If you are a beginner, then you MUST buy this definitive book on the Tarot. It encompasses every area of the Tarot, from it's early history, it's integral connections with the Kabbalah, explanations of the individual cards, and even practise spreads. The major factor that makes this book superior is that the illustrations are superb. Every page is adorned with cards from every Tarot pack imaginable, making the book a pleasure to simply look at, as well as being a superlative read. The added bonus is that you can view the various designs and choose one that suits you the most. It even comes with a potted history of every type of deck, ranging from the Golden Dawn cards up until the most modern interpretations.
This book comes across rather 'coffee tablish'. Not a term I would normally use as praise, but so much stuff out there is heavy going from page 1. This offers a gentle introduction to the world of tarot in full colour with heaps of interesting history and non-history. Ms Pollack is not shy of a good deal of debunking whilst still introducing the reader to a large quantity of cross references and interesting tangents. I love it - looks nice too! Now then, back to those card definitions in the other books - *sigh*.
Authoritative and practical, THE COMPLETE ILLUSTRATED GUIDE TO TAROT is the ultimate in comprehensive one-volume reference works, covering every aspect of the subject with clear text, fascinating charts, and fabulous visuals.
Lavishly illustrated in colour throughout, this invaluable sourcebook provides the complete guide to the Tarot, including information on:
# Its origins, history, and structure # How to do a Tarot reading. # The symbolism of the cards # Tarot and dream interpretation # Astrology and numerology in the Tarot # Step-by-step advice # Tarot mandalas for meditation
Rachel Pollack has been a scholar of the Tarot for many years and is a leading authority on the subject. She has written numerous books, both non-fiction and fiction, on the Tarot, and has designed her own deck, 'Shining Woman Tarot'. Her work has been translated into several languages and she has world-wide recognition. The author's intention in writing this book is clearly expressed in the sub-title - 'How to Unlock the Secrets of the Tarot' - a seductive promise of things to come in the pages of the book. The implication of the title - 'Complete Illustrated Guide' - is that this is the one and only book that any student of the Tarot will need, although it is unlikely that the reader is intended to take it literally. Pollack offers an enormous amount of information, including a basic introduction to the Tarot, along with several theories about it's origins, in particular, it's link with the Kabbalah, and astrology. In addition, she writes about the well-known aspects such as the numbers, court cards, the elemental correspondencies of the Minor Arcana, plus other less-written-about elements, e.g. 'the Tarot Garden' and 'the Tarot Bestiary'. Moving on from that, Pollack writes about the cards themselves, but in a very different way than many other writers have done. The journey through the Major Arcana is broken down into titled sections, e.g. 'Two Tarot Women' (the High Priestess and the Empress), 'Vision and Honesty' (the Wheel of Fortune and Justice), 'Storm and Release' (the Tower and the Star). For the Minor Arcana, Pollack begins by addressing the development of the Minor cards from hundreds of years ago right through to the present day proliferation of Illustrated Minors, and relates them directly to the Tree of Life pathways. In her section on readings, the author describes a number of spreads, some of which have been widely written about, but also some lesser-known ones, e.g. 'Sacred Quest Spread' and 'the Body Spread', all of which give very helpful sample readings. In part five - 'Things to Do with Tarots' - Pollack addresses some really interesting ways of using Tarot apart from divination. There are Tarot games; personality, soul and year cards; Tarot, Music and Storytelling, along with several other innovative things. It may seem from this summary that the book is of necessity a very long and arduous read, yet nothing could be further from the truth. Time and again Pollack says in a few words what others have said in many. Her ability to extract the kernel from the whole is second-to-none, leaving the reader feeling that learning is absolutely no effort at all. Whichever aspect of the Tarot Pollack is addressing, she does so exquisitely, be it the Fool's Journey through the Major Arcana, her linking of the Minor Arcana with astrology, or any other aspect. Pollack's insight and unusual uses of the Tarot set her apart from many other authors - how many have used Tarot to make exercise fun or concocted their own Tarot version of 'Name That Tune'! And all this backed up with numerous beautiful illustrations throughout the book. So, has the author achieved what she set out to? No one book can offer a complete guide to the Tarot but what she offers in this book exceeds anything that the reader could expect. It is a compelling read, and if I could have one and only one book on the Tarot, this would be it. It is 'fine dining for the everyday diner'.
This probably isn't the only tarot book you'll ever need, but it's one that I would recommend as a "first read" to a sensible, serious beginner. More advanced Tarot users could get a lot out of it too.
The comment that the pages are adorned with pictures from "every Tarot pack imaginable" is a bit of an over-statement (there are literally hundreds of packs available now) but Rachel Pollack's use of a variety of cards (including some modern, non-traditional ones) to illustrate how a reading can evolve, and how the symbolism can speak to you, will give anyone, at any level, food for thought and a basis for further study.
The book is colourful and well designed, making it a pleasure to read. It's also undogmatic and refreshing free from any wishful-thinking occult and new-agey baggage.
Bought as a gift for someone who had not used Tarot previously, and for this purpose it was fine. But I was a bit surprised that it lacked a lot of detail, as it's title states 'Complete', for anyone with already existing knowledge of the cards I would suggest another book. All in all it was heavy on graphics and illustrated representations, and lacking in in-depth knowledge/information.