The Tarot of Transformation
"The goal of transformation is to have your human person and human life transformed or reshaped in accordance with your spiritual realization. Spiritual experiences (or any experience, for that matter) mean little if they are not integrated into your life. ... Every topic discussed in this deck - including creating balance in your life, working with the Shadow, recovering your instinctual wisdom, releasing stuck energy, the need to inspire and refresh yourself, dealing with doubt, and developing compassion - is a building block for transformation."
by Willow Arlenea and Jasmin Lee Cori
A strange thing happened to me as I was getting to know this deck. Every deck has an effect on me, even when it is simply a feeling of admiration or appreciation, or even negatively when I find a deck I really dislike (which is rare but has happened). The Tarot of Transformation brought me awareness of my own process of transformation in a way others hadn't, and through this I had glimpses of my future. To be clear, I didn't have premonitions, and I didn't predict with the cards. The future I saw was the future I realized I want for myself one day, allowed to come to the surface through the use of these cards and the understanding of their wisdom. This, to me, is quite significant. I don't plan too far ahead, and as much as I "create my future," I don't bother thinking too much about twenty, thirty, forty years from now, or at least, not with any real detail. I was surprised to find myself looking so far ahead, and finally knowing the kind of life I want to have one day, when I am growing old. This was a very calm experience, and strengthening as well.
The Tarot of Transformation is a tarot that, through intricate artwork and words of psychological and spiritual understanding, moves us to transform our lives, and ourselves. The tarot itself has undergone a transformation in the hands of Willow Arlenea and Jasmin Lee Cori. Though the standard format of the tarot remains, names have been changed - The Empress is The Earth Mother, The Emperor is The Green Man, The Hierophant is Spiritual Leaders, Justice is Balance, The Hermit is The Crone, The Tower is Kali, Judgment is Compassion, and The World is The Kosmos - and the cards of the Minor Arcana have expanded greatly in meaning. I think this is the biggest change to the tarot; that the Minor Arcana cards go beyond their traditionally more mundane meanings, to embrace the issues that underlie our physical, visible lives. In addition, court cards have become Server, Teacher, Healer, and Master.
Each of the cards has a subtitle, which gives an immediate idea of the card's significance, and often reflects a new vision. For example, the Three of Swords is also known as Moving Toward Freedom. It indicates the need to transcend conflict, resolve tension, and move to a higher point of view. Rather than seeing loss or heartbreak, as is common for this card, we look beyond to the ways in which we can transform such bleak expectations. Even in the Major Arcana we get a better understanding of each card through its subtitle. The Devil is also called Separation from the Source, and through this name we comprehend a meaning of this card that we might not have experienced before.
We look at every card differently in the Tarot of Transformation, through Arlenea's beautiful artwork, and through Cori's knowledgeable writing. The cards themselves are delicate and lovely. Their colors, design elements, and sense of movement create a feeling of positive aliveness. A spirit of wonder and a deep wisdom are made available to us through each image. With the accompanying book as a guide to this wisdom, we learn to understand not only the cards themselves; we also understand what is at work in our own lives, beneath the surface. We learn how to look at ourselves in a loving, compassionate way, and how to live with spirit and grace.
All of this sounds very positive and uplifting, and it is. And ironically, that might be the main drawback to the set . so little negative is allowed to arise, or when it does arise, it must be "transcended" or "transformed," without much time to pause and give real value to it. In a collection with other tarot sets, this is fine. When we do really want to focus on purely positive psychological growth, this deck's beautiful and serene power can assist us perfectly. And for those who wish to concentrate on tarot in this way, it might be ideal.
The book contains two interesting charts in the back, which could be quite helpful. There is a list of Cards by Theme - for "Creativity" we find The Sun (card 19), Freeing Your Expression (5 of Wands), and Grounding for Creativity (1 of Wands), each with a very brief explanation; and a reference chart that lists quick correspondences for every card. Spreads are provided, with the emphasis on shorter layouts, and an introduction to drawing cards intuitively. The book and deck come attractively slip-cased.
Overall I really enjoy this set, and think it has tremendous value in self-reflection, personal growth, and human understanding. It seems to dance with energy and insight, and for many, it will do exactly what the authors intended . chart a course to "healing and spiritual awakening."
Card artwork by Willow Arlenea and Jasmin Lee Cori
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Tarot review by Nellie Levine
Illumination Tarot has been publishing articles, reviews, tarot spreads, and personal reflections for tarot enthusiasts and followers of alternative spirituality online since 1999.
All writing, reviews, and photography © Nellie Levine - Illumination Tarot, unless otherwise noted. 1999-2022