About Arnell Ando
I began my studies of Tarot in my early 20's, while living in Japan, feeling quite cut off from my
Western philosophical, religious background. Always fascinated by mythology, symbology, and the unknown
mysteries, it was a natural direction to explore. I was hooked at once, spending endless
hours journaling, studying any Tarot books I could find in English, while collecting decks from obscure, back
alley shops. Many strange synchronicities, dream prophesies and other bizarre occurrences both frightened and
enticed me to delve deeper.
Returning to the U.S. after a decade abroad, divorced with two young sons, I began a new life. I got a Masters in Psychology but found it difficult to bridge my spiritual/creative side with this more cognitive view of personal growth. I continued to collect unusual decks, appreciating their beauty, but never finding 'the one' that reflected my beliefs and the archetypes that resonated within. Instinctively, while studying women's history, I began creating raw, primitive artforms while working through accumulated issues of anger, pain, and disillusion. Around that time, I also discovered a growing field of alternative psychology called Expressive Art Therapy, which used all mediums of creative expression to explore the psyche and unlock hidden truths beyond words and deeds. I'd found my niche! It was quite a transformational experience. I continued my studies in the field, eventually becoming a Certified Expressive Arts Therapist.
All the while I was creating a Tarot deck & journal. This process helped me come to terms with my life story; hopes and fears, goals and setbacks. Friends were supportive; asking for color copies while urging me to publish Hero's Journey Tarot. However I had to create a whole new deck ( Transformational Tarot ) in order to publish, as many contemporary images incorporated into my themes, were copyright protected. Collage is still a 'grey' area with regards to current laws. It was most gratifying to self-publish, tho a big financial risk (and lots of work to cut cards, collate, package, market, etc...back in 1996, before the internet took hold to become a way to connect with a Tarot community). These days it is much more affordable to self-publish and the quality of production and ability to connect with support so much better too. I've done workshops over the years and have been updating an essay since 1996 on how to self-publish as new info & techniques emerge.
Transformational Tarot eventually went out of print but was published by U.S. Games (yay!) in 2006 and did quite well, while giving me the opportunity to connect with amazing people far and wide over the years. But sadly, this version went out of print too (in 2014).
Meanwhile, my friend Ellen Lorenzi-Prince asked me to publish her powerful, evocative Dark Goddess Tarot which has been a deeply meaningful and rewarding experience, (2nd printing currently Out of Print, sadly). Next we worked together on her Minoan Tarot and then published her original deck & book, Tarot of the Crone (3rd edition is alas, out of print too). Incidentally, I'd made 100 tiny magic wands for those 100 limited edition Crone decks back then (2002), so it was like coming full circle to work with Ellen again on this beloved deck.
In 2017, also began working with Italian artist friend, Carmen Sorrenti to publish her potent and dreamy Pholarchos Tarot. This cool deck set came onto the scene - summer 2018 and has been wildly popular (especially for a first deck in an era full of art & personal decks). It has gotten a great reception, with many thoughtful reviews.
Early on, another great friend, Leslie Cochran and I'd created Tarot art calendars (between 2004-2007). Our goal, to collaborate for 4 years so each of us could create a set of Major Arcana in the process (6 cards per calendar each). We offered special edition, signed & numbered handcrafted deck sets for years and got a sweet response. But got too dang busy with other projects & commitments to keep making these labor intensive sets (handmade parchment paper booklets, sets of matching art stamps, boxes & laminated cards). T'was an exquisite experience to collaborate with Leslie and share these with collectors. My deck, Lucky Pack Tarot is still available for view. Leslie's sister deck: Dreamythology Tarot isn't currently online, and she's long moved on to other endeavors, but it remains a special time in both our lives & friendship.
In memory of tarot artist/historian Brian Williams (who took us on two enchanting trips to Italy in 1999 and 2000, before his untimely death), I began organizing Tarot Art, History Tours from 2011, along with director of the Tarot Museum of Italy, Morena Poltronieri and my hubby Michael (cat wrangler & logistics whiz). After the first tour's success I studied to become a certified tour manager (that sure helps!) and our 2012 tour went even better. Our 3rd Tarot art tour of Italy, Spring 2015 was incredible! We plan to do a final Tarot history tour with our Italian friends but that has sadly been postponed, due to political uncertainty & global financial upheaval (making it a bit risky). But we enjoy so much sharing this enchanting, esoteric experience with our traveling Tarot tribe that we plan to do so as soon as things calm down enough out there...thinking 2021 at this point. Here's a sweet video created from 2015 tour highlights which gives a sense of these magical tours. While prepping for the 2015 tour, Morena, Ernesto and I collaborated on a hard copy book, just in time for the tour called, the Tarot Travel Guide of Italy. That soon went out of print so we improved and expanded on it, making both a Kindle & eBook (pdf) version. Much research went into that, plus it's full of useful info, reference maps, live links & color images, etc...so am quite proud of it. I updated it again in late 2017 (so anyone who got an earlier version can have this free pdf upgrade with receipt!)
In late 2019 Michael and I, at long last made our way back home to California (after 6 years in Chicago), nearer to family and friends. I have a tiny art studio and can usually be found blissfully lost in any number of creative pursuits. Thanks for visiting. Sending you warm vibes from here.