Chrysalis Tarot is the companion book to the deck of the same name. It explains the mythology behind the deck, as well as providing interpretations and some early sketches of the card imagery.
By Holly Sierra & Toney Brooks
Book - 216 pages - Published by US Games
Review by Bonnie Cehovet
The “Chrysalis Tarot” is the 216 page companion book for the Chrysalis Tarot deck. The cover illustration shows a cosmic version of the Nine of Spirals, featuring Aeolus, Master of the Four Winds. The reader’s eyes are immediately drawn to Aeolus face, with the eyes connecting on both a real-time and a soul level. It is time for each of us to re-examine our own world view!
In his introduction, Brooks talks about how creating a Tarot deck is a transpersonal process, including imaginary conversations with the characters in their “dramatis personae”. In retrospect, he realized that perhaps those conversations, at least in part, were not so imaginary after all. The Chrysalis companion book is then not only about the Chrysalis Tarot, but also about his efforts to uncover the hidden realities of the universe that shape our lives and compel us towards our destiny.
The most talkative cards for Brooks were those representing the Troupe (the Chrysalis version of Tarot’s Court cards). I love that Brooks refers to the Tarot as a metaphysical looking glass that pinches the higher realms of reality. I also love the statement that if something unseen or imagined resonates with our consciousness, then it is real.
Part One examines the Chrysalis Tarot, and other forms of magic, while Part Two provides an in-depth interpretation of each of the 78 cards in the deck.
“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency, and vibration.” Nikola Tesla, from Chapter 1
Tesla’s comment on the secrets of the universe are really at the foundation of this deck. Brooks talks about Elpi, a Goddess from Greek mythology that is the archetype featured in card 17 (Elpi/Star). He talks about viewing the universe in a holistic manner, versus the “dead universe” worldview. Elpi represents the living universe. Brooks talks about experiential spirituality, defining spiritual alchemy as having a conversation with the numinous.
He goes on to discuss the Holy Grail, the Celtic Cauldron of Rebirth, and the return of the Shekinah. I loved the section on the Storyteller’s Vision Quest. The storyteller is a female shaman schooled in the ways of a holistic wise woman. (A shaman being defined as someone that is an adept at manipulating subtle energy.) Here Brooks notes that the Tarot as a healing modality emphasizing the sacred ideals of self-knowledge and self-acceptance. He talks about energy and archetypes, and about magic being real. All of this is a very thorough prelude to working with this deck – which is energetically different from a traditional Tarot deck, although it follows the same 78 card format.
Part Two present the individual cards – their meaning, and the meaning within the artwork. One thing that I did note, and like, is that Brooks does not recommend using reversals with this deck. Each of the Major Arcana cards is presented with a half-page black and white scan, the reasoning behind why each character was chosen to represent that archetype, and a page on what the archetype itself is all about. Some of the archetypal energies chosen are Merlin as the Fool, Gaia as the Empress, the Phoenix as Judgment, and Psyche as The World.
The section on the Minor Arcana begins by discussing the renaming of the suits (Stones/Pentacles, Mirrors/Cups, Spirals/Wands, and Scrolls/Swords). The Pips (numbered cards) are presented with a half-page black and white scan, information about the symbols within the cards, and the energy/meaning of the card.
The sixteen cards that represent the Court Cards in a traditional deck are replaced with something called the Troupe – they are archetypes, eight male and eight female, that are divided up into four roles (Mentors, Muses, Mystics, and Messengers). Collectively they are akin to a band of medieval troubadours whose purpose was to travel the land bringing news, gossip, wisdom and entertainment. They are presented with a half-page black and white scan, who the character is, and what the symbols within the card mean.
At the end of the book we have the nine card Fairy Ring Spread.
This is a very different take on traditional Tarot – yet it serves the same purpose. I found the material interesting, and easy to follow. I personally would not use this deck for ritual work, but it works well for readings, journeying, and for meditation purposes.
Bonnie Cehovet is Certified Tarot Grand Master, a professional Tarot reader with over ten years experience, a Reiki Master/Teacher and a writer. Bonnie has served in various capacities with the American Tarot Association, is co-founder of the World Tarot Network, and Vice President (as well as Director of Certification) for the American Board For Tarot Certification. She has had articles appear in the 2004 and 2005 Llewellyn Tarot Reader.