It’s been a little while since I posted a book review here, but when Benebell Wen contacted me about possibly reviewing Holistic Tarot, I couldn’t resist! I was delighted that her publisher sent me a physical copy of the book — and shocked to realize what a hefty tome it is! Holistic Tarot is 896 pages of pure awesome.
by Benebell Wen
Published: January 6, 2015
My Rating: ★★★★★
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In Holistic Tarot, author Benebell Wen provides a complete guide to using the tarot to foster personal development. Wen gives a comprehensive overview of the history of the tarot and a wide array of theories on its use (including its relationship to Jungian archetypal psychology and traditional Chinese divination practices) before digging deeply into one of the best-known tarot systems, the Rider-Waite-Smith. Beginners will find a complete guide to working with the tarot, including choosing and caring for a deck, how best to learn and remember the attributes of the major and minor arcana, the interpretation of cards and spreads, the role of meditation in a tarot practice, and how to use the tarot for improving relationships, professional development, and personal resilience. More advanced practitioners will appreciate nuanced theoretical discussions of the tarot as well as practical advice about reading others’ tarot cards and setting up a practice. Containing over 500 illustrations and detailed information on each card as well as numerous spreads, Holistic Tarot is a complete compendium of tarot study that every practitioner should have in his or her library.
My Thoughts on Holistic Tarot
Have you ever read a book and just felt an instant kinship with the author? That was me while reading Holistic Tarot. With some nonfiction books, I am tempted to skip all the introductory content, but I was eating up every single word of this book. This is one of the few books that was just asking for me to break out a pencil and underline passage after passage.
“Tarot is a mirror. It reflects back who you are. It shows you your strengths and weaknesses. It makes you confront the decisions you have made in the past, your attitude, both good and bad, and how these components have affected your life.”
What sold me on Holistic Tarot very early on was that Wen’s approach to tarot is analytical and not *woo-woo* in nature. I loved that she describes it as “tarot analytics” and compares a tarot reading to making a mind map. As I’ve been creating mind maps aplenty recently, and I am drawn to the analytical, this seemed like the perfect book for me!
Holistic Tarot is comprehensive and exceptionally thorough. Whether you’re completely new to tarot or a seasoned practitioner, there is something (many somethings) for you in this book. Everything is well laid out and the chapters follow a logical and smooth progression from one topic to another. You’ll encounter a plethora of reference charts, spreads, techniques, and things to consider from multiple perspectives.
“Don’t use the tarot only because you want to know what will happen next or you might lose sight of what is happening now. Instead, use the tarot to understand why and how. You influence your future through action and attitude, not through cards.”
Each chapter is illustrated with images, but also with example readings to help expand upon the ideas and suggestions. There are even chapters on devising your own spreads, in depth operations, and things to consider if you plan to practice tarot professionally. I found the breadth and depth of advice and reference information in this book impressive!
So far, I’ve tried out many of the techniques and spreads in this book, but there is still so much more that I plan to delve into for a long time to come! In fact, when it’s my turn to host my “tarot book club” meeting, I’ll be sharing some of what I learned in Holistic Tarot!
This is absolutely the BEST tarot resource I’ve found.
I’m seriously considering getting the ebook version as well, so I can have it with me everywhere I go! Highly recommended for anyone interested in the tarot.
[Many thanks to Benebell Wen and North Atlantic Books for the opportunity to read and review this fine tome!]