David Fontana (1934-2010) was a British psychologist inspired by the work of the great intellectual pioneer Carl Jung. His tarot deck has appeared in various editions from Watkins, most recently packaged as The Wisdom Seeker’s Tarot. Fontana’s purpose in creating the deck was to play-up the personal development dimension of the system and play-down the fortune-telling aspect.
Says Fontana, “My own primary interest is in the inner journey, numbered, in sequence, by the cards of the Major Arcana. With the Tarot, you can trace this journey for yourself, arriving at unique insights into your own character, your own responses to the world, and your own deepest aspirations for yourself—your destiny, in other words.”
The major arcana of The Wisdom Seeker’s Tarot more closely resemble the Tarot de Marseille than the Rider-Waite. With the pip cards, it’s the opposite. Like the Rider-Waite, the Wisdom Seeker’s pips are narrative-based and pictorial—each card tells a story.
Fontana also gives his Tarot a special focus on number symbolism. In the booklet that accompanies the deck he writes, “The fifth century Greek mathematician Pythagoras taught that the world was ‘built upon numbers.’ He devised a system to represent this based on the numbers one to nine, to which the Arabs added the zero.” Fontana then offers an explanation for each number: one as the prime source; two, the couple, thus love and fertility; three, Heaven and the Trinity; and so on.
Another difference you will find is that Fontana has switched the elements of Air and Fire. In most decks, Air corresponds with Swords and Fire with Wands, but in The Wisdom Seeker’s, they are switched.
Many reviewers have praised the deck for the beautiful illustrations created by Canadian artist, Sylive Daigneault. Says Fontana, “We kept in mind the fact that the Tarot is a work of art, and that if it is to achieve its purpose, it must engage the senses artistically as well as appeal to the emotions, the intellect and the spirit.”