Thursday, 12 March 2015
Review | Holistic Tarot | Benebell Wen
Literally, it is the size of a house brick and runs to 845 pages - and that's NOT including 27 pages of index.
Metaphorically, the Tarot landscape that it covers extends as far as the eye can see and THEN round some corners! It is epic in its scope, in the true sense of the word.
The strap line for this book is 'An Integrative Approach to Using Tarot for Personal Growth'
Quite a claim!
But where to start?!
I've decided to focus on the Court card information in the book, because that's what I'm all about here. But I'll also be referring to other parts of the book to give you as rounded a picture as I can without actually making the review the same length as the book!
My recommendation for people who are struggling with the Court Cards is Mary K Greer's work 'Understanding The Tarot Court', so how does Benebell's work compare? Pretty darned well, akshully...
There are 26 pages devoted to working with Court Cards, plus 32 pages in the 'Cyclopedia of Card Meanings' which tells how how to interpret Tarot cards.
Let's take a look at the entries in that Cyclopedia.
Each card is illustrated (as is the entire book) by b&w Rider Waite Smith images and clearly labelled with their elemental associations. Keywords are provided for each Court - eg Page of Swords is : ambitious, judicious and communicative. There are also some reversed meanings provided.
However, in the book she does explore working with the Marseille Tarot and the Thoth, so this should not be limted to RWS fans.
The personality of each Court is then deftly outlined with some nice touches - eg Queen of Swords in French playing card tradition is Athena and can thus be linked with Athena-like qualities. Benebell also offers insights into some of the symbols in each court - eg the heart on the reins of the Knight of Swords horse. Plus, help is given if there are 2, 3 or 4 of a court rank in a spread.
There is also a short section on reversed interpretations for each card.
Now, we move on to the 26 pages devoted to working with the Courts which is altogether meatier and where Benebell explores the Cyclopedia information in much greater depth.
There are charts of physical attributes, personality traits, age indications, Astrological attributions...multiple courts in spreads, character keywords, elemental associations, left/right symbolism ... all interspersed with case studies (actual and hypothetical) to show how to use the information. All beautifully easy to read and understand.
Frankly, I think my court card blog is redundant now!
The rest of the book is equally comprehensive. It's as though Benebell has taken EVERYTHING Tarot and managed to cram it into a book. More importantly it's not a huge dislocated work - it's really well laid out and you could read it from beginning to end (if you've got a spare couple of months lol!) or just dip in and out when you have a specific question (remember, there is a huge index to help you!).
The book covers spreads, ethics (including inappropriate questions), Tarot and Love, shuffling, associations for the suits, journalling. There is NOTHING left out of this book! Believe me, I tested it:
What about the Opening of The Key spread? It's there, plus the other operations too.
Does she mention the Mamluk playing cards? Yup
What about devising a spread? Yep And plenty more besides!
Astrology? Of course!
Legal beagle stuff? Yes - how to work as a professional Tarotist in the US and keep yourself on the right side of the law (Benebell is an attorney!); it's all there. And all useful, even to us in the UK.
But this isn't some rehash of the World's Most Popular Tarot Books into one ginormous reference book, there is plenty of Benebell's personality (insights from her Eastern heritage) and her own professional input - pages of templates for readers to make use of - from 'records of readings' to 'morning routine sheet', card profile templates and loads of source notes for the discerning reader to explore :-D
Now -is it an integrative approach to using tarot for personal growth as the strap line claims?
It is filled with Tarot knowledge and insight, that's for sure. Will it help readers excavate their own interior worlds? Yes, absolutely.
But I feel that Tarot is what it is: and yes, that's a marvellous tool for self-exploration. But it is also for giving readings, whatever those readings might entail. And the information in the book WILL help you give excellent readings, even if you are not into using Tarot to explore your own inner life :)
My advice? Clear a space and buy a copy! Once you've got this, you've pretty much got everything you need to be a good, practical Tarotist!
Want to buy it?! You can click straight through on this link and voila! AND you also help me keep the wolf from the door :-D
Holistic Tarot: An Integrative Approach to Using Tarot for Personal Growth
Published by North Atlantic Books