on 5 September 2011
Ly de Angeles is an Australian Tarot consultant who regularly works on an international basis, and has done so for over thiry years. Similarly, she, as High Priestess of the Coven of Wildwood Gate, has coveners all over the world. Her interest in the occult began whilst she was still a young girl, and beside this book she has written a number of others, including 'When I See the Wild God'; 'Witchcraft, Theory and Practice'; 'The Quickening', and 'The Shining Isle'.
The author's intention in writing this book is to share her own teaching techniques which she acquired herself via an oral tradition. She originally put off writing this book on the basis that there are already so many Tarot books out there, but eventually felt that her time had come.
Overall, the book is divided into four parts, and further broken down into twelve units which are summed up very succinctly in the introductory section of the book. Some examples of this are - 'Unit One - Time and Multiple Reality' (p.xv); 'Unit Eight - The Seventy-Eight Cards and Their Meanings' (p.xviii); and 'Unit Twelve - Going Professional (p.xx).
In 'the book proper', de Angeles starts by looking at the nature of time, including how it is measured and some of the different perceptions of time. This is followed by the author's understanding of the Big Bang Theory, encompassing the idea that all events, past, present and future already exist. Alongside this she is asking the controversial question of whether the Tarot causes the events it predicts.
Unit Two is a very brief look at what the Tarot is and isn't, e.g. it is "NOT a tool of comfort, advice, past-life analysis, or spiritual/emotional/psychological analysis....." (p.22); "Tarot is a word to describe a technique of prophecy that works" (p.22). Following on from this, de Angeles looks at the nature of reality, and at what constitutes death, posing the question - for people who have had near-death experiences, did they ACTUALLY die and come back "in another of their bodies?" (p.30). She then gives four case studies which suggest that death is only an illusion.
The author makes an interesting statement that only that which is destined to happen, happens, followed, strangely, a couple of pages later by a seemingly contradictory statement that some predicted events can be avoided by the very virtue of having seen them coming.
Unit Five is an exploration of the importance of the Tree of Life in relation to the Tarot, stating that "the principle of understanding Tarot is based on a foundational understanding of the Tree of Life (also known as Qabbalah), and certain corresponding associations of both astrology and the four elements" (p.45).
As the author begins to move towards a presentation of all the seventy-eight cards, she gives an exposition of the Soul's Journey as expressed through the Major Arcana. She goes through each card, the first sentence of each being a succinct summing up, e.g. "The Emperor is the crossover between learning and unlearning" (p.75); "The Wheel of Fortune can very often represent 'Groundhog Day', or the tedium of routine tasks" (p.79).
The logical progression from this is to take a look at each of the seventy-eight cards of the deck - the deck shown in this case is the Llewellyn Tarot, in black and white. For each of the cards, de Angeles gives a number of ideas and interpretations including some useful very mundane meanings, and as is the case in many Tarot books, there is less information for the Minor Arcana than for the Major. At the end of this section, the author offers a somewhat quirky look at time sequences as told by the Pages, e.g. "Page of Cups and Death card - the time of Scorpio" and "Page of Pentacles and Hierophant card - the time of Taurus" (p.168).
On the subject of Tarot spreads, the author tells us that in each consultation she uses eight spreads, and describes each spread in detail, demonstrating how each one builds on the previous one. She then details two lengthy, full consultations conducted like this.
The final section of the book is about reading Tarot as a profession, in which she addresses many very important considerations, such as how to deliver bad news, keeping boundaries and knowing one's own limitations. Right at the end, De Angeles acknowledges the complexity of her book thus - "the way I have.....taught in the book form is...., from my personal perspective, a perceived limitaion, even though I realize that there are enormous and copious quantities of notes, lists and concepts" (p.254). Her final paragraph is brief but exquisite - "Tarot is like crop circles - the universe's trick; the unravelling of 'what ifs' and 'justs' into a paradox of the unanswerable. It's presence leaves us feeling touched by an awesome divinity" (p.255). There is then an Appendix which gives many interesting card combination interpretations.
This book is very different from most other Tarot books in that truly profound questions are explored, those of the nature of time, reality, death and destiny, and whilst these issues could come across as dry and scientific, the author's enthusiasm, huge curiosity and very personal style of writing makes the reader want to know more. If at times, there appears to be contradictions, this only adds to the fascination as different ways of perceiving things become apparent.
Her use of eight spreads does seem somewhat daunting and no doubt there will be those who may not have wanted such an in-depth reading, but on the other hand, many are undoubtedly happy for such a reading. The author has given the Tarot 'community' a truly fascinating book, one which is absolutely worth reading, and then some. A must for all serious students of the Tarot.
on 12 February 2013
I have studied many books on the Tarot, and to date this is the latest one. Its concepts and approach to this very wide and varied topic is quite frankly Mind- Blowing. The author incorporates the Tree-Of-Life in spreads and teachings; this is always a good indication of any one advocating this, knows their stuff! Radically it is so different from most other books, Card combinations that are so spot on, the fact that shuffling can effect the true outcome from a client, when the laying out of a mix should be done in a Star sequence makes a lot more sense. Her teachings are going to Jar purists, but in my opinion this woman really has got the Creds! The fact of the size of this review bares testament to this.
I cannot rate this book highly enough; it has taught me so much. It is a daunting task to learn 5,7,10,15,or sometimes 20 plus meanings for each card and as you know there are 78, but i can assure you it is more than worth it;this alone is pure gold, without the rest of the gems this book contains; i can only say buy, buy, buy!-John Gaunt
I remember the first time I read Robert M. Pirsig's 'Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' - how that book affected me like a benign neutron bomb, rewiring my perceptions of the world around me. Ly De Angeles' 'Tarot: Theory and Practice' has done the same thing. Her ideas, concepts and visions of Tarot - 'the God of Time' - reach to the deepest levels of the mind (and the soul).
I don't think there has ever been such a book about Tarot in existence before - and we owe a great debt to the author for taking on a challenge which she had always avoided in the past. It is possibly her masterpiece -brilliant, challenging, wise, affecting, mind altering.
Even those who could not care less about Tarot as a divinatory system, as a conduit for prophecy, would learn a great deal about the universe and its workings from this extraordinary teacher.
Those who do care might be offended or even totally outraged at De Angeles' percieved 'audacities' - taking their cosy 'territory' and opening it up to profound and vivid speculations. This is no 'sweetie wifie' volume or flat earth Orthodox primer. It is fresh, exciting and - a great bonus - highly readable. Ms De Angeles' humanity and compassion is there upon every page.
It is an intense book, and worth taking in relective stages to read. But the journey is perhaps one of the most valuable you could ever make.
on 16 April 2009
And maybe somewhat opportunistic. The book uses the Llewellyn deck, but rarely makes any reference to the fact - the only reference I can find on a quick scan is in the overview of the Tarot deck on the page for The Horned One. The significance of this is that the Llewellyn deck's major arcana are thoroughly based in Welsh tradition and mythology. It feels as though the publishers foisted the deck (published the previous year to this book) upon the book: the Llewellyn deck has many important details that are completely ignored by the book.
In the introduction, the author says that she has been reading Tarot for thirty years and teaching for twenty years and that until now she saw no reason to add to the plethora of Tarot books. I'm afraid this book feels like she has simply published her notebook without trying to make it into a coherent book. She jumps from metaphysical theory to personal anecdote in less time than it takes to shuffle a deck.
Although she relies on it heavily, she gives little explanation of the Tree of Life, and especially no explanation of why she numbers the sephiroth in reverse, a concept I`ve never before come across. A third of the book is taken up with her overview of the cards, sometimes just a couple of lines of text recycling what a Little White Book might say, accompanied by a monochrome photograph of the card. Unfortunately, the Llewellyn deck doesn't easily lend itself to monochrome representation: the result is that an awful lot of detail is lost.
I've only read this book once - I intend to put it to one side and return to it in a few months' or a year's time - but I can honestly say that there are far better books available.