One of the problems with the Tarot in general is that its imagery has become rather stale. Each "tradition" has its own set of pre-cast imagery, and even though some are incredibly beautiful and innovative, still, one is left with the feeling that, "Oh no, another one." When I get a new deck, I am always hoping for something indeed new, but the demand of the marketplace all too often take priority over innovation, and we wind up with a parade of clones.
Enter the Chrysalis. If you're looking for the same old thing, you won't find it here. Here is the fresh breeze of inspiration that many have been waiting for. When I first opened it, what came immediately to mind is the Voyager. I remember the impression that deck made on me, and in its time, it was a whole new ballgame. But the while the Voyager is heavily analytical, the best word I can use to describe the Chrysalis is "Mythic". The images are very fairy-tale like, but rather than calling to mind the standard set of familiar stories, these cards encourage you to generate your own fairy tale, to tell your own story, and become your own myth.
While the structure of the deck is similar to the "traditional" tarot, the imagery is very much a new ballgame. They are bright, colorful, and in most cases more suggestive than explicit in meaning. In many cases the images seem familiar, and yet are a very different take on the underlying theme. Consider XV, "The Devil" in a traditional deck, but here, "Bella Rosa," a masked lady parading through a carnival. The mask provides a certain anonymity, an isolation between the world and the inner person; while this can be a good and even necessary thing, how evil it is that a person must fundamentally lie about their true being to live in the world! Each one of these cards will make you think about new ways of looking at old meanings.
And that is a major breakthrough. A Tarot card has two meanings, an objective and a subjective. The objective meaning, or "denotation", is bound up in a set of keywords, relationships within an esoteric system, and body of knowledge that points to a pre-determined. a priori definition of what the card means. You sit in a room, the Great Teacher informs you as to the meaning, and forever after that is what the card means. On the other hand, there is the subjective meaning or "connotation", a personal reaction to the card that often draws on unconscious sources which embellish the images with a personal significance. The chief problem in learning to read the Tarot, at least in learning to read it as an oracle, is getting beyond the denotation, into the subjective connotation, which is where the actual divination takes place. In a deck such as this. where the imagery is quite different from the body of traditional -- one way or another -- "learning" that fills the Tarot community, one is forced to rely on the subjective. You will have to look into your own soul to understand what these cards mean, and what they will mean to you is different from what they will mean to anybody else. Subjectivity is individuating -- having to find things out for yourself breaks you off from the herd. And as this deck breaks itself off from the "traditions" -- even, thankfully, the ones I often rely on -- to read it you will need to discover something of yourself that has remained hidden behind the mask.
Which brings us to the book. I generally don't like tarot books, but this one is different. Instead of repeating the usual prattle, this one is short, to the point, and serves its purpose of launching your journey, rather than hand-holding you through it. I come from a very different background than the author, and would take issue with much of what is here, but the point is that the issues are raised, and how you follow them through the cards is your own prerogative. The book, in this case, is a helpful tool rather than a hindrance.
I could go on about this deck for ever, and that is probably the best thing I can say about it. Its mandala-like imagery beckons one to go on forever. For here is a tool for the exploration of the conscious and the unconscious; for as long as consciousness exists, that exploration will go on, and indeed consciousness can only continue to exist where that exploration is possible.