|The idea of a deck based on an exploration of the metamorphosis motif really appeals to me, and my first response to this deck – which I received yesterday – is extremely positive. A quick scan of the cards tells me that many of the images are inviting me to draw on my knowledge of classic stories and, more importantly, to revisit them. I don’t recall ever seeing a LWB with a recommended reading list before. But there is one for this deck, one which included Ovid, Robert Graves, Bram Stoker, Shakespeare, Dante and Oscar Wilde – and quite a few more. Wow!|
The fifteen pages in English in the LWB have a lot packed into them, and all of it useful: a couple of paragraphs about the concept of metamorphosis, about four lines on each of the Major Arcana cards; five or six lines about each of the suits – Chalices, Pentacles, Wands and Swords – and then two to four lines on each card. And, as always, one spread. Enough to get one started on one’s own explorations of both the cards’ imagery and the stories that inspired that imagery.
Obviously a great deal of thought has gone into the choice of the images for all the cards – both Major and Minor Arcana. Where the card’s image is linked to a literary source, the relevant name appears in brackets after the blurb. How apt I find each of these will obviously take hours of study of the cards – and a re-reading of the stories – but here is a deck which is offering that challenge, with the promise that at least some of the cards will provide that extra dimension of meaning that I am always looking for in any deck. And the adventure ahead looks promising.
After the brief definition – in the opening paragraph of the LWB – of metamorphosis as “a transformation of a being or an object into something else, even into something completely different”, a sampling of the Major Arcana indicates that all of the cards have been identified as expressions of metamorphosis. For example, The Fool is identified as The Metamorphosis of Vision, The Chariot as The Metamorphosis of Will, The Hermit as The Metamorphosis of Silence, Temperance as The Metamorphosis of the Psyche and The Tower as The Metamorphosis of Renewal.
It’s encouraging to find a deck which has devoted the same attention to detail to the Minor Arcana cards. As we all know, this isn’t always the case. Interestingly, the inter-textual references to literary and mythological stories only exist for two of the suits: Chalices and Swords. Chalices have been identified as The Metamorphosis of Myth. The Queen of Chalices, for example, is described as being an “intelligent and intuitive woman” and we are warned of the “Possibility of predicting changes”. The story drawn on is that of the beautiful sorceress Circe, renowned for transforming those who offended her into animals, and turning Odysseus’s men into pigs.
The Swords have been identified as The Metamorphosis of Thought. To look at the 4 of Swords, as an example, we find that the card has been called “The retreat of metamorphosis”, and we are told that there is a “Voluntary and temporary withdrawal from the tempestuous world of change”, and that “Wounds are healed”. The literary reference is to a scene from Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” where Titania is tending the sleeping ass-headed Bottom in the forest. And what more tempestuous world of change – from which temporary withdrawal is indeed much needed - than that in which Puck has caused havoc in than this forest!
There are no equivalent literary allusions for the Pentacles, a suit described as being The Posthumous Metamorphosis, “the era of uniting flesh and metal”; or for the Wands, a suit described as representing The Metamorphosis of Nature. As the names of these four suits suggest, the mood of each is very, very different; and the mood of artwork brilliantly reflects these differences. I commend the creators of this deck that they did not – as must be very tempting to do, and too many deck creators have indeed succumbed to this temptation – strain the central motif by finding myths or stories for all 56 cards, or all 78 cards. In too many theme-based decks, this is the reason why some cards work and others don’t. I am greatly looking forward to exploring this deck further, and would encourage others who feel up to the massive challenge that this deck offers to do the same!