Review by Bonnie Cehovet
(As with many things in my life, this book
'found' me. Having worked with and reviewed the Aquarian
deck, I had always thought to study this book, but never
quite made it happen. Recently, one of my online
friends, Nancy Lee (a beautiful lady who has a wonderful
way with words, and is a very knowing artist in her
own right) gifted me with an extra copy that she had.
This review is a thanks to Nancy for bringing a very
interesting work into my life.)
I think to understand this
book we have to take a look at who the man behind the
book is. Carl Japikse is a Dartmouth graduate who
worked for several newspapers, including the Wall Street
Journal, before deciding to devote his life full time to
teaching and writing. His interests are in the area of the
mind, to include meditation, intuition and divination.
He is the developer of the "Enlightened Management"
seminar and the "Enlightened Classroom". Reading his work,
one feels like a student in a college classroom,
listening to a professor who, dressed in the proverbial
jacket with patches on the elbows and smoking a pipe,
wanders back and forth in front of the lecturn musing on
"Exploring The Tarot", while not a companion book to the
Aquarian deck (by David Palladini), does use illustrations
from the deck on the cover and throughout the book. In
fact - Mr. Japikse states in the forward that the only
two decks he deems to be 'true' Tarot are the Rider
deck by A.E. Waite and the Aquarian deck by David
Palladini. Throughout this book he references his
explanations for the Tarot to the symbols found in the Aquarian
Japikse sees Tarot as a "complete and versatile system"
for exploring life, on both the inner and outer
planes. So far, so good - me too! From here on in - we
pretty much differ! Japikse describes the Tarot cards as
symbols of the Tarot energy, and as such, relatively
unimportant. I agree that the physical cards are merely
representations of the energy that Tarot mirrors, but if the decks
are so unimportant, what is the deal with working
only with the Rider or Aquarian decks? Japikse sees the
'Real Tarot' as the archetype symbols behind the cards,
which in itself is also true. But seeing 'Real Tarot'
page after page is annoying - and rather denigrating to
some of the other uses of Tarot.
Japikse sees the
levels of Tarot as:
(1) the physical cards, (2) fortune telling (into which he also throws the nitty gritty life
questions that most readers are dealing with),
(3) intellectual Tarot, into which he places all esoteric studies,
and (4) the Real Tarot, which he defines as: "... a
system of archetypal forces which exists within the mind
of God, and can be readily known by human
intelligence, if we apply ourselves correctly."* Granted, there
are levels of work that we as humans are to do in this
lifetime, but Japikse seems to be boxing out many avenues
here to apply himself strictly to the spiritual. I see
this as a horse wearing blinders, and think what a loss
it would have been had I read this book at the
beginning of my studies, instead of after I already had a
sound Tarot foundation.
So far, Japikse and I agree
that Tarot is here to answer life's questions. Our
differences come in how we apply the Tarot. There is no right
or wrong way - we simply agree to disagree
Japikse does an excellent job of describing the
archetypes: that they are of God, that they exist within the
mind of God and not the mind of mankind, and that they
are abstract patterns, rather than images or
symbols.** These are the truths that we are meant to reflect
in our own lives, the energies that will help us to
affect change when we understand their proper use. This
to me is a good reflection of what Tarot is in my
life, and what I attempt to reflect into the lives of my
How the interpretations for the cards are presented
was intriguing to me. They are not keywords, or catch
phrases, but the energy and movement of each card. For
example, the Empress appearing in a spread may indicate: "A
need to exercise authority and dominion over our
subconscious", or "The need for more self discipline in learning
to use the mind"*** amongst other things. This opens
the way to the story that a Tarot reading really is
in a very nice way.
This book has a great deal to
offer in the way of phrasing questions and
interconnecting the energy of the cards in a reading. However,
Japikse allows only one spread for 'Real Tarot' - that of
the Celtic Cross! I like this spread too - but I think
we may be losing a bit here if we limit ourselves
only to its use. There are times, in my opinion, when
one or two cards will give a very complete answer to
the question asked.
I thoroughly enjoyed his mini
discussions with the Page of Rods. Here Japikse shows what
wonderful forms Tarot can actually take. He uses them as
bridges from topic to topic, and as preludes to some of
his chapters. These discussions are eloquent and
wonderful bright sparks of energy.
At the end of the book
we are given a glimpse into actual readings that
Japikse has done with the Tarot, in a group setting. Here
we see the actual dynamics that have been discussed
throughout the book. I was still left with the deep feeling
that this is only part of Tarot - that if one were to
follow the path that Japikse suggests fully, that one
would be deprived of a great deal that Tarot has to
I recommend this book to those Tarot students who
already have a firm foundation built through their
studies. These are the people that have the knowledge and
wisdom to take from this work what will benefit them, and
leave the rest behind. They will not be blinded by the
walls that are set up here. This work has its place
-but one needs to tread lightly through it for maximum
* "Exploring The Tarot", Carl Japikse, Ariel Press, 1989, p. 7.
** "Exploring The Tarot," Carl Japikse, Ariel Press, 1989, p. 11.
*** "Exploring The Tarot", Carl Japikse, Ariel Press, 1989, p. 90.
Bonnie Cehovet is Certified Tarot Grand Master, a professional Tarot reader with over ten years experience, a Reiki Master/Teacher and a writer. Bonnie has served in various capacities with the American Tarot Association, is co-founder of the World Tarot Network, and Vice President (as well as Director of Certification) for the American Board For Tarot Certification. She has had articles appear in the 2004 and 2005 Llewellyn Tarot Reader.