In the first of a two-volume series, Gerald-Johan Vanoise proposes a radical reinterpretation/redesign of the traditional 78-card deck that has dominated contemporary tarot practice.
The Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) system—card decks with detailed narrative images—has turned tarot readings into what Vanoise labels “a process of image association and symbol interpretation”—one that’s prone to error because readers unwittingly introduce bias due to their own life experiences and knowledge. The resulting interpretations are, thus, flawed. Additionally, cards seen as “negative”—The Tower, The Devil, and Death—sway the Reader because prevailing morality “implicitly suggests that the duty of interpretation is to indicate the path that will lead to the transformation of such negatives.”
Vanoise introduces a heavily revised and expanded 80-card deck in which “each card is initially treated as neutral.” As the Reader begins to understand how his/her orientation influences “associations and combinations…the Reader begins to discover another mode of conducting the process of interpretation…” These cards follow the traditional Minor Arcana suits/playing-card symbols of hearts (representing cups/emotion), diamonds (representing wands/fire), spades (representing swords/air), and clubs (representing pentacles/earth). The Major Arcana retains its familiar names but each is re-envisioned as a line-drawn “stance” possessing specific interpretations, such as The Magician (“One’s own centre”) and the Priestess (“Sharing one’s strength”), plus two new cards: Truth and Intuition.
This part of the book is intriguing. Vanoise, however, goes astray with his incomprehensible Third Arcana and Grand Scheme system: mandala-like charts and paths that evoke the Kabbalah’s Tree of Life and 32 Paths of Wisdom but lack that system’s logic. The results resemble astrology charts and are dauntingly confusing. He also baffles when explaining the Third Arcana as “a process of recovery” involving 32 paths/”intelligences” which are further broken down into specific, puzzling groupings.
Because the author cites little to no authority in tarot and offers an often-perplexing narrative, this book will likely be given a wide berth by serious tarot practitioners.
Also available as an ebook.