Daily Archives: July 7, 2012

Review – The New Tarot Handbook

The New Tarot Handbook
Master the Meanings of the Cards

Author: Rachel Pollack
Llewellyn Worldwide
ISBN #978-0-7387-3190-2

“The New Tarot Handbook” is a 280 page journey through the magical world of the Tarot. In her introduction she talks about the influence that author Eden Gray had on her Tarot studies. She refers to her as the mother of modern Tarot studies, noting that while Gray’s book (“Tarot Revealed”) was written in a very short, concise manner, it was also backed by a world of wisdom. Pollack is revising that tradition – short, direct, yet backed by deeper knowledge and wisdom. IMHO, Pollack has succeeded in a stellar fashion!

Pollack advises the reader to work with this book in whatever manner seems right to them. In her introduction to the Major Arcana, she talks about the “Fool’s Journey”, with the Fool representing the soul, who travels from birth, through the challenges of life, to death and beyond, to spiritual enlightenment.

How does this journey go? How can we best study it? We are accustomed to seeing this journey represents in one of two ways – divided in half, or divided into thirds (with the Fool standing above the cards). This time we see a couple of interesting changes – the cards divided in half (1-10, and 11-20, with the Fool and the World at either end of the row between them, or divided in half (1-10, and 12-21), with the Fool standing above, and Justice standing in between. In dividing the =Major Arcana into thirds, the Fool sits above, with the three lines being 1-7, 8-14, and 15-21. The 3X7 version has always been my favorite – it can be studied vertically as three rows of seven cards each, or horizontally as seven rows of three cards each.

Note: In the 3X7 version, the first seven cards are seen as the outer challenges of life (growing up, dealing with parents and society, learning to love, creating a successful life). The second row of seven cards are seen as representing a profound transformation, ending with the death of everything that once seemed important. The third row of seven cards are seen as representing what Pollack refers to as the “Liberation of Light”.

Each Major Arcana card is presented with a black and white image, keywords, a discussion of the card, divinatory meanings, reversed meanings, and a short reading that will help the reader place the energy of each card in their life. I think the reading that was presented with each card was my favorite part of the book! Each reading was given a specific form, with a magical Nike-like “swoop” above it! Absolutely entrancing! (Note: the “swoop” is also across the keywords, but it really shines in highlighting the readings!)

Sample keywords from the book:

The Fool: freedom, risk, young in spirit, immature
The Hermit: alone, wisdom, guidance, maturity
The Devil: obsessions, bad relationships, low desires or beliefs (but also sexual life energy).

A sample reading from the book:


1 2
3 4
5 6

1. How am I strong?
2. How am I weak?
3. What do I need to be strong?
4. When do I need to be weak?
5. What strengthens me?
6. What weakens me?

In the introduction to the Minor Arcana, Pollack discusses the suits and their associations, and the numbers, and their associations. From the book:

Wands; Fire – masculine energy – action, optimism, sexual desire, adventure, forcefulness, competition

Cups: Water – feminine energy – emotion, love, relationship, imagination, happiness, sadness, family

Swords: Air – mind – mental activity, conflict, heroism, grief, justice, injustice

Pentacles: Earth – body – nature, work, money, possessions, security

Each card is presented with a black and white image, the associated element, the theme, a discussion of the card’s energy, divinatory meanings, and reversed meanings.

Note: The theme remains the same throughout the suits for each specific number. How this plays out is determined by the card’s associated element.

From the book:

The Six of Wands
Element- Fire
Theme – unequal relationship, generosity

The Five of Cups
Element – Water
Theme – Difficulties

The Nine of Swords
Element – Air
Theme – intensity, high degree

The Six of Pentacles
Element – Earth
Theme – unequal relationship, generosity

The Court Cards are presented with a black and white image, elemental combination, physical quality, theme, a discussion of the card, divinatory meanings, and reversed meaning.

From the book (physical quality):

Page of Wands: a child or young person with light hair and blue eyes
Page of Cups: a child or young person with light brown hair and gray or hazel eyes.
Page of Swords: a young person with brown hair and brown eyes
Page of Pentacles: a young person with very dark brown or black hair and black eyes

At the end of the book Pollack discusses how to do a reading, and presents several different two and three card spreads, a five-card spread entitled The Doorway Spread, a five-card spread entitled Dr. Apollo’s All-Purpose spread, and a traditional ten card Celtic Cross spread.

The energy of this book is fresh, and flows well. A true gift to reader’s of all levels of experience!

© July 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

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Posted by on July 7, 2012 in Tarot


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