by Annastacia Simon
The Transparent Tarot – clearly not your mother’s deck…
Well, not my mother’s deck anyway. Her’s was a trusty traditional Thoth deck which was the very first Tarot I ever experienced. To be honest, it was because of that first deck that I actually put away Tarot for most of my life. Perhaps I was too young, but I really didn’t get anything out of those first Tarot experiences; much as I loved simply flipping through the cards to enjoy their symbolism. Many of the cards felt negative to me, like the Tower and Death cards. Now that I am older and have tried more decks and learned of other’s experiences, I realise I’m not alone in getting a shiver when cards such as these surface.
When I sought out Emily Carding’s Transparent Tarot, it was because I wanted to support my great friend’s tremendous achievement as a Tarot artist. I figured I would dabble with them a bit, but I doubted that I would ‘bond’ with them beyond that connection of ‘Emily made these!’
I was a whole lotta wrong
From day one it was obvious that these cards were special. First of all, they are such a breath of fresh air in the Tarot world, truly standing out as an innovation. I dont know why this type of deck wasn’t dreamed up decades ago. ( No doubt they were waiting for someone like Emily to nurture them into existence. ) In direct comparison with that deck my mother used all those years ago, the Transparent Tarot is chock full of fresh interpretations of the traditional symbology and even the very act of using them is new, which means no more lying the cards face down and flipping them to discern your path.
Instead, the guidance you seek literally lifts out of the depths of the cards. As opposed to many decks who’s imagery is often very bold and decisive in meaning, Lovers and Death being great examples, the Transparent Tarot is very minimalist and light. Each card gives you pause, asks you to look deeper, for that is where the answers lie. It’s a bit like going to the Doctor. You go in for an unknown ache and the Doctor explores what could be causing it. You would be really off put if he or she simply glanced at you, measured whatever ails you by your physical appearance alone, and wrote out a prescription on the spot!
The same, I feel, applies to Tarot and perhaps that was the important aspect which was missing in my early workings. I was too young and I too easily took things at face value, specifically when it came to symbolism. If you showed me a grisly figure with a scythe, I thought some tragedy would befall me. Now I know if I see that figure, it often means I’m just growing up, moving from one stage to the next. In Emily’s deck, that hooded dark presence is replaced with simply the right tool for the job: a scythe. Without the haunting skeleton grasping it, the scythe returns to its original job which is Harvesting. In the late Summer, when folk are toiling in the fields ( or rather, folk in tractors are toiling in the fields) they are practicing the very marrow of the Death card. Cutting away the dying plant to reveal, you guessed it, seed or fruit which will nourish the mind and body. This sort of symbolism is exactly what this deck is all about! It turns your preconceptions into new perspectives, provided you have the patience to look beyond the obvious.
Ok, so what’s it like to use it?
How can you do spreads when the cards are clear? The simple answer? The same way you always did, and also – in ways you never could before. One of the fun aspects of using the deck is its translucence which lends itself perfectly to layering. The results are not only gorgeously meshed but also give you even more ways of ‘reading’ the spread. The pictures combine, blending out to tell you a story, frame by frame.
Because the cards are transparent, it is essential that you do your work with them on a surface that will enhance them. They come supplied with a white reading cloth and that works fine for me. I also love picking one out at random ( perhaps as a Me card. ) for inspiration and placing it on my laptop screen while I’m writing and you may wish to meditate upon them in this way as well. ( Emily herself suggests using an artists light box! ) The sky is literally the limit with this deck, because you dont feel confined to traditional methods, you are lovingly urged in a creative direction. For those of you already comfortable with designing your own spreads, this should fire up your creativity even more!
Reading with the Transparent Tarot
In order to give you the best possible description of what it is like to use these cards, I did a three card reading just before I started so I could take you through my experience. For each card I pulled, I describe as best as I can, the physical description of the card as well as how I interpret them personally, especially when the cards are combined or layered.
My take on the cards is a rather symbiotic relationship. As I have used them for guidance since summer 2009, I have begun to truly think of them as organic in a way, and extremely intuitive. It is very much a part of my nature to think of ‘objects’ as semi-organic things ( for instance, I consider the various cameras I use in my photography business to be extensions of myself, instead of just tools I use. ) I think anything that you utilize for personal or spiritual guidance, or even just creative purposes, is helped along by allowing them a little bit of life. They become truly magical in this way and through your relationship with them.
So when it comes to doing readings, I tend to just talk to my cards. I ask them simple questions, I query them in the same manner I would any human being who might be able to guide me. In return, they reward me with incredibly accurate personal illumination, with the occasional crafty reply – because at the end of the day, I’m not simple minded, and I should be encouraged to think outside of the box.
For the purpose of this review, I asked them quite simply:
How am I?
It may seem a terribly boring question to ask of such a tool, but I didn’t really want to be getting too complicated and really, sometimes the best questions are the simple ones.
I shuffled the cards three times, concentrating on my question. As you shuffle the Transparent Tarot you may find your eyes drawn to the images fluttering by your eyes. In my opinion, this is fine, I dont avoid it. The right message WILL come to you, you are not going to affect the shuffle if you can see the cards.
It is interesting, however, to actually see the symbol you are about to receive literally rising through the deck. It fills me with a certain thrill to witness this, reminding me of the ancient methods of scrying in pools of water! The Transparent Tarot is all about refreshing your thinking process, so enjoy it, strange as it will seem at first.
- My first card was the King of Wands
- The image is of a red haired man, attractive and charismatic, striding forward with his wand raised. If you take the wand or staff as a weapon, then in this instance he is purposeful but non-aggressive. He represents leadership and dynamic control, assertive actions that lead one into a successful future. The King of Wands succeeds not because he strikes out with his wand, but because he has strength of purpose, and that is very evident in the design of this card. For the figure simply sweeps forward, undeterred, eyes fixed on the goal as well as passive with confidence.
- My second card was Temperance
- A beautifully designed card with elemental qualities. ( Emily pours a lot of effort into imbuing the designs in this deck with the elemental symbolism and the result is not only beautiful, but also functional in helping to interpret the nature of the cards ). On one side of the card is a chalice of water, representing the power of emotional intellect. Decisions made with the heart, as well as a need for one’s emotional state to be nourished. On the other side, a ball of fire, representing active intellect, the physical actions we take to make our dreams come alive. The burning will. If imbalanced, we all know that either of these states in the extreme can mean pretty nasty results – hence the need for temperance, for balance. The two symbols are connected here with a perfect rainbow, which represents that balance. It is no coincidence that we refer to the act of pursuing our goals and dreams as ‘ going by our own steam. ‘ The way the symbols come together in this card, unclouded by any distraction, really helps to bring the point home for me.
- My last card was the Three of Wands
- This card always reminds me of the Three Musketeers, only instead of rapiers they hold blazing wands! ‘All for one, and one for all’ can truly sum up the Three of Wands, depending on what guidance you are looking for. The imagery here is of three individuals, equal in stature, faceless actually. As if the point is that no one individual possesses more skill or attractiveness than the others. They lift their wands together into a joint flame. It’s a very uplifting, obviously fiery design which sings the praises of having all the right ingredients for the recipe for success, or of the benefits of honest teamwork.
So now we have the fun part!
Using your imagination, you can easily ‘combine’ the symbolism from a Tarot spread from any deck, but the result is even more potent when you layer the cards from this deck unto one another.
- Let’s start with the combination of the King of Wands and Temperance
- Already you have a very different picture. Whereas when the King strode forward on his own before, now he is astride the rainbow with connects the water and fire elements, emotion and action. In my spread, the fire was on the right and so in a ‘future aspect’ which twins with the King’s wand (wands being of the element of fire here.) The overall feeling is like pushing forward, perhaps through adversity, though in this example it’s more like pushing through options, a rainbow of paths to take, toward your Goal. And because it’s the King doing the hard work – you can be assured you have the right man (or woman) for the job!
- Now let’s combine the King of Wands with the 3 of Wands, just to get a feel for that duo
- The Three of Wands, my triumphant musketeers, fade a bit into the distance. They look spectral as they surround the King’s head; the flame coming up out of him like a lightbulb. These cards alone would tell me that, while fire and passion can be spontaneous, on this occasion one has done their research and they are of the right mind-set to reach for their goal. Again, the King of Wands conveys that someone is leading the way, and the fact that the three ‘team members’ are joined in their enthusiasm and confidence, the King is clearly in charge, and for all the right reasons.
- Now, finally, we put all three together
- And now you have a calm and collected kingly figure leading the way, with the proud and focused fellows behind him, supporting and celebrating him. They all stand astride the rainbow, their emotions and actions balanced. The message is clear: ‘ take charge of your life but be willing to accept help from those who offer it. Go forward with passion, with drive – but remember to think and feel with your heart as well’!
It’s a very positive picture, no matter how you stack them up. And as the recipient of this message, I have to say..’Terrific! That is just what I needed to hear!’
So you can see (literally) that this deck is quite unique, and that the experience each of us will have from working with the Transparent Tarot will be equally intimate and revealing. The main objective is to free your mind and most importantly enjoy the process! I hope this review gives you a good taste of what you can expect from Emily’s fabulous deck – and I urge you all to order yours soon!
Get your copy of the Transparent Tarot here.
- The Amalgamated Tarot
- Using Reversed Tarot Cards and Elemental Dignities
- Grow Model Tarot Spread
- Past, Present, Future Tarot Spread
- Deck Review: the Illuminated Tarot