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Showing 1-3 of 3 reviews(3 star). Show all reviews
on December 18, 2010
Remember a school or college professor that was smart and very serious about the subject, but still knew plenty about it? This is how I imagine Robert M. Place in class (take a look at his pictures on the back cover of his book). I have a strange feeling that he has fine humor, but not while writing about Tarot. Sometimes this book might tend to feel on the heavy side, and it is because it covers at great depth the history of Tarot. Of the three subjects that it deals with (history, symbolism, and divination) history is definitely its strength. If that is what you are looking for, this is a good book to read. The section in symbolism is good, but again because of its solemnity it is no fully engaging sometimes. The part of divination is the one that I liked the least. Mr. Place doesn't read reversal (up-side down cards), interestingly enough Arthur E. Waite the creator of the rider-waite Tarot deck, which is the one that Mr. Place uses for his examples does read reversals. In addition to this Mr. Place focuses mainly on three card readings, and there are about six ways that he describes for reading the spread. I find that this can be confusing and misleading. The two additional spreads that deal with the seven chakras and astrology seem very interesting; but again using three cards each chakra, or houses in the astrological chart, can be confusing. I am not saying that is useless, but I do think that it might need a lot of practice. It would have been beneficial to have more examples in the book. The section in divination is a very short section compared to the rest of the book.
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on October 17, 2008
I bought this book based on the glowing reviews here and I must say that I'm quite disappointed.

First off, it's true that the author does a fantastic job of describing the actual history of the Tarot. He is undoubtedly one of the most knowledgeable writers on that subject. That is why I give the book three stars instead of one. If your only interest is history, then this book is exactly what you need. The title of the book, however, is "The Tarot: History, Symbolism and DIVINATION" (emphasis mine). If your primary interest in the Tarot is its wealth of symbolic spiritual and psychological insight, then you are likely going to be quite disappointed by this. If you think that the cards should ONLY be interpreted in the way that was originally intended by the first Tarot Deck creators, then there is much here that is worth consideration. Personally, I believe that the cards, at least those of the Waite-Smith Deck, contain a LOT of valuable symbolism, much of which is simply dismissed by this author as inauthentic. SO WHAT if these other meanings were not exactly what was originally intended? That does not detract from their value!

The divination part, which comprises about half of the book, is where it falls apart terribly. His insight into the cards is incredibly shallow for someone who has studied their history so thoroughly. For most of the Minor Arcana cards he offers only five or six sentences. Also, the divination system that he presents, always using three cards in various combinations, all of which depend upon which direction the figure on the card is facing, is odd to say the least. It is original in that it is unlike any other system I have ever come across, but again it lacks substance and depth.

If you are interested in divination or even just in the RICH symbolism offered by a standard Tarot deck, you would be much better off with Rachel Pollack's "Seventy-eight Degrees of Wisdom" or with "Spiritual Tarot" by Echols, Mueller and Thomson. If history is your thing or if you just want to impress your friends with how pedantic you can be, then by all means, get this. Personally, I don't feel that knowing the history of the cards is important to understanding their symbolic or divinatory significance, and I didn't find a single fact in this book to be USEFUL to me in giving readings.
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on November 2, 2012
It's ok. Nothing phenomenal and a good beginner book. Advanced people will be left cold and dry by this one. But for those new to the art this is a good start covering the Rider Waite Smith deck well. Still I found his writing dry and lifeless so this book is definitely a matter of taste. Not much on reading with the cards more on the history and symbolism. For reading the cards I recommend Power Tarot by Phyllis Vega.
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