Transformational Tarot by Arnell Ando
Review by Diane Wilkes

If you would like to purchase the deck, please click here.

I should call this review "Time Passages" (with apologies to Al Stewart). The self-published version of Transformational Tarot is the first tarot deck I ever reviewed. The review led to email interaction with a woman who was to become a true sister of spirit and soul, Arnell Ando, but at the time, it was simply thrilling to have the opportunity to discuss and ask about individual cards of the deck as I was first exploring and working with it.

In my initial review, I talk about how Transformational Tarot helps one to put traditional imagery into a new and exciting context. But it is only in retrospect that I can see how this deck expanded and, yes, transformed the way I looked at tarot and tarot readings. The evocative and complex imagery spoke to me in a way that no tarot deck ever had before (and only the Blue Rose has since). Working with Transformational Tarot literally changed my life and gave me a greater appreciation of tarot and made me a better tarot reader, helping me to truly see the art of the tarot, in all its potential richness and splendor.

But enough superlatives. On to the meat of the review.

The artist's medium is collage. Up until that time, the only collage deck I knew was Voyager, which I always found rather busy and disorienting, with its profusion of images. As a rule, each Transformational Tarot card contains one central scene, but that scene is filled with meaningful symbolic details which buttress your understanding of the card and add nuance and depth to your readings.

I can't escape the superlatives. This deck demands them.

The new version of Transformational is artistically very similar to the original. Some cards have received minor changes: Strength's dragon's face has changed, The Star's background is now more artistically complex, the conversation bubbles on the Five of Wands have disappeared. Others have been completely redone: the tempestuous Eight of Wands has become more measured, the pain in the Five of Swords is slightly less anguished and more other-related, the Seven of Swords depicts a less blatant, but still devastating, mental cruelty, and the Ten of Coins is a more subtle and less ethnically diverse picture of familial interconnections.

Also different from the original deck are the card backs. The purple animal totems have given way to a brown and tan diamond pattern. I prefer the originals but I like the fact that I can't tell which cards are reversed anymore. It removes the temptation to turn a reversed card upright.

Because the main imagery of the deck is already explored ad infinitum in my earlier review, I will just say that the new images are clearer and, because of their larger size, even more accessible for psychic entry.

And, I'll provide a secret insight into the Eight of Wands; the little purple store on the desk the woman contemplating all she has to do is leaning on? It's mine. Arnell promises it's not her little way of letting me know my requests/demands of her are a bit unreasonable.

Instead of a "real" book, the US Games version of Transformational Tarot comes with a very thick little white booklet (47 pages!). While the only spread included is the Celtic Cross, there is no reason for groans to emanate throughout the universe. Ando's version is unique and, I think, particularly helpful in dealing with issues in a pro-active manner.

Ando suggests that the new version of Transformational Tarot  is slightly less personal, and while I'd agree, I love the new cards and think they're beautiful and perhaps more universal. The fact that now more people can get their hands on the deck, which went for hundreds on eBay when it was out of print, makes me even happier.

I know this deck helped me reach a new level of tarot reading and, if you're willing to expand your tarot palette, I know it will be "transformational" for you as well. If you don't have this deck, get it.

  Yes No
78 cards X  
Reversible Backs X  
Strength VIII, Justice XI   X
Color Images X  
Standard (RWS) Titles of the Major Arcana   X
Traditional (RWS) Suits (Wands, Chalices, Swords, Pentacles) X  
Traditional (RWS) Golden Dawn Suit-Element Attributions Rods--Air; Swords--Fire X  
Standard dimensions (approx. 4 3/4" X 2 3/4")                   X  
Smaller than standard                                           X
Larger than standard                                               X

If you would like to purchase the deck, please click here.

You can see a sample reading with the original version of this deck here.


Images 2005 US Games used by permission
Review and page 2008/09 Diane Wilkes