Rachel Pollack has been a scholar of the Tarot for many years and is a leading authority on the subject. She has written numerous books, both non-fiction and fiction, on the Tarot, and has designed her own deck, 'Shining Woman Tarot'. Her work has been translated into several languages and she has world-wide recognition.
This book was originally published in 1986 under the title 'The Open Labyrinth', and is a follow-on from 'Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom Parts 1 and 2'. It develops the art of Tarot divination, building upon "the brief examples given in that book" (p.9 i.e. Seventy-Eight Degrees Part 1).
Pollack's intention is stated very clearly - "This book attempts to show the mind of one reader at work" (p.10), and later on the same page she points out that "every reader develops her or his own method". The author also makes it clear that the readings in this book are not predictive, but "illustrate the Tarot's possibilities for illuminating a person's life" (p.12).
The book is divided into four sections - A Three-Card Reading; the Celtic Cross; the Work Cycle; and Meditation. In her introduction, Pollack describes the process of reading, types of reading, and what readings can accomplish, along with an interesting look at the difference between Tarot and psychotherapy. This is followed up with a discussion of the importance of the reader having a personal relationship with the Tarot if one is going to do a 'symbolic' rather than a 'literal' reading, i.e. a reading involving extensive use of intuition and seeing an overall picture rather than 'rote' meanings.
She begins the main body of the text with an exploration of the usefulness of Three-Card Readings, and although she considers them to be of limited use, she gives a superb example of how much can actually be gleaned if the reading is done at just the right time. Pollack explains the example reading according to what was going on in her mind at the time, revealing a truly fascinating process.
Moving on the the Celtic Cross Spread, she begins by describing the layout before giving two sample readings. In each of the readings, the author goes into much detail about what she is gleaning at each stage, revealing not only information that is about the querent, but also conveying a great depth of knowledge and understanding of each card. At the end of the second reading the author describes four meditations that she suggests for the querent. The reason for this is explained thus: "The reading itself helps by bringing attitudes to consciousness and showing her what she needs. But she wanted a way to use the reading to take positive steps" (p.92), i.e. to grow and develop. Each of the meditations is described in detail, followed by the querent's discussions with Pollack about them. Some of the work done is very profound, and not really for the faint of heart.
The Work Cycle Spread was developed by Pollack to help people deal with whatever situation they were facing - 'work' meaning what to do , whilst 'cycle' is about laying out further sets of cards if the first don't give a clear enough picture. She presents three very detailed Work Cycle readings, again showing the reader very ably the process at work, and how the querent was able to use the reading to move on in life.
The final section of the book is devoted to 'Meditation' - the archetypal meditation, using some Eastern meditation techniques, designed to "join ourselves to images" (p.150); meaning that by meditating on a particular card the individual can access the energy of the archetype,and use that energy to bring about a gradual transformation in themselves. Finally, Pollack offers two meditations, one on the Fool and one on the Eight of Cups. They are written down as she would speak them and as such, can be used exactly as they are. They also tacitly suggest ways of using any of the Tarot cards for guided fantasy.
Although there isn't a concluding paragraph or chapter, it seems irrelevant as so much has been said already and ending with the two meditations does seem to leave the reader with a sense of completion.
So, Pollack's stated intention of showing "the mind of one reader at work" gives the lie to the wealth, breadth and depth of what is found within the pages of the book. It may be 'only one mind' but it is clear that this mind is very exceptional and belongs to an 'old soul'. To read this book is to sit at the feet of a Tarot guru, and wonder.
Tarot Readings and Meditations Paperback – 22 November 1990
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- Paperback : 160 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1855380498
- ISBN-13 : 978-1855380493
- Dimensions : 1.02 x 13.46 x 21.34 cm
- Publisher : Aquarian Press; 2nd Revised edition (22 November 1990)
- Language: : English
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