Mutational Alchemy Tarot Reviews
The Mutational Alchemy Tarot is a 78-card tarot designed by and for experienced occultists. The vivid, complex, hand-painted illustrations are based on a foundation of mutational alchemy theory but are also designed to be used intuitively.
Tarot Deck - 78 Cards - The Abrahadabra Institute 2015
Review by medusawink
The Mutational Alchemy Tarot is a striking deck from creators and artists m1thr0s and Izi Ningishzidda. They conceived the deck as a direct descendant of Aleister Crowley's Thoth Tarot. It corrects errors that Crowley made – this is elucidated in the online guidebook. It has elements of Hermeticism, Alchemy, Tantra, Witchcraft, Kabbalah, Feng Shui, I Ching, and particularly incorporates the Tree of Life and I Ching hexagrams into both individual cards and the overall design. The MAT’s creators embraced global cultures and prioritised cultural diversity as part of the decks symbolic language. It is guided by Crowley's Book Of The Law and embraces "Sinister Knowledge" and the Left Hand Path, seeing it as a way to both liberty and equality.
This deck has 78 cards – 22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana. The Major Arcana follows Crowley's titles and ordering; the Minor Arcana consists of four suits; Staves, Blades, Pentacles, and Alembics (Alembic is an alchemist’s still used for the distillation of chemicals). The Court cards again follow Crowley's titles and ordering – King, Prince, Princess, Queen. All Minor Arcana have number and suit, as well as the title given by Aleister Crowley. Major Arcana have their numbers given in Roman numerals, followed by their title.
The cards measure 88 x 126 mm, a comfortable size for a tarot deck, perhaps a little broader than some decks (Lo Scarabeo for example) but not by much. The card stock is excellent – flexible but not flimsy, smooth and low sheen on the face, and slightly toothy on the back. The cards are easy to handle and shuffle smoothly – these cards ‘flow' and are not prone to clumping or sticking together. The print quality of this deck is superb – the images are crisp and clear, with clean lines, and their fine details clearly delineated.
The artists have used a broad palette of rich colours. The Minor Arcana suits are colour-coded in line with their ruling elements – Staves/fire is dominated by reds, Blades/air by misty greens, Pentacles/earth by shades of brown and gold, and Alembics/water by blues. The art is closer to fantasy art than any other style – combining both realistic and fantastical elements to create a magickal atmosphere.
Each card has a complex central image rich with symbols and significant colours. In each corner is a rectangular box containing I Ching hexagrams, planetary alignments, Diamond Path designations, Geomantic figures, tetragrams, 3 tiered bigrams, elements, planets, Sun signs – which varies depending on whether the card is a Major Arcana, Court Card, or number card. Major Arcana and number cards also have a ruling hexagram contained in a black circle at the centre-top of the image. The cards have a black border. The print on the back is a broad field of I Ching hexagrams with a red circle of alchemical symbols, Kabbalistic Trees of Life and Diamond Sutra diagrams all flowing into a central point. This image is probably not technically reversible, but it is so complex that one would scarcely notice its orientation.
No little white book or guide of any kind is included with the cards, however if the Seeker follows the link printed on the bottom of the box they will be rewarded with a wealth of information about the cards. The online book is incredibly comprehensive, indeed one of the most detailed tarot books I have ever read. With characteristic generosity the creators of the MAT have made this available as a cost free download. This is a work in progress, so presumably entries will continue to be expanded.
Each entry covers all the significant symbolic elements, keywords for both upright and reversed cards, interpretations – historical, Golden Dawn, Thoth deck, and the Mutational Alchemy divinatory meaning. The scene depicted on the card is described in detail and its mythological background is expounded at great length; and finally the deck's creators address their significant additions and revisions.
The cards come packaged in a reasonably sturdy cardboard box printed in black and white with the design from the back of the cards, as well as other alchemical symbols, and a short paragraph about the decks creators.
This deck is an amazing achievement – a huge amount of occult and esoteric information has gone into its creation. It is clearly a labour of love and skill. The images are powerful and striking, and some are quite confronting. If you are uncomfortable with strong nudity then this deck may not be to your tastes. However if you are looking for a tarot deck that has taken Aleister Crowley's knowledge and expanded it into the new Aeon then this deck is an absolute must have.
If you are interested in the occult foundations of modern tarot then the Mutational Alchemy Tarot is utterly fascinating. And if you are a follower of the Left Hand Path, a Thelemite, or want to know more about these schools of magick and esoteric knowledge then this is the deck for you. I would not recommend this deck for beginners – it is both too complex and idiosyncratic for a novice reader. However if you are looking for a challenge or a new way to read and understand tarot the Mutational Alchemy Tarot certainly throws its hat into the ring.
Review by Novum Organum
The Mutational Alchemy Tarot, known among users as m1thr0s' tarot, is a 78 card divination, skrying, and spell casting deck drawing upon several key sources: mutational alchemy, sacred geometry, The Book of the Law, the I Ching, and global spiritual traditions. The key features which unify the various elements of this deck are the hexagrams of the I Ching and the 11 fold word of perfection, ABRAHADABRA. The deck was created by m1thr0s and Izi Ningishzidda, two well known and accomplished occultists and artists, with over 40 years of practice, research, and creative work between them.
The card stock is quality paper, very sturdy, with high quality bright greatly varied colors. Colors used are all 4 scales, with a wonderful use of gradients between the flashing colors. The backs of the cards are not reversible. The cards have a black border, and text, names, and symbols are in a yellow gold, solar hue. The style is combination of sacred geometry, mutation alchemy, sigils, magical squares, I Ching hexagrams and trigrams, and figures from global mythology.
The deck is written for experienced occultists, however, a beginner will find a deck which does not mind giving lessons. The back of the tarot box declares “This tarot deck of 78 cards has been created for the people of earth and all her nations”. This statement is true, for the deck is an excellent compendium of global spiritualism. The deceleration continues that this is “a tarot for Magi by Magi”. This statement will resonate true for any who reached some of the higher attainments, for each card, especially the trumps, contains secrets of, and keys to, supernal understanding and wisdom. However, this does not mean this deck is only useful for those of higher grades or initiations—quite the opposite—everyone will benefit from using this deck, and will most likely find the gates to the higher states opening more easily from use of these cards.
Yet, for who have made the great crossing, this deck will become one of the most useful, and powerful, tools available. The keys are all here, the doors are unblocked, the path not hidden, and the city of pyramids is open for business. One of the many ways that this deck is unique is that it presents the energy or meaning of the card in both its mundane (below the abyss) form and it's supernal form; for many of these cards, this is the first time the supernal superstructure has been presented or redeemed from superficial imagery.
The colors of the cards reach deep into the unconscious, and the energy touched by the flashing and gradient color scales is active and viscerally felt; This is a deck which wants to be used, calls out to be read, and desires to be pathworked. In readings, the deck has demonstrated itself to be one which aims for solutions and does not seem content with simply describing where one is without hinting at where one needs to go.
One of the most important, and interesting features of this deck, and how it seeks to differentiate itself from other tarot decks, is the alteration of the symbols for the four suites, with alchemical symbols replacing traditional ones. The basic attribution for the Mutational Alchemy deck is as follows:
Fire/Wands is replaced by Fire/Staves/Red
Water/Cups is replaced by Water/Alembics/Blue
Air/Swords is replaced by Air/Blades/Green
Earth/Disks is replaced by Earth/Pentacles/Gold
When looking at the Aces there is little doubt that these figures are the rulers of their suites and elements. They are regal cards, and clearly represent the emergence of the element in the universe from the nothingness of the Ain Soph. Each card presents a mutational alchemy symbol called 'the Hidden Diamond' which is a sigilization of the hidden paths of the Tree of Life. Information on the Hidden Diamond and instructions for using it as a powerful ritual and meditative practice can be found at abrahadabra.com. The Hidden Diamond is a fitting choice for representing the perfection of the Aces, as it is a symbol which represents a higher, perfected form of things such as the unicursal hexagram, the tree of life, and the flaming sword/serpent of knowledge. Each element emerges from the top of the card in a universal, solar white color, and gradients into the color of the particular element as it reaches the lower portion of the figure. This transformation of the color of the card from pure to elemental energy is itself a powerful advancement over other decks. Each Ace then represents the general elemental field of each trump. For example, the Ace of Alembics represents the transformation of Ain/Kether energy into the energy of water. The background of the card is the depths of the ocean, bringing together the symbolism and color of the suite, the element, Binah, and the magickal weapon. At the base of the Ace, a nautilus grasps a cup made of pearl, while white bubbles/globes line the margin of the card. For those familiar with the mysteries of either sacred geometry or the symbolism of dew, the ace affords a crucial supernal meditation. Each ace likewise depicts the highest supernal secrets of the element in clear symbolism.
Another important difference of this deck from others is that each card, whether trump, court card or numbered card, is equally important. Each card, not just the trumps, reveals a mystery, holds a secret, represents a power before hidden.
II The Priestess
In the MAT, The Priestess becomes a true equal of the magus, something often missing in earlier decks, as she is a true equal in the process of creation, a partner in the primary triumvirate of Fool, Magus, Priestess, which represents all creation. The Fool is the primal energy, the Magus calls the energy forth into existence, and The Priestess shapes and diffuses that energy into the dance of all creation. In the shape of a Tectractys, she sits above a solar system in birth pangs, as the primal matter and energy, driving towards her in the card background, emanates from her center to be woven into forms. In her hands she holds the key to emanation and the secret of return: the twinstar, crafted of gold lightning and red flame, from which extends the new which is the basis of the universe.
The court cards use the sequence: King, Queen, Prince, Princess, and connect each figure with a historical or mythological figure, enhancing the story of the cards and its use in determining personalty types. The are further distinguished by being connected with one of the paths of The Hidden Diamond on the Tree of Life, the first time this material has been published.
The six of blades: science is an excellent example of the blending of above and below in each card, and how keys to supernal wisdom are hidden in each card. The card depicts a stunning image of the Archangel Michael, standing in front of a background of a green circuitboard with two white hawks forming wings. The white outline creates a heart shape at the center of the card One the one hand, the card represents “universal science, balanced and connected to art and beauty, freed from the shackles of mankind's biases”(abrahdabra.com). For those familiar with projection upon the tree, the card depicts a new version of the middle pillar ritual, based upon the word Abrahadabra. If penetrated deeper, the imagery on the card contains a key to workings of supernal dew upon humankind and the world raised up and redeemed.
Novum Organum is a writer, academic, and occultist.