The Female Warrior Plays Cards

The following is by an anonymous author, published in 1681 (from the Bodleian Library, retrieved via Early English Books Online):

Anon-The_Female_warrior-Wing-F671-1739_07-p1

This is not directly related to Tarot–the lines “To play a game at Cards or Dice, / to pass the time away, / Or any Gentile exercise, / she never would say nay” point to gambling rather than cartomancy. However, I was struck by how the story of this transvestite ensign echoed the story of Pope Joan; Joan also cross-dressed and was discovered when she gave birth during a procession. The tale of Pope Joan is often connected to the Popess (High Priestess) card.

Furthermore, it made me wonder how Tarot is gendered. “Cards and Dice” were a common vice assigned to men in the 17th century, and it could be argued that men dominate professional gambling today (for example, there seem to be mostly male contestants in televised poker championships). However, I feel like cartomancy is more evenly divided between the sexes–decks were created by men and women (such as A.E. Waite and Pamela Colman Smith) and the modern stereotype of a fortune-teller is almost always female. I personally know more female tarotists than male tarotists, but I also tend to run in circles with more women than men. What do you think?

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