Powerful Women in Tarot

by Theresa Reed on March 27, 2013


I grew up in the Charlie’s Angels era.  And yes, I believe that I got to see every single episode.  My brothers guaranteed it was on every week so that they could ogle Farrah Fawcett.  Sigh.

I, on the other hand, was busy studying Kate Jackson, who played the “intelligent” angel, Sabrina.  I remember being fascinated with her masculine wardrobe and smart haircut.  But I was also intrigued with her no nonsense attitude and kung fu moves.  This was no “babe” who was going to act all fluttery and stupid around men.  No sir, she was going to kick some bad guy’s ass instead!  

This was impressive stuff for a young woman coming of age in a household where the men thought they were superior and the women were often treated like maids.  I fantasized about being Kate Jackson and imagined that she would have told my brothers to stuff it and maybe even given them a blow to the knee if they tried to boss her around.  Yeah, women like that resonated with me.  Farrah, not so much.

When I began working with tarot a few years later, I was captivated with how the women were portrayed in the deck.  These were no silly bimbos nor were they subservient to the male figures.  

In fact, the women in tarot were downright powerful and commanding!

From the regal and composed Empress to the quiet control of the woman in the Strength card, these were female archetypes that were empowering.  Even the 5 of Pentacles, the card of poverty, had the woman in the lead (the poor dude seems to be worse for the wear).

I feel that this type of imagery is important for young girls.  

Too many of them are regularly exposed to images in the media that show women in an unflattering or overly sexual lens.  And this leads them to believe that they somehow must either dumb themselves down or hide under a thick veneer of makeup and skimpy clothes.  

Imagine instead if young women were given tarot decks and encouraged to emulate the cool wisdom of the High Priestess or the strong feminine leadership of the Queen of Wands.

What if instead of “Mean Girls” they had the 3 of Cups to ponder, which shows women collaborating and celebrating instead of competing and backstabbing?

Think for a moment of how something as simple as a tarot deck might influence the way a young woman sees herself (as well as her possibilities).  I know it certainly impacted me.  With those sorts of images, I developed very different ideas of what it meant to be a woman. And that drastically changed my path because it was the opposite of what I had been taught.

I don’t think it’s an accident that tarot seems to draw in women more than men.  With such positive examples of strong females in the cards rather than the usual degrading media stereotypes, it’s only natural that it would appeal to us.  We crave those powerful archetypes because it is a reminder that we too, are powerful beyond measure and deserve to be treated as such.

“The thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power. You just take it.” ~Roseanne Barr



© Theresa Reed | The Tarot Lady 2013

 How do you feel about the way tarot portrays women?  Which cards can you identify with?  How can women be portrayed more positively in the media – and where do you currently see that?  Share your thoughts in the comment section below:

Denise March 28, 2013 at 1:08 am

I too grew up with Charlie’s Angels…lol. I actually always resonated with Jacquelyn Smith the most. She was feminine, smart and powerful.

That’s how I see the women in tarot. Feminine and powerful. Not needing to act like a man in order to achieve or have power, nor being subservient to men. Just showing themselves in all their feminine glory and knowing that they can get whatever they want out of life.

That would be wonderful for all young, and maybe even older, women to see and understand.

Chloe March 28, 2013 at 2:08 am

What a fabulous, empowering post, Theresa! I loved Kate Jackson, too 😉 As for the tarot, the Queen of Wands and the High Priestess are probably my favourites (double Gemini, lol). You’re right, though – so many great archtypes to choose from!

Ginny Hunt March 28, 2013 at 5:07 am

I completely agree with you, Theresa. The virtues have always been portrayed as women even though the word “virtue” has traditionally applied to men. There are patriarchal themes in tarot but they are mainly cultural and historical. The hierarchy of the courts, for example. But even there tarot brings equality because no tarot card is attributed only to men or to women as we are looking at qualities and archetypes and a King can represent a woman in a reading as easily as a man.

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