Management Tarot by Korai Peter Stemmann and Ute Stemmann
Review by Morwenna Morasch

First, I have to credit the authors of this deck and book set for their efforts to establish Tarot as a serious means for self-development and decision-making for business people, who are not usually ready to come out of the closet even if they use it.

The set comes in the plastic case which is typical for the Urania sets, but this one is well oversized. This is due to the book, which is a substantial volume and, for me, certainly the most valuable part of the set.

However, when I first opened it, my initial response was a little grudging, since the book starts with testimonials from managers and management trainers who work successfully with Tarot – six statements, all from men. Having been a management trainer for many years and being a business executive now, I would have liked to have at least a “quota woman” mentioned… after all, we are about 40% of the  management trainers and 25% business executives…

Next, I did, of course, shuffle through the cards. At first glance they seemed rather disappointing to me: Very pale watercolour images on a mostly white, sometimes slightly shaded background. Scenery is, if at all, sketchy. The Minor Arcana are pips, and even the court cards are not bearing people, but symbols. Minors and court cards also have keywords on the top border.

After a while, and especially after studying the companion book, I got used to the cards. The symbolism is thoroughly researched and well integrated. However, most cards have fairly traditional images assigned and therefore don’t prompt too many new insights or twists. Those who are depicted in a different way resonate partly positively, partly negatively with me. For example, the High Priestess is shown in a standing position with outstretched arms, like caught in the middle of performing a ritual. This is a surprisingly dynamic pose for a card of a rather contemplative nature. I’ve stared for ages on end at the Moon, wondering what on earth was the thingummybob on the right. The book told me it was a “mysterious tower”, and the dripping wet heroine had come out of the waters of emotion together with the cancer. Hmm… On the other hand, Strength (which is numbered Eight) shows a woman leading a dragon by a bridle. The dragon is clutching a golden ball in his right claw. I love this image, because for me Strength has always had a strong aspect of leadership. From the book, we learn the golden ball stands for the completed process of transformation in alchemy, turning lower to higher material.

Another good example for the thorough occupation with the cards’ symbolism is the Chariot (above). His breastplate is blank because he doesn’t know his destination yet. The gloves show he is still inexperienced and has not gotten in touch with the harsh aspects of life. The cushions show his noble descent. The staff with the golden tip shows his call to power. The two masks on the shield show that all the potential for a mature persona is already there. The yin/yang symbol emphasizes this polarity. The city walls are engraved with the planetary symbols for Sun, Mars, Mercury and Venus.

As mentioned before, the book is the strongest part of the set. The book starts with an overview of the career paths and life cycle of enterprises, connecting the stages to the Fool’s journey, life cycles phases being divided in Spiritual Principles (Majors 0-5), Growth (Majors 6-8), Flourishing (Majors 9+10), Downfall (Majors 11-14), The Pit (Majors 15+16), Ascension from Crisis (Majors 17-19) and Perfection (Majors 20-21). Each Major Arcanum has information about 19 different aspects, namely: Archetype, image description, symbolism, phase of life cycle (in terms of business management), normal and pathologic symptoms (i.e. upright/reversed meaning), quality, analogies, message, impact/consequences, enneagram, trap (shadow), development, challenge, explanation, metaphorical example, practical exercise (work/business context), I Ching correspondence, radionic rates, quotation.  This part is really comprehensive, and the practical aspects for the career context for which the deck is crafted are well assembled. Most of the exercises could be used in a seminar situation without any adaptation. I can’t really judge the radionic rates, knowing next to nothing about the subjects; the assigned states of mind seem however exact enough (i.e. for Strength: Control energy centres (+8930409), Inner strength (+5009 9048), Dissolve fear (+005-455), Balance over-eagerness (+803367)). The quotations are mostly taken from Zen writings and other Eastern philosophies. I’ve really gotten a lot of new ideas from this and many correspondences which are actually quite obvious, but still had never occurred to me before.

As usual, the Minors have much shorter sections devoted to them, covering the aspects general theme, meaning and interpretation keywords, career meanings and symptoms. I think the author has given away a lot of potential here. Since the main purpose of the deck is self-development (maybe with a focus on management skills), it would have been vital to have illustrated minors. Also, the set is directed at a target group which may not have too much Tarot knowledge to build on, and pips are always an obstacle for the newbie learner. Also, there is no explanation for the general theme of the suits. I would have expected another analogy to business life, especially since the correspondences could be made so obvious. 

The last part of the book gives some useful spreads for five different types of business situations (decision making, objectives and means, dealing with yourself, dealing with others, problem solutions), using well-known management theories like the portfolio technique or the Johari window as a basis. 

To summarize, the book alone makes this set worthwhile. Especially if your clients are business people, you’ll get valuable advice. If you run courses or seminars, there are a lot of good and simple exercises designed for instant use. However, I can’t get myself to really like the cards and probably would substitute a different deck.

Order this deck from German Amazon (mind the shipping costs, this is a bulky object!) or from the publisher’s site.

See a one card draw with the Major Arcana at Korai Peter Stemman’s homepage.

Management Tarot by Korai Peter Stemmann and Ute Stemmann
Publisher: Urania Verlag AGMüller, Switzerland 2002
ISBN #: 3-908654-15-7

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 80 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 © 2002 AGMuller
Review © 2002 Morwenna Morasch
Page © 2002 Diane Wilkes