22 Paths of Inperfection
22 Paths of Inperfection offers insights from Matt Laws' twenty years of working with the tarot. His is a personal approach to the major arcana, focusing on how they relate to human concerns, especially suffering, depression and "the spark that leads us to strange places in life".
By Matt Laws
Book - 138 pages - Published by Hadean Press
Review by medusawink
22 Paths of Inperfection is a small book that packs a mighty punch. Although only 119 pages long, author Matt Laws has made the most of limited space, focusing on the Major Arcana exclusively.
From the start Laws makes it clear that the general focus of 22 Paths is not material concerns but rather ‘human concerns’ – "suffering, depression and the spark that leads us to strange places in life." While the author doesn't go into confessional detail, he does disclose that life has dealt him a fair share of bad hands, and that it is from flying high to crashing lows that he gained the experience that has informed his interpretations of the tarot.
Each chapter is filled with complex discussions of moral issues, astute observations, personal anecdotes, lots of analogies, as well as Jungian psychology, and lengthy references to Kabbalah. Refreshingly, there is no reinterpretations, rewording, reworking, or regurgitation of standard divinatory meanings. Instead the author strives to bring esoteric meanings into the hard reality of our everyday lives, and discusses with great clarity the forms that this may take. Of The Fool Laws says "My Fool experience was painful, and as the name suggests only a fool would want it, and yours may be, too, as something in you decides to 'break from society’, or move forward in ways that seem alien and strange to others."
It becomes apparent that the reader is going to require some basic knowledge of the Tree of Life, and quite possibly Kabbalah 101 in order to make the most of this book. Throughout the text the author makes a lot of Kabbalistic connections some of which will be quite obscure but nonetheless fascinating to many readers. From the outset the symbolism and relevance of the Hebrew alphabet to Major Arcana divinatory meanings becomes apparent. The author attempts a short introduction to the matter entitled 'Tree of Life 101’. Unfortunately it is prone to Kabbalistic jargonese which doesn't really help to clarify matters. He talks about the 10 spheres of the Tree of Life, but at no point in the book are the translated names or qualities they represent discussed – which given their importance to this text, is quite an oversight. However those who are not remotely familiar with, nor interested in these facets of tarot interpretation can bypass this information and still be rewarded with fascinating insights.
The author discusses The Fool at great length, and in a further chapter entitled 'The Fool & The Magician’ makes the astute connection that they are in fact in a binary partnership. From here he covers The Magician as an independent card, then moves on through the rest of the Major Arcana. Each chapter addresses the author’s foundation observations, which includes links to Kabbalah, astrology, psychology. This is followed by 'Advanced Notes’ which generally refers to the author’s of approximation of divinatory meanings. But these are not simplified keywords – rather it is a meditation, sometimes quite dark, on the deeper possibilities each card represents.
Either by accident or design, more and more white-space creeps into each chapter. The chapters grow progressively shorter. Did the author run out of things to say, or does he view later Major Arcana as being less complex? While he does observe that “…the cards become more tangible as we come down the tree” he does not really explain the reason for his shrinking observations.
Matt Laws has taken an unusual and very personal approach to the tarot, and 22 Paths of Inperfection is just about the most wonderful descriptor of the tarot, and The Fool's journey. I certainly hope that the author goes on to discuss the Minor Arcana in a further volume, because his insights and observations are outstanding. Definitely not for beginners, this little book is for advanced tarot users, and those willing to put in a bit of time doing some homework. Add it to your tarot library – you won't regret it.