Pain-Free Qabalah for Tarot Readers
A series of audio tapes with an interactive course introducing Qabalah as it relates to Tarot.
By Wald Amberstone
Audio Tapes - Published by Tarot School
Review by Bonnie Cehovet
Pain Free Qabalah For Tarot Readers is a series of tapes that came out of the Tarot School teleconference by the same name. This is an introduction to Qabalah as it relates to Tarot, and is an interactive course. There are several things that I want to state right at the beginning of this review - the first of which is that I have only dabbled in Qabalah through personal reading and study, and it is from this viewpoint that I will be discussing the tapes.
The next point that I want to make is about the presentation of the material in the tapes. Wald has done intensive studies in Tarot, as well as other esoteric areas. His knowledge is well grounded, through having been put to use in his life over the years as well as through his personal Tarot work. As a speaker, his voice is clear and distinct (a must have for a taped series). He comes to class well prepared, with a firm idea of what material is going to be presented, the format he is going to present it in, and exactly how much material can be worked with over a given time period. (This is extremely important in a teleconference setting, as one needs to allow time for "audience participation".) He shows a great deal of respect for the material he is presenting, and for his audience as individuals and students. He genuinely wants them to go away with the best understanding that they can get of the material being covered.
The final point that I want to make has to do with the tapes themselves. Wald's wife (and Co-Director of The Tarot School), Ruth Ann, has done an absolutely marvelous job of editing the tapes so the the material flows fluently, moving from one side of the tape to the other, and between tapes, in a fluid manner. This is a time consuming job - and it has been quite well done!
The material is presented as a series of four classes, with two tapes to each class. In the first class (the first set of tapes), Wald provides a rich background for the connection between Tarot and Qabalah. He makes the statement that the Qabalah is the source of meaning and image of Tarot decks and systems of reading for the past 150 years.
With the Qabalah we have an available system of knowledge, one that as readers we can make use of in our readings, as well as a gateway to knowing ourselves on a deeper level. Qabalah is an oral tradition, and one that was not originally meant for use by the general public. Breaking down the branches of Qabalah, we have:
1. Hermetic, or Magickal Qabalah
2. Kabbalah, or Jewish Qabalah
3. Cabala, or Christian Qabalah
The first set of tapes continues on to discuss Qabalah as a map of the invisible world, with the visible world being the last step in a long process. How in Qabalah we see a portrait of what it is to be human - and what it is to be Divine. We look at the Triumphs (Trumps) as archetypes of human experiences, as life experiences that we all go through.
The discussion then moves on to the Sephiroth - to the three levels of meaning, and the depth and width of experience that they represent.
In the second set of tapes, Wald touches on the hidden architecture of the Tree of Life. These tapes are filled with wonderful information that takes us from the void completely through to manifested being. The worlds of Ain, Ain Soph and Ain Soph Aur are discussed, as well as the right, left and middle pillars on the Tree of Life. The three triads (the Supernal Triad, the Triad of Soul and the Triad of Nature) are also defined and discussed.
In the third set of tapes, Wald starts discussing the three numbers that act as doorways in Qabalah - the numbers four, ten and twenty-two. This is also where the Cube of Space is brought into discussion. In a very amazing way, he leads us through "finding" the Cube of Space on our own Tree of Life diagrams. I have to say - for me, this was riveting material!
In the fourth set of tapes, Wald discusses the number twenty-two, and how Qabalah becomes integrated into our readings in a very natural manner. We look at the twenty-two trumps, each representing a name for God. We look at the letter, sound, astrological attribution, meaning in Hebrew, function, intelligence and path for each of the twenty-two trumps. And, in kind of a "by the by" manner, we fall into another way of looking at reversals for the trumps. Several of the trumps have dual functions - functions that are diametrically opposed. How to decide which meaning to use? Looking at the surrounding cards is one way of doing this. Another way is to take the second meaning for the trumps when reversed. This would apply to the Magician, the High Priestess, the Empress, the Hermit, the Wheel of Fortune, the Tower, the Sun and the World.
Throughout the tapes the class has been working with the handouts that were supplied with the tapes. This is a wonderful, hands on, experiential way of learning. It carries much more meaning that simply looking at pre-made graphs and nodding your head - this is this and that is that. In the writing we place the knowledge within us. It becomes part of us, and will be easier to remember. By the time you are done working with this set of tapes, you will have graphs for the ten Sephiroth; their numbers; English and Hebrew names; the paths between the Sephiroth; the placement of the Trumps on the Tree of Life; the astrological attributes for each Sephiroth; the three Triads and the colors associated with each Sephiroth; the Path of the Lightening Sword (the Path of Emergence); the Four Worlds, with their primary and secondary attributes and labeled glyphs of the twenty-two Hebrew letters.
In the very last section of the tapes, Wald gives the Tarot student the greatest gift that they could ever receive from a course on Qabalah. He walks them through setting the seventy-eight cards of the Tarot on the Tree of Life. In front of your eyes is the "living" Tarot - the ten Sephiroth, the twenty-two paths - the whole thing! And it doesn't stop here. By making use of the court cards, Wald takes the student through the four elemental worlds (Fire, Air, Water and Earth). My personal thought - if this doesn't have an impact on a Tarot students readings - then nothing will!
I highly recommend this course for those with an interest in Qabalah as it relates to Tarot. As Wald states - the course is a bare bones beginning, upon which the Tarot student will build their knowledge. Maybe this is bare bones, but there is a tremendous amount of material to work with in these tapes! If I could make a suggestion to those that want to work with these tapes - make copies of the work sheets. There are enough to work with during the class, but, if you are like me, you will want more to work with in the future as you go back and try to place this wisdom in your life.
© Bonnie Cehovet
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.