The Storyteller Tarotst0.jpg (10408 bytes)
Concept and Book: Diane B. Wilkes, Artwork: Arnell Ando

This Majors only, deck book/set is a collaborative effort by collage artist Arnell Ando and Tarot reader, teacher and writer, Diane Wilkes. Diane is an avid reader of fiction and non-fiction and found that her reading often put her in mind of various Tarot archetypes and themes. She started writing them down and then decided to write a book and commission a deck to go with it. The book shaped up rather quickly but finding an artist who could put her vision on paper proved to be difficult. In 1997 Diane met Arnell Ando, creator of the Transformational Tarot Deck, at the International Tarot Society Convention in Chicago. Diane discussed the concept with Arnell and Arnell offered to do the artwork. They obviously worked well together because the images and the write-up merge seamlessly.

Most of the cards in this deck are based on stories from literature, though a few are based on songs, or historical figures. For example, The Fool is based on the Wizard of Oz; The Great Father (Emperor) is based on two political figures - President Harry Truman and Frank Rizzo, former Mayor of Philadelphia. The Chariot refers to several Bruce Springsteen songs that feature cars. While some of the stories will be familiar to most people (Wizard of Oz, Pride and Prejudice), others are less well known. One story, The Spirit of the High Priestess, is original to this book. The stories were chosen based on how well they described the theme of the card they were chosen for.

The cards are handmade. The images are cut out front and back, and then laminated and trimmed by hand. The quality is excellent and they should stand up well to hard use. They measure 2 3/4" X 4 3/4". A few of the cards have been renamed:

Strength is VIII and Justice is XI. There is an extra card in the deck: The Storyteller. You can use this card in reading if you choose to or you can remove it. As previously stated, the art is excellent.

The book that comes with this deck begins with an introduction that briefly describes various uses for Tarot cards, including meditation, divination, creativity and magick. There is a separate chapter for each card that provides the following information:

Four original spreads are provided and two sample readings. A list of premises for each card is provided for use with the General Storytelling Spread. This new spread can be used as an aid to creativity for writers or storytellers. There is a bibliography for each card, a bibliography for Tarot in general and a bibliography for storytelling.  The stories chosen may not resonate for everyone, but I doubt that you will be able to read this book and not garner some new insights into some of the cards. Chances are good that you will want to read all of the stories described for yourself. The author makes it clear that the stories chosen are by no means "the" story for each card. The reader is encouraged to explore other stories that may illustrate the meaning of each card as well. Although the book is quite robust for a Majors only deck, the art is also evocative enough to stand on its own.

I recommend this deck for collectors, avid readers, and writers. Anyone who loves Tarot and literature will probably love this deck as well. Writers may find it useful, especially the General Storytelling Spread, which could be used to write a story or even a book. This handmade original release is limited to 50 copies, so if you are interested, order one soon!

See more cards from the Storyteller Tarot here.

See thumbnails of all 23 cards here.

Note: The limited edition of this deck is sold out. No more copies are available.

Excerpt

The Seeker (traditionally: The Fool)

The Story:

The Seeker is taken from Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz, and the film based on that children's classic. Dorothy, an orphan seeking to protect her dog from an evil and interfering neighbor, decides to run away from the safe but dull haven her aunt and uncle provide. She is looking for color, excitement, and most of all, adventure. When a tornado turns her world topsy-turvy, she sets off with her dog, Toto--and her unformed dreams. Dorothy finds friends on her uncharted journey--a scarecrow who perceives himself as brainless, a tin man in search of a heart, and a lion looking for courage. When Dorothy is advised that a trip to Emerald City will provide the answers she seeks, the four travel a dangerous path as a unit, and triumph over adversity. Dorothy also discovers her dream is to return home to her aunt and uncle--and that she can go back to her place of grounding whenever she wants. She merely has to recognize and visualize her desire...and it’s hers.

Literary Symbolism:

There is great power in a dreamer who seeks adventure for adventure's sweet sake. The four "seekers" represent the four elements/aspects of the individual: Dorothy: Pentacles or earth/manifestation; Scarecrow: Swords or air/intellect; Tin Man: Cups or water/emotions; and Lion: Wands or fire/action. We all possess these elements/aspects within us. When Dorothy sets out on her journey in the novel, it isn't because she has been thrust from the sky. She is frustrated with the humdrum Kansas farmlife that is her lot and desires to find something more. She has security (pentacles/earth), but believes that there is something better "out there." Each of the four "seekers" is searching for something outside of themselves, and each of them already possess what they believe they lack. The only way they can discover that they have the qualities they desire is through their journey on the yellow brick road of life. None of them carry "baggage" -- they find their answers without the trappings of possessions.

The four seekers must work together when they encounter the Wicked Witch of the West--all four aspects of self must synthesize when encountering difficulties on the journey to self-discovery. Each of the four show that they have what they believe they lack when they are in danger--when they are focussed on protecting one another or getting closer to Emerald City, they forget to doubt themselves and leap into the chasms they most fear.

Artistic Symbolism:

The four "seekers" are linked; you can barely see where one body ends and another begins, which reflects their collective synthesis. Dorothy is seen with her basket and dog, reminiscent of the more traditional Fool with his belongings gathered together in a pouch on a wooden stick and a white dog yapping at his heels. The house often symbolizes the ego or persona, and the fact that it is spinning, circling in the tornado indicates that the Seeker is being totally uprooted. But even so, the house and Dorothy land together--it follows her despite the swirling storm. Notice how the red shoes glisten at the foot of the yellow brick road. They provide a shining counterpoint to the sheen of Emerald City, showing that Dorothy's sparkle is part of her essence, even as she seeks it elsewhere.

Interpretation:

When this card appears in a reading, it is a sign of upcoming, unexpected adventure. You may initially fear such a literally full-scale thrust into a new framework, but if you adapt yourself to your changed surroundings, you are bound to grow, thrive, and enjoy a new understanding of yourself. This card can also indicate a stubborn refusal to accept or adapt to change, and you may be clinging to your misery blanket, determined to remain unhappy unless you allow your potential for joy to emerge. You might want to revert to childish behavior, looking toward that greener pasture that is just beyond your own, instead of recognizing your many sources of true satisfaction.

Your Personal Seeker:

When did you take a leap of faith in your life, going down a road without being sure of your destination, yet believing you'd know it when you got there? What books, movies, songs, myths, etc., make you think of a seeker, someone who has no specific quest, but lots of questions? Is there a wise folly you yearn to attempt? Write a story about yourself, taking a chance...and don't know the ending before you start writing. Trust the universe to land you safely.

 Images Copyright 1998 Arnell Ando, Text Copyright 1998 Diane Wilkes


This page is Copyright 1998 by Michele Jackson