The Contemplative Tarot is designed for meditation, for self-discovery, and for self-improvement. It is suitable for beginners and advanced Tarot users, especially if the user desires a tool for reflection.
This is a study in balances. It sets the historical opposite the modern, the intellectually symbolic opposite intuitive response, and self-knowledge opposite self-evolution. It also sets Major Arcana opposite Minor Arcana and card front opposite card back. After carefully creating all these delicate balances, it proceeds to simply turn traditional Tarot usage on its head.
First, the deck shakes up your world as soon as you open the pack. Flipping through the Majors you won't see the familiar titles: The Fool, The Magician, The High Priestess, etc. Instead, you'll see Man, Man, Divine, Universe, Divine, Man, etc. There are pips instead of illustrated Minors, but these are practically illustrations. They are devoid of human figures but are definitely not devoid of life, movement, or energy.
According to the Little White Booklet, the names on the Majors are inspired by P.D. Ouspensky’s idea that each of the Major Arcana cards relate to one of three levels. Ouspensky used: Man, Nature, and Higher Knowledge. The Contemplative Tarot uses Man, Universe, and Divine. The group names are not the same, but fairly close in meaning. The group "Man" is the same for both the Contemplative Tarot and for Ouspensky. The other two groups, though, are different. So with this aspect, the Contemplative plays with the historical and the modern, taking inspiration from the past and giving it a twist.
The grouping of "Man" are cards/ideas/archetypes that relate to the individual. "Universe" cards relate to the individual’s relationship with and experience of the world and its natural laws. "Divine" cards represent transcendent reality.
The Major Arcana will look recognizable to anyone familiar with the Rider-Waite-Smith deck. While not a clone, there is enough connection that even without titles on the cards, identification is easy.
There are more symbols on these cards—both on the fronts and the backs!—than you can shake a stick at. The Majors are each assigned a Hebrew letter (using Eliphas Levi’s attributions, not those of the Golden Dawn) and each suit of the Minors is assigned a letter of the Tetragrammation. The backs of the cards are packed, and interesting. There are six different backs in this deck. One for each suit, one for the Majors, and the Fool has his own back. The Majors feature the twenty-one Hebrew letters, alchemical glyphs, and geometric symbols. The Minors are different colors, have a symbol of a different gospel author, different elementals (elves, salamanders, etc.), zodiac signs, and seasonal representations. The backs of these cards will keep the brains of symbol junkies happy for hours.
Then there are, for each card, questions or ideas for meditation (provided in the booklet). This information along with the image gets you started. You select a card (according to the booklet, picking the one that attracts your attention more than the others), meditate on it, and repeat the question and meditative phrases until you experience the answer. And here is where your intuitive response plays with the intellect. Symbols and words coupled with art give your deeper self lots to play with, providing a useful tool for finding your own personal truths.
This deck does not just let you gaze at your navel and learn about yourself. It helps you evolve and grow, pushing your mind, creating connections, asking questions, forcing you to seek your own answers. That is the thing, really, the ultimate balancing act of this deck is about questions and answers. It provides all the questions. These questions may inspire more questions. You may find some answers. But as we know, the journey isn’t usually about the destination.
If you wish to experience this deck, you cannot expect easy, immediate understanding. It is meant to lead you to places you’ve never been, to thoughts that never occurred to you before.
This deck isn’t designed for divination, but if you use it for its intended purpose you will truly enjoy the experience.
Name of deck: Contemplative Tarot
Publisher: Lo Scarabeo
Artist’s name: Adriano Buldrini
Name of accompanying booklet: Contemplative Tarot
Number of pages of booklet: 63, 14 in English
Author(s) of booklet: Giovanni Pelosini
Available in a boxed kit?: No
Magical Uses: Path working, rituals, meditation, self-discovery
Reading Uses: Not suited for divination
Theme: Meditation and contemplation
Tarot, Divination Deck, Other: Tarot
Does it follow Rider-Waite-Smith Standard?: Somewhat
Does it have extra cards?: No
Does it have alternate names for Major Arcana cards?: No
Why was deck created?: To help the user in an inner voyage, to seek the evolution of the Self through meditation and contemplation.