“Metamorphosis is a transformation of a being or an object into something else, even into something completely different. In the depths of the psyche live the chrysalides of our potential, the infinite ways into which we could transform ourselves once our desire and external circumstances demand the change.” – From the booklet
If you fell down a rabbit hole, it would be quite likely that you would encounter the Tarot of Metamorphosis. Fantastic and phantasmagoric, this deck is unlike any I’ve seen. With some images reminiscent of Dali (including the droopy clocks on the 8 of Swords), this deck has a whimsical, futuristic, and distinctly psychological vibe. Each card stimulates the imagination, as well as intuitive projection. While many Tarot decks speak for themselves, Tarot of Metamorphosis may take some time to get to know. (As a result, it’s not a good beginner deck, in my opinion.) None of the images is derived from the Rider-Waite-Smith or the Thoth deck, which is refreshing. The Majors reflect various types of change, and here are a few from the LWB: •The Magician: First Metamorphosis – “The Magician transforms the world with his illusions, casting on it the images of his intense will. The risk is being deceived by his imagination. You hold in your hands the power of concentrating all energies for transformation •The Emperor: The Metamorphosis of Matter – “The Emperor shapes matter in continuous transformation using his strength of reason. This is the time to exert your rational powers to transform ambitions into reality but when doing so do not suppress your deep-rooted feelings.” •The Hermit: The Metamorphosis of Silence – “The most important transformations are those that need the most time. Be patient and let your personality be transformed and adapt to the needs of your higher self, whose voice can be heard only in the inner silence.” •Death: The Great Metamorphosis – “Nothing is ever destroyed. However, the game of becoming would be impossible without the renewal of worn out forms. You must be courageous in confronting profound behavioral changes and even radical transformation of personality.”
The Minor Arcana suits are Chalices, Swords, Wands and Pentacles. Each suit reflects various types of change, with Chalices reflecting the Metamorphosis of Myth, the Wands reflecting the Metamorphoses of Nature, the Swords reflecting the Metamorphoses of Thought, and the Pentacles reflecting the Posthumous Metamorphoses. Arguably, the most intriguing is the Pentacles suit. The LWB says:
“What was for centuries our standard for judging the world, or rather our body itself, is now challenged by new technological abilities. Man senses a need for change that opens the doors to concrete, extraordinary, or bizarre transformations. It is the era of uniting flesh and metal.”
For example, the 8 of Pentacles is dubbed “Virtual Metamorphosis”, depicting a cyborg with a TV monitor for a head, indicating an artisan that shapes reality, especially through observation, creativity, and fantasy. The 4 of Pentacles, one of my favorite cards in the Tarot of Metamorphosis, shows a speeding train with hunkered metallic arms, jointed fingers, and scowling face—while someone shovels coal in its fiery engine. Noted as “the road of blind change”, the LWB says of this card, “The power that corrupts and obscures awareness, isolating it from the external environment. Insensitivity. False objectives.”
After the Swords meanings, a reference is given to a corresponding literary reference. It’s obvious to those familiar with literature that the 9 of Swords depicts The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. A picture of dapper young man poses on a Victorian wall, while the bottom half of the frame melts into a hideous phantasm. The Ace of this suit shows a likeness of Franz Kafka at a desk, a quill clasped in his pincered fingers as roach wings sprout from his suited back. This is, of course, a nod to Kafka’s short story The Metamorphosis, a tale about a man named Gregor Samsa who wakens one day to find himself transformed into an insect.
The cards measure approximately 4 ¾ x 2 ½ inches, the card title is in six languages around the border (discreetly), and the backs feature a fully reversible motif (mirror images of the High Priestess card in shades of blue). Tarot of Metamorphosis uses traditional RWS card names, but the Courts are Knave, Knight, Queen, and King. Justice is Trump 8 while Strength is Trump 11.
Those who enjoy fantasy elements, myth, and literature—as well as psychological themes—will no doubt enjoy this deck, as would deck collectors. The gorgeous renderings and intricate illustrations invite speculation and contemplation, making this a great deck for journaling and reflection. My only criticism of the Tarot of Metamorphosis is the yellow ink on the sides of the cards; while this idea works on the Tarot of Reflections deck (the ink is blue), it looks like a printing mistake on first glance. If Lo Scarabeo wanted to use this type of design, it would have been more attractive (and less distracting) if done in blue.
Overall, this is a delightful deck! (Even my husband loves the images, and he’s not big on most Tarot renderings.)
Below are 10 images from this deck:
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