Hermitpendragon.jpg (13743 bytes)The Pendragon Tarot Mother’s Deck

My soul sister Becky dragged us into a Florida bookstore (okay, I didn’t need much dragging). She said it was one of her favorites, and we walked in to sadly discover that the bookstore was going out of business. There wasn’t much left by the time we got there, but I spied a Tarot deck I had never seen before, one not published by U.S. Games, so I asked them to show it to me. A plain white card bordered in red was titled The Pendragon Tarot Mother’s Deck. The "Mother’s Deck" was of a larger font than "The Pendragon Tarot." My mom liked that it was called, "Mother’s Deck," and insisted on buying it for me. Being a dutiful daughter, I surrendered.

The ecologically correct deck came wrapped in cellophane, sans box. There was no ‘Little White Book;’ instead, two cards (plus the title card) gave brief definitions for the Major and Minor Arcana, plus the following directions:

"These are your cards--paint them or use your own symbols because the more you personalize them the more they will key into your inner mind and the more accurate your readings will become. The reader is encouraged to research comprehensive books on Tarot. In addition, use your own meanings for the cards."

There are no specific books recommended, nor do we get the name of the deck creator. It is probably "Mother Pendragon," because of the title of the deck. "Otter G’zell" is thanked for the artwork and back design.

This deck is smaller than traditional Tarot decks, slightly larger and wider in size than the Hanson-Roberts. The art consists of pen and ink drawings, and are occasionally somewhat cartoonish. Lines are drawn widely--this is not an intricately drawn deck. Still, some of the images are quite evocative.

The backs of the deck are red and white, and feature a mostly-naked woman, arms upraised with large batwings behind her, an Isis-symbol necklace gracing her her body. Some kind of g-string covers her genitalia and one leg is bent in front of her, the other simulating take-off from some roughly-drawn piled planks of wood stacked like an uneven stairway.

The cards reflect the Wiccan influence of Mother Pendragon; The Magician is a woman standing on a high hill, dressed in a black covering. With her hair flying and arms upraised, she resembles the Flying Nun. The Empress looks like a pregnant hippie sitting in the sun, complete with requisite headband and hand raised in a languid peace sign. She’s a totally mellow Empress, man. Her mate, the Emperor, seems genial enough; the way he holds his sword suggests he will use it to cut the Thanksgiving turkey--free-range or tofu, of course. In his other hand, he holds something that looks like a very large lollipop with an elongated stem. This is neither a forbidding nor threatening Emperor.

A woman cheerfully draws down the moon in the Moon card. There isn’t much mystery to this card, though. The related keywords on the cheatcard: "hidden perils, illusion /(R) deception unmasked." Look at this card--doesn’t it look more like the reverse words describe the upright image?

While some of the images lose something for me in their stark simplicity, I like other cards precisely because of the straighforward style. The cloaked Hermit, whose face we don’t see, is walking into the bright sunlight rather proactively, his lantern in one hand, his cane lifted upright in the other. There’s a suggestion of movement and vigor often lost in other representations of the Hermit.

Other cards are equally vibrant; sometimes this seems out-of-place. The nude woman on the Two of Swords holds her exceeding large swords like carving knives--I can almost hear them being sharpened against each other. The problem is that sound--and the imagery--seems inappropriate to my understanding of this card, which speaks more of passivity than decisive action. The keywords given for this card are "Indecision, Truce." Are either of these words conveyed by the image on this card? I don’t think so.

I asked the cards what message they wanted me to share in this review and received the Three of Pentacles. I think that’s a perfectly appropriate response. The art is particularly naive on this card, showing a shapeless man building a crudely-built structure that has a certain panache, despite its simplicity. The deck creator isn’t attempting to build a cathedral that takes away your awed breath, but manifesting a simple and accessible tool for use, one that is easy to relate to and doesn’t demand much in the way of esoteric knowledge or scholarship.

Also found on the instructions card:

"Mother’s deck is is dedicated to Earthmother, the life force, God, Mom, or the feminine creative goddess in all of us. Use these cards with love!!!" (Emphasis certainly not mine.) This is a homespun deck, and I recommend it for those who are of a Wiccan or pagan bent, and those who like decks such as the El Ted. If you are looking for intricate and detailed artwork, this isn’t the deck for you.

As I mentioned previously, this deck is rather old, but the ordering information is on one of the cards. If you are interested in purchasing this deck, you can try contacting the following address:

Mother Pendragon
4817 N. Bennington
K.C., MO 64119

See more cards from the Pendragon Tarot

Review Copyright 1999 Diane Wilkes

Images Copyright Mother Pendragon


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This page is Copyright 1999 by Michele Jackson