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Tarot and the Journey of the Hero Paperback – 1 Jun 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Red Wheel/Weiser (1 Jun 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1578631173
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578631179
  • Product Dimensions: 25.5 x 17.9 x 1.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 901,126 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


This illustrated book provides an insightful approach to the 22 cards of the major arcana.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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the tarot is an oracle that has been used since the 16th century. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
everything is a matter of opinion, especially with the Tarot, but in my opinion the scholarship is superficial and the opinions of the author - his... dubious and superficial as a text, assuming the reader want's to be told, not an exploration of the journey. Of course, these are my opinions - caveat emptor.
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Format: Paperback
This is by no way a "misleading" book as a previous reviewer called it, giving the impression that it is a failure no matter how you consider it, while he is only disappointed by Mr. Banzhaf's Jungian interpretation of the cards. Of course, as for everything else, it depends on what you are expecting from tarots, or from books on them. If you are only into the divination,the "how to do,how to read" thing, then this book may not be what you need, since it explains next to nothing about that; but if you are also interested in the mythological, in_depth interpretation of the 22 major Arcana, with a clear jungian turn, this is really an excellent book. Then, why should we separate philosophy from practice? I find my card reading only improved and by no means hindered by the hints I got from this work, which deepened my own intuition of the cards themselves. It's only my point of view, but I find myself really satisfied with this work and do recommend it.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Lerrocco on 16 Oct 2008
Format: Paperback
I am amazed that this guy makes a living selling Tarot Books. Avoid, it is misleading at best. I would suggest reading Don Milo Duquette to get an understanding of the Tarot Journey.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Peter Rouse on 22 July 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was lent to me and having read it I purchased my own copy which I immediately lent on to a friend (I must ask for it back!).
The author has such a tender grasp of the human condition and the oft repeating cycle of learning that we all go through at our own pace and with more or less consciousness.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 14 reviews
40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
An Amazing Book - Diverse, In Depth, yet Accessible 6 Jan 2001
By K S - Published on
Format: Paperback
I'm by no means a Tarot, psychology or any other sort of scholar. What I am is a person who has been deeply fascinated by the place of enlightment found at the intersection of Tarot, psychology, and mythology. I itch to relate the Hero myth to Jung, Jung to Tarot, Tarot to the Hero Myth.
This book satisfactorily scratched all those itches, and more. It is a pleasure to read visually and in terms of the thought it provokes. I don't believe anyone could walk away from reading this book without having been enriched in many ways. Its diversity in the cultural, mythological, philosophical, and artistic traditions upon which it draws is enormous. This book could make a fine basis for teaching a university course in a number of disciplines.
I will leave you, gentle Amazon reader, to the wisdom of other reviewers, but I urge your consideration of this book. I believe you will not be sorry.
37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
Our Life Journey through the Tarot Archetypes 23 July 2000
By Geraldine Amaral - Published on
Format: Paperback
Tarot and the Journey of the Hero By Hajo Banzhaf Reviewed by Geraldine Amaral
If you like archetypal Tarot that explores the universal energies operating in the Tarot images, then you will probably love this book. Loaded with beautiful color pictures and images, it is well-organized, clearly written, logical. Its premise is that the hero's journey is an allegory for our human life path and that in the Tarot, the hero is the Fool. There is a chapter for each Major Arcana card that contains two key elements. The first is a detailed description and discussion of the card that is nicely filled with little tidbits of information on specific details of the card as well as, at times, some pretty deep discussion about the details and imagery. The second section, at the end of each chapter is a box that contains keywords for each Major card)." These are pithy little summaries of various aspect of the archetype. For example, keywords for the Fool are:
Archetype: The child, the naïve simpleton Task: Trying out new things without any bias, playful learning Goal: Joy in life, playfully gathering experience Risk: Awkwardness, confusion, carelessness, foolishness Feeling in Life: adventurous, curiosity, sure instincts, astonished openness, carefree joy, curiosity, the desire to try things out.
Personally, I love this little summation. These keywords are excellent guideposts for understanding the essence of the archetypes and taking their meaning to a deeper level. These are clear, short synonyms for the archetype. I particularly like the "risk" concept that is provided along with the regular archetypal meaning. I liken the risk that Banzhaf provides to the negative pole of the archetype and/or the meaning of the card should it appear in a reading reversed. When I am teaching my classes on the Tarot, I spend a lot of time explaining that an archetype has both a positive and negative pole. In this convenient summary box, we have a quick reference for understanding, at the very least, the basics of this positive pole (the archetype) and the negative pole (the risk). One of my favorites of these is the "risk" for the magician: "megalomania, fantasies of omnipotence, charlatanry." This is very clear and well-done.
There is also a very good foldout page (in color) that delineates the "journey of the hero" with the Fool, of course as the hero, starting out on his journey. Banzhaf divides the journey into three main components: childhood (gradual development of consciousness); maturation (developing the ego and overcoming the ego); and Initiation(experience of self of self-development). Specific components of the journey are the various Major Arcana archetypes, some of which, for Banzhaf, include the "helpful animal (Strength), the departure (The Chariot), the earthly parents (Empress and Emperor), one's true name (the Hermit)" and so on. These are really well done. This foldout chart, his terminology of the path, though I've seen similar ideas, allows for a nice "Big Picture" view of the Tarot's Major Arcana. This is our journey and we are reminded of the common bond of the experiences and patterns that we all share. To see our personal story, portrayed in its various developmental phases is validating, inspiring, and even healing. Banzhaf's overview is beautifully and clearly done.
I also really like how Banzhaf reveals details about specific symbols, without getting bogged down or using explanations that are so esoteric and abstract you fell like saying "what did you just say?" Banzhaf uses down-to-earth and concrete explanations. For example, regarding the Chariot, he says:
"The crown of the charioteer is adorned with an octagonal star that--like the number eight-symbolizes the connection with higher things. On the other hand, the square on his chest-corresponding with the number four-represent earthly reality." He provides an explanation of the symbolic hand gesture of the Heirophant, saying that the "extended fingers stand for the visible world . . .while the two bent fingers represent the invisible (what is concealed and the transcendent." There are many more fine examples of clear explanation of specific details on the cards: the pomegranate on the Empress garment, the Venus sign on her throne, an explanation of the Emperor's ankh and many more. I suppose someone versed in Tarot should know all these, but I personally found many of these little details, as explained by Banzhaf, quite enlightening and answered questions and concerns that I had had for some time about various details on the cards.
I was also very impressed with the meanings and insights Banzhaf demonstrated such as the connection between Justice and the Emperor or the Empress and the Lovers. Such insights are very thought-provoking and more than once during the course of reading this book, I thought "Whoa, now that's really brilliant. I NEVER saw that connection before."
Certainly the concise archetypal summaries will appeal to beginning students of the Tarot since it is so pithy and clear. Tarot and the Journey of the Hero will appeal to Jungian Tarot enthusiasts for its focus on the archetypal energetic patterns. And because it is so well-researched, with references to art, mythology, legends, Christianity and more, it can really be for serious students of the Tarot who like to hear the same ideas in a fresh and clear way as well as some astonishing insights. For those who do want to travel deeper into the archetype of each card, who want to be given lots of new perspectives, wonderful insights, I can't recommend this book enough. I personally found it to be very nurturing, especially the chapter on the Hermit, learning "One's True Name." Bottom line: I am very glad I have this book in my Tarot collection.
32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
The gate is narrow and the way is hard.... 9 Mar 2002
By Dianne Foster - Published on
Format: Paperback
If you know something about the Tarot cards, you may find TAROT AND THE JOURNEY OF THE HERO by Hajo Banzhaf contains familiar material as he agrees with much of what has been written elsewhere by Joseph Campbell and other experts. However, Banzhaf is extremely articulate, his writing clearly stated and beautifully illustrated, and his exploration of the links between the arcane language of the ancients and modern Jungian psychology rich and comprehensive.
If you are not familiar with the Tarot cards, Banzhaf's book is a good place to begin, especially if you have an interest Western literature, music, and/or the visual arts -- including Medieval and Renaissance paintings, German philosophy, and films by the Fargo Brothers such as "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?"
Banzhaf is a very educated man who has studied religious and/or mythological tales and/or classical stories and appears to have an in-depth knowledge of the religious and/or philosophical nature of humans. He not only interprets key myths and tales, he explains the content of artworks from ancient India, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Italy, and Medieval Europe used to illustrate his text.
Banzhaf uses the Waite and Marseilles decks to illustrate each of the Major Arcana. Although he appreciates much of the content of the Waite deck, he challenges some of the changes Waite made relative to older decks. Banzhaf eschews discussion of the Minor Arcana suggesting these cards are more recent and may be nothing more than playing cards or cards for fortune telling. On the other hand, he views the 22 cards of Major Arcana (the Fool and his 21 stations) as the organizing principle for the classic tale of the hero -- whether Moses or Parzifal, Galahad or Ra, Gilgamesh or Jesus -- and the core story of every human life.
Banzhaf lays out the cards of the Major Aracana sequentially and divides the layout into two major paths -- the path of the daytime sun (active) and the path of the nighttime moon (passive). He suggests that each soul must follow this path to reach paradise, heaven or the spritual world however it is defined. The daytime path has to do with becoming EGO, the worldly individual. The nighttime path is more difficlut and many become snared like the hanged man, slowly twisting in the wind. The nightime path involves the spiritual life where the gate is narrow and the way is hard.
This is a beautiful book, and although I bought the paperback, I plan to purchase the hardcover since I will be referring to the book again..and again. As Banzhaf says, "If we look to the path as a spiral, that gradually leads us to what is Highest, then each turn on this spriral corresponds to one hero's journey. Seen in this manner, as long as we are traveling, we will return to all twenty-one stations over and over, yet--at least we hope--this will always be on a somewhat higher level. At the uppermost point of the path, but really only there, does this last card mean the unity of all things."
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
A lucid contemplation on the Path of the Hero 22 Nov 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is a very useful book. For one, Banzhaf traces the "hero's" progress consecutively from one tarot card to the next and frames his hero's progress according to an understood direction of enlightenment. Each card is viewed as evolutionary stages that may potentially yield insight into our current spiritual, material or social placement and well-being. What I find insightful and comprehensive about Banzhaf's schema is that Banzhaf explains the "hero's" path through the use of many different religions, myths and motifs, which serve to encompass a broad perspective on what enlightenment means. This is no small feat, since the Waite deck, which Banzhaf prominently displays (as on the front cover), is very Judea-Christian. This broadening of the hero's journey, to encompass a universal experience, manages to make the heroes journey a universal journey on becoming oneself; and it therefore functions well in a number of spiritual and religious frameworks.
Banzhaf-as is characteristic of him-uses brilliantly practical language. His layout is intelligent and well presented. Each tarot card is summarized in a chart, which appears at the end of each essay, and which has the following layout: Title: Keywords for (the tarot card's name goes here); Categories: Archetype, Task, Goal, Risk, and Feeling in life. As you can see, Banzhaf's focus is always lucid and balanced.
I do wish, however, that Banzhaf had extended his approach to encompass the minor arcana, too. In the minor arcana there is also a feeling of progression, which is not quite so clean and neat as in the major arcana. The minor arcana exposes the many side paths and loopholes, which the hero will meet and be challenged with. One can say, that they express the minute details of the hero's' experience, which I feel could have been quite innovatively placed in this hero's journey. However, my comment is not a criticism. Rather, it is a suggestion, which any tarot reader can meditate on. Since, Banzhaf's has the gift of lucidity and practical focus, I just wish that he had considered a broader and more complex schema.
Overall, I think this book is a well-written addition to any tarot card reader's library, and I do not think that it is too difficult for a beginner. In fact, this book has the uncanny ability to grow with you as you progress in your tarot card understanding, which mimics the "hero's" own growth. Of course, this is whole point. You will come to understand that you are the hero, and that both your paths are alike.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
My Favorite Book on Tarot after 10 Years of Tarot Study 2 Mar 2009
By billjv - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While I won't spend a lot of time rehashing what others have said regarding how wonderful this book is, I will say that I have devoted the past 10 years to serious Tarot study, and have a Tarot library of over 40 - 50 titles now. This was one of the first books I ever bought, and I found it in a discount bin for $5. It remains my favorite book on Tarot even through all of the others. The reason is because it is so full of great information regarding the Journey of the Hero - the journey of life that we all go through, over and over throughout our lives in different ways.

You can read this book over and over again and always - always - get something new out of it. The illustrations and pictures are beautiful, and my only wish is that I could get this book in a beautifully bound hardcover edition with large pages and big illustrations. You would not go wrong to have this as one of your only books on Tarot, although Mr. Banzhaf is a very good author and has graced us with many other titles as well. Having said that, and having many other of his works, this one is still my favorite, no question.
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