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Tarot of Metamorphosis Review

This article was written by Donald Michael Kraig, Certified Tarot Grandmaster on May 12, 2009
posted under

Tarot of Metamorphosis Review

Summary:
We are constantly going through various changes in our lives, but for the most part, that are beyond our conscious awareness and control. The Tarot of Metamorphosis aims to change this. Following the traditional RWS design, the surreal and mangaesque art opens us to understand and even encourage the positive changes. As such, this deck is a powerful tool for the experienced Tarot practitioner. It is especially good for meditation and personal spiritual evolutionary work.

Review

Today, when most people consider the Tarot, they focus on its function for divination or "fortune telling." While that certainly is a valid and important use of the Tarot, to see it only for that purpose misses the point that has helped to make the Tarot increasingly popular. The Tarot can do far more than simply help you see the changes that will come in your life, they can also help you change and evolve. They can allow you to direct your inner change, increasing the personal transformation where desired, and give ways to overcome or at least ameliorate unwanted changes. It has been said that the "only constant is change." The Tarot can help to put you in control of that change.

Unfortunately, in most cases, the rather static images of the Tarot leave most people wondering as to the meanings of the cards in their lives. The Tarot of Metamorphosis finally makes this concept of personal evolution more obvious, and it does so in a "fantastic" manner.

In my statement above, Iím not using "fantastic" as hyperbole. Rather, Iím describing the artwork itself. It seems to combine the comic fantasy art exemplified in Japanese managa with surrealism and the "sexy robots" of Sorayama. More importantly, every card clearly and artistically indicates the very concept of evolution, change, or metamorphosis.

Slightly fan out the cards face up and the first thing youíll note is that the white border that surrounds each card is divided by a horizontal swath of yellow, indicating the movement from one side of the card to the other. Virtually every card shows a person, creature or thing changing from one thing into another. But what are these changes?

Thatís where the surprisingly informative Little White Booklet (LWB) becomes a necessity. Unlike most LWBs that simply give the divinatory meaning of the cards, this one shares the concept of change that appears on each card. Thus, in the Major Arcana, The Magician is dscribed as "The first Metamorphosis. The Magician transforms the world with his illusions, casing on it the images of his intense will. The risk is being deceived by his imagination." The image shows a golden marionette breaking free of its strings as he dives off the snout of a dog with a giant Indian Sri Yantra in the background. The Hierophant is "The Metamorphoses of the Secret. Your continuously changing awareness requires new spiritual and psychic horizons. Do not become ensnared by dogmas and beliefs you have already overcome." The image shows a waterfall forming a pool. At the edge is another waterfall with rocks forming the face of the Hierophant. Water streams over his features as he observes a nymph bathing in the pool his waters are now forming.

In the Minors, each suit has a set of meanings. Swords are "The Metamorphoses of Thought." Swords uses images from famous stories and art, including the obvious Metamorphosis of Kafka, Jekyl and Hyde, Dracula, Danteís Inferno, Aliceís Adventures in Wonderland, as well as the art of Hieronymus Bosch and Renť Magritte, to illustrate the concept of uncontrolled and unconscious transformations. Wands are "The Metamorphoses of Nature" and visually indicated that there is "no clear division between the natural kingdoms and the elements dance interwoven in the spiritual flurry of ceaseless evolution." Each card shows a being transformed into another species. Each card of the suite of Chalices features an image from the ancient stories of Greek legends, giving meaning to this suit indicating "The Metamorphoses of Myth." Included are illustrations of Zeus and Danae, Arachne, Tantalus, King Midas, Icarus, and Circe. Finally, the Pentacles indicates "The Posthumous Metamorphoses." We have reached a transition where we can transcend our weak fleshly bodies and enter "an era of uniting flesh and metal."

I have a love-hate relationship with this deck. For some reason a part of me doesnít want to like this deck, but since I opened it the deck has repeatedly called to me. I start a reading and find myself drifting off into realms of change and potential directions in life. I donít know if the images are doing this or if they concepts presented in the LWB about the images are doing this. Perhaps there is some sort of symbiotic relationship between the images, the meaning and myself. What I can say is that for me, this is a powerful deck of cards.

The LWB include a four-card spread called "The Chrysalis." Its purpose is to "focus awareness on the secret metamorphosis that is taking place inside of us." I donít think it quite satisfies that description (itís too limited), but for any experienced Tarot practitioner, adding to the basic concept presented here should be easy. I would consider this a beginning with concepts to inspire rather than a complete reading.

Therefore, while I donít recommend this deck for beginning Tarot students, I strongly recommend this for experienced users, especially those who use the Tarot for more than divination. I firmly believe that the unconscious mind is filled with unlimited potential. The Tarot of Metamorphosis is a key that unlocks the door to seeing and understanding that potential.


Deck Attributes
Name of deck: Tarot of Metamorphosis
Publisher: Lo Scarabeo
ISBN: 0-7387-0792-9
Artistís name: Luigi Di Glammarino
Brief biography of artist:
Name of accompanying booklet: Tarot of Met[h]amorphosis
Number of pages of booklet: 64 (14 in English)
Author of booklet: Massimiliano Filadoro
Available in a boxed kit?: No
Magical Uses: Meditation for personal change and evelopment.
Reading Uses: General readings, but especially for when you (or your client) have met roadblocks to advancement. You know that things need to change but donít know how.
Artistic Style: Modern Surreal with illustrated novel (mangaesque) appeal and more than a hint of being influenced by Hajime Sorayama.
Theme: Change
Tarot, Divination Deck, Other: Tarot
Does it follow Rider-Waite-Smith Standard?: Yes
Does it have extra cards? If yes, what are they?: No
Does it have alternate names for Major Arcana cards?: No, however it uses the older (pre-Golden Dawn, pre-RWS) numbering where Justice is 8 and Strength is 11.
Does it have alternate names for Minor Arcana suits?: No
Does it have alternate names for the Court Cards?: No
Why was deck created?: "This deck was designed as a key for opening the treasures of that inexhaustible reservoir of creativity that anxiously lies in our unconscious."
Book suggestions for Tarot beginners and this deck: I would suggest that rather than starting with this deck, you learn the basics of Tarot first. A good place to start woud by the Tarot Kit for Beginners by Janet Berres which includes a deck. If you already have a deck, use Tarot for Beginners by P. Scott Hollander.
Book suggestions for experienced Tarot users and this deck: Perhaps surprisingly, the LWB includes a list of recommended reading that includes classics of transformation ranging from Apuleiusí Metamorphosis and Stevensonís The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde to Pillip K. Dickís, "The Shifting Realities, William Gibsonís Neuromancer, and Kafkaís "The Metamorphosis." I would add Rachel Pollackís Tarot Wisdom, and Tarot Shadow Work by Christine Jette.
Alternative decks you might like: Bosch Tarot

While Llewellyn's Classic Tarot has my name on the cover, I did not so much design this project as direct it. Llewellyn wanted a deck that was designed to be faithful to the traditional tarot images, symbols, and meanings recognizable to most modern tarot readers and students. Creating a faithful yet new expression of timeless tarot imagery is... read this article
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