Women’s Empowerment and Divination: Comparison of Goddess Guidance and Divine Feminism Oracle Decks

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Last year, I purchased Doreen Virtue’s Goddess Guidance Oracle deck (GGO). Since then, I have done a few posts about it and occasionally a reading. It wasn’t long after that I made the decision to replace it with The Divine Feminine Oracle (DFO) deck by Meggan Watterson. While the cards I drew from the GGO resonated with me for those situations, I still felt put off by the guidebook. Even when I stopped bringing the book out altogether and started diving straight into my own research, there felt like this wall in between me and the deck.

The Back Story

I bought the GGO (and then decided to buy DFO) because for most of my life I haven’t had many positive female influences. The women who raised me were all powerful in certain ways, but very dysfunctional. Some were very much not who I should have looked up to as role models for how to function in relationships or even how to interact with my self. Through ancestor work and my love of learning about different cultures, I wanted a deck focused on feminine energy with deities, archetypes, and heroes that could help me grow in places that were neglected. Obviously, this is why I was so disappointed in how GGO handled introducing the strong female identities.

After reading reviews and checking out the artwork for the cards, I was sold on acquiring a DFO deck with the goal to retire (or gift) the GGO deck on. Life got in the way and I put tarot (and many other important things) to the side while I dealt with life and family. I wanted the DFO deck, that never changed. Easing back into tarot, taking more steps to get back on track with my goals, the nuclear family fight that happened the other day, the eclipse — I was like, fuck it. I’m buying this deck. So here we are!

Comparing and Contrasting

Divine feminine and Goddess Guidance Oracle decks.
Oracle Deck Comparison: Divine Feminine (left) and Goddess Guidance (right).

Big difference in the guidebooks. I am so pleased by this. Later on in this post you’ll see some side-by-sides of the guidebook entries between the two decks. The DFO deck is also larger as it has 53 cards compared to GGO’s 44.

Here’s a big issue: card finish. The DFO has a matte feel that makes the cards stick and not slide whereas GGO is glossy, slick, and super easy to shuffle. Hoping over a few days of shuffling DFO will loosen up.

(Note: I’ve figured out the best way to shuffle and that is with picking up your section very loosely and letting gravity take the cards into your receiving hand. So, where I still grip (now very lightly) the deck between my thumb and middle finger and create the shuffling motion into my other hand — the thumb of my other hand does nothing but simply stay open. Normally, I bring my other hand in so that my thumb can press and pull the top card down to let a few fall, go back in and repeat til the whole of the section is shuffled again. With this deck, the act of pressing the cards against each other to “grab them” makes them stick. They fall pretty freely if the grip of your dominant hand is gentle and you let motion of your shuffling work with gravity. You still get a decent shuffle into your receiving hand as they have a good weight to them. Hopefully this method makes sense. I know there are many many way to shuffle. Just don’t use one that requires you to press or swipe the cards as that is what makes the friction.)

Oracle Deck Comparison: The Divine Feminine and Goddess Guidance decks share 12 Goddesses/Figures (Stacks in the center) between them.

Taking away the dozen Goddesses/Figures that are shared between the DFO and GGO decks, a decent amount remain in both decks. It averages out to be about 20-25% overlap. This was one of the reasons why I had a shift in my position about getting rid of the GGO deck. The Goddesses/Figures that are not shared between the two oracle decks are very interesting and from different cultures. Again, for me, it’s about discovering and learning new people, new cultures, new practices.

In my GGO Unboxing, I did a breakdown of what belief systems or cultures were represented. When I complete my DFO deck review, I will do the same.

Side-by-Side: Cards in Common

Oracle Deck Comparison: The Goddesses/Figures featured in both the Divine Feminine and Goddess Guidance decks. (Photo 1/2)
Oracle Deck Comparison: The Goddesses/Figures featured in both the Divine Feminine and Goddess Guidance decks. (Photo 2/2)

These are the Goddesses/Figures they have in common now placed side by side for comparison. I sort of prefer the artwork of DFO, but I don’t dislike GGO. In fact, when I initially saw the GGO cards I was quite impressed with them. My issue is really with GGO’s depictions, which I’ve discussed previously.

Oracle Deck Comparison: Up close view of Sekhmet and Yemoja cards from both the Divine Feminine (left) and Goddess Guidance (right) decks.

I’m very pleased that two of my favorite Goddesses are present in both decks. These are also the two I opted to use in my previous review of GGO in discussion of the guidebook content.

Here’s a side by side of the DFO and GGO versions of Sekhmet and Yemoja. Looking at the key phrases used and then also the guidance blurb for each card it draws another sharp contrast. The pair of Sekhmet cards are much closer in terms of message than the Yemoja set. But still, the GGO versions are very Disney like to me. Part of the discrimination and marginalization women face relates to our emotions and how the expression of those emotions are policed by others. We aren’t allowed to get angry or aggressive or loud. This becomes even more restrictive for women of color.

Side-by-Side: Sekhmet

I love the Sekhmet card from the DFO deck: “I honor my anger by giving voice to it.” Yes! And while the message on the GGO card is nice (who doesn’t want a happy outcome?), it still gives me that vibe of trying to delete part of who and what Sekhmet represents to women. I feel like the GGO entry (below) and card (above) neuter the ferocity of women. It’s the whole reverence of the female stereotype of suffering through things silently with strength versus standing up, drawing boundaries, and fighting for something better. Yes, there is a time for silence just as there’s a time for action.

Oracle Deck Comparison: The Divine Feminine’s Guidebook entry for the Egyptian Goddess, Sekhmet.
Oracle Deck Comparison: The Goddess Guidance entry for the Egyptian Goddess, Sekhmet.

I know I keep going back to Sekhmet, but this is a quote from the GGO guidebook: “Don’t complain about anything. Don’t blame anyone or any condition. You’re the embodiment of strength, not victimhood.” The advice from a Goddess who led Pharaohs through wars, who makes evil tremble is not to complain. How about suggesting to walk courageously down your path and continue to speak out against (or roar at, even!) those who throwing mud and sabotaging? If not getting mired in victimhood is a key component of this message, why not talk about acknowledging the hurt and transmuting that into fiery courage and bravery? Again, it really comes off like it’s saying to just stay in your lane, don’t acknowledge or address the negativity, and get through it. Sometimes that is the only option in life. But for this Goddess, in light of her legends, her lore, her history — that, arguably, is the antithesis of what she represents. But someone who is unfamiliar with Sekhmet wouldn’t ever question it because the GGO guidebook mentions NOTHING about her being a warrior who battled in conflict and was revered for it. They do mention her husband though. Yea, I’m a little salty.

When women stand up and try to hold people accountable, many times it is met with a diminishing response. Women are whining. Women are complaining. We are just blaming others because we are unsuccessful or incapable. We are playing the victim. While I 100% agree that it is important to not fall into the negative spiraling thinking of victimhood, I also believe that the concept of “Don’t be a victim” is often weaponized against women (and other marginalized groups) to downplay impact and avoid accountability. What does a narcissistic and abusive partner say? What is the typical language used by people who are looking to gaslight others to discredit them? If I’m taking this too far, making a mountain out of a mole hill as they say, and the goal of this oracle deck is just to inspire and encourage through good feelings and positivity, why then include these statements?

Side-by-Side: Yemoja

Oracle Deck Comparison: The Divine Feminine’s Guidebook entry for the Yoruban Goddess, Yemoja.
Oracle Deck Comparison: The Goddess Guidance entry for the Yoruban Goddess, Yemoja.

When I think of Yemoja, I think of the Queen of Cups and the High Priestess. There are such strong elements of rebirth and the subconscious and cleansing and all the wonderful components of feminine energy. Water is the life force of this planet. Think about osmosis and and the cyclical nature of bodies of water, evaporation, condensation, weather phenomena. I really love the connection pointed out in the Divine Feminine Oracle deck’s guidebook about water being the element that held us in the womb and that’s why we are comforted and cleansed by water in so many ways.

The Empress, the great mother, also is a connection for Yemoja in tarot for me. Perhaps it is from this symbolism and implied abundance that the GGO pulls its inspiration for its messaging? It talks a lot about time and opportunity and seizing the moment. I guess that can be linked to the lunar aspects of Yemoja. Tides and the moon. But it doesn’t really talk about a core aspect of Yemoja, which is mothering and her relationship to children. The GGO entry feels very shallow. Sorry for the unintentional pun.

Re-Evaluating the Goddess Guidance Oracle

I went back through the GGO deck again and pulled out some cards of Goddesses I thought might have an interesting background that might be sidestepped. Again, I think I mentioned my disappointment in the Green Tara entry. Included in my gripe was a quote about gender discrimination and attaining enlightenment. Again, something I thought would be a corner stone of a Goddess Guidance deck. The other aspect of (Green) Tara that’s not even remotely referenced is the activist-protector side. Green Tara protects against horrible things like fanaticism, jealousy, delusion, ignorance. I’ve read in some places that describe this clarity and protection (or release) from negative thoughts and influences as a kind of fearlessness. To not even include a mention of gender equality or rather the irrelevancy of gender as it relates to seeking enlightenment is really disappointing.

Apparently, Artemis never uses her bow and arrows to hurt anything but instead she uses it to help her “focus her thoughts and intentions …” — yea. I can see wanting to keep the super dark elements of a Goddess like Aine to a minimum. But to describe her as if she only really oversees farming and livestock and can maybe help by giving “additional guidance and the courage to take risks”? She has many stories, and yes, in them often are rape and murder. A mentioning of her changing the power balance or justly stripping power away would have been great. Describing Ishtar (and I just realized that the DFO deck has an Inanna card, whoops.) as a nurturing mother figure? A helper of women AND men? Again, really bizarre editing (or in Ishtar’s case rewriting) to reflect “traditional” gender roles, but somehow manages to talk about asserting boundaries?

My laugh out loud moment was when the GGO guidebook described Kali as being similar to a “wise stage mother” who will “push you beyond your comfort zone…”. Yikes. Kali, the Stage Mom. Honestly, after review, I can’t imagine a more terrifying combination. But still, I think that comparison or likening is way beneath the Goddess Kali.

I do have to wonder what the discussion was like about editing Sedna‘s story. To quote the guidebook: “Sedna lost the tips of her fingers in a tragic boating accident.” Wow. Tragic boating accident? Okay. If anyone who reads this only ever clicks one external link it needs to be this link to read up on Sedna’s mythology. Tragic boating accident — I think that might usurp the Kali/Stage Mom reference as being the most absurd and arguably disrespectful entry.

There were some decent entries in the GGO guidebook: Bastet, Maat. Isolt isn’t bad either. I was surprised to see that in the Mary Magdalene entry there was mention of other beliefs surrounding her role and contributions in Jesus’s life and the building of the church. It also calls out her being labeled a prostitute. So that’s good. Again, someone who picks up this deck and doesn’t know some of these faces, I would hope that the blurbs about them would inspire further research.

Ultimately, there are some recurring themes in the GGO guidebook when it comes to things like taking initiative, staying focused, making decisions, striving to become successful. It’s all very passive from an emotional standpoint. It encourages positivity and a lot of visualization, but there’s such a heavy push for receptivity. Not to be reductive, but it’s a lot of: make a decision, be positive, if people are negative you should ignore it and forgive them, things will work out.

Conclusion

At best, I think the phrasing and messages in this guidebook for the Goddess Guidance Oracle deck are incredibly tone deaf. That’s a very generous, very kind, very diplomatic way to describe it.

I feel like if you erased the names and slapped different artwork on, the GGO could be almost any style of positivity-centric deck. Even on the very few occasions that suggestions were offered on how to connect with a Goddess, it struck me as watered down. With DFO it came across as more respectful and that a great deal more of care was taken to highlight elements of tradition and worship.

Would I recommend buying the GGO deck? I am more likely to suggest that money be spent on books by experts on world religions, mythologies, or an encyclopedia of deity. It’s less likely to get information from them that is as slanted and altered as what’s in Doreen Virtue’s deck. This deck is definitely not a suitable gift even though the advice and guidance written on the cards is positive. What outweighs the uplifting nature of the advice on these cards is that the claimed deliverer of these messages is questionable. It is profoundly disrespectful to whitewash a deity’s background (and in some cases their visual representation) — whatever the attempted justification is.

I do recommend giving a good look at the Divine Feminine Oracle deck whether you’re into divination, paganism, or just studying world religions or women’s issues.

Despite all of this, I’m glad I have both decks. GGO introduced me to a number of Goddesses/Figures that I might not have known. Can you just go to a world religions site or a Google up a database of Goddesses? Sure. But here’s where I think the power of divination, tarot, and oracle comes into play. Regardless of whatever is written in the guidebook, regardless of whatever the intent was of the creators of the GGO deck, when someone buys this deck, cleanses it, consecrates it, bonds with it, uses it, I 100% believe that their intention to connect to and be guided by the Goddesses featured here supersede anything prior.

When I use the Goddess Guidance Oracle deck, I follow the same procedure I would using any deck (tarot or oracle) or any method of divination. It is my connection to it, my intentions, my energy that I use to charge it. I ask my questions and I get cards just like anyone else. But to compensate for the lacking entries, I just research them on my own to understand and connect with the energy and traits signified by the cards I happen to draw. All I do is look at the name on the card to see who has popped up to say “Hello”. The book stays in the box, out of sight and out of mind. The blurbs on the cards aren’t even given a glance.

A Word About Doreen

I suppose there is an elephant in the room and that being Doreen Virtue (creator of the Goddess Guidance Oracle deck), herself. 2017-2018 were major years for me spiritually. So, while I had a vague notion of who she was and what she was about prior to 2017, I wasn’t as emotionally vested in her like a lot of other people are. In fact, our paths are rather opposite. I finally escaped the Catholic and Evangelical churches. She’s running back toward it seems like one of them. How someone can turn their back on acceptance, understanding, love, fairness, hope, openness and embrace corruption, sexism, racism, discrimination, greed — her choice. I just don’t get it. My regret in life is that I couldn’t find the courage sooner.

But as I mentioned earlier, these cards were designed by an individual and I bought a copy. How I charge them, use them, cleanse them, that is what matters. Doreen can call everything she’s ever done the work of the devil. I’ll probably just shrug and pray for her.

I’ll be posting my proper review of the Divine Feminine Oracle Deck in a few days after I’ve cleansed and bonded with it. Also, The Goddess Oracle deck by Amy Marashinsky is due to arrive this weekend. Excited to look through that one as well!

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