Ananda Tarot by Ananda Kurt Pilz  
Review by Morwenna Morasch

When I first opened the plastic box of this deck and book set, I was strongly reminded of many of the decks published in the mid-eighties, very "cosmic" and alternative. So I was quite surprised this is actually a deck published in 2001.  

The art is very intuitive and I find it is very typical for a Pisces artist the dreamy and emotional style, the use of effects like starry nebulas, fading and dissolving motives, spheres and ethereal figures. Most cards show soft, matted colors and a color scheme with many hues of blue, but some are vibrant and therefore spring out at you in a layout (e.g. the Magician, the Emperor, Justice (which is 8) and the Devil). The backs are reversible. While Pilz has developed his own symbolism, most of the meanings fit well into the traditional categories and may even bring out some new aspects of a well-known card.

Some of the Majors are renamed: The Chariot is the Charioteer, the Hanged Man is Reversal, Temperance is Equalization, and Judgement is Change of Times.

My favorite card interpretations include the Fool , the Charioteer and Death. The Fool is levitating in a playful position between clouds, using the earth globe as a ball. Pilz says that while the Fool is traditionally depicted at the border of an abyss, he is actually already one step further: for him, laws and borders are simply nonexistent. The Charioteer is portrayed as the statue of an Eastern deity, sitting calm and in concentration on a pedestal while two white mares in full gallop run on either side. I like the idea of how much inner balance is required to achieve the outer balance of opposing forces. Death shows transparent images of a skull, a clock, a dark red rose, a dove and a letter in Hebrew fading into each other. The whole card has a somewhat nostalgic feeling about it, which reminds me why this card is scary for many we cling to our old, comfortable memories, yet we know a single lifespan is limited.

Other cards are less obvious to me. For example, the Empress is a transparent, ghost-like figure melting into the starry sky, behind some grass and ferns. The Empress to me is one of the more touchable cards, with earth and water, but hardly airy qualities. Indeed, Pilz himself connects her with Moon, Venus, and Taurus. Still, it is a very beautiful image of a strong female presence.

The Minors are pips. Suits are Swords, Flames, Cups and Spheres. Court cards are King, Queen, Knight and Princess.

Some of the court cards seem to depict celebrities. The Knight of Flames is the late singer of the Doors, Jim Morrison. The same familiar female face stars as the Queen of Swords, the Knight of Swords, and the Magician. The Knight of Cups is Christ, His face floating in the sky above a glass of wine and a loaf of bread, probably a symbol for the Last Supper. The card is meant to show a "spiritual warrior". They are traditionally interpreted as characters, who might be significant regarding the querent's situation.

The pips show the appropriate number of suit symbols, though they are not necessarily identical. The Swords suit is the least imaginative, showing swords flying through dreamlike landscapes. Cups are sometimes long-stemmed wine glasses, sometimes silver chalices. Spheres, to show their relation to the material world, show often not only landscapes, but also buildings and other architectural structures. The suit of Flames doesn't show flames, but all sorts of rays, stars, and rainbows. They are very beautiful pips, but still pips!  

All cards are assigned several astrological correspondences (see chart for the Major Arcana below), which include not only the relationships to planets, elements and signs, but also takes the aspects into account (Minor Arcana).

Card

Astrological correspondence

The Fool

Uranus, Neptune, Pisces

The Magician

Sun, Mercury, Aries

The High Priestess

Moon, Mercury, Aries

The Empress

Moon, Venus, Taurus

Der Herrscher

Sun, Mars, Saturn, Aries

The Hierophant

Sun, Mercury, Jupiter, Sagittarius

The Lovers

Venus, Mars, Libra

The Charioteer

Mars, Mercury, Aries, Aquarius

Justice

Jupiter, Saturn, Libra

The Hermit

Mercury, Saturn, Pisces

Wheel of Fortune

Uranus, Saturn, Capricorn

Force

Sun, Moon, Leo

The Reversal

Uranus near MC, Pisces

Death

Pluto, Saturn, Scorpio

Equalization

Merkur, Venus near MC, Libra

The Devil

Mars, Pluto, Saturn near IC

The Tower

Saturn, Uranus near MC, Capricorn

The Star

Merkur, Neptune near MC, Aquarius

The Moon

Moon, Neptune in the 12. House, Pisces

The Sun

Sun, Jupiter near MC, Leo

Change of Times

Uranus, Pluto near IC, Aquarius

The Universe

Jupiter, Neptune in Pisces

I found this extremely helpful in getting a grasp on the nature and quality of some of the lesser known aspects when working with natal charts, even though some of the correspondences are rather unusual (like Aries for the High Priestess) and I can't really see how a card can relate both to Sun and Moon.  

The companion book for this deck, available only as a set, tries to combine in its first two chapters all the principles of the Kabbalah, hermetic alchemy, Taoist Zen philosophy, Hinduism and Buddhism. A little less would have probably worked better. Pilz, who says he's a painter, musician, author and astrologer, has also published a book about the I Ching and spent time in Asia, so probably the statements in the book are well researched. Personally, I find it lacks a "red thread" and many sentences appear to be lengthy, entwined chains of word-shells with little informational content.

A plus of the book is the concept of the Minors. They are not listed by suit, but grouped by number. Every number group has a keyword as the common base of the four cards assigned, e.g. the keyword "Achievement" for the Nines. But then again, the actual texts for the cards are pretty mushy.  

I recommend this deck for people who seek a different, more esoteric deck with traditional meanings and who don't mind working with pips. The deck also works for meditation or readings focusing on astrological aspects. Obviously, the beautiful artwork also makes it a collector's item.  

See more cards from the Ananda deck here.

You can order this item from German Amazon (mind the shipping costs!).

Ananda Tarot by Ananda Kurt Pilz  
Urania Verlag, Switzerland, 2001
ISBN#:  3-908654-05-X

Morwenna Nadja Morasch's first encounter with the tarot took place 20 years ago, when she bought Ferguson's Tarot of the Witches in a novelty store out of curiosity. She was immediately hooked and presently owns a collection of about 100 decks. Morwenna has taken classes with two excellent German teachers, Pekny and Banzhaf, and also studies astrology. Spiritually, she follow a Witch's path with a close relationship to the Faerie folk, and is presently contracted to write a book linking faerie magic with the Tarot, to be published in Spring, 2003. View Morwenna's private homepage here.

Images 2001 Urania Verlag
Review 2002 Morwenna Morasch
Page 2002 Diane Wilkes