by author Benebell Wen
I reviewed the Chrysalis Tarot deck by Toney Brooks and Holly Sierra earlier this year and now I’ve got my hands on the incredible companion guidebook. For so long tarot readers have been pushing for a companion book to the Chrysalis Tarot deck and now we’ve got one. This 216-page book by U.S. Games is a must-have for anyone who works predominantly with the Chrysalis.
The creator of the deck Toney Brooks opens the Introduction with a backstory of how the deck was conceived and the grueling yet spiritual process of creating a tarot deck. In his own words:
This companion book to Chrysalis Tarot details a mental and spiritual journey of resonating frequencies. Tarot refers to this journey as the hero’s journey, a catchall phrase that has been a feature of humanity’s stories since the time of Gilgamesh nearly 5,000 years ago. In our own time, the whole of humanity is embarking on an epic journey of self-discovery and a collective re-examination of values and priorities.
The guidebook is subdivided into two parts. The first part is general, addressing spiritual theory, creation myth, and the interplay between mythology and psychology, and how both are woven into the Chrysalis Tarot. Part One covers Papa Legba, Gaia, Merlin and the Holy Grail, Tarot and Magic, and so much more. Part One was an incredible read for anyone interested in the woo.
Part One is mostly authored by Toney Brooks, where we’re covering the theoretical premise of tarot reading. He associates the word “magic” with “synchronicity” and defines both as “meaningful coincidences in life that cannot be explained.”
In Part Two, the illustrator Holly Sierra’s voice comes through in first person when you see the italicized passages. We get to hear from the artist about her perspective when she created the art for Chrysalis. Part Two is a practical guide to reading tarot and more specifically, interpreting the 78 cards of Chrysalis. Here, we also learn that the deck creators do not recommend reading with reversals when using the Chrysalis. The deck is intended to be read with upright cards only.
Part Two is well-organized and comprehensive. Each card is covered over the span of several well-detailed pages, in both creator and artist’s point of view. You get both. You get the backstory for how each card came to being. You also get the reasoning behind the imagery and symbolism and, for the Majors, the archetypal attributes that had left many confused in previous years. Now all of it is illuminated and explained.
Those with a contemporary sensibility of New Age spiritualism are going to fall in love with this companion guidebook and find it indispensable when working with the Chrysalis Tarot. Brooks and Sierra have a New Thought new consciousness point of view when it comes to spirituality that is resonant with modern perspectives blending mythology and psychology, following the paths of Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell. The penetrating perspective of Brooks is balanced out by the soft, whimsical, and poetic art of Sierra. It’s no surprise that the Chrysalis Tarot has been recipient of many tarot awards.
The companion book to Chrysalis that Brooks and Sierra have produced is a well-written documentary of how this deck came to be, of the mythical and psychological basis of tarot, and a final thesis that encourages the belief in magic. Altogether a beautiful book that is sure to please.
FTC Disclosure: In accordance with Title 16 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations Part 255, “Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising,” I received the Chrysalis Tarot Companion Guidebook from U.S. Games for prospective review. Everything I’ve said here is sincere and accurately reflects my opinion of the deck.