In our modern society, tarot cards are affiliated with esoteric practice, arcane wisdom, and occasionally, feminine spirituality. Since the deck's inception in Renaissance Italy as a parlor game, the tarot has existed as a representation of gender due to the ubiquitous female image in card visuals. Yet, what once served as an entertainment device and a means of sexual interaction in the Milanese court, transformed into a divination tool used in eighteenth-century occult practice. Though female personifications have remained a present and defining feature of the Major Arcana cards, subtle changes in tarot imagery and changing societal perceptions of gender renovated the deck's cultural significance and altered the connotations of its visual iconography. This study will examine the identity and purpose of the tarot between two societies during which the cards were rampant in popular culture and will examine how changes in social mentalities of gender informed the deck's contemporary sexual and esoteric identity.


Gamble, Harry

Second Advisor

Morrow, Kara


Art and Art History; French and Francophone Studies


French and Francophone Language and Literature | History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology | Other Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


tarot, gender, iconography, occult, france, renaissance, vagina dentata

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2013 Megan Mary Piemonte