Review by Sandra A. Thomson
Blue is the theme color of this deck, which comes in a beautiful blue box that holds not only the cards, but the blue 160-page hardbound book and blue silk scarf, silkscreened with the north rose window from the Notre Dame cathedral. The backs of the cards also depict the same shining window.
The deck was first conceived in 1981 when Thomas, a professional illustrator/designer visited Paris the first time for what was to be a brief trip. Exiting the métro, he saw the sunlight streaming through a wreath held by a statue and had a sudden, intense vision of images of the Major Arcana depicted as a sequence of Parisian statues. To fulfill his vision, Thomas remained in Paris for three months photographing statues and sites but could not afford to take anymore time off without income, so the project was put on hold. In 2000 he found a financial sponsor, and the deck was completed from some 3,500 photographs.
Thomas conceptualizes his Major Arcana cards as existing in two cycles. The first or "One" cycle (Cards 1-10) is the contraction or yin phase. The "Two" cycle (Cards 11-21) constitutes the expansion or yang phase. Both cycles flow into and out of the number XI card, called Presence. when they meet as 0 or 22, they represent The Source, which has no number printed on the card, and can be considered both numbers. "The tarot begins and ends here," Thomas writes.
The Minor Arcana cards are divided into the suits of Matter, Water, Fire, and Air. Court cards are renamed Spirit (Page), Stallion (Knight), Queen, and King. Most of the Major Arcana cards are renamed and each has an inspirational phrase that accompanies it, which does not appear on the card itself: