The Wisdom Well by Ivarna Kalinkova is an unusual and luxurious book and deck set that marries tarot with Jungian psychology--although the cards are not a traditional tarot deck. Rather, there are 36 cards (half of a complete tarot deck) that feature lushly illustrated Archetypes that are imbedded within human consciousness. Jung never produced a definitive list of Archetypes, and indeed, it would be impossible: Archetypes merge into one another, and the collective unconscious is creating new Archetypes all the time.
Archetypes are templates for universal behavior patterns and psychological dramas. Destruction and resurrection are an archetypal pattern, as is Persona (the masks we wear in different situations), Teacher (the higher aspect of ourselves and self-education), and Beggar (self-denial and inner hobo/Cinderella).
So why bother to work with archetypes at all? In Jungian psychology, when archetypes invade our consciousness, they have negative and destructive effects on our lives, as in addiction. There is a common phrase in the New Age that says "if you spot it, you got it". In other words, that which we project outward, in the form of admiration or repulsion, are really parts of our self that remains hidden--in shadow--and in need of integration. The external world is but a reflection of our subconscious--our inner world. To integrate our shadows is to become whole, which then contributes to the wholeness of the collective.
When you work with a book and deck such as Wisdom Well, you begin to recognize how the unknown parts of yourself have been affecting your decisions and life circumstances. As you start to integrate archetypes internally, astounding metamorphosis occurs--accompanied by clarity, wisdom, and inisights into the future.
Wisdom Well is a smooth, glossy hardback book with a beautiful green leather-like motif. It is the most unusually constructed book that I've ever come across: when you open it, a paperback book is anchored on the right (with the same cover as the exterior). On the left, the deck of cards are contained within a sturdy, purple paper case, imbedded into a frame of the same material and color. The number 12 card, Aspiration is adhered to the front of the card case. In the recess, there is a purple ribbon underneath to allow for easy deck extraction.
The book itself is 96 pages and contains several sections. The first four pages give an introducton to Jung and archetypes. The next section shows you how to do a reading with the use of simple one and three card spreads, and then shows you how to intepret the cards. Instructions are also given on how to discern time frames with the cards, and how the other cards in the spread, as well as the question asked, can modify card meanings. There are two pages devoted to thumbnail images of each card, includng the card name and page it can be found. Each of the 36 cards have two pages: on one page is the card itself in the forefront of a gorgeous, colorful background. The other page is a brief meaning of the card, key words, a quote from Jung about the archetype or similar theme, and the meaning of the card reversed.
The layout is accessible, the pages are thick, the images are glossy and vibrantly colorful, and the information is concise but profound.
What I like most about this deck is that it doesn't get so specific about archetypes that you feel overwhelmed or like you're trying to plug in life situations to fit a narrow definition. Rather, you are given a general image, and the key words can cover quite a few areas that are governed by this archetype. For example, keywords for The Wise Old Man card are: Roots and ancestry. Inheritance. Experience. Intuition. Traditional knowledge. The psychic. Connection with other realms, times and beings. People ahead of their time. The old and the new. Dipping into the well of the psychic.
I get the feeling that the author trusts the reader enough to mine their own subconscious without having to dictate rigid or simplistic meanings for archetypes. In fact, the author stresses that the cards give an outline, but your own associations will fill in the rest. What a specific card means to me will mean something different to you--although the archetypal pattern itself will be similar. The author also wisely recommends against turning to the cards when you are in emotional turmoil; rather, wait until you get a modicum of detachment, or have someone else read for you.
Everyone of these cards are exquisite, and include archetypal themes and nuances that are illuminating. Every time I look at the pages in this book or at one of the cards, I feel as though I'm looking into a mirror. Waking from a dream, I now take the steps to uncover the meaning of the symbols and themes within the dream. Indeed, when life is lived unconsciously, what are we living but a dream? In order to integrate and become more conscious, it requires us to wake up from our unconscious slumber.
Additional archetypes represented in this book and deck include The Psyche, Anima/Animus, The Mandala, The Demon Queen, The Night Watchman, The Woodcutter, The Alchemist, Father Earth, Trickster, Mother Moon Goddess, The Virgin/Whore, The Wounded Healer, The Patriot, The Ogre, The Child Within, The Prisoner, and so on. I really like the Mirror Woman card. The quote from Jung associated with this card is "The more projections are thrust in between the subject and the environment, the harder it is for the ego to see through the illusions."
This has now become my favorite archetype deck, and I've already received immediately helpful information and comfort from these cards. They would make a wonderful addition to any tarot or oracle collection, as well as a thoughtful gift for someone who enjoys Jungian psychology, archetypes, and enhancing consciousness.
(To see 10 images from this deck, visit the Reviews section at [...])