The Tarot is a set of 78 cards divided into five suits. The four minor suits correspond to the suits in the modern deck of ordinary playing cards. In fact, our modern playing cards evolved from the Tarot. The fifth suit is a set of archetypal characters and images consisting of 22 cards. Tarot was probably invented in the late middle ages and was in common use then as a game and did not have fortune telling significance. The "mystical" usage of these cards seems to have evolved in the 18th century and has developed from there. Since 1900 many new Tarot decks have been published and they have become increasingly popular.
The Wheel Of Change Tarot is a completely new creation. Although it follows the ancient tradition it has many new features. This collection of 78 original watercolor paintings contains scientific, natural, historic and modern images. It is based in the broad scope of human experience and is multicultural. The underlying wheel of the year, and its cycles and seasons, form a backdrop for the varied layers of symbolism. The beautiful watercolors are full of detail and unlike most watercolors are painted in rich saturated colors, making the images vivid and exciting. The symbolic intent of the images is quite clear but because of the detail the expansion of the meaning is quite deep.
The positive pictorial traits of the Wheel of Change Tarot give the cards a broad application to our lives. In each of the four minor suits the "face" cards - Queen, Knight, Princess and Prince - are each of a different race. The four Queens also represent the different races, as do the four Knights, etc. For example; there is a black Queen (Disks), a black Knight (Cups), a black Princess (Wands) and a black Prince (Swords). Symbolically this represents the fact that all people are made up of the various traits of the four suits: Swords - the intellect, Cups - the emotions, Wands - creativity, and Disks - the physical realm. Other multicultural Tarots generally picture one race as a single suit, thereby suggesting that the archetypal traits of a given race allow them only qualities of the one suit.
The multiculturalism in the Wheel of Change cards extends to the numbered cards as well as to the Major Arcana. In the minor suits images from all over the planet are included. The Nine of Wands is an aboriginal scene from the continent of Australia. The eight of cups shows lotuses and the symbols from the Chinese I-Ching. There are images from Indonesia, from Europe, from Africa and from the ancient Americas. With these extensive and varied images the Wheel of Change Tarot is inclusive; it therefore brings in both the individual experience of a broad range of people and the ancient histories of these people. This Tarot covers the largest range of experience of any currently available Tarot.
Another new feature of these cards is the broad historical period which they cover. Ancient history is fully covered in the images. The Ten of Cups shows an archaeological dig in Europe based on the work of Marija Gimbutas (The Civilization of the Goddess). The Four of Swords shows the ancient burial practices of the Egyptians, with the canopic jars in which the organs of the body were placed prior to embalming. Many other images of the ancient historical and prehistorical period can also be seen in the cards.
In addition to the ancient images in these very special cards are images that are exclusively from the present. Alexandra has noticed that when dealing with symbol there is a strong tendency to move away from modern symbols, perhaps because they seem so common place. We somehow want to return to simpler times for the images we choose as symbols. The common idea that only symbols from our past are legitimate needs to be examined carefully. We must begin to accept the trappings of our society and to begin to understand our complex relationship with them. This separation of the modern from the ancient is a result of cultural dualism which endeavors to separate the mind and the world of the scientific from the natural world. The Wheel of Change deck is a conscious attempt to unite the world of nature and the world of our minds and to bridge the gap that ultimately divides us from our selves.
Some examples of the modern images are: the Two of Swords, showing a common pair of scissors symbolizing the simple magic involved in such a tool, and The Six of Wands, which shows an oil refinery to remind us both of our inventiveness and of our lack of foresight. Other modern cards are the Knight of Swords, The Two of Cups and the Six of Disks.
The Wheel of Change Tarot follows the tradition of Aleister Crowley by not including any human figures in the minor arcana numbered (pip) cards. In addition, this deck includes modern scientific understanding in the images. The wonderful photographs of the planet Earth taken from space have brought a special awareness to the residents of the planet in this age. The image unites us and helps us understand our place in the universe. The blue planet floating in space is a common recurring image in this deck of cards. The Two of Disks expresses the complex relationship between the sun and the earth and the concept of time shown in the analemma (the infinity symbol one sees on globes). The analemma shows the latitude of the sun in the sky for any location at any time of year, symbolically expressing our individual relationship to time. In the Ace of Swords we see the full spectrum including the infrared and the ultra violet, showing our scientific understanding of electromagnetic radiation. Understanding how science informs our lives here on earth is an important aspect of these cards. Though the Tarot is considered a part of the mystical teachings, this Tarot turns away from the purely numinous and unobservable excesses of the worst of the "new age" stuff turning back to observation and common experiences as the source for very real wonder at the magic around us.
Included with the understanding of science in these cards is a strong message of environmentalism. Many of the cards point to the nurturing earth and to the need for balance in our actions to preserve the resources of this beautiful world. The strongest of these is the reinterpretation of the Justice card. This card is usually interpreted as balance and is associated with the sign Libra, the scales. In the new Wheel of Change card Alexandra has painted a representative balance of all the species on earth, the fish in the sea and the creatures of the earth and the air. This card shows us the new and necessary balance we must achieve in order to assure our survival instead of the older abstract interpretations of balance. Other environmental cards show; the relationship to logging in the Three of Swords, our dependence on oil in the Six of Wands... etc.
With all of these characteristics The Wheel of Change Tarot expands on the conventional uses of the Tarot. It also expands on the Tarot tradition by offering information on mythology and archetypal characters that has never been presented in this way. The Five of Swords gives information about the mythological origins of the alphabet from the work of the late Robert Graves (The White Goddess, The Greek Myths). The Ace of Wands refers to the ancient festival of the maypole and its connection to the Forest God, the sacred groves of the ancient Europeans and their religious importance. For many people this kind of information is much easier to grasp in a visual way as Alexandra has done in these cards.
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