When I received my first tarot deck at age 12 I was immediately hooked. But while I was drawn to all things mystical in those days, I never actually believed the cards could tell the future. I do think they're a great way to encourage people to think outside of their typical modes of understanding, though, and can present a new perspective to any situation. And since there are few situations I need insight into more than anything related to parenting, why not explore some tarot cards for moms, right? Truth be told, there are some cards in that deck that straight-up speak to my damn soul.
For the uninitiated, the deck is divided into two different types of cards, the Major Arcana, which depict allegorical or archetypical figures and events, and the Minor Arcana, which are sort of like regular playing cards divided into four suits. Each card has its own special meaning, and another meaning if the card is upside-down in the reading. (For the purposes of this article we're only talking about its "right-side-up" meaning.)
Another important thing to know is that from its inception, tarot decks were always meant first and foremost to be for fun. As far as we know, people didn't start using them for divination purposes for almost 300 years after they first appeared on the scene in late-Medieval Europe. Before then you just used them to play card games.
So in the spirit of fun and insight, let's take a look at some cards that I think might be especially useful for moms:
It sounds mean, but The Fool is such a lovely card and represents new beginnings. The Fool might indicate a person who is free-spirited, innocent, and possessing unlimited potential. So, you can see why this card may resonate so well with moms — this could describe both our children and, perhaps, how many of us as we approach parenthood. Because The Fool can also be quite, well, foolish. They don't always know what they're doing and, as a result, can sometimes find themselves in a bit of a jam (in many tarot decks, The Fool is often depicted walking toward the edge of a cliff), but they're marching forward confidently and hopefully.
The Magician is the card of resourcefulness — this figure may be mystical, but he is not strictly speaking otherworldly. He is a practical magician, drawing from all the elements surrounding him and manifesting purpose and meaning. It's sort of like that one time when I made my child a diaper using a spare onesie, or the way mothers often find themselves making a functioning family life out of the different parts of everyone else's. The Magician is a nice way to remind moms that no matter what we have, we can work with it.
The Empress is the fourth card of the Major Arcana. The ultimate "mom," she represents nurturing, femininity, abundance, and having a connection to both the mystical and physical world. The Empress has it together and, some days, it can be really hard to say the same of ourselves.
(Full disclosure, I was really hungry today but I was too lazy to get up so I ate a jellybean I found in my desk and I can't tell you when or how it got there.)
This is a great card to remind mamas of their inner power and the power they can channel by virtue of being a parent. The Empress is inside all moms, even if she's sometimes hard to recognize.
The Temperance card means moderation, balance, and patience. Balance is one of the hardest things for any mom to achieve. Balance between others needs and your own. Work and family. Relationship and the desire to OMG NOT BE TOUCHED FOR THREE DAMN MINUTES, THE BABY HAS BEEN GROPING ME ALL DAY.
It's important to remember that Temperance is something that requires work and intention and can be hard to achieve. The androgynous winged figure pouring a liquid between two cups often depicted on this card has found balance, but it is something they are actively working on — it's an action, not a state of being.
The Tower is a real bummer of a card. People think Death is the card of the Major Arcana to be scared of, but it's The Tower you want to be worried about. (Death just usually means something ending or changing and can actually be extremely positive.)
The Tower represents traumatic change, chaos, and destruction. Sometimes, my friends, that's parenting. Raising children is messy and can shake you to your foundation. But no card is exclusively negative, so this card can also represent revelation, even if its revelation through unsettling means (and in my opinion it's always better to know the truth).
So be comforted, good mamas, in knowing that even as you feel like everything is crumbling around you, this is an opportunity for growth.
Six Of Cups
The six of cups is the emotional suit of the Minor Arcana. If you find yourself gravitating toward cups, you're likely preoccupied with matters of the heart.
The six of cup is a nostalgic card, and may represent our own childhood memories (especially good ones) and the past. I think there's a lot moms can draw on from their own experiences, good and bad, that can help them on their parenting journeys. This card can also represent childhood innocence and, every so often, I think it's important to look at things from your child's perspective to see the world through a fresh pair of eyes.
Nine Of Cups
The nine of cups represents contentment, happiness, and the realization of a long-held desire. This is a great card to remind moms that (most of us) undertook motherhood freely and with excitement and, for many of us, through great difficulty. Even getting to the point where we can hold our children in our arms was a damn journey and we made it. And, sometimes, when we're holding them in our arms because they're screaming and screaming for no apparent reason it can be hard to remember that we really did want this. But we did and we may not always be content and that's OK, but a little perspective can be helpful from time to time.
Four Of Swords
When it comes to this suit, sharp swords are indicative of sharp minds so this category generally indicates mental gifts and challenges. This is also the card of rest, reflection, and recuperation.
Go ahead and guess why I have suggested moms can take a hint from this card.
Incidentally, in the Rider-Waite tarot deck (which is kind of the deck a lot of practitioners use) this card is represented with an image of a medieval knight's tomb — the warrior is in full repose, but also in full armor, with his hands in prayer. Even at rest, this figure is, in a way, doing something, and it's something important. Rest is not a luxury for moms: it's what enables us to keep on mom-ing.
Eight Of Swords
I chose this card to serve as a cautionary tale to mamas. The image on this card is unsettling: a blindfolded woman appears bound within a semi-circle of swords. At first blush, it might appear that she is trapped with no way out. But the circle is actually wide open, the swords are directed away from her, and her binding is actually quite loose. The main thing keeping her from freeing herself is her own blindfold.
This card can represent problems of our own making and a sense of martyrdom when, in fact, the situation we perceive that we are faced with is, in fact, a result of our blindspots. Often, I think, moms feel trapped by the things they think they should do/be/feel/think, etc. (someone put the blindfold on that poor woman after all), but I think this card serves as a good reminder to think about every situation critically and ask ourselves, "Is this a problem I have to deal with or do I just feel like I have no choice?"
Page Of Swords
If you have an energetic, inquisitive toddler, then you are already quite familiar with the general vibe of the Page of Swords. This card represents curiosity, new ideas, and novel approaches to old problems. We can both recognize this bubbly, creative energy in our children and also remember to harness some of it as we navigate parenthood.
Two Of Pentacles
Pentacles most often represent the physical world and needs, such as money, health, and career. (It's also sometimes called "coins" instead of "pentacles" to drive that idea home.)
This card is represented by someone balancing two items within an infinity loop. It is the card of multiple priorities, multitasking, and time management.
Again, guess why I picked this one.
The cards see you, mama!
Queen Of Pentacles
This lady is basically the patron saint of working moms. Since this card is representative of material needs, this figure really represents providing for your children, whether that be the roof over their head, the food in their bellies, or really amazing hugs. The images that surround her (livestock, coins, fruits) double both as images of success and nourishment.
Nine Of Wands
Just like in Harry Potter, tarot wands are powerful conduits of spirituality, creativity, inspiration, strength, and power.
The nine of wands represents determination, resilience, and boundaries... and if a parent needs three things those are three incredibly good contenders. This card is often depicted with a bandaged figure somehow managing to carry on, definitely looking worse for the wear but steadily moving toward his goal.
He is you. You are him. You got this, mama.