Review by Bonnie Cehovet
The Path of Nine Stars combines the world of Tarot with the world of Feng Shui. I think that these two worlds can work together, in a very good way, but it would be difficult to know that from reading this book.
Archer starts out with a brief history of the Tarot that includes the Tarot being considered a book, rather than a deck of cards; whether Tarot refers to all 78 cards, or only to the 22 cards of the Major Arcana; and the Minor Arcana somehow being there to make use of associations with astrology, numerology, and mysticism. To be fair, Archer also endorses the use of the Tarot for meditation as well as personal growth, and the thought that the more the reader knows about the Tarot, the more effective it will be.
Archer presents the Major Arcana in its traditional sequence and numbering, with traditional tiles. I have a problem with her statement that scholars, in attempting to restore the meaning of the original Book of Tarot, are doing so by researching and adding symbols to the drawings. (The symbols were allegedly removed in the Middle Ages due to fear of persecution by religious authorities, and this is a thought that is given some credence in the Tarot world.)
Archer also assigns the honor of preserving the Tarot over the centuries to the Gypsy people, connecting them to emigrants from Egypt (Egyptians) who brought with them their tradition of esoteric knowledge in the form of the Major Arcana. She then goes on to acknowledge the arrival of the Tarot in Europe in the latter part of the14th century, which would essentially be before the arrival of the Gypsies.
In her section on choosing a deck, she gives the very good advice of starting with either the Rider-Waite or the Morgan-Greer (a "Rider-Waite" clone) deck. She encourages the student to become familiar with traditional Tarot before moving on to one of the specialty decks - and this is very good advice.
Archer does a good job of covering the reader's responsibilities, and of how to set up a reading. She does indicate where her opinions are her opinions, or where things simply work best for her, as in not allowing the Seeker to do the shuffling. (This is generally considered to be up to the individual reader.) She advises the reader never to talk to the Seeker about death or disaster during a reading (i.e. of the Death card comes up etc), and she works on the premise that there is no such things as "The Future", as this would imply that there is one path, written in stone. Here she advises that the reader consider all possibilities.
Archer briefly covers how to determine a significator, if the reader chooses to use this card, as well as how to meditate with the cards, and how to enter a card. She presents an interesting way of doing a reading by drawing nine cards, placing them in three rows of three each, then using a pendulum to decide which card to read first, which next, etc.
There is also a very brief introductory chapter on Feng Shui, which discusses the nature of the art (bringing order to your surroundings), and the basic determinations (the nine guas, or areas in a typical Feng Shui diagram: (1) family, (2) prosperity, (3) health, (4) helpful people and travel, (5) children and the immediate family, (6) wisdom, skills and knowledge, (7) fame and reputation, (8) career and life path, and (9) relationships and love. Each of the nine guas holds a position within the Nine Stars Spread.
Each Tarot card is presented with its astrological association, a short discussion of the energy of the card, how the card would be read in each of the nine positions for the guas, and advice that could be given the Seeker. The interpretations given are, of course, those of the author (such as seeing the Hermit as a mentor). She does encourage using these interpretations as a starting point, so that the reader has some basis for developing their own meanings.
At the end of the book Archer presents a sample reading that she actually did in preparation for this book. It does show how such a reading could flow. There is also a short bibliography, listing some well known Tarot resources, as well as one for Goddess Power, and one for Feng Shui.
I would not recommend this book to anyone who does not already have a solid background in the Tarot. However, for those who do, learning how to use it in conjunction with the art of Feng Shui may open some new doors. This is definitely a book where the caveat "Take what Thou wilt, and leave the rest" comes to mind.
© February 2006
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.