The Secrets of the Tarot
by A.T. Mann
First published in 1993 as Elements of the Tarot
, this book offers a thoughtful approach to tarot, and is a refreshing resource among many that stress New Age or alternative spirituality. A.T. Mann has written a good number of books on tarot and astrology, and is the creator of the Mandala Astrological Tarot
, and author of the very first astrology book I ever read, The Round Art
. His writing is helpfully direct and straightforward, and his instruction is effective.
What is the main secret of the tarot that Mann shares with us here? I would have to say it is his emphasis on psychology. Many tarot authors mention Jung and his indirect contributions to tarot, but Mann does so with ease and efficiency, and encourages us to use tarot as a tool for true self-discovery and real personal growth. In his hands, tarot is a precision tool, used for our greatest benefit, and respected for its efficacy.
Mann starts this book with a brief trip into tarot history. This section will be a good introduction for those who have not learned tarot's history before, and it does not go too long for those not really interested in it. Tarot symbolism is explored, and the general format of tarot is explained fully. The bulk of the book is devoted to card interpretations. These are well written and thorough. Every Major Arcana card is explained through a basic description, Symbolic aspects, Guided Imagery, Meaning, and Affirmation. Correspondences given are card number, planet or zodiac sign, key word, and Hebrew letter. The Guided Imagery section of each card is quite thoughtful and interesting. This section gets us to know the cards more deeply, and serves as a good starting point for meditating on each card. The Meanings are also thoughtful, and tend to offer unique ways of looking at some of the cards, and generally emphasize the psychological role of each. The Affirmations are brief statements we can apply to our lives - either by literally speaking or writing the affirmation, or simply in applying their meaning to our readings. The Minor Arcana cards are explained briefly and concisely. There is a short description of each, and an Interpretation. I think these could have been longer, but they are well done. Throughout the book the Rider-Waite images are used as illustration (in black and white), which will help the student understand tarot symbolism, and introduces this most popular deck.
There are some very good spreads in the book, which focus on psychological growth and understanding, and Mann's advice on doing readings is quite good, and again, straightforward. Everything here is very easy to understand, yet is intelligent and insightful. A full glossary is provided, and a long bibliography shares Mann's useful resources, for further study. This book seems quite unassuming, but actually offers us a keen way of using cards to further our discovery of who we are. It is a strong, complete book I would recommend for those wishing to pursue tarot with a distinctly psychological approach.
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