In feminist circles, the mother wound is oft talked about. The mother wound is the relationship tension often inherent between a mother and a daughter. It’s a daughter:
- feeling like the mother is fundamentally disappointed in how the daughter has come out, that the daughter hasn’t met the mother’s expectations;
- feeling dysfunctional because the mother has explicitly or implicitly conveyed to the daughter that there is something fundamentally wrong with the daughter;
- feeling like you can never repay the enormous sacrifices the mother has made for the daughter; or…
- feeling afraid that she might outshine the mother and therefore hurt the mother’s feelings somehow, so plays down her attributes intentionally, tries to be smaller and more helpless than she actually is.
For me, when ill-dignified maternal cards are consistently showing up in synchronistic patterns throughout a tarot reading for a querent who is biologically female, who identifies by gender as female, or has transitioned, I’ll explore the mother wound. The mother wound can be such a pervasive root cause of the internal conflicts in our lives.
If you intuit that you may be affected by the mother wound at some soul or fundamental level, a tarot spread programmed specifically to address that mother wound can help.
If you’re looking to explore the mother wound or just probe deeper into the spiritual implications of your relationship with a mother figure, try out this spread.
The Mother Wound Tarot Spread
The card positions correspond as follows:
- What did my mother hope for me?
- What did my mother have to sacrifice for me?
- What lesson did my mother learn because of me?
- What is the best quality I inherited from my mother?
- What is the worst quality I inherited from my mother?
- What lesson do I have to learn from my mother?
- Optional: A message from my higher angels.
- Optional, if your grandmother is no longer in this world: A message from my maternal grandmother.
If you have two moms, then do this reading twice, one for each mom. If there is someone who doesn’t fit into the traditional box of mom but to you, has always been like a mother, then this spread could still work. “Inherit” can be a figure of speech.
This spread can work for interacting with and reflecting on your relationship with any mother figure in your life. It can even be used to commune with a patron goddess who has been like a mother figure to you and this spread can be revealing for your spiritual path.
Instead of doing the full spread as noted, let’s say you’re doing a tarot reading for someone and you intuit that the mother wound is a root issue. Shuffle the deck and focus on one of the above-listed questions, such as “What lesson do I have to learn from my mother?” or “What did my mother hope for me?” and then draw a card. Go with a follow-up mother wound question that makes the most sense to ask given what came up during your tarot reading.
If you’d like to download and then share the spread via social media, there are four different color options, which you can see in the above preview. Click on the image thumbnail to download.
I’ve gotta tell you. I must have some crazy good karma from a past life, because I don’t understand the mother wound concept and have never had the misery of experiencing it.
What fuels so much of my personal power is this unconditional conviction that my mother is proud of me, that I have not only met but exceeded her expectations of me. And yet, to the fourth bullet point, I’ve never felt any pressure, externally imposed or self-imposed, to downplay my attributes in front of my mother so that her “feelings” won’t get hurt. That’s because she’s accomplished, fierce, independent, and incredible in her own right.
To the second bullet point, if anything, my mother is the one who has healed my self-inflicted wounds of feeling like there’s something fundamentally wrong with me. Society has often made me feel like I’m by some nature dysfunctional, wired wrong, or too different. It’s my mother who has always been the one who had to single-handedly convince me that there was nothing wrong with me. When something crazy happens in my life, something totally woo-woo that no one believes or at the very least, gives me the side-eye for, Mom believes. Mom believes wholeheartedly, without condition, without doubt or skepticism.
And to the third, this may be the only one that’s plausible, and yet once again, mother saves the day. She has never, explicitly or implicitly, made me feel like I haven’t repaid her for her sacrifices. Unequivocally, she lets my sisters and me know that we are the best investment she has ever made. I’ve never felt like I owed her anything for her sacrifices. Rather, it’s a deep reverence, acknowledgement, and gratitude for the advantages I have in life thanks to her.
I think I’ve told this story so many times, but you can tell it’s because I love it. Once at a monastery (I was 16, a girly girl, you know, at that age…), the head monk guy told my mother that my shorts were too short and the way he said it was very, you know, dripping with implications. Truth is, out of respect, I probably shouldn’t have been wearing such short shorts at a Buddhist monastery. But what did Mom say? Mom yelled back at the monk guy. “Aren’t you a monk? Why are you staring at the bare legs of a 16 year old? You’re supposed to be a zen master. She’s just a child. Who’s really the one to blame here? Also, those are not short shorts. My daughter has long legs.”
That defensive reaction in protection of her own daughter, even in the face of a spiritual master she venerated, exemplifies the love I’ve always received from my mother. Yet within that deep love and support she gives me, she also calls me out on my bullshit. She’s the first to tell me when I’m blowing hot air. Last week I went back to my hometown to visit her and I happened to be wearing mala prayer beads around my wrist. She pointed at them. “Did you wear those at your tarot event so everybody will think you’re spiritual? Don’t be so fake.” (I told her that weekend I would be presenting at the Readers Studio.)
I weep for those who have to overcome the mother wound. I do. Because the power I command and the accomplishments I have under my belt are all attributed to the privilege of having dodged the mother wound.
Lately in interviews, I consistently get asked how do I do everything that I do, what are my time management secrets, how do I organize, where does my confidence come from, where do I get the audacity to believe in my own capabilities, from what deep source of seemingly unlimited energy do I seem to draw from. The truth is, I can do all that I can do for one simple reason: Mom. Since my birth, Mom cast a deep reservoir of her own power for her daughters to draw from, and we’ve drawn from it ever since, even now as grown adults, we still draw from the well of power Mom cast.
Happy Mother’s Day.
12 thoughts on “The Mother Wound Tarot Reading”
Beautiful. I love the relationship between you and your mother and I’m glad she didn’t make you feel ashamed of what you wore and defended you instead.
“Since my birth, Mom cast a deep reservoir of her own power for her daughters to draw from, and we’ve drawn from it ever since, even now as grown adults, we still draw from.”
There Is alot of meaning In this statement. First, It gives me a deeper understanding of the power of the queens in tarot and the impact of our spiritual development as women, on both ourselves our children.
It also helps me better understand the impact of shadow work as a means of cultivating inner power (and the consequence of ignoring the shadow, projecting on others and remaining powerless on our children and communities). Hope you expand on this course this summer.
What a lovely tribute to your mother! She has reason to be proud.
Inspiring! Thank you for sharing!
I love this post, Benebell. Thanks so much for sharing and I too have wondered how you can be so amazingly productive. You’ve explained it so well!
Great post. The mother wound can be developed between a daughter or a son, but manifests itself much differently. We also cannot ignore the father wound, which can be extremely devastating to a young man’s trajectory. Perhaps your post can be a springboard for deeper and broader wound analysis for people who are outside feminist circles.
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beautifully written. I am so glad your mother is in your corner. I need to do this spread though… working on healing my mother wounds with or without my mom.
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