The Bookworm’s
Guide to Tarot
By James W. Revak


Regardie, Israel.  (1970).  The Eye in the Triangle: An Interpretation of Aleister Crowley.  St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn.  Illus.
• Republished (1982).  Las Vegas: New Falcon.  ISBN 1561840548.  xxxi + 508 pp.; illus.; softcover.  The following review is based on this version.
3 Stars Intermediate to Advanced  TG
(Biography, Magic)
The author presents a generally sympathetic, balanced portrait of his former mentor, Crowley, who employed him as his secretary from 1928 to c. 1931.  Spending little time on Crowley’s youth, Regardie traces his subject’s career in fair detail from 1898 when he entered the Order of the Golden Dawn until 1914.  He recounts both Crowley’s magical and non-magical adventures: from evoking spirits, founding the religion-philosophy Thelema, and mastering aspects of yoga to mountaineering and world travels.  To paint Crowley’s portrait, Regardie calls upon his personal memories, his expertise as both a magus and psychologist, the testimony of others, and liberal quotations from Crowley’s works.  Although he clearly admires Crowley, he describes him warts and all.  He discusses his persistent vanity, conceit, drug use, and sexual escapades.  Still, he builds a persuasive case that Crowley, despite obvious human frailties, was an original thinker, accomplished magus, and passionate mystic.  Probably the biggest drawback to this biography is the author’s decision to end abruptly in 1914, thirty-three years before Crowley’s death.

Regardie, Israel (Ed.).  (1937-1940).  The Golden Dawn: An Account of the Teachings, Rites, and Ceremonies of the Order of the Golden Dawn (4 vols.).  Chicago: Aries Press.
• Sixth Ed.  (1989).  (Published as a single volume with new subtitle).  The Golden Dawn: A Complete Course in Practical Ceremonial Magic.  St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn.  ISBN 0875426638.  xlviii + 701 pp. + index; illus.; softcover.  The following review is based on this version.
4 stars Advanced  T
This lengthy tome is widely considered the authoritative reference for the teachings, rites, and ceremonies of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, an organization of influential occultists active in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  Edited by Regardie, a former member of the order’s Stella Matutina temple, it includes introductory lectures on magic and discussions on clairvoyance, skrying, and divination.  It presents selected elaborate rituals of the “outer” and advanced “inner” orders, explains selected magical equipment and techniques (e.g., evocation, consecration of talismans, and invocation of one’s “Higher Genius”), and details the complexities of Enochian magic.  It includes Book “T” – The Tarot (q.v.), which presents in detail the order’s approach to Tarot (descriptions of cards, divinatory techniques and meanings, and its relationship to astrology and Cabala).  With regard to the collection as a whole, it contains materials appropriate to beginners, but, for the most part, it will appeal best to advanced students.  Even they will find some sections challenging.  For example, they may find that many of the ceremonies and rituals are demanding and, by today’s standards, overly complex and wordy.

Regardie, Israel.  (1938).  The Middle Pillar: A Co-Relation of the Principles of Analytical Psychology and the Elementary Techniques of Magic. .  Chicago: Aries Press.
• Second Ed. (1970).  St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn.  ISBN xxx.  front + xxx pp. + biblio., index; illus.; cover.  The following review is based on this version.
• Third Ed. (1998) .  (Chic Cicero and Sandra Tabatha Cicero, Eds.).  (Revised title: The Middle Pillar: The Balance Between Mind and Magic).  St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn.  ISBN 1567181406.  xxxiii + 251 pp. + glossary, biblio., index; illus.; sofcover.  The following review is based on this version.
This title is effectively two books (see following review for explanation); this guide has rated them separately.
Regardie: 3 Stars   Beginning to Intermediate  TG
Cicero and Cicero: 2 Stars Beginning to Intermediate  TG
(Cabala – Hermetic, Magic)
This edition of this title is effectively two books: the first by Regardie and the second by Cicero and Cicero.  To Regardie’s eloquently brief book of approximately 100 pages, “editors” Cicero and Cicero have grafted approximately 150 pages of their own, sometimes inferior material; therefore, this review will distinguish between these works.  Regardie concisely and lucidly compares the disciplines of psychology and magic, which he argues are complimentary, and briefly introduces the Hermetic Cabala, including the Tree of Life.  He explains in easy-to-understand terms how to practice basic magical techniques, including the meditative Middle Pillar exercise, and how to perform simple rituals.  Endnotes by Cicero and Cicero often shed additional light on Regardie’s text.  Next, Cicero and Cicero present their materials, which include further brief discussion of psychology and magic, instructions for simple relaxation exercises, and a brief overview of selected aspects of yoga.  They also suggest adaptations of traditional Golden Dawn rituals and techniques.  Some are inspired; however, many are not.

Regardie, Israel.  (1932).  The Tree of Life: A Study in Magic.  London: Rider.
• Second Ed. (1969). New York: Samuel Weiser.
• Republished (1972).  York Beach ME: Samuel Weiser.  ISBN 0877281491.  284 pp + appendix; illus.; softcover.  The following review is based on this version.
4 stars Intermediate  TG
This book introduces the practice of Western or Hermetic magic, especially as taught by the Golden Dawn, and, to a lesser extent, Aleister Crowley.  The author, a well-known twentieth-century magus argues that magic is an ancient spiritual discipline synonymous with theurgy and explains its underlying philosophy and worldview eloquently and lucidly.  The book includes texts and explanations for multiple rituals and types of meditation basic to magic.  It also explains Astral Light and its manipulation, evocation of one’s “Holy Guardian Angel” (i.e., mystical union with the Divine), yogic techniques for training one’s will and body, visualization, identification with the Divine by assuming “god-forms”, and goetic evocation.  Regardie, a former member of a Golden Dawn temple and student of Aleister Crowley, generally writes in a clear, easy-to-understand manner.  As valuable as this title is, some readers, however, will wish that Regardie had included detailed instructions for additional practical work.

Riley, Jana.  (1995).  Tarot Dictionary and Compendium.  York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser.  ISBN 0877288216.  xxx + 272 pp. + biblio., index; illus.; softcover.
3 Stars Beginning to Intermediate  TTT
This title is a convenient compendium of divinatory meanings assigned to each card (Major and Minor Arcana, upright orientation) by such Tarotists as Angeles Arrien, Norma Cowie, Crowley, Pamela Eakins, Gail Fairfield, Mary K. Greer, Vicki Noble, Rachel Pollack, Juliet Sharman-Burke, R. J. Stewart, Waite, Barbara G. Walker, James Wanless, and the author.  However, she does not always specify which deck each Tarotist typically references, which may confuse some readers.  Riley briefly explores a few spreads, why divination may work, and the relationship between Tarot and astrology, Cabala, and more.  She also relates the court cards to the Myers-Briggs personality type indicator.

Rosengarten, Arthur.  (2000).  Tarot and Psychology: Spectrums of Possibility.  St. Paul: Paragon House.  ISBN 1557787859.  xx + 247 pp. + appendices, biblio., index; illus.; hardcover.
3 stars Advanced  TTT
The author argues that the Tarot is an important psychological tool especially relevant to contemporary psychotherapy.  Rosengarten, a psychotherapist, maintains that the cards may be used advantageously as a tool for self-exploration to open oneself or others to new and interesting possibilities.  He discusses the cards in relationship to systems of psychotherapy, archetypes, their symbolic depth and meanings, synchronicity, and much more.  Presenting brief case studies, he describes how he has used them with patients to their benefit.  The author also reports on a pilot research project he conducted, which included Tarot readings for victims and perpetrators of domestic violence in an attempt to determine what light Tarot might shed on this problem.  Unfortunately, Rosengarten insists on finding “certain trends” in the results even though his sample is far too small to make them meaningful.  Although the text is often thought-provoking and cogent, it is sometimes unfocused and uses ambiguous jargon.


I Want More Interactive Adventures In Tarot!
Copyright © 2001 James W. Revak.  All rights reserved.  Version 2.0 (8/10/01).