Transparent Tarot

By Rodney Carter

The Transparent Tarot. Where do I begin? As my approximately 300 posts about this deck on Aeclectic Tarot (AT) have shown, I have a lot to say. So, where should I begin? How about at the beginning?

I didn’t become aware of the deck until Sept ’07, shortly after I joined AT. Em (Emily Carding, the deck’s creator) had already started posting a few scans of cards layered together. My first post in the creation thread was, “Your deck is lovely. And innovative doesn't even come close to describing the concept behind the deck. With over 300 decks in my collection, I've already calculated that I'll need to live for a couple thousand years to be able learn and use them all. Do I need another deck? No. Do I want your deck? Hell yeah! Will I have it when it's available? Most definitely! Woe to anyone or anything that stands in my way....”

Little did I know then the effect that this deck would have on me. A couple months later, Em posted pics of some filmstrips and a triple layered Celtic Cross. My response was immediate and emphatic – “I MUST HAVE THESE CARDS NOW!!!!! This deck is definitely going to take my tarot reading and study to a level that it never could have attained otherwise.”

And it did.

This is the first and only deck that I ordered multiple copies of from both the publisher and an online retailer after seeing nothing more than scans on the computer. I own more copies of this deck than I do any other deck in my collection.

Since I ordered directly from the publisher, I was one of the first people to get the deck and I’ve been using it daily ever since. Being one of the first to use the deck, I developed/borrowed from Em some new terminology for it:

SI = Standard Image (one or more cards in their native orientation)

CI = Composite Image (the layering of two or more cards to form an image)

MI = Mirror Image (one or more cards that are flipped 180 degrees around a vertical axis so that what points left in a SI points right in a MI, etc.)

JI = Jumbled Image (the layering of cards until the image gets too busy to see clearly)

FS = Film Strip (laying the cards out so that they overlap to some degree so that they end up looking like a reel of film)

FI = Freeform Image (laying the cards in what appears to be a haphazard manner a la the cover of the companion book)

RI = Reversed Image (in contrast to the MI, this would be one or more cards that are flipped 180 degrees around a horizontal axis so the image is upside down from its SI)

Right out of the box, I started using two decks together. And I’ve created a new shuffling method that introduces MI cards. I haven’t read reversals in a number of years, and I don’t use reversals with this deck. But others do, and I’ve seen some astonishing CIs that contain RIs. Since the cards are transparent, there is no back or front to them. So I consider myself to be shuffling with the cards face up instead of face down. And when forming CIs, I cut the deck into three piles and take the top card from each pile. (I generally use 3 card CIs. Anything more than that becomes a FS.)

I do Daily Draws with the deck. I’ve done readings for both myself and others with it. I’ve even done a reading based on a FI that occurred due to a shuffling accident. Amazingly enough, the FI reflected a situation that was going on at work that had been on my mind while I was shuffling. I’ve written so much about this deck on AT and done so many different things with it that I’ve been dubbed the Transparent Tarot Mad Scientist. My enthusiasm for and posts about this deck have even convinced people from around the world who weren’t sure about the deck to buy it and give it a try. (Yes, I’m an enabler too….)

By the way, don’t think that just because the images on the cards are rather simple that this deck can’t pack a punch. I, and other people on AT, have found that this deck can be rather blunt, telling you exactly like it is whether you want to hear it or not.

So far I’ve created or modified a dozen spreads that take advantage of the uniquely transparent feature of the deck. For the rest of this article I’m going to discuss the process I use to create a TT-specific spread and share one with you.

In going through my spreads collection to find spreads that would be well-suited to the TT, I came across two different versions of the Gypsy Method Spread. It’s a pretty easy spread for general readings, 3 rows of 7 cards each, with each row representing past/present/future and each column representing a different topic. But it’s 21 cards!

Looking at the layout of the spread, two things jumped out at me immediately. First, the rows would make great FSs. And with the way the cards might interact, it’s very likely that there would be a lot fewer than 7 images to interpret per row. Second, the columns would make great CIs. Some of the column meanings didn’t make sense to me, so I renamed some of them and rearranged their order.

I did something similar with a career spread from one of my books. It had 3 cards on the top row, two sets of 3 cards in the middle row and 3 cards on the bottom row. The four sets of cards dealt with the present, past, what could help change the situation and the future. 

I rearranged the layout to be 4 columns of 3 cards each, with the columns becoming CIs to reflect the past, the present, action(s) Querent can take to bring about a change and the situation after the actions are taken. But then you’re left with three rows of 4 cards each. I decided to make FSs out of those to reflect weaknesses Querent should work on, strengths Querent should utilize and external opportunities or people that Querent should watch out for.

I created a spread from scratch based on a set of self-empowerment cards. My original plan was to create a spread designed to help me focus on what I needed to do in order to attract (monetary) prosperity into my life. Once I started creating the spread, I decided to make it more generally applicable to attracting any desired outcome into one’s life. I ended up with three rows of 7 cards each. The rows are FSs that cover what one is currently attracting to oneself, what thoughts one needs to reverse in order to change what one is attracting, and what one will attract after changing those thoughts. The columns are CIs that cover where the journey begins, the purpose of where one finds themselves right now, what should be left behind because it doesn’t help with reaching the goal, what one is focusing on that will stop one from reaching their goal, how one truly feels about their goal, where one should focus their thoughts in order to attract their goal to them and how to invite the goal into one’s life.

Hopefully, the three examples above will give you a sense of how to create new spreads or modify existing ones so that they take advantage of the unique properties of this deck. As promised, I am including a spread that’s actually an amalgamation of two other spreads I created for the TT. I call it “Transparent Insight into the Relationship.” It’s 9 cards and only uses CIs.




CI#1 (147) - Querent's misconception(s) about the relationship

CI#2 (258) - The reality of the relationship

CI#3 (369) - Forces at work in the relationship, for good or ill

CI#4 (123) - What Querent isn't feeling about the relationship that they should

CI#5 (456) - What Querent isn't seeing about the relationship that they should

CI#5 (789) - What Querent isn't thinking about the relationship that they should

I used this spread in a Reading Exchange on AT, and it gave excellent results.

The other Transparent Tarot-specific spreads that I’ve created can be found at Aeclectic Tarot.

All submissions remain the property of their respective authors. 

Tarot Reflections is published by the American Tarot Association - Copyright (C) 2009

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