Friday, July 1, 2011

Book Review: Tarot Wisdom: Spiritual Teachings and Deeper Meanings by Rachel Pollack

Rachel Pollack's Tarot Wisdom: Spiritual Teachings and Deeper MeaningsRachel Pollack's Tarot Wisdom: Spiritual Teachings and Deeper Meanings by Rachel Pollack

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Tarot Wisdom: Spiritual Teachings and Deeper Meanings
Rachel Pollack
Llewellyn, 2008
ISBN-13: 978-0-7387-1309-0
By John Marani, CPTR

Rachel Pollack’s Tarot Wisdom is a book that I was incredibly interested in reading as soon as I heard of its existence. One of Pollack’s earlier works, Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom, is a personal favorite of mine, and so I was excited to see this new work, but at the same time, I was afraid to read it.

I realized soon after I opened Tarot Wisdom why I had been concerned about reading it. For me, Seventy-Eight Degrees is a book that I hold in such high regard that I was nervous that it wouldn’t live up to the reputation of its predecessor. Thankfully, I was wrong: Tarot Wisdom is an updated version of Seventy-Eight Degrees and is every bit as valid.

In the Introduction, Pollack states that she has provided “a detailed interpretation of the entire deck, card by card”. Pollack delivers what she promises the reader in spades. Each of the cards is not only explained, but the imagery and meanings from many different decks are compared. In looking over these meanings, I was able to pick out another book for my tarot bookcase, Mystical Origins of the Tarot by Paul Huson, which is liberally cited in Pollack’s work.

Pollack goes beyond the standard meaning lists that grace many tarot books and links her narratives on each card to different spiritual teachings. As I read through the book I found myself broadening my spiritual horizons; the author draws from many different spiritual traditions to illustrate the underlying archetype of each card.

One of my favorite parts of this book was the addition of one or more tarot spreads for each of the major arcana cards, which explore in depth the major theme of the card. This makes it easier for a tarot student to work with one card at a time on a very deep level.

The minor arcana cards and the court cards have smaller descriptions--usually one page--compared to the major arcana descriptions, which go on for several pages. This precedent was set in Seventy-Eight Degrees, but I was really hoping to see more information on the minor arcana overall. Nevertheless, even seasoned tarot veterans should be able to find something thought-provoking in each description of each and every card.

The book ends with a short section on tarot readings and an extensive bibliography, but you’ll want to spend your time on the card descriptions. I found myself comparing the meaning descriptions from the different little white books of each tarot deck, and I was truly fascinated by it.

If you are serious about your continued study of the cards, you’ll want to have Tarot Wisdom at your fingertips. I found that because of the dense layers of meaning of each card that Pollack evokes, I had to read this book one small piece at a time and really assimilate what I was learning. So just take your time and enjoy.

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