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on 10 May 2017
Jodorowsky's "The Way of Tarot: The Spiritual Teacher in the Cards" has been my primary guide in learning to read the Tarot. Inspired by forces I can't remember (perhaps a simple love for his work) I bought this book years ago, but only opened it last year. Immediately I was drawn into a place in my own spirit where Tarot resides. With the help of Jodorowsky's insight and guidance here, I found myself communing with the cards and hearing their voice within weeks.

The real delight and surprise of this guide is that Jodorowsky does not explain how the cards work, or give any definitive "objective" facts about what any given card or spread should mean. Rather, he provides excellent means by which you can create your own relationship with the cards. He does this by laying bare his own experience with the cards, and encouraging the reader/tarologist to develop their approach primarily through looking, relating and observing the cards themselves.

Nevertheless, Jodorowsky does not hold back with insight - making it clear all the way that these are simply HIS observations - and also practical suggestions for how to understand and interpret every aspect of the deck. He spends a lot of time telling stories about the deck, and dives into each of the Major and Minor Arcana cards. This makes the guide both thorough and inspiring; leading by example, he challenges the reader/Tarologist to be as sensitive, caring and diligent in building their relationship to the cards.

Practically, the book starts with an overview of the deck as a whole, and then deep-dives into each of the Major Arcana, followed by overviews and then inspections of each of the suits of the Minor Arcana. The book finishes with guidance on where to 'situate' one's self within the dynamic of deck, Tarologist, and recipient of the reading, along with many various suggested reading layouts.

For the open-spirited, you may find yourself receptive (and therefore able) to accept that there is a spirit embodied in the deck itself, acting as a kind of 'fourth force' involved in a reading. Personally, I can only encourage everyone to take the possibility on board, as I have been delighted to find myself in the place of conduit, guide or healer, rather than oracle or diviner. For those looking for a spiritual transformation or the opportunity to heal with the Tarot, this book makes it clear precisely how the spirit in the cards have the power to sublimate the reader's ego. As a result of my relationship with this book, I've learned that the right circumstances (including bringing good energy to the table, grounding, and understanding your place as a reader) can lead to truly surprising, accurate and transformational readings for anyone who brings an open heart to the deck.

Ultimately, this book has helped me train my mind and spirit to both embrace and amplify the powers inherit in the Tarot. It has also inspired some radical shifts in my other creative practices (painting, sculpture, writing) in ways I can't entirely explain. Keep an open heart and enjoy!
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on 20 June 2016
This book is full of information about each card, numerology, colours, spreads. Also poems about Major Arcanas. I am studying the Camoin Marseille deck with this book and have a depth knowledge about each card. I have studied tarot (on and off) for 20 years and am connecting now with the Marseille after unsuccessful attempts with other books. I just finished the chapter on Major Arcanas, which followed chapters on numerology and colours... I am ready to move to minors and court cards. Also very interesting spreads in the last chapter.
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on 17 August 2014
If you are interested in the Tarot of Marseilles this is the book you want to have. I have read it in the original French version and therefore cannot comment on the quality of its translation into English. This book is based on esoteric principles and has been largely inspired by Jungian psychology. So if you have an affinity for the work of Carl Jung you will certainly appreciate this work. Each one of the Major Arcana (trumps) is viewed as an archetype and each card is described in four or five pages. The Minor Arcana (suit cards) are also explored in detail. But there is a lot more in this book, which contains more than 500 pages. For it was also meant to be a practical guide for those interested to explore divination.

I read this book several years before I acquired the accompanying deck. And the first time I saw this deck, which I had ordered directly from Camoin, I was mesmerized by its artistic beauty. These cards feel so right! So true! I cannot say how "authentic" this deck is, or how close to the original, whatever that is supposed to be, but I can say that when I hold a Camoin deck in my hands I know I am in contact with an inner reality that I like to call "magic". Take La Tempérance (Temperance) for example. The first time I held this card in my hand I was electrified by it! Its psychic power is frightening. It truly comes alive before our eyes. Another example I can take is La Papesse (The High Priestess). I had never seen this static figure express so much intensity before. Until I saw the Camoin version I did not really know what to make of it. Now I understand why it stands next to Le Bateleur (The Magician). For it shares its magical powers, but in a much more subtle way. Another of my favourites is La Lune (The Moon). Before I saw the Camoin version I was not particularly enthralled by this trump. But now I can actually feel it like if its mystery had finally been revealed to me. The work of restoration that was undertaken to re-create this new "original version" of the Tarot of Marseille has produced nothing short of a masterpiece. It is in my mind the best rendering of the Tarot of Marseille and I believe it will likely become its definitive version.

If so far I have paid more attention to the deck than the book itself it is because this manual is there to support the deck, not the other way around, as some people might think. For this work is all about the Tarot of Marseilles as it has been restored by Philippe Camoin with the collaboration of Alexandro Jodorowsky, who in turn collaborated with Marianne Costa to write the book we are discussing here. It is relatively easy to find good books on the Tarot of Marseilles in French. But in English you will not find a more complete work than this one. And you won't have to read the entire book if you don't need to. For it is divided into five sections that can be read separately and independently of each other. In the long introduction we learn how this Camoin version came about. Following this the first section gives an overview of the Tarot and explains what it is all about. The second section deals with the Major Arcana. The third section surveys the Minor Arcana. The fourth section is a study of the various pairings that can be made with the cards. Finally, in the fifth section, we learn how to actually use the cards.

When we start reading this book we enter into a multidimensional world. Along with the psychological and esoteric dimensions we also discover a much less obvious one, which is the sacred. Because that is how this whole endeavour was undertaken by Camoin and Jodorowsky: as a sacred work. So it is meant to be a lot more than an intellectual exploration to satisfy the reader's curiosity. For if you are willing to follow its guidance this book will sooth your heart, nourish your spirit and enlighten your soul.
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on 23 December 2016
This is not a dry abstract study of tarot. Compared to most works on tarot, the author brings fresh vision and vitality to the subject.He doesn’t slavishly follow tarot orthodoxy, and often thinks outside the box. He gives much practical information on various ways to use the cards. For example, he discusses many cases of how pairs of cards interact. I much like the sections where the major arcana cards ‘speak’ about themselves. This is inspired writing which I find unique among works on tarot. Some brief extracts:

The Fool: ‘People sometimes imagine that taking action means triumphing over the Other.What a mistake! If you wish to act in the world. you must explode that perception of the ego that has been imposed and embedded since childhood, and which refuses to change. Expand your boundaries endlessly and without cease.’

The concluding words of The World: ‘ Like a holy virgin, I carry the deity inside my womb.I am the concrete expression right here of the sacred energy of The Fool. I am the World created by God so that He could love it.’

Even though one may not agree with everything the author says, I believe serious tarot students can enrich their tarot experiences with the aid of this book.
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on 10 June 2012
Jodorowsky is a creative film maker and artist whose enthusiasm for the Marseilles Tarot shines through these pages. The Marseilles was the first deck I possessed in 1969 and so I very much enjoyed this book, as I use my pack often. At times the book verges on the obsessional, and occasionally there are occasionally Infelicitous translations, but students of tarot can still learn from the author's insights and reading methods. There are few resources in print which help readers use a pip minor arcana, and this book will help them. The lack of an academic rigour which a previous reviewer observes is more than made up for by the respect in which Jodorowsky holds this tarot: when somene embodies a tradition and sees the cosmic blueprint so clearly, much can be forgiven. In an age when tarot is both quick and ubiquitous, when its artwork is frequently computer-generated or digital, it is a sacred craft to use an ancient tarot like the Marseilles. Jodorowsky's Way of Tarot reveals the structure of the temple of tarot and invites us to enter in.

Caitlin Matthews
[...]
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on 14 February 2011
I read the review by mr Stanton first (is it 'mr'? my apologies if it isn't), then decided to buy the book anyway, mainly out of curiosity. Please do read his review too, because it accurately describes the books flaws.

On the added fingers and toes: Jodorowsky assumes that the space between two fingers (can't remember which card it was, but the review of mr Stanton will tell you), which has been given the same colour as the hand, probably a printing mistake, is an extra finger. The extra toe is really clearly a part of the slipper in the regular Marseilles, and the adaptation in Jodorowsky's tarot does not look convincing to me.

And that is what makes the theories of Jodorowsky so unreliable. He sees his interpretation, or the interpretation of the 'original' Marseilles tarot, which he claims to have found in a shoebox, as the True Interpretation, without looking at it critically and without investigating other possible interpretations. With respect to the fingers and toes: nowhere does Jodorowsky mention the very possible other way I suggested of interpreting of what he sees.

He has many interesting views on the meanings of the cards though, and interesting suggestions for spreads.

His main interest in the Tarot seems to be the magical, occult side of the cards and their system. His psychological views are very Freudian, with a lot of emphasis on genitals.

So, whether this will be a useful book for you, is for you to decide.

If you are, like me, interested in Jungian psychology, and see the cards mainly as a psychological tool, this book will probably be a disappointment to you.

If you like hermetic societies, magic, and occult things, you will probably like the book.

If you are looking for a trustworthy book on the tarot of Marseilles, this book will not make you happy.

If you are curious, and interested in reading about unusual and strange theories on tarot history and meaning, you may like this book.

I do find this book an interesting read, it does sharpen my mind and makes me think - when I do not agree with J., which is almost all the time - why exactly I do not agree, and whether I can accept his theory as at least a possibility.

I do hope my review will have helped you to make up your mind about this book.
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on 30 December 2014
Highly recommended! This is a very clever and intelligent book. It has great depth and clearly explains how the originators of the Marseille Tarot meant the cards to be read. A great addition to anyone's book collection and who love Tarot and Tarot reading. However it will probably be of most benefit to those who read Tarot in an intellectual manner since emphasis is placed on the images themselves and knowing the exact meaning of the cards.
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on 16 December 2009
There are so few books in English about the Marseilles tarot that I was thrilled to learn that Alejandro Jodorowsky's "La Voie du Tarot" had been translated into English. My excitement quickly turned to confusion, then disappointment. This book is probably the most illogical, uninformed, arrogant, and inept book on the subject that I've ever read.

A few years ago, Jodorowsky embarked on a project to "restore" the Marseilles-style tarot. "...we observed that some Tarots have identical and superimposable drawings, and yet each contains symbols that do not appear on the others. We deduced that they had been copied from the same Tarot, an older version that is now missing. It is this original missing Tarot that we wanted to restore." He criticizes, quite rightly, Waite, Dali, Crowley, and others who have re-interpreted the tarot over the years. "Each new deck of cards contains the subjectivity of its authors, their vision of the world, their moral prejudices, their limited level of awareness... every occultist alters the original structure."

After reading this book (actually, about 50 pages in or before) it becomes apparent that Jodorowsky and Philippe Camoin (his partner is this project) have done exactly what he has criticized the occlutists for. He has essentially created his own personal Marseilles tarot, and imposed upon it his own "esoteric" system of belief, without offering any documentation or substance in the way of proof or explanation. "The Way of Tarot" is over 500 pages long, yet has only 10 "notes" (which actually aren't notes, but bibliographic entries). This book, then, is not really about the Marseilles tarot, but the supposed "restored" cards done by the author and Camoin.

Details on their process and methods would have been welcome. For example, which details came from which decks? Why were some details chosen over others? Camoin claims to be the direct descendant of Nicholas Conver, but no proof is offered. Also, reference is made to a mysterious, "very old" tarot found in a shoebox belonging to a dead friend -- which supposedly provided the authors with important clues toward a rectified color scheme -- though no effort is made to identify the deck or explain why it was considered important. Also, no proof. Photographs of some of the cards should have been included.

This book is a frustrating read, often due to Jodorowsky's habit of making broad statements, and then completely contradicting them, like in the examples below. He usually seems unaware he is doing this. Breaches of logic, reason and perception occur, nay, abound, on nearly every page. At one point he writes, ludicrously, that he believed (before the completion of his own deck) the most authentic Marseilles tarot to be Paul Marteau's 1930 version (Grimaud), and that the 17th and 18th century versions could not be trusted because they had become corrupt over time. And although Jodorowsky chooses to call the cards "arcanum", hypocritically adopting the pretentious term coined by the occultists he despises, he never satisfactorily explains why this terminology is acceptable to him. Those of us who use the Marseilles deck are generally quite content with "trumps" and "pips".

Even though he's made his position clear on the "occult" tarot of Waite, The Golden Dawn and others, he more often than not adopts their ideas (errors and all) about the cards. For example, he uses their elemental attributions of the suits -- and never once questions it. He simply says something along the lines of "Why not? Makes sense to me.". At least a discussion of why a weapon forged in fire is attributed to air, or why Sticks (excuse me, Wands) is attributed to an element that consumes it, would have made this section more interesting. Unfortunately, Jodorowsky is neither a scholar or an intellectual; he's an artist, and he's simply not equipped to deal with problems such as these.

Some of the cracks in the foundation may be due to the translation by Jon E. Graham. The suits are translated as Swords, Cups, Wands(!) and Pentagrams(!) -- and I can't really believe the Jodorowsky would use these terms as the French names would be clear to his French readers. I question why the translator chose to use Rider-Waite terminology when the author spent the better part of the introduction criticizing Waite and other occultists' alterations to the "original" tarot. Again, we who use the Marseilles tarot call the suits what they are: Swords, Cups, Sticks and Coins.

The Rider-Waite titles are used for the trumps as well: The Magician, The High Priestess, The Tower, etc. The only trump that is not called by its traditional name is Death, which Jodorowsky absurdly calls "The Nameless Arcanum". While it's true that in most Marseilles decks Death is not titled, the author fails to note (probably due to his ignorance of historical matters) that in the earliest tarots, all of the trumps were untitled. He explains that the term "death" is too simplistic to convey the real meaning of the card -- and then goes on to give a basic and traditional interpretation of card XIII. I am at a loss to see how "the Nameless Arcanum" is more precise and descriptive than "Death".

Many sentences make no sense in their English translation:

"Simply creating new versions of the Tarot of Marseilles, anonymous like all sacred monuments, by imagining it is enough to change the drawings or the names of the cards to achieve a great work, is pure vanity."

Yes, you can pick out the meaning. It could have been written more clearly, and there are numerous examples of this sort of thing throughout the book. One wonders if an editor even saw it before it went to the proofreader.

Here's an example of the author's style, from the chapter on "The Magician":

"Although represented by a male figure, The Magician is an androgynous individual working with light and shadow, juggling from the unconscious to the superconscious. He is holding an active wand in his left hand, while in his right he hold a receptive pentacle. This yellow coin, a miniature sun, symbolizes perfection and truth, but it also tells us that The Magician does not overlook the daily necessities. The blue wand in his other hand is seeking to capture the cosmic force. We can also see an extra flesh-colored object there, like a sixth finger, that will find an echo in the second decimal series, in the sixth toe of Strength..."

That's enough. Needless to say, he never explains why he believes any of this to be true -- he simply states it as fact, and assumes we are willing to accept what he says without question. Male, yet androgynous? Also, the Magician does not have a sixth finger -- either in Jodorowsky's deck, or any other Marseilles that I could find. Strength's "sixth toe" is a detail that was probably added by Jodorowsky as I can't find one in any of the Marseilles decks that I own. It's clear that the details of this "restoration" were incorporated (or invented) not because of any sort of in-depth research or study, but from the author's own mystical ramblings. Another indication that this deck is not a restoration, but a personal reinterpretation of the traditional Tarot de Marseilles.

At this point I should mention that most of the various details that Jodorowsky points out in the cards appear to be in his deck only, and therefore are probably his own creation. On "The Magician" he makes a great deal about the three dice and the knife that looks like a serpent's tail. Also, "orange balls" in the Magician's hair. A fingernail painted red on Strength. A secret "egg" hidden in the wreath on The World. All of these tiny details appear only in the "restored" deck. I've not been able to find precedence for any of this -- and the author's list of secret symbols and hidden meanings is endless. Of course, he doesn't offer to fill us in either. Instead we are given page after page of opinion and subjective observations stated as fact.

Jodorowsky also sees things that simply do not exist, and often writes at length about them: plants that supposedly look like vaginas, hidden planets in hair, extra fingers and toes, etc. Somehow he is able to identify eagle feathers in Strength's hat. Truth be told, there is simply not enough detail in the original woodcut prints to allow us to identify the bird from which the feathers came, or even if they are feathers at all. Nevertheless, our Author builds a whole argument around them.

If the book has anything to recommend it, the sections on numerology and the pips (oh, excuse me, the Minor Arcana) are interesting and engaging -- after all, numbers don't lie. The interpretation of this numerological data is not entirely free of the sorts of flaws that pervade the rest of the book, however.

Jodorowsky's conclusion, titled "The Tarotic Philosophy" (one wonders why the translator shied away from "Popess" yet uses a made-up word like "tarotic") contains this amusing and self-damning statement:

"The bad tarologist, who mistakes thinking for believing, delivers whimsical interpretations and then searches in the Arcana for those symbols that can confirm his conclusions. For him, truth is a priori, followed a posteriori by the quest for the truth."

Officially and without a clue Jodorowsky has qualified himself as a "bad tarologist". He goes a step further. When he cannot find a symbol that confirms his conclusions, he either has had Camoin draw the symbol on the card for him, or he simply chooses to see something that isn't there (extra fingers and teeth usually, and also vaginas).

I rarely feel this way about books I have purchased, but I honestly wish I hadn't spent $26.95 for this. It's just poor all around -- poor scholarship (actually, no scholarship), bad translation, no index, hardly any notes or bibliography. "The Way of Tarot" doesn't satisify on any level. What a disappointment.
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on 19 June 2012
A very informative and dense book. Very clear and concise. Although I can agree with some of the negatives made in the other review (specifically adding new symbolism and dressing it up as restoration) I feel that these minor things can be disregarded if not agreeable and you're still left with a great piece of work.
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on 12 May 2015
love that book... thought not few nights read ;)
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