Gad, Irene. (1994). Tarot and Individuation: Correspondences with Cabala and Alchemy. York Beach, ME: Nicolas-Hays. ISBN 0892540265. xxxvii + 327 pp. + extensive appendices, biblio., index; illus.; softcover.
The author introduces the reader to selected basic concepts of Tarot, the Hermetic Cabala, Alchemy and, to a lesser extent, Astrology. However, the heart of her book comprises a generally insightful exploration of correspondences between these metaphysical systems from esoteric and pschological perspectives. Calling upon her experience as a Jungian psychoanalyst and knowledge of Western Esotericism or Occultism, she analyzes each Major Arcanum in depth. She explores their themes, associations, and symbolic language. However, she only occasionally discusses her subject from an historical perspective; when she does, she makes significant errors. She also rarely references the copious traditional Cabalistic literature. Finally, Gad very briefly explains how to use the cards for divination and includes a few spreads. The book addresses the Major Arcana only.
Gettings, Fred. (1973). The Book of Tarot. London: Triune Books. ISBN 0856740241. 273 pp. + biblio.; illus.; hardcover.
Beginning to Intermediate TTT
The bulk of this book is devoted to discussing the Major Arcana (especially those of the Tarot de Marseille) in fair detail from occult, historical, cultural, and other perspectives. Although some of the author’s insights are sound, many are not. His interpretation of cards in light of basic geometry, planetary sigils, and similar constructs is particularly weak. To a much lesser extent the author discusses divination by Tarot and suggests brief divinatory meanings for all of the cards (Major and Minor Arcana, upright orientation) and a couple of layouts. His discussion of Tarot history is skimpy, dated, and sometimes plagued by significant misconceptions. On the other hand, the many illustrations from decks, artworks, and other sources, are a strength of this large-format book.
Giles, Cynthia. (1992). The Tarot: History, Mystery and Lore. New York: Paragon House.Grand Orient. See A.E. Waite’s A Manual of Cartomancy and Occult Divination.
• Republished. (1994). New York: Simon & Schuster, xvi + 196 pp. + biblio., index; illus.; softcover. The following review is based on this version.
Beginning to Intermediate TTT
The author provides a valuable, up-to-date, and generally objective overview of Tarot history, including its origins as a card game, growth as an expression of Occultism or Western Esotericism, and recent developments. The title also briefly discusses lessons and wisdom which Tarot may offer and relates the cards to magic, Cabala, Eastern philosophy and relgion, feminism, shamanism, and, to a lesser extent, divination. Giles suggests practical do-it-yourself projects to increase your understanding of the cards (e.g., Tarot notebooks, meditation, story-telling, etc.). She even explores quantum physics in a generally easy-to-understand manner to explain why the cards may work; however, some readers will find her theories downright silly. Her writing is clear and direct, and she has a knack for presenting difficult ideas so that the attentive reader can easily grasp them. The book boasts a valuable bibliography, which includes synopses of numerous titles. Illustrations are from a variety of decks and other sources.
Gray, Eden. (1970). A Complete Guide to the Tarot. (1970). New York: Crown.
• Republished. (1970). New York: Bantam. 229 pp. + biblio., index; illus.; softcover. The following review is based on this version.
This is the second of three similar books by Gray, which helped to popularize Tarot in the United States beginning in the 1960s. The author provides brief, generally clear divinatory meanings for each card (Major and Minor Arcana, upright and reversed) and directions for a few of spreads. She also briefly explores the relationship between Tarot and meditation, numerology, Cabala, and astrololgy. However, her divinatory meanings are skimpy and sometimes dated. The book is also weak with regard to traditional Western Esotericism or Occultism. Each card is illustrated from a Rider-Waite-Smith deck.
Gray, Eden. (1970). Mastering the Tarot: Basic Lessons in an Ancient, Mystic Art. (1970). Crown.
• Republished. (1973). New York: New American Library. 209 pp. + biblio., index; illus.; softcover. The following review is based on this version.
This is the third of three similar books by Gray, which helped to popularize Tarot in the United States beginning in the 1960s. The author provides brief, generally clear divinatory meanings for each card (Major and Minor Arcana, upright and reversed) and directions for a few of spreads. However, her divinatory meanings are skimpy and sometimes dated. In addition, the book is very weak with regard to traditional Western Esotericism or Occultism. Each card is illustrated from a Rider-Waite-Smith deck.
Gray, Eden. (1960). The Tarot Revealed: A Modern Guide to Reading the Tarot Cards. (1960). Inspiration House.
• Republished. (1969). New York: New American Library. iii + 230 pp. + glossary; illus.; softcover. The following review is based on this version.
This is the first of three similar books by Gray, which helped to popularize Tarot in the United States beginning in the 1960s. The author provides brief, generally clear divinatory meanings for each card (Major and Minor Arcana, upright and reversed) and directions for a couple of spreads. However, her divinatory meanings are skimpy and sometimes dated. In addition, the book is very weak with regard to traditional Western Esotericism or Occultism. Each card is illustrated from a Rider-Waite-Smith deck.
Greer, Mary. (1984). Tarot for Your Self: A Workbook for Personal Transformation. North Hollywood: Newcastle. xiii + 202 pp. + appendices, biblio., index; illus.; softcover.
Beginning to Intermediate TTT
This popular title, which emphasizes an intuitive or meditative approach to Tarot, suggests a wide variety of ways to begin quickly to explore the cards. Users report that the author presents engaging methods and practical tips to help the new Tarotist to begin to learn how to interpret cards and apply them to such areas of life as working with emotions, healing, and creativity. She also discusses some moderately advanced topics, including a procedure she calls “permutations” wherein one places selected cards into a layout repeatedly but in different positions each time. The author’s writing is clear, direct, and easy to understand. On the other hand, some readers may find some of her exercises silly or superficial. In addition, her approach is weak with regard to traditional Occultism or Western Esotericism. Finally, the brief section devoted to history is riddled with errors.
Greer, Mary K.. (1995). Women of the Golden Dawn: Rebels and Priestesses. Rochester, Vermont: Park Street Press. ISBN 0892816074. xxi + 400 pp. + biblio., index; illus.; sofcover.
Intermediate to Advanced T
In this absorbing, well researched and documented book, the author brings to life four fascinating women: Maud Gonne, Moina Bergson Mathers, Annie Horniman, and Florence Farr, who were practicing magi in the Golden Dawn (an order of influential occultists active in the late nineeenth and early twentieth centuries). Gonne was a passionate Irish political activist; and Mathers, an artist and the fiercely loyal wife of a co-founder of the order. Farr, the celebrated British actress, was a major leader in the order during its stormiest period when dissension and scandal rocked it. The author includes detailed records and commentary on four Tarot readings conducted by Horniman, which led her to co-found the renowned Abbey Theater in Dublin. Greer also discusses in detail selected major male figures of the Golden Dawn, especially the Irish poet Yeats and Mathers’ husband, S. L. MacGregor Mathers, against whose autocratic leadership, Farr and many other members of the Golden Dawn rebelled. Appendices include a brief biographical sketch of Pamela Colman Smith, a member of the order best remembered for drawing the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot.
Hanegraaf, Wouter J.. (1996). New Age Religion and Western Culture: Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular Though. Leiden: E.J Brill.
• Republished (1998). Albany, New York: State University of New York Press. ISBN 0791438546. xiii + 523 pp. + appendix, biblio., indexes; softcover. The following review is based on this version.
(Occultism or Western Esotericism, Religion and Spirituality – General)
In this academic, well-documented study the author methodically explores multiple significant aspects of what he terms New Age religion from a historical perspective. Referencing numerous books by New Age authors, he begins by describing major trends, viz., channeling, healing and personal growth, New Age science, and Neopaganism. He continues with an exploration of noteworthy themes, viz., the nature of reality, the “Meta-Empirical” (i.e., the Divine), mind, death and survival, good and evil, “visions of the past” (e.g., Atlantis), the Piscean Age, and the Aquarian (or New) Age. He traces the history of the New Age from its roots in traditional Western Esotericism, through modern times, including the impact of Romanticism, Occultism, comparative religion, Eastern religion and philosophy, psychology, and secularism. Among his persuasive findings, he concludes that “all New Age religion is characterized by the fact that it expresses its criticism of modern western culture by presenting alternatives derived from a secularized esotericism.” Readers who are seeking an appraisal of the truth or worth of New Age beliefs may be disappointed; the author declines to address these issues.
Hoeller, Stephan A. (1975). The Royal Road: A Manual of Kabalistic Meditations on the Tarot. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House. ISBN 0835604659. xx + 119 pp. + appendix; illus.; softcover.
This title briefly introduces ways to explore Tarot from a Cabalistic perspective (with special emphasis on the Major Arcana). The author relates the cards to the Hebrew alphabet and Tree of Life, including its Sephiroth and Paths. He also succinctly discusses how to use astral travel to explore Tarot. Hoeller briefly describes the symbolism of each Major Arcanum (illustrated from a Wider-Waite-Smith deck), and includes a brief meditation on each. The author’s writing is lucid; however, his content is often sketchy and simplistic.
Howe, Ellic. (1972). The Magicians of the Golden Dawn: A Documentary History of a Magical Order 1887-1923. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
• Republished (1978). York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser. ISBN 0877283699. xxviii + 285 pp. + appendices, index; illus.; softcover. The following review is based on this version.
Intermediate to Advanced TG
This title presents a detailed history of the influential magical order of the Golden Dawn, liberally quoting from primary sources, including many heretofore unpublished. The author painstakingly documents the complex inner workings of the organization from its origins under the leadership of S.L. MacGregor Mathers, W. Wynn Westcott, and William Robert Woodman in 1888. He documents how the order was administered, the scandal and schism which rocked it during the period 1900-1904, and, finally, splinter groups and successor organizations which continued through the 1920s. The author carefully examines the use of forged documents by some leaders to establish a false legitimacy and ancient lineage for the order and concludes that Westcott was the leading perpetrator. The book, in a significant weakness, fails to present even a modest account of members’ most positive and meaningful accomplishment: the creation and application of an elaborate system of magic. The book lacks a bibliography; however, the authors documents his sources well in the text and footnotes.
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