I’m 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 I’ve used it more than any other deck I own. It’s 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, I’ve felt an affinity with her since I first read about her in my Edith Hamilton’s mythology book in middle school. And what a perfect figure for the Emperor. A warrior goddess who sprung fully formed from her father’s head, already clad in armor. She is depicted here as a powerful commander of men. It’s 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 don’t 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 isn’t shown with a partner, which I like here because it gives the card a reading that reminds us that it’s so important to love ourselves. To quote RuPaul, “If you can’t 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 she’s 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. It’s 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. Pele’s face isn’t 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 I’ve 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 don’t seem to fit with what I’d 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 don’t know that I would have been able to hear their messages if not for these cards.
I love this deck so much. It wasn’t until I’d 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 can’t 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. It’s 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. I’ve worked a lot with these cards and they’re still in great shape; the cardboard flap top box shows some reasonable wear around its edges and corners, but the cards aren’t torn and they’ve 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 again.