About This Deck
(abbreviated from the book)
The underlying perspective of this deck is one oriented toward deep spiritual transformation, and we seldom wander far from this. The goal of transformation is not just experiencing higher states of consciousness; that, more accurately, is the goal of transcendence. The goal of transformation is to have one’s human person and human life transformed or re-shaped in accordance with one’s spiritual realization.
Spiritual experiences (or any experience for that matter) mean little if they are not integrated into your life. They may be exciting, they may be interesting, they may change one’s perspective, but only when such experiences are integrated, have they really entered and transformed you.
Every topic we talk about in this deck—whether it is creating balance in our lives, working with the shadow, recovering our instinctual wisdom, releasing stuck energy, the need to inspire and refresh ourselves, dealing with doubt, or developing compassion—is a building block for transformation.
Even the character strategies included in the suit of cups are important information about our journey to wholeness. They show some of the developmental tasks we must master in order to be a whole and healed person.
The following descriptions provide an orientation to the cards in this deck.
We have stayed the closest to traditional meanings in the major arcana, which present archetypal principles (generally thought to be sequential) involved in the spiritual journey.
Yet even with these cards, we often nod to the traditional meaning and then approach it in a different way. For example with card 20, we go from Judgment (traditional) to Compassion: Transcending Judgment. The Devil is no longer something outside us, but our own state of separation.
We have renamed some of the cards so that they are less old paradigm. Most notably these are the Emperor (Green man), Empress (Earth Mother), and Hierophant (Spiritual Leaders).
We wanted this deck to speak to the current age and the particular challenges we face.
Although the suits are not depicted literally, this deck conforms to the basic orientation of swords representing the mental realm, disks representing the material world and daily life, cups representing the emotional world, and wands representing chi or life force energy and creativity. We add further variations and refinements to this basic system.
When we say that swords represent the mental realm, we must remember that this is not limited to thinking but also involves the emotions and physical sensations that are a part of mental patterns. Many of the cards look at ways to become more spacious around these patterns and thus more free.
Some of the things we talk about in this suit include new ways of thinking about things, the creative friction that comes through dialogue with other minds, seeing and holding to a higher perspective, working with patterns in the mind, changing paradigms, and leaving our stories.
The suit of disks relates more closely to our daily lives and the structures that make up our lives. We address areas such as work, leisure, and home as well as capacities needed for success in daily life such as initiative, perseverance, flexibility, and instinctual wisdom.
We have chosen animal imagery for this suit because animals have traditionally been used to represent various qualities of energy present in the physical plane.
The suit of cups works with the watery world of feelings. As a framework for this exploration, we talk about many of the defensive strategies that have been part of the conceptual maps of several psychotherapeutic approaches, including Reichian therapy, Bioenergetics, Gestalt, the Hakomi Method, and Integrated Body Psychotherapy. We use the names adopted by Ron Kurtz, the founder of Hakomi for most of these strategies.
In addition to introducing one of these strategies in each of the first nine cups, we look briefly at how this strategy develops and the positive state that is available when we resolve the defensive pattern or have not been detoured into it. The 10 of Cups is about moving beyond all of the previous defense-based patterns and living in a comfortable relationship with the emotional world.
In the suit of wands, we explore the energies of the chakras. The chakras, often depicted as wheels, are energy centers in the body through which we “maintain contact with other people and our environment on an ethereal level.”
Most of the imagery in this suit draws from the devic or nature spirit realm, which are higher vibrational energies operating behind the scenes. A more common name for some of these ethereal beings is to call them fairies; you will find this fairy energy on many of the cards.
The court cards are the four cards at the end of each suit. Many different schemes have been used in naming these four cards. Originally they were called pages, knights, kings, and queens.
Although most of the variations have divided the cards equally between male and female figures, we have intentionally kept the titles for these gender-neutral as there is no need to relate these to gender. They are simply four ways to express the gifts of each suit.
In The Tarot of Transformation, the four court cards are Server, Teacher, Healer, and Master.
The Server expresses the impulse to help, whether in the mental, emotional, material, or spiritual arena. This does not have to be a vocational choice, but a simple, human one found in the everyday realm.
The Teacher embodies some aspect of the wisdom of a particular suit or the means by which we learn.
The Healer exerts a healing influence, whether on others or self.
The Master is the most comprehensive expression, building on all the previous lessons and representing an integrated whole. He or she is an expression of refined perception (swords), mastery in the material realm (disks), emotional maturity (cups), or of the actualized life on the spiritual path (wands).