Transformational Tarot by Arnell Ando, M.A.
Book and Deck set, $24.95
ISBN# 0-9649386-3-4
Ando, the blurb on the back of the book tells us, is "an Expressive Art Therapist", and her deck "uses the medium of collage to express her vision of our complex multi-dimensional existence" and "presents a universal mythology for our time." That says it all--summing up the problems I have with this deck and touching on the few things I do like. How this deck is "universal" beats me, not to mention the dichotomy set up joining that word to the word "mythology", often a set of stories from a personal perspective. His story or her story, its SOMEbody's story.

Let's talk technical for a minute. I find the deck too small and the art, or rather the blending of images here is a bit on the untenable side. The collaging technique used looks a little sloppy, especially in comparision to other decks that employ the collaging method including Dali, Voyager and Rohrig.

There's also a problem of gender representation, or so some people feel. My friend Angela, who has very strong feelings about art and gender representation finds most objectionable the presentation of women here--i.e., are pre-Raphaelite fin de siecle paintings of women a bit too much on the idealized side for us to live up to, she asks? I know Ando is trying to be playful here, but don't these captions from her Five of Wands, Female: " that too much to ask for?, Male: "Man! This chick is uptight!", seem a bit corny? Or on the level of primetime sitcom? Not that I don't think this is an apt representation of our culture's level of sophistication when it comes to Love, especially in comparison with say the 13th century French poem cycle, the Romance of the Rose.

Well, let's sojourn into the guts of all this. Ando, speaking of myths, repeats the one about the gypsies bringing Tarot into Europe during the 14th century. Check, please!

So much for research into Tarot history. Ando's system is pretty straightforward, and I've seen worse and more derivative of other decks, but this deck's card attributions, trump explanations, and suit implications just don't grab me. And don't get me wrong, I've seen worse art--for instance, I find Connolly quite insipid--all those smiling faces and beautiful young people with perfect skin! No one looks like that on Monday morning, I'm sorry. But back to this deck. One thing--I also fail to see how its "transformational". When I think of people I would like to see transformed, I fail to see how much this deck can help. Maybe it could be a tool that a skilled therapist could use, along with some prescriptions, depending on the person, but really the real work has to be done by the patient. Coming from a family of alcoholics, I should know!

Which brings us to the purpose behind this deck. Of the reasons she gives, the most convincing was that she "found it increasingly more frustrating to use other people's images, symbols & interpretations." She is indeed nothing if not independent with the latter two, but the former?! This whole deck is nothing but a mix of borrowed images! Anyhow, she goes on to say she has her particular way of relating this to her "study of spirituality and Jungian psychology." IMHO, there are better decks for that, including Voyager, even with its pretensious vogue-ing as now an alchemical deck, now a dessert topping.

Review copy courtesy of Wolf Distributing.

-George Leake, 9/5/96

Page Copyright 2000 Diane Wilkes
Review Copyright 2000 George Leake