Daughters of the Moon - Ffiona Morgan
Review by
Thrysse

If you would like to purchase this deck, click here.

If you would like to purchase the companion book, click here.

Daughters of the Moon is a tarot deck, created by and for women, which is intended to serve as an archive or compilation of positive and uplifting female archetypes. While the creators of the deck are feminist/lesbian artists and designers, this deck provides a much broader appeal to all women for exploring their relationship with their inner self and with other women. Central to the deck are the various aspects of the Goddess, from a wide variety of world cultures, and other female deities and legends. This is a truly multicultural deck, in both the suits and the major arcana.

The artwork is brilliantly colored and gorgeous. Although a variety of illustrators and artists collaborated on the deck, the artwork was conceptualized and designed by Ffiona Morgan, and all the cards work very well together. There are a number of significant departures from traditional decks, foremost of which is that there are no male images in the deck, with the exception of two optional cards (the deck contains both heterosexual and lesbian versions of the Lovers, and Coyotewoman and Pan are optional versions of the same trump). The women in this deck are beautifully rendered and are of every possible color, shape, age, and culture. Although this may seem a bit PC at first, one comes to realize that this goes far beyond surface attributes – the creators of this deck truly wanted every woman that used it to be able to find a reflection of themselves within the cards. The men on the optional cards, unfortunately, are poorly rendered and very feminized – it’s almost as if the creators of the deck were so far into womyn-space that they could neither conceptualize nor draw a man accurately. As a result, my preference would be not to use these extra cards. One caution is that there is nudity on about half the cards and some fairly explicit sexual imagery, which may be disturbing to some readers and in some settings.

Certain structural changes have been made to the deck to better reflect the female archetypes being used. First, there are only three court cards in each suit – Maiden, Mother, and Crone. Each of these 12 cards is also associated with an astrological sign. This gives each suit 13 cards, a number the authors felt was associated with the moon and magic. One reason for this change is to remove hierarchical elements from the deck, including all references to royalty, which the designers felt were unnecessarily paternalistic and class-conscious. Maiden, Mother, and Crone are also represented among the trumps, giving each of these three aspects of the Goddess a variety of different elemental and spiritual forms.

The Major Arcana are called the Suit of Aether, and are not numbered. Many of the Aether suit are renamed and are quite different from the traditional Trumps, yet each has a clear connection to the traditional cards:

The Dreamer (Fool)
The Witch (Magician)
Isis (High Priestess + Hierophant)
Mawu (Emperor + Empress)
Aphrodite (The Lovers – FF/FM versions)
The Amazon (The Chariot)
Strength
Crone, The Wise One (Hermit)
Spiderwoman, Life Weaver (Wheel of Fortune)
Maat (Justice)
Reversal (The Hanged Man)
The Phoenix (Death)
Temperance
Oppression (negative aspects of the Devil)
Pan and Coyotewoman (positive aspects of the Devil – M/F versions)
Kali the Awakener (The Tower)
The Star
Yemaya, The Moon
Amaterasu, The Sun
Celebration (Judgment)
Shakti, Life Dancer (The World)

Because two of these cards represent combined trumps and one new one has been added, there are a total of 21 trumps – unless you add the two optional cards, which may be used in place of, or in addition to, their counterparts. Needless to say, this deck is not designed to reflect Western mysticism, and therefore the designers were not overly concerned with retaining the same number of trumps. The four suits are named Blades, Flames, Cups, and Pentacles. Some of the meanings of the minor arcana have also been modified – for example, the "negative" cards have been spread among the suits more evenly, rather than mostly being associated with Swords.

One last observation is that the deck is round. This is a reflection of the concepts embodied within the Moon, of gradual phase changes and cycles. The authors felt that the upright/reversed duality expressed by standard cards was too limiting and rigid a framework, and, indeed, duality in all its forms is de-emphasized in this deck. Although a round deck can be intimidating at first, I have found that it provides a fascinating extra dimension to the readings with this deck, especially with small readings of 1-3 cards, as a great deal of information is provided about the type of energy expressed by the card, its expression in the past, present or future, and the hidden-ness or fullness of the energy (as expressed by the orientation of the card in relation to moon cycles).

The book which comes with the deck is a mixed bag – it contains valuable insights into the creators’ frame of mind, and provides a starting point for learning more about the individual goddesses pictured in the deck, with which many tarot readers may be unfamiliar. However, feminist rhetoric sometimes overpowers the writing, and there are many historical inaccuracies (or, at the very least, strong and surprising assertions) about the role of women and female archetypes through history, that are not well-researched or supported by references. Explanations of the shape and some of the central concepts behind the deck are the most valuable parts of the introductory sections.

Material on the goddesses and individual cards varies greatly in depth and quality. Readers interested in a particular goddess should use the book as a starting point and then research a little more using the internet or other resources. For example, the Moon card is named after Yemaya, an African goddess who has become a central figure in the Santeria religion. In the book, she is described as a "goddess of the full moon", when actually she is primarily a goddess of the sea – with minor ties to the moon. Nevertheless, the information contained here is a worthwhile accompaniment to this beautiful deck – if you take it with a grain of salt.

You can read another review of this deck here.

The deck and accompanying book can be purchased from the Daughters of the Moon website.

If you would like to purchase this deck, click here.

If you would like to purchase the companion book, click here.

Daughters of the Moon Tarot (1991)
ISBN: 1-880130-04-1
 
Daughters of the Moon Book
Ffiona Morgan
ISBN: 1-880130-01-7

Thrysse has been studying tarot cards for about 25 years, and is a teacher and professional reader. She contributes articles and discussion to several tarot lists and newsletters. Her tarot-related projects currently include completing her CTC/CTM requirements with the A.T.A., compiling a book of tarot short stories, maintaining a tarot website, and developing a role-playing game for learning and experiencing the major arcana. In real life, she lives near Seattle with her husband and black cat Shadow, and is self-employed as an environmental consultant.

Review © 2000 Thrysse
Page © 2001 Diane Wilkes






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