Top positive review
116 people found this helpful
an instant classic
on April 10, 2005
This is, without a doubt, one of the best books on Tarot that I've read in a long time. It's also a much-needed work in light of prevalent Tarot thought.
Straight up: I find it more than a little amazing that, after an abundance of time, discussion, and scholarship, some very common myths about Tarot still prevail. Haven't we gotten over the idea that Tarot came from the gypsies, or that it originated in Egypt as a pictoral representation of Thoth's teachings? These Tarot myths remain common today (and are often perpetuated by ill-informed authors). Hopefully, this book will help put them to rest. Place convincingly disproves these theories, but (and this is important) carefully notes what is valid and worthwhile about the occultists' perspective.
The real cream of this book comes not from the debunking (after all, Place is not the first author to set the record straight), but in his analysis of what Tarot truly is. This book is the only book available today that explores Tarot as it was intended by its creators, based on the influences and symbolism prevalent at the time of its creation. As someone long steeped in (and quite fond of) occult/Golden Dawn style Tarot practices, these insights are new and exciting approaches to Tarot. I get to be a beginner all over again! For devoted Tarot nerds like me, this is very good news.
Some folks might be put off by Place's style -- he doesn't allow much room for disagreements. Indeed, ordinarily such confidence would get up my nose, too. But his arguments are so convincing, and presented with none of the customary arrogance of many with strong opinions on magical topics, that I'm inclined to overlook that. His sincerity and love of his subject shine through every step of the way.
Place rounds out the book with solid sections on meanings and divination. He examines the Waite-Smith deck for his meanings section, drawing strong interpretations from the artwork (you might learn an interesting fact or two about the symbolism employed by Waite & Pixie here). His approach to divination is his alone, and is quite liberating in its use of symbols, intuition and card placement rather than strict interpretations of memorized meanings. He provides plenty of examples to make sure that you get the gist of his techniques.
All in all, this is a sane, thoughtful, and (most importantly) useful approach to Tarot. It is now firmly on my short list of most recommended Tarot books, for beginners and advanced alike. Not to be missed.
I suppose I sound like I'm gushing, here, but the book really is that good!