Sometimes the cards most difficult to interpret speak the greatest truths of all.Read More →
Published by North Atlantic Books
Review by Christiana Gaudet
Whether or not you plan to read all 874 pages of Benebell Wen’s ambitious first book, “Holistic Tarot,” you will be happy to have this well researched (and soon to be well-loved) tome in your library. It’s available in paperback and electronic versions, from North Atlantic Books.
In a world where everyone who matters publishes, the challenge is to add something new and needed to the tarot bookshelf. Benebell Wen has done exactly that.
Wen is no stranger to achievement. Like a surprising number of tarotists, Wen is well educated and working in the corporate world. Benebell Wen is her tarot name. I am sure the same discipline and drive that fuels her success in business helped fuel this impressive manual.
Of course, length does not a great book make. “Holistic Tarot” is extremely lengthy, but is it any good? Yes, it is! “Holistic Tarot” is well written and painstakingly researched. For the first time in the history of tarot, there exists a near-comprehensive tarot resource.
Included in “Holistic Tarot” are thirty-three chapters, an inclusive index, lists of chapter notes, and a helpful appendix. Unlike most tarot books, “Holistic Tarot” adheres to the same standards as any academic work.
It would be easier to make a list of what is not included in this tarot resource than what is. Wen has assembled an entire history of tarot; but not only a history of when, why and where the cards emerged. This is a history of the art and practice of tarot divination, written from a scholarly perspective that manages to be personable and relevant, rather than dry and dull.
The one piece some tarotists may find missing is that Wen, like me, is a Waite-Smith girl. A Crowley-Harris-Thoth reader or a Marseille reader will be less excited about this book than I am. However, they should get the book anyway, because there are plenty of useful bits for everyone in this book!
Many of the chapters include sample readings to help demonstrate techniques, easy-to-understand tables and charts, and both new and classic tarot spreads and techniques. A beginning tarot reader will find an answer to virtually every question they have. An experienced reader will find challenges that will bring a new dimension to their understanding and operation of tarot.
We tarot readers often choose a style or tradition that works for us. We are aware of other techniques and traditions, but we tend to stick with what we know. “Holistic Tarot” nudges you out of your box, and makes it easy to try different ways of working with and understanding tarot.
Over my two decades of fulltime professional tarot reading, I’ve noticed that tarot thinking sometimes divides between traditionalism, and a more modern approach. Sometimes that division pits old-fashioned fortune telling against a spiritual and psychological approach.
What is fascinating to me about Wen’s book is that it so clearly and respectfully teaches time-honored techniques; while at the same time demonstrates the evolution of tarot as a tool for healing. In fact, the subtitle of “Holistic Tarot” is “An Integrative Approach to Using Tarot for Personal Growth.”
“Holistic Tarot” gives us exactly what the subtitle promises, and so much more. “Holistic Tarot” is a monumental achievement in tarot, and will be an essential addition to every tarotists’ toolbox.
To get a glimpse inside the book, watch the video!
Video of Christiana Gaudet Reviews Holistic Tarot
Welcome to the Yule Tarot Blog Hop 2014. For this turn of the Wheel, or wrangler, Arwen, has asked us all to perform the same spread with the deck of our choice, and share our results.
The spread Arwen designed is about the gift-giving nature of the winter festival season, regardless of the holiday or holidays you celebrate.
Each blog hop participant (there are twenty-four of us this time around) will perform the same spread, and share their results here, for the blog hop. You can try the spread, too!
The Joy of Gifting
- What gift would you give the world if you could?
- What gift would you want from the world?
- What gift have you gotten that has brought you joy?
- What gift have you given that has brought you joy?
- What is one last thing you would like to share about this season
I’m using Ciro Marchetti’s Gilded Royale Tarot for this reading.
When doing this sort of reading, two things can happen. One possibility is that every card will make sense, and the reading will be immediately accurate and understandable. The other possibility is the cards drawn won’t easily fit the question. What do you do when the Three of Swords comes up to describe a gift you’ve given that brought you joy, for instance? When these things happen, the cards aren’t wrong, they just require you to dig a little deeper to understand their message.
Happily, my reading is of the first variety. The five cards I received fit the questions so amazingly it is hard to believe they came up at random.
The gift I would give the world if I could is the Knight of Cups. Yes, I want to give every person on the planet the ability to know love, to feel loved, to be empowered by love and to understand the nature of love. That, indeed, would be my gift to the world.
The gift I would want from the world is a gift I have already received. That is the Three of Pentacles, the ability to work at my chosen craft, along with the skill and tools to do it well and receive recognition for my work. My desire for the future is to keep receiving this gift for as long as I breathe!
The Nine of Cups is the traditional “Wish Card”, and appears to describe a gift I have gotten that has brought me joy. To me, this does not describe a particular tangible gift as much as it describes my general satisfaction and gratitude for the many, many blessings in my life. I will say, though, that one Yule I wished for a guitar. That guitar has brought me years of joy!
The gift I have given that brought me joy is the Knight of Wands. Outside of traditional holiday giving, the gift I give most regularly is the teaching of tarot. I hope that the Knight of Wands indicates that I am able to inspire other tarotists, and to nurture their passion. This brings me a great deal of joy.
The final card is meant to describe one last thing I would like to share about the season. The card I received is the Page of Swords. To me, the Page of Swords is the messenger of the truth. What truth would I like to share about this season?
The Page of Swords can refer to a smart child. Christmas is, in many ways, a children’s holiday. I don’t like that we celebrate this holiday by lying to children. The spirit of Santa, the energy of Santa, holiday miracles – these are all real, true things. Why do we have to darken them with a lie, when the myth and the truth of the holiday spirit would certainly suffice?
My children wrote letters to Santa, received gifts from Santa, and baked cookies for Santa. Never did they think Santa was a real person, and never did that make Yule any less special to them. As soon as they were old enough, they got to be Santa, too. We had wonderful holidays, and I never had to lie to them.
When I perform a tarot spread, I always like to look at the trends present in the cards. You will notice there are no Major Arcana cards. That doesn’t surprise me. As much as I like the holidays, now my kids are grown, the season is not as big a deal as it once was. Frankly, that’s a relief. I am happy to keep my holidays Minor Arcana style.
Of the five cards, three of them are young Court cards, two Knights and a Page. That really reminds me of my own precious childhood memories of the holidays. I’m pleased we were able to give our own kids some great holiday memories, too.
I think, too, the greatest gift of the holidays is spending time with friends and family, the people around us. It doesn’t surprise me that three of the five holiday cards are “people” cards.
Now let’s see how the other bloggers’ holiday readings went. If you are working backwards, visit Machelle Earley and wish her a happy holiday. Or, follow along to visit Arwen's blog, and see how her reading unfolded.
Happy holidays, and thanks for stopping by. We’ll see you at the next turn of the Wheel, for another Tarot Blog Hop!
Here’s a conversation that seems to happen a great deal.
You: “I am sure I will never meet someone to have a relationship with.
Me: “What makes you sure about that?”
You: “I haven’t met anyone yet.”
There are other versions of that conversation, too, including the one that goes like this.
You: “I know I will never have a good love relationship.”
Me: “How do you know that?”
Client: “Because I never have.”
It’s true that sometimes when we want different results, we have to do different things. Nonetheless, it feels dangerous to assume that whatever has been true about our past will also be true about our future.
The dichotomy is this. It’s human nature to fear change. So if we want something different in the future than we had in the past, we have to be open to change, and willing to make change.
We can learn from the past. We can allow the past to create a foundation for the future. We can make changes, so we don’t repeat the past.
We don’t have to let our past dictate, or predict, our future.
I expected a small group for our second-ever Tampa Bay Tarot Meetup at Panera Bread in Lutz on Sunday, December 7th. I had received a ton of emails; holiday parties, home renovations and seasonal sniffles were going to take a toll on our turnout.
I had a problem, too. Seasonal allergies had taken away my voice – literally. I woke up with laryngitis.
There were five of us at the meetup. Since things are rarely “accidents,” I interpreted my ailing throat as a sign I needed to let the students do the talking. Today, I wasn’t there to teach, I was there to listen and support.
This experience really taught me something important about teaching in general, and about teaching tarot in specific.
You see, I am an interpretive reader. That doesn’t mean I don’t use my psychic ability, or communicate with spirits, in a reading. I just believe that a solid knowledge of tarot archetypes and key words help to stimulate the intuition by giving us the language we need to accomplish the communication.
That means my tarot teaching is associative and interpretive. I ask my students to make associations between the Four Elements, numerology and astrology as they learn the cards, and I ask them to memorize key words.
As it turned out, none of my four attendees had memorized key words in their tarot toolbox. Worse, a few of them felt badly about that fact, sheepish that they hadn’t done their homework.
The theme of our meeting was “techniques practice.” Clearly, the only technique we could practice was intuitive reading.
Each person performed a short reading for another attendee. Then we did some group readings, where each person pulled a card and put them together to form a comprehensive answer. Finally, each person performed a seven-card reading for themselves.
This meetup had a lot of aha moments for everyone, but perhaps especially for me. In watching the students struggle with, and then master, the basic skills of intuitive reading, I realized the following important points to be true.
Whether from intuition or from past study, students know a lot more about the cards than they think they do. The anxiety of being “on the spot” in a reading, and of not having a solid memorized list of key words, seems to shut down the intuition.
Even beginning students need to focus on grounding, centering and breathing in order to tap in to the intuition and leave anxiety behind.
We can encourage students to notice different things about the cards by asking questions, such as “What color do you see most predominately?” or “What is this person doing in this image?” or “How does this image make you feel?”
The next step is encouraging the student to say what they feel. Two of our student readers reported strong feelings that had turned out to be accurate. They were embarrassed to share those strong feelings at first.
After each person used their intuition (and whatever knowledge of the cards they had) to perform a reading, I had them look up the meanings of the cards in their books. They were pleased and surprised to see that their intuition had led them to give accurate readings, and that what they said about the cards was in fact extremely close to the book meanings.
I will continue to teach the importance of memorized meanings, archetypes and tarot study. At the same time, I will add some new teaching methods to my own toolbox.
Anxiety – the fear of being wrong – may be a new tarot student’s biggest enemy. Allowing students to look at the cards and simply say what they see very quickly helps them to see their own abilities, as well as the cards’ astounding abilities to give us truth.
Once that anxiety is gone and students feel free to communicate with their cards, the acquiring of the larger body of knowledge should come somewhat less painfully.
Sometimes I say the prayer, “Lord, put your hand over my mouth.” Well, this time the Lord did in fact silence me. In that silence, I learned something new about teaching tarot, and my students learned something about their own ability to read tarot.
Today my voice has returned.
Our next meeting of the Tampa Bay Area Tarot Meetup is February 1. Join us!