The Quantum Tarot blends astronomical imagery, scientific theory and Tarot symbolism in a visually and theoretically breathtaking presentation reminiscent of the Voyager Tarot. In its time, the Voyager broke new ground with its photocollage style, in many cases incorporating astronomical photography with tarot symbolism. The Quantum takes that idea to a whole new level: just as the Hubble images used in the Quantum are a technological leap beyond what were available at the time the Voyager was created, the Quantum Tarot is an artistic jump into a world that the Voyager could only glimpse. Moreover, while I am not ordinarily a fan of Rider-Waite style decks, the Quantum Tarot adds an entirely new dimension -- well, maybe several of them -- to the style that makes the Rider-Waite-ness fade into the background. This is not the same old Tarot in new clothes; this is an entirely new world, entered by way of the Tarot.
That new world is the world of theoretical physics. Physics is the science of how things work, and as our understanding of the world grew beyond dropping things from the Leaning Tower of Pisa, so the theories that tie our observations of things into explanations of how they work grew in complexity. It became apparent that the theories that explain how very large things like planets and galaxies work, were on a collision course with the theories that explain how very small things like atoms work. Both sets of theories couldn't be true, and yet both seem to be. Even worse, it became obvious that all of these theories were incompatible in very basic ways with the theories that explain how ordinary things like clocks and bicycles work. While these new theories have given birth to a whole new world of technology, there remains the nagging problem of explaining how all of these things could possible work together, or even, in some cases, how they can work at all.
The Quantum Tarot takes us on a journey of this strange world of apparent contradictions and inconsistencies. Each card represents some theory, idea or object from the world of theoretical physics. Illustrated with a combination of astronomical imagery and Tarot symbolism, the cards invite one to expand one's understanding of the Tarot by considering how the Tarot symbol relates to some idea in physics. Maybe the other way around, too -- how these often disconnected concepts in physics might relate to a deeper understanding of things through Tarot symbolism. And this is where it starts to get interesting.
Take card XVII -- in the traditional Tarot, the Star; in the Quantum Tarot, String Theory. String theory is an attempt to reconcile the incompatibilities of quantum mechanics and relativity. That has been the dream of physicists for decades: to find a way of combining these two apparently un-combinable theories into a grand Theory of Everything, that would provide some basic explanatory framework of how everything, at bottom, large or small, works. It's been rough going, and it isn't there yet. Maybe it will never happen; there are reasons to suspect the Universe might not be reducible to a single explanatory framework. But the attempt has produced some interesting insights, not the least of which is, at a very basic level, the world is very different from what "common sense" tells us it is. That's a good thing, as common sense is more often a blinder to truth than a way of finding it.
This Tarot is in many ways its own mimic of string theory: it is an attempt to reconcile two things -- science and mysticism -- widely held to be incompatible and contradictory, into a unified framework of ideas. Now this is something I have always believed: that science, mysticism, and add to that philosophy, are convergent disciplines. I do not mean that any of those disciplines is reducible to any of the others -- that, for example, mysticism, or the Tarot as a form thereof, can be explained in terms of psychology, or that science ultimately reduces to logic (sorry Mr. Spock). What I do mean is that as our understanding of all of those disciplines advances, they become more similar than they are different, and each gives important insights as to how the others work. It would appear, for example, that the Uncertainty Principle, which has led some physicists to suggest a "participatory universe", is really the same principle, viewed through the lens of science, as sympathetic magick and its seasonal rituals, viewed from the standpoint of the nature mystic. QM and relativity shed a lot of light on how magick might work, and many physicists have noticed similarities between ideas in physics and mysticism -- books have been written on the Tao of this and the Zen of that. My guess is that the Theory of Everything, if there is such a thing, will ultimately look like some combination of ideas from these different disciplines, a twisted superstring in its own right, vibrating in every dimension of human thought.
To be sure, this isn't the easiest path to tread. If you'd rather meet a charmed quark than a strange one, and you assume a boson has bright red hair and wears a clown suit, you may be heading for rough waters here. I must say that the images on the cards aren't highly intuitive; while you certainly can read these as ordinary Tarot cards, you won't get the full measure of their wisdom without reading, and understanding, what the accompanying book has to say about them. The book is very good; its summaries of the scientific theories are excellent, but admittedly may be beyond those who have no interest or background in the subject. The Tarot of Everything might not be the Tarot for Everyone, but then again, what Tarot is? By drawing the reader into the parallel universe of theoretical physics, this Tarot challenges the reader to get beyond the repetitive and entrenched "meanings" of the cards, and enter a dimension in which the absolutes are uncertain, and the less believable something is, the more likely it is to be true.