Making Friends with The Transformational Tarot

by Marianne in


We all know tarot enthusiasm often goes hand in hand with a rabid collector mentality. Like squirrels, we're always on the hunt, rummaging for a new deck, weird ideas, inspiring images, a new take on the old classic. I own about fifteen decks, so I'm not immune to this impulse (and I certainly have squirrelish tendencies in other areas of my life). I do only regularly read with a small proportion of my collection though, so when it comes to lusting after new cards, I try not to give in to my whims too often.

This week, however, I succumbed and treated myself to a copy of The Transformational Tarot. You may know I am drawn to any deck that seems a little retro-crazy, and any hint of 70's or 80's kitsch will immediately grab my attention. Naturally, when I saw The Magician's heart-shaped sunglasses, I knew this was a deck I just had to have!

Like many decks that seduce me with a kitschy veneer, this deck has proven itself to be more complex and well-thought out than I expected. Created by Jungian psychotherapist Arnell Ando, this collage deck combines popular imagery with traditional tarot symbolism, Jungian theory, and world mythology. Many of the cards appear non-traditional, but I like that. It seems that to read with it, it it is more important to allow your mind, consciously or unconsciously, to make associations between the images and traditional tarot symbols. My instinct is that this deck is best used for private study, journaling, therapy, and self-development, rather than practical readings.

Probably not for the beginner, this deck will allow a more advanced reader to develop fresh associations with well-recognised tarot ideas and structures. The little white book is pretty useful, but necessarily brief. I'd love to know if Ando ever created a more in-depth guide for this piece of work, because each card contains so much imagery there's bound to be more to know! 

My first port of call in any new deck is to visit with The Hierophant. He's my soul card, and someone I like to give a little extra attention to because he is so often maligned by us willowy new age-types for his stuffiness and conservatism. Ando's version did not disappoint!

The Hierophant is called The Sage in this deck. The little white book describes it as such:

The African Goddess and God are nearly camouflaged by the nature of their creation. Presence of the spirit world requires communion with Mother Earth. Autumn is a time of reflecting on the past and preparing for the future. 

Right on! I love that Ando has brought a little Empress-y energy to this card. The Hierophant traditionally represents the social, earth-bound structures of divinity, the worship of god on earth, and yet more traditional decks don't often draw that parallel between that earthly worship and the earth itself. I love it, too, that this card includes both god and goddess. I refer to The Hierophant as "he" habitually, but the energy of this card isn't gender specific. Ando's vision of it offers a challenge to the way we perceive and gender ideas of spiritual leadership, which is always refreshing.

Finally, to start getting to know this complex and fascinating deck, I thought I'd ask it a quick, two-card question. So, Transformational Tarot, what can you tell me about yourself?

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Well! The Ten of Swords and The Star. Clearly, the message here is that this deck pulls no punches. It won't shy away from difficult or painful reveals, but interestingly, in its description of the Ten of Swords, the little white book places emphasis on overthrowing tyranny and bringing an end to pain and unrest. Coupled with The Star, which shows a Native American spider goddess weaving the world into being against a backdrop of van Gogh's The Starry Night, it seems these challenging reveals are all part of a process of creation and regeneration. Coming face to face with difficulty, and allowing it to positively transform us. A powerful message from what is obvious a powerful deck! I'm looking forward to working with it in the months to come.

Have you worked with the Transformational Tarot? Which deck do you prefer to use for questions of self-development and psychotherapeutic readings?

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