Holistic Tarot by Benebell Wen: A Groundbreaking Achievement
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