Tarot of Transformation by Willow Arlenea and Jasmin Cori
Review by Valerie Sim

If you'd like to purchase this deck/book set, click here.

Overview

I am impressed by this new tarot set by Weiser Books, an imprint of Red Wheel/Weiser. There is basically only one thing that I find bothersome about this deck and that is an odd and very cloying smell in both the cards and the book. I tried smudging the entire set thoroughly, but to no avail. Finally, I took a bay leaf, dabbed it with a little lavender oil, wrapped it in muslin and placed it inside the bag in which I have the cards, and the smell is now barely detectable. The book still retains the odor, but I don’t use it as much as I do the cards, so I find that tolerable.

I have heard of this occurring with other recently released tarot decks. Perhaps it is something  something inherent in the printing process used these days? Seems like a minor quibble, but I hope the publishers can do something about this as it has even made a few tarotists I know slightly ill. Fortunately, I was not that adversely affected, but did find it distinctly unpleasant.

The Art

Willow Arlenea’s art draws from her background in Fine Arts and Transpersonal Psychology, and she admits that her images arise from a combination of her Native American, Celtic and Wiccan spiritual studies, as well as from her experience with both Vipassana Meditation and Sufi dancing. To me, the cards have a distinctly shamanic feel. You would think that this might produce artwork that is overly eclectic and too great a mixture of too many styles, but I don’t find this to be a case.  The cards do contain a lot of symbols but I find them nicely integrated, pleasing and easy to interpret.

Willow Arlenea’s art draws from her background in Fine Arts and Transpersonal Psychology, and she admits that her images arise from a combination of her Native American, Celtic and Wiccan spiritual studies, as well as from her experience with both Vipassana Meditation and Sufi dancing. To me, the cards have a distinctly shamanic feel. You would think that this might produce artwork that is overly eclectic and too great a mixture of too many styles, but I don’t find this to be a case.  The cards do contain a lot of symbols but I find them nicely integrated, pleasing and easy to interpret.

The color scheme is soft, pastel and soothing. Borders on the Majors are lavender, while borders on the Minors are as follows: Cups – blue, Swords – yellow, Wands – pink and Disks – green. Looking at any card allows you to tap into the energy that immediately draws the eye in and moves the reader throughout the card. The images are visceral, yet muted. The illustrations contain a lot of light, many spirals, various mandalas and geometric designs. Animals and nature spirits abound. The nicest thing about the artwork is that palpable feeling of movement, of an energy that moves not only within each card, but connects them all to each other.

The Book

Jasmin Cori wrote the book to accompany this deck. Many times the book in a deck/book set appears to be a hastily prepared afterthought. This one is very good. In an in-depth but easy to read format Ms. Cori presents the multidimensional meanings of this deck and its multi-faceted symbols clearly and succinctly. As she states, “The underlying perspective of this deck is one oriented toward deep spiritual transformation.” (p 3)

Majors

With the Major Arcana, traditional meanings are approached from a slightly different angle. Some of the nomenclature has been changed to better reflect the newer paradigm presented by the deck’s creators. In this deck, Justice is 8 and Strength is 11. Renamed Majors are as follows:

The Empress                 The Earth Mother
The Emperor                 The Green Man
The Hierophant             Spiritual Leaders
Justice                           Balance
The Hermit                    The Crone
Tower                           Kali
Judgment                      Compassion
World                           The Kosmos

Suit Cards

Suits are fairly conventional, but are amplified in a unique & refreshing way:

Swords                         Mental Realm (and original patterns, including sacred geometry & changing paradigms)

Disks                            Material World & Daily Life (plus instinctual wisdom personified by animals)

Cups                             Emotional World (as well as defensive strategies and patterned responses)

Wands                          Chi or Life-force energy, (with an additional correlation with the energies of the physical and transpersonal chakras)

Courts

The deck employs gender-neutral classifications for the Court cards that Cori describes as “simply four ways to express the gifts of each suit." (p.7)

They are:

Server (Page) - expresses the impulse to help

Teacher (Knight) - the embodiment of some aspect of wisdom of the suit

Healer (Queen) – one who exerts a healing influence on oneself or others

Master (King) – the integrated whole or most comprehensive expression of that suit

Working With the Cards

The author advocates adapting Gestalt therapy to address different parts of each card in the first person. Thus, the Hanged Man is not merely some third party hanging suspended in space but is experienced as though in dream work by saying something like “I am relinquishing control of my life and am experiencing deep inner growth. My ego is suspended. I am in harmony with God’s will.”

Cori also encourages readers to work with the cards colors and movement. As mentioned earlier, each card has a distinct flow of movement that evokes deep feelings and responses. Likewise, the reader is challenged to respond to the colors in each picture, expanding on their visual language.

Spreads

Though the book does include some material on two and three card spreads and introduces a six-card relationship spread, the “spread”, if you can call it that, that I enjoyed most was one consisting of six separate and consecutive one-card draws. Suggested questions were:

* What do I need to remember in this situation?

* What is trying to unfold?

* What is the basic energy of this situation?

* What am I up against here?

* What is the deeper lesson in this situation/relationship?

* What is the healing potential of this situation/relationship? (p 11)

I tried this for a couple of different situations and it worked beautifully.

Conclusion

I heartily recommend this tarot package. Though the muted colors and energy dances might relegate this for some men to the tarot’s version of a “chick flick”, I think most people, male or female, would appreciate the value of this set for transpersonal analysis and growth.

If you'd like to purchase this deck/book set, click here.

You can read another review of this deck/book set here.

The Tarot of Transformation by Willow Arlenea (artist) and Jasmin Lee Cori (author)
Publisher: Red Wheel/Weiser
ISBN#: 1578632390

Valerie Sim-Behi serves as the VP of Communications for the ATA. She is the Listowner of the popular tarot email list, Comparative Tarot, a list populated by tarot students, readers, teachers, authors and artists. She is currently finishing up her book about the Comparative Tarot method and ways to keep tarot fun and exciting, called Tarot: Out of the Box; and has written the pamphlet, or "little white book," for the recently published Lo Scarabeo Comparative Tarot Deck. On the shamanic path and active in animal rescue, Valerie has many favorite decks including Animal Wise, Vision Quest, Shining Tribe and Tarot of the Crone.


Images © 2003 Red Wheel/Weiser Books
Review © 2003 Valerie Sim
Page © 2003 Diane Wilkes