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Review Osho Zen Tarot

DATASHEET
Name : Osho Zen Tarot
Author : Osho - Deva Padma
Publisher : St Martin's Press
Tradition : Somewhat inspired by the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot
Packaging : Soft cardboard box / 11.2 x 7.8 x 3 cm / 4.3 x 2.7 x 1.1 in
Deck : 78 + extra one = 79 cards / satin and matte cards / 10.8 cm / 3.9 in x 7.4 cm / 2.7 in
Size : normal
Handbook : Booklet of 114 pages in B&W
Reverse side : No, the backs of the cards are not reversible.
Switch of 8/11 : No
Universe : Contemporary , Artistic / Literary / Abstract-Modern , Spirituality / Karma / Personal Development
Use : Personal development
alternative
WARNING
Please note: this review is based on material in French. This does not change the content of the review in any way, as the material is identical in both languages. Sorry I can't systematically offer me my tarot cards and books in both languages (I don't receive any gifts from the publishers) ! ^_^

The equipment

The equipment

The game does not come in a case, it is contained in a soft cardboard box. A small B&W booklet fits inside the box.

The cards are of normal thickness for a "mass-market" product. With 12 centimeters in height, the cards are rather large, it can be difficult for a person with small hands to shuffle the deck horizontally, in such a case, shuffling the cards vertically will be necessary.

The authors

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, known as Osho, is an Indian guru. He has lived in India and then in other countries including the United States where he founded a spiritual center in Oregon. He is the creator of a "dynamic meditation" and inspired the movement that took his name: "Osho". His taste for provocation and his liberated point of view on sexuality have earned him a rather controversial reputation.

Susan Morgan Ostapkowicz, known as Ma Deva Padma, is an Australian painter who worked on divinatory tools. She created the Osho Zen Tarot (official website) and then the Oracle Tao (official website).

The booklet

The booklet

The booklet begins with a chapter introducing the Osho Zen Tarot, evoking the specificities of the two types of cards : Major and Minor Arcana. The meaning of each of the 4 elements Earth, Fire, Air, Water is perfectly respected in this tarot. However, Earth is entitled to a Rainbow color (while the other 3 must be satisfied with red, gray and blue). The author argues that "according to Zen, even the most mundane activity is an opportunity to celebrate the mystery of the sacred [...] Indeed, the Rainbow connects Earth and Heaven". I am not more convinced than that. The Rainbow takes place in the air (Air element) and is a diffraction of light through drops of water (Water element). Why would the Earth come closer to the Sky and be more "sacred" than Fire, Air or Water?

Thereafter, 4 prints are proposed: "Relationships" in 4 locations (diagnosis of a relationship), the "instant method" in 1 location (map of the day), the "key" in 8 locations (it allows to understand a problem). Finally the draw "the paradox" is interesting and deserves that we stop there. It is a question of shuffling the cards and separating them into 3 heaps. The top card symbolizes the present, the bottom card symbolizes the past life, and a third card drawn from the inside of the deck symbolizes the paradox. It is regrettable that no example is given for each spread.

An entire chapter is dedicated to a glossary of symbols. I liked the initiative, I find that such lists are too often missing in books accompanying card games.

Finally, the rest of the booklet is devoted to the presentation of the cards. For each card a paragraph gives the meaning of the card and a second paragraph offers a comment on the interpretation, in fact a piece of advice.

All cards have a name

One of the originalities of this tarot is that all cards have a name, even numeral cards. The approach is interesting, in fact I consider that the name of a card is never superfluous and it is an integral part of the symbolic scope of the card, just like its image of course. So to put a name on each numeral card is normally to reinforce their meaning. This is true for some (e.g. Water Knight - The Trust), much less so on other cards, because the image is sufficiently successful or explicit, for its meaning to be obvious. And in such cases, the name doesn't bring anything more (e.g. 4 of Rainbow - The Miser).

The cards I like

XIV - Integration

The cards I like

The card takes the place of TEMPERANCE. If there is no symbol of a jug of water pouring into another, the Yin-Yang symbol is used here. The correlation is interesting. In addition, the symbols of the sun and the moon are used in opposition. A representation of the snake ouroboros is even included. This symbol seems secondary to me, because it symbolizes continuity and self-fertilization, the relationship with the notion of "integration" is not direct. But overall the card makes sense, it proposes a competing vision of TEMPERANCE which seems to me to be appropriate.

XV - Conditioning

XV - Conditioning

The card replaces THE DEVIL. If the latter speaks of alienation, it is well seen that conditioning is here the subject of this card. The story of the lion living among the sheep is quite well known, and accurately expresses the meaning of this card. We are conditioned by the rules established within our environment, we must know how to free ourselves from these rules to find out who we really are under our shell.

XVII - Silence

XVII - Silence

In the tarot THE STAR is the card of humanism, of the development of Man. I did not expect it to become the card of silence. But in the effervescence of human progress, where the world is constantly changing, silence is perhaps a necessity in order to measure the progress made. We live a life that is often very active, very open to the world and to change, which brings with it great responsibilities for building our common future. This is a possible state of mind for THE STAR. In SILENCE, we must measure the weight of our responsibilities and the impact of our actions.

XXI - Completion

XXI - Completion

This card replaces THE WORLD. I like the idea that completion is not necessarily an enlightenment, a step with no return, a line to cross, but rather a long-term construction. Indeed, the puzzle invites us to think that personal achievement includes multiple aspects or stages, which are all pieces of the puzzle. Each of these steps is linked to the others, it is part of a larger whole. And the last step (last piece finishing the puzzle) is not more important or necessary than the others. THE WORLD shows us a situation, while COMPLETION shows us a process (which leads to THE WORLD situation).

East of Water - Trust

East of Water - Trust

The dream of flying is as old as the world in the thought of Man. It is very interesting here that this way of moving is finally reduced to the only question of self-confidence. In order to fly (to take off, to gain height, to free ourselves from our cannonballs) we don't need wings or a particular gift, we only need to have trust. Another possibility of interpretation is to say that trust allows us to plunge into the great void, to advance towards the unknown. This dimension is just as rich.

The cards I like less

The Master

The cards I like less

It is likely that the author created this card as a tribute to the Indian guru, who died in 1990 and the game was published (and probably designed) in 1995. This card is in addition to the traditional 78-card tarot structure. Let's face it, I find this card irrelevant for two reasons :

- First of all, Osho's teaching was centered on the idea that each of us has the innate capacity to realize ourselves, to awaken to full consciousness. Although I don't know his teachings in detail, I would tend to believe that according to him, we were therefore our own spiritual master. If he never said that, I certainly think so. Also, if I understand the author's devotion to Osho and probably the tribute she wanted to pay to him by having him appear on one of the cards in the deck, I personally think that no one can be my master. And that a game like tarot, which is supposed to free us from our chains, must be universal and do not promote any spiritual master.

- Secondly, if there is a master, it is the tarot itself that remains our master. We use the tarot to guide us. It is to him that we ask for advice, neither Osho nor Ma Deva Padma.

I strongly question the relevance of the card THE MASTER, especially when it shows the effigy of a person, however evolved and wise he may be.

IV - The Rebel

IV - The Rebel

Osho apparently had a taste for provocation. Also that THE EMPEROR, representing standard and stability, becomes THE REBEL in this tarot, denotes very certainly of this spirit of contradiction. Does it have a real interest ? THE MAT already represents this state of mind of freedom and paradox. THE FORCE not mastered and not contained could evoke a form of rebellion. Isn't THE DEVIL also rebellious ?

Rebellion only makes sense when it carries an ideal, a standard other than the one it denounces. Here, the figure of THE REBEL shows us broken chains and an eagle with outstretched wings. This evokes freedom. But the whole tarot speaks of the freedom to acquire in order to realize oneself. THE REBEL does not propose us any new frame to replace the old one.

6 of Fire - Success

6 of Fire - Success

The text attached to this card talks about the waves of the ocean, the ups and downs. That we must know how to appreciate being at the top because it never lasts and accept the valley when its turn comes. In fact, it evokes the theme of the WHEEL OF FORTUNE, the ephemeral nature of any situation. The text adds the following advice : The wisdom you must remember about the ups and downs in your life is that "it will pass too". All of the text could apply to the WHEEL OF FORTUNE card. What's more, the name SUCCESS is therefore fragmented from the overall meaning of the card, which could have been called "SUCCESS AND FAILURE" or "UPS AND DOWNS".

5 of Fire - Totality

5 of Fire - Totality

Some cards have a deep meaning, but their name does not make it easy to understand them directly. For example the card TOTALITY shows trapeze artists in the air. What is the link between the two ? The association becomes clear by reading the text. It is a question of being fully attentive, in *total* vigilance at every moment of our life. And we are not total when we think, calculate or fulminate. The example is taken with those trapeze artists who cannot afford a single second of inattention.

I wonder if we wouldn't have gained in intuitive reading if the card had been named "The Vigilance" for example? In my opinion, there are other cards in the deck with ambiguous names.

GALLERY
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My opinion on Osho Zen Tarot

It pays off that the Osho Zen tarot distances itself from both the Rider-Waite-Smith tradition and the Tarot de Marseille tradition. The initiative is to be welcomed. The tarot approaches philosophical aspects in a consistent manner. I am not familiar with Osho's teachings, so I cannot say whether this tarot faithfully retraces what the Indian guru expressed throughout his life. However, I can testify that the cards speak of a personal journey based on the development of human qualities, qualities recognized by all spiritual traditions such as attention to oneself, detachment from events, compassion and benevolence, and others.

This tarot is perfectly adapted for personal development where we question the cards to better understand ourselves and try to find answers to our anxieties and our difficulties to being fullfilled. On the other hand, it seems to me that this tarot is not very well suited for prediction (reading the future).

The beginner practitioner must be aware that this tarot is different from the others even if there are some elements taken from the Rider-Waite-smith. Studying and learning this tarot will not help him/her to draw cards with the RWS tarot or the Tarot de Marseille. Apart from this remark, the Osho Zen can be a very good first tarot.

The advanced practitioner will be seduced by a value system quite different from the two schools RWS and Marseille. He will thus be able to renew his way of using the tarot.

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TYPE OF USE
  • Personal development
PROS
  • System different from the 2 schools RWS and Marseille
CONS
  • The extra card THE MASTER was really not necessary
MATERIAL QUALITY RATINGS
2
/5
Quality
Packaging
2
/5
Quality
cards
3
/5
Rating
Artistic
EASE OF INTERPRETATION RATINGS
3
/5
Richness
of symbolism
5
/5
Legibility
of cards
3
/5
Structure
level
EASY-TO-USE RATINGS
3
/5
Ease
of use
2
/5
Accessible
to children
4
/5
Interest
in the study
OVERALL RATING
3.0 / 5

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