Monday, November 19, 2007

Book Review

by John M Morris, Ph.D.

Robin Wood The Robin Wood Tarot: The Book. Dearborn (MI): A Livingtree Book, 1998. 248 pp, n.p.

After nearly ten years, this remains my favorite introduction to the tarot. A very personal account of the history and use of the tarot cards, it provides a personal look at the way in which Robin created each of the 78 beautiful cards that make up her deck.

Somehow, I'd never got around to reading the detailed history of the tarot, or some of the interpretations of each of the cards, so that this has been a week of discovery for me. And it's been exciting. First, we learn something of the history of these mysterious cards, and then we learn that historical accounts of the tarot are mostly fictions, made up by a series of authors who were more interested in their own fantacies than in historical research.

But then we find that it doesn't really matter. What matters is the meanings that you as a reader or a client find in the strange pictures on the cards. But Robin doesn't spend her time speculating on these meanings. Instead, she tells us about her own inspirations that have led to each of the illustrations. For example, the Magician is a smiling man, strong and capable, with symbols of his strength and craft. Your job as a reader is to find how those symbols apply to your client's problems, and how he or she can build decisions for a meaningful life.

I have the feeling that reading have been too tightly tied to the Rider-Waite-Smith decks, which are far too popular, but nevertheless have become standard. I'd hope that you'll use Robin's wonderful deck for at least some of your readings. You may find it, as I did, far more full of insights than any of the other decks you may find.

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