Alternative and Therapeutic Methods of Using Tarot by Arnell Ando

This was the first workshop I attended. Arnell (creator of the Transformational Tarot) is an art therapist and an extremely gifted artist in her own right. She began by discussing her own experience with the Tarot and the evolution that led her to create her own deck. Like most of us, she started off by reading the books and had a tendency to be fairly rigid in her interpretations. I certainly remember that stage in my own evolution. Over time, we learn to trust our instincts more and to broaden our interpretations. She used an excellent analogy - that of parent and child. At first the child thinks the parent is all knowing and always right. As time goes on the child sees that he or she can branch out on their own - not too far at first, but steadily increasing until the child is independent of the parent. He or she is still a product of the parent's teaching, but is an independent person with ideas of his own. Per Arnell creating a deck of one's own is a similar experience. Another statement really hit home to me as a collector. She feels that many collectors accumulate so many decks because they are looking for "their deck" - one that speaks to them and fits them in every way. Could this be the source of my insatiable lust for more decks? I don't know, but it made so much sense to me that I bought not one, but two blank decks to try my hand at it.

Arnell also discussed ways the cards could be used in therapy, such as dream work and a tool for meditation. She briefly touched on the Fool archetype, pointing out how it is so prevalent in our culture. She cited several movies, such as Forrest Gump, Rain Man, Being There (one of my favorites), Mr. Smith goes to Washington, Benny and Joon, and several others that I did not get to write down. She ended her talk by demonstrating how the Tarot could be used to work through issues. Her example was the movie The Shawshank Redemption. She had chosen cards to represent the major themes of the movie and had laid them out in a 15 card spread, matching cards to photographic still scenes from the movie. It was great! Arnell has discussed this technique on tarot-l before, but once you see it laid out it really hits you hard.

Several pieces of her artistic work were on display or were passed around the audience, including her first personally made Tarot deck, which she did not publish, and the proofs for the Transformational Tarot Deck, which she did publish and of which she still has a few copies of for sale. A beautiful Tarot box, some sculptures and some very powerful dolls were also on display. Arnell's workshop was a first taste of what would turn out to be an unbelievable two days.

If you would like more information on Art Therapy, Arnell Ando or The Transformational Tarot Deck, you can find it here.

Article Copyright 1997 Michele Jackson
Page Copyright 2000 Diane Wilkes