The Universal Goddess Tarot depicts 78 goddesses from cultures around the world, each representing an aspect of women, nature and the divine.
The 78 card "Universal Goddess Tarot" by Maria Caratti (text) and Antonella Platano (illustrations) follows the format of a traditional Tarot deck. The Major Arcana carry traditional titles, with Justice as VIII and Strength as XI. The suits are Wands, Chalices (Cups), Swords and Pentacles. The Court Cards are King, Queen, Knight and Knave.
In their introduction to the LWB (Little White Book), Caratti and Platano talk about their journey to connect with other women, in real time and through ancient cultures, traditions and myths. They listened to the myriad voices that they heard, and presented them here in the form of Tarot archetypes.
The LWB presents the cards with the name of the Goddess represented on the card, the culture that she represents, and keywords for the upright position. No scans are used. The information is presented in English, French, German, Spanish and Italian.
From the book:
"1. The Magician; a grain of wheat, a drop of water, a ray of sun and a breath of life. A magical alchemical combination and the miracle is fulfilled. I am Demeter, the Greek goddess of the fields."
"The Goddesses of Chalices:
1. I am the divine source: the maternal womb, life and regeneration. My name is Habondia and I am the Celtic goddess of abundance, feelings and fertility."
"The Goddesses of Pentacles:
Queen: I am the Lady of fertility and conception. I am the generous and prodigal ancient Roman goddess. My name is Juno, ruler of time, patron of births."
The spread that is presented is a six card spread entitled "The Temple". The cards are defined as follows: Cards 1 & 2: the current situation, Cards 3 & 4 the evolution, Card 5 the offering/sacrifice - what must be offered/sacrificed to resolve the problem, Card 6 the response of the Goddesses.
The cards themselves are 2 5/8" by 4 3/4", on glossy, high quality card stock. The backs show a black border, with an inset in the four corners alternating gold and blue, showing the heads of a goddess, facing the right on the top and the left on the bottom, with a middle inset of quarter moons on either side of a pentacle set into a circle. It would not be possible to tell if the cards were reversed or not.
The card faces show a mauve border surrounding the illustration. In the four corners for the Major Arcana the card title appears, translated into English, German, French, Italian, Spanish and a language that I do not know, in black lettering. The card number, in Roman numerals, appears in the middle of the top of the card, in blue lettering. The Pips (numbered cards) follow the same format, with the card number and suit in the four corners, in black lettering, and the card number in the middle of the top of the card, in blue lettering. The Court Cards show the rank and suit in black lettering in the four corners.
The coloring is muted, using blues, greens, lavenders, and a brownish red. The art style is very lifelike. A good effort has been made to take the goddess culture and adapt it to the traditional imagery of the Tarot. For instance, the Fool (represented by the Goddess Lan Tsai-Pio, one of the eight immortals of China), dances through a green field, with no slipper on the foot that he/she holds in the air. (Yes, the authors place a question in the book as to whether this is a Goddess or a God.) The dancing figure holds a short wand in one hand, with a basket of flowers carried over her arm. Her right hand scatters flower petals. A stork-like bird stands at the figures feet. Although the Fool carries the number 0, the authors have presented her after the World.
The High Priestess is represented by the Egyptian Goddess Isis, guardian of occult knowledge and magic. She stands in front of a pyramid, both arms raised to the night sky, wearing her traditional head dress.
The Hierophant is another very masculine appearing figure, Aditi, Hindu Goddess of wisdom. She is seated, with a scepter in her right hand.
The Chariot appears as a very ghost-like vehicle flying through a lavender night sky, and is represented by the Goddess Eos, the Greek Goddess of the dawn.
The Hermit is portrayed by Hecate, Greek Goddess of mysteries. She stands in front of a crescent moon, with a flaming torch in her left hand, and two dark brown dogs at her feet.
The Pips are illustrated, including the Aces. The Ace of Chariots, represented by Plabondie, Celtic Goddess of abundance, holds a cup a water in her right hand, with the water pouring over her left hand.
The Three of Pentacles shows some of the fantasy nature of this deck, with three Goddesses, called the Esperides, Greek nymphs of the sunset. They are shown in an enchanted garden, with a dragon peeking from behind the tree they are laying in front of.
This is a gentle deck, one that lends itself easily to a reading for those with an open mind. It is a great acquisition for those interested in Goddess energy. The one thing that I would have wished for with this deck - a companion book that went into the history of each Goddess.
© Bonnie Cehovet
Iím excited to be talking about one of my favorite decks in this post. The Universal Goddess Tarot is one of my oldest decks; I think Iíve used it more than any other deck I own. Itís not my oldest deck, because I have a Robin Wood deck that I owned before the Universal Goddess deck found its way into my life, but this beautiful deck of Goddesses is what really kept me moving forward in tarot.
Obviously, this is a goddess based deck. There are a few nods to some of the classic Rider-Waite-Smith card designs: the Strength card still features a woman with a lion, the Chariot still has a chariot on it, but other than a few recognizable features the deck strikes out on its own, using goddesses from many different cultures as the central figures on the cards.
Their choice to feature Athena on the Emperor card really won me over right away. I love any deck that can take traditionally male designated cards and spin that on its head. Athena is my matron goddess, Iíve felt an affinity with her since I first read about her in my Edith Hamiltons mythology book in middle school. And what a perfect figure for the Emperor. A warrior goddess who sprung fully formed from her fathers head, already clad in armor. She is depicted here as a powerful commander of men. Itís a nice reminder that women posses all the power and wisdom of men and are just as capable of leading. This theme runs through the entire deck and is one of the things that I love the most about these tarot cards.
As a queer woman, one factor that influences my ability to connect with a tarot deck is how it handles male and female archetypes. I look through the deck to find the Lovers card and see what is depicted on it. I donít necessarily need all my decks to feature queer couples, but I find it easier to connect when they have more inclusive representation. This deck comes through for me in that regard. The Lovers card features Aphrodite, dancing in the ocean. She isnt shown with a partner, which I like here because it gives the card a reading that reminds us that its so important to love ourselves. To quote RuPaul, If you cant love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else.
Another rave that I have for this deck is how many goddesses of color are represented. At least 30 of the goddesses on the cards are women of color. I chose Pele to show here, since sheís another goddess that I am very drawn to. Her depiction here on the Five of Wands is great. As a Hawaiian volcano goddess, she is a powerful creative and destructive force, which is a great representation of the energy of the wands suit and the energy of fire. The volcano can destroy everything around it, but volcanic ash is rich in minerals and can be an excellent fertilizer. Itís a lovely symbol of the cyclical nature of life.
I also appreciate that the artists took time and care to create realistic women of color in these cards. Peleís face isnít just a carbon copy of Athena with her skin tone changed. They are real nuanced depictions of goddesses. They also include a range of age in the goddesses depicted. Hestia and Hecate have a more mature look, lines on their faces and wisdom about them, younger goddesses like Aurora fit the maiden archetype better and are shown as such.
Every reader can have a different experience working with a deck, for me this deck is very closely linked with my own spirituality work. I use it mainly to read for myself and Iíve used it extensively in tarot self-development. It has a very magical and spiritual energy when I work with it. When I was just beginning to learn to use my intuition as a reader, I had some trouble reading with these cards and I found myself having to rely very heavily on my notes and the LWB that came with the deck. There are some cards that donít seem to fit with what Iíd been taught that the cards Had to Mean. I found myself stumbling over meanings and only getting half the meanings of cards. This deck was trying to slowly and painstaking pull me forward into trusting in my own abilities and intuitions. I owe a lot of thanks to the goddess work, and to the goddesses who guided me to where I am now. I donít know that I would have been able to hear their messages if not for these cards.
I love this deck so much. It wasnít until Iíd been working with this deck for quite some time that I discovered a Tarot Deck Interview Spread on LittleRedTarot that has become my go-to spread any time I get a new deck. I canít recommend that spread enough to anyone starting out as a reader or for a new deck. Interviewing the Universal Goddess deck revealed to me what I already knew about it. In this case, the interview just helped reaffirm that I could trust my intuitions around the deck and how we could work together.
It told me that it was a deeply personal deck for me, that it would help me connect with my higher self and to work with goddess energies. Itís a fantastic deck to use as a meditation tool. I use a Tarot meditation where you journey into the card and can interact with the figures in the card, and my handful of meditations have been affirming and humbling.
On a purely more physical
note, I can recommend this deck as well. Iíve worked a
lot with these cards and theyre still in great shape;
the cardboard flap top box shows some reasonable
wear around its edges and corners, but the cards arent
torn and theyíve help up well to lots of shuffling and
handling. I own a not inconsiderable number of tarot decks
and this is still one that I come back to again and