and justice through the goddess), and one seated beneath a tree holding a turtle (truth and justice will come with time, you can’t rush the process).  And so it is.  This card tells us that instant revenge, instant retaliation, are not always wise, in fact are the wrong way to view a situation, or to deal with life’s issues.  As the three figures on this card wait and watch, with patience and fortitude, they know that the universe will right a wrong, they know that justice will prevail, just not as we humans might envision it.

9 Crone:  The Crone emphasizes that this phase of a woman’s life isn’t a culmination or a climax, it’s a journey; it’s everything in-between that it took to get to this point in your life.  On the card in Motherpeace Tarot, the wise old crone in the forefront is looking back, perhaps with a hint of wistfulness and a sense of appreciation to the two figures behind her representing the maiden and the mother.  You see, you can’t get to where you’re going without acknowledging where you’ve been.  But make no mistake about it, this card highlights the wisdom you gleaned along the way; it highlights the round of applause you deserve for getting through life, and getting through it in spite of adversity, doubt, self-deception, self-sabotage.  

10 Wheel of Fortune:  This card tells us that energies are aligned; accomplishments will be celebrated. The center of this card shows planets aligned all in a row, and this is how our life will come to be ordered when the Wheel of Fortune shows its face. The characters around the edge of this card are ancient magickal archetypes for the feminine in all its shapes and forms, attitudes and traditions. This card challenges us to view ourselves in sheer undistorted honesty; this card challenges us to accept ourselves in all our shapes and forms, and stages of life. This card says bluntly, “I am, what I am.”

11 Strength: Through woman all living things find comfort, healing, warmth, and sustenance. The touch of the Feminine Divine has created this world and it is Her spirit which sustains all life and assures its continuity. It is the nurturing aspect of woman that is honored and emphasized on this card– the picture, a woman sitting naked in a field of green, as animals of all kinds come to her, to be renewed and strengthened by the touch of her hand, by the power of her magickal energy. And it is this archetype that is embraced within this major arcana card, to be passed on to us, that we may embrace this strength also, that it shall become part of us.

12 Hanged One: The Hanged One is an analogy of woman’s life– most important is self-sacrifice; illumination and revelation through self-analysis; spiritual enlightenment through solitary meditation and magickal practice; and self-discovery. It also represents a suspension of time, a suspension of forward movement, the idea of being forced to come to a standstill and listen…listen to our inner voice; to the Divine that’s trying to connect deep within our psyche; to our ancestors; to our sisters; and most importantly, to listen to ourselves– our real selves, not the image we show to the world. When we learn all we were meant to learn, only then, will we be freed from the tether, to plant our feet firmly once more on Mother Earth.

13 Death: On this card lay skeletal remains at the base of a white birch tree, surrounded by a fluttering of golden autumn leaves and a snake. This card speaks of transitions, of natural stages opening and closing, one into the other. It speaks of wisdom and spirituality following us on our journey through this life and afterward. It speaks of a time to rest and retreat from earthly concerns, a time to go inward– reaching to a deepness we may never have attempted before, or a place inside ourselves where we may have been afraid to go.

14 Temperance: Unlike the traditional image of Temperance on other decks, the figure on this card is a far cry from the staid angel. The female figure on this card is a bare-chested grass-skirted wild woman, shaking her body, shouting her affirmations and proclamations, stomping the ground in bare-footed liberation. She stands, masked and primal, on a beach, facing the daunting ocean wave in flippant disregard. This card tells us that it’s more than okay for women to make noise, stand their ground, make a point, kick butt, and confront their adversaries and the world with courage, self-confidence, and conviction. “You go, Girl!”, says Temperance.

15 Devil: That which we worship, which we feel is most important in life, often binds us. This is the message from this card, stark and clear. As women we are chained to so many of life’s cubbyholes, society demanding that we be successful in all of these areas and in all of our endeavors, maintaining standards that are not realistic or attainable for most of us. The Devil warns us about living life as though we are reciting a poem by rote. This card challenges us to break the mold, to cross the line, to take risks, to dare to be who we really are. And who we really are so often goes against the norms of a patriarchal mostly Christian society. The Devil warns us about going with the grain, digging our own ruts and then complaining about them as we stumble along. This card is a mirror of what our lives will be like if we don’t undo the chains that bind. It encourages us to seek freedom– freedom of thought and expression, desire and will.

16 Tower: Is she going to jump, or is the female figure perched on the edge of the Tower, surrounded by lightening bolts, going to leap…not to crash to the ground but to soar through the stormy sky with a cocky victorious “I-knew-I-could-do-it” attitude? This card reminds us that when adversity strikes, we are not alone, whatever the decisions we make, there below it we will see our sisters gathered together to show their support, offer their encouragement, carry us when need be, and allow us to soar solo when this is to our benefit. The Tower card in Motherpeace tells us that no matter how bad something looks, we can successfully deal with it.

17 Star: The female figure on this card, submerged peacefully in a natural pool, surrounded by stones, morning glories, a hawk, lotus blossoms and a gentle rain, speaks to us of peace and satisfaction, of learning to become comfortable with ourselves in a variety of settings and situations– whether we are part of a couple, or whether we are alone, whether we have the support of a close family, or whether we face the world independently and on our own terms. The hawk encourages us to continue life’s adventure and seek wisdom; the morning glories– beautiful as they are– remind us not to get embroiled and trapped so deeply by life’s problems and responsibilities that we lose the essence of our identity; the lotus blossoms highlights the feminine within us and around us, through divinity…and the gentle rain cleanses us and consoles our soul.

18 Moon: Intuition; mystery; the feminine mysteries; the element of water and all it encompasses– dreams, visions, second sight, the ethereal; the spiral dance; the psyche caught in never ending cycles of highs and lows, discoveries and enlightenment. The Moon in this deck touches on the basic feminine instincts and the Goddess. It is a meditative journey in and of itself, and in the end, it leaves room for self-discovery and growth.

19 Sun: This card is overwhelmed by the color yellow, and with it the impression of a party, a happy gathering of souls, an endless beach in an endless summer. It wreaks of magickal moments frozen in positive energy: The Garden of Eden; your 17th summer; a single moment of successful group cooperation; a magical joining of hands and ideas to push forward practical positive changes. The traditional meaning for this card is ‘happiness’, and that’s exactly what Sun emphasizes in the Motherpeace deck– happiness for the sake of happiness, one moment from a lifetime that is accepted without question and enjoyed for what it is, perhaps stored away for future reference, when the clouds come to cast their shadows.

20 Judgment: The mystery of the Egyptian ankh overwhelms this card. It’s image hovers over that of the Earth, radiating the colors of the rainbow, the colors of the chakras, encompassing the world. Unlike traditional decks, Judgment at Motherpeace feels like a soothing balm, bringing a return to balance, a sense of equilibrium that may have been lost and is found again. It’s like a balancing of the chakras for the entire world population, and for the physical Earth itself. This is a healing card in Motherpeace and the only Judgment card that I’ve ever liked.

21 World: The image on this card is a woman in a loose fitting yellow dress and head scarf, clutching a tambourine in one hand and a flaming torch in the other. Around her is a ring, a circle, the symbol of that which is eternal. This ring is made up of one naked figure after the other, each connecting with the next one. This card speaks to us of our lineage, our heritage, the ancestors. It centers on the idea of completion, but not completion with finality, more a sense of the eternal and unending cycle of birth, life, death, and rebirth. And in the center of the circle, the woman is smiling… “This is how it’s suppose to be”, she is telling us.

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6 thoughts on “The Major Arcana

  1. I have a few tarrot decks, but none speak to me more than the Motherpeace. I love these cards and the Motherpeace message. It is wonderful you are doing a series with this deck in particular. Love especially that is is round- nothing is always one direction or another, and this deck really helps us to remember the need for balance as well.
    Susan

  2. What about the HIGH PRIESTESS? This card always pops up in my readings. I wonder what it might be trying to tell me? Especially in regards to matters of LOVE! I asked who was I going to marry, and how would I know? And she came up!!! Love your site and will purchase your books. Thank you.

  3. Hello! I really like your interpretations of the cards and plan to use them in conjunction with the book that came with the deck as well as the book I ordered (A Way to the Goddess Through Myth, Art, and Tarot). I’m still trying to figure out how exactly to interpret the images when they are “turned up” or “turned down”. I bought this deck a week ago and though I’ve owned tarot cards in the past, I’ve never felt as comfortable and connected to any as I do with Motherpeace. In other words, I’m a newbie 😉 But I love going to a woman in my community who uses these cards (along with the Soul Cards) for tarot – which is why I bought them. She refers to their positions like a volume knob: turned up or down. I pulled a card this morning before leaving the house – to have an idea to meditate on for the day – and it was the emperor facing left. I have some ideas as to how I would interpret that, and your description was great in providing an even clearer concept, as well as a positive tone. That is the problem I seem to have with tarot in general, I’m so quick to see what I fear in the cards. I find Motherpeace to be especially supportive – with a more therapeutic tone. What is your general approach to interpreting the cards when they are reversed, “turned left/down/quiet”, or “turned right/up/loud”? Thank you so much (yikes! this was long winded – thank you for your patience!)

    • Hi, Lauren!…Your comment is not long-winded at all; actually, you’ve made some wonderful and valid points, and you’ve added a few new concepts on interpretation.

      My approach– I’m an intuitive reader, which basically means that I don’t necessarily read the cards in regards to their traditional meanings at all. Sometimes that’s how it works out and I do, and sometimes my brain takes me in a whole new direction. I might see an image on the card, even a minute detail, and it may trigger something in my mind– that triggers something in my mind– that trigger’s something yet again, and I come to a realization that is totally out in left field. I’ve learned, over the course of many years of reading, not to fight this instinct, to just grab it by the tale and go with the flow. It makes for some interesting and insightful readings– and sometimes a little creepy, too, I have to say.

      I love, and find it interesting, the concept of “turned left/down/quiet” versus “turned right/up/loud”…just proves that learning tarot is an ongoing life-time pursuit, and you can be assured of running into something new at any point!

      Thank you for stopping by!

  4. Pingback: Motherpeace – Lightworkers.org

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