Review by Bonnie Cehovet
Tarot Constellations is the second book in a series of three books from author/teacher/lecturer Mary K. Greer - the other two being Tarot For Yourself and Tarot Mirrors. Taken together, they serve as intensive teaching tools, and provide a solid foundation for a Seeker whose objective is to work with the Tarot on a personal level for spiritual growth and enlightenment.
Tarot Constellations has been out of print for some time now. I had the good fortune to have a friend who had two copies, and was willing to do a trade. I will forever be in Winter Wren's debt - many thanks to an outstanding denizen of the Tarot world!
Mary Greer authored Tarot Constellations as a continuing part of her personal studies and teaching, building on what she first presented in Tarot For Yourself. The basis, or the beginning of the foundation for the information presented here is work done by Tarot author/teacher/lecturer Angeles Arrien.
"Patterns Of Personal Destiny" refers to the fact that the Tarot can and does reflect what our personal destinies are. We are all born at a time that resonates with energy that we chose to develop, and the lessons that we chose to learn in this lifetime. The Tarot shows us the energy that supports and nurtures our path - the "opportunities" that are there for us. It also shows us the blocks, or challenges that will be there along the way, and what we can learn by overcoming them.
The Tarot cards and archetypes that are associated with our names and our birthdates form the mandala of our destiny for each lifetime. Mary makes an important point when she states that while this information is also available from the study of numerology and astrology, these are basically text venues, whereas the Tarot offers us pictures - a literal picture as a focus point for understanding who and what we are. When we choose to work with the Tarot, we open a gateway between our conscious self and our subconscious inner self.
Using this background, Tarot constellations become groupings of Tarot cards that are related in that they carry the same theme. For the purpose of this book, the theme that connects the cards is the number that they are associated with. The foundation for this work is presented using the core numbers 1-9. The nine Tarot constellations become:
1. The Constellation of the Magician: The Principle of Will and Focused Consciousness This constellation consists of the Magician, the Sun, all Ace's and all Ten's.
2. The Constellation of the High Priestess: The Principle of Balanced Judgment through Intuitive Awareness. This constellation consists of the High Priestess, Justice, Judgment, and all Two's.
3. The Constellation of the Empress: The Principle of Love and Creative Imagination. This constellation consists of the Empress, the Universe, the Hanged Man and all Three's.
4. The Constellation of the Emperor. The Principle of Life Force and the Realization of Power. This constellation consists of the Emperor, The Fool (which carries the numbers 0 and 22 in this book), Death and all Four's.
5. The Constellation of the Hierophant: The Principle of Teaching and Learning. This constellation consists of the Hierophant and all Five's.
6. The Constellation of the Lovers: The Principle of Relatedness and Choice. This constellation consists of the Lovers and all Six's.
7. The Constellation of the Chariot: The Principle of Mastery through Change. This constellation consists of the Chariot and all Seven's.
8. The Constellation of Strength: The Principle of Courage and Self-Esteem. This constellation consists of Strength and all Eight's.
9. The Constellation of the Hermit: The Principle of Introspection and Personal Integrity. This constellation consists of the Hermit and all Nine's.
(Note: There are a couple of issues with the above numbering. One issue would be giving the number 22 to the Fool. My personal feeling here is that the Fool carries only the number 0, as the archetype is one that encompasses all. The second issue would be the numbering for Strength and Justice, which in some decks is reversed. Mary makes the very good point here that the Tarot adept needs to determine for themselves what the order should be, and then stick to that in their personal work.)
There are several specific categories of cards that are addressed in this book. They are as follows:
* Personality Card: This card represents both personality characteristics that are a core part of a given lifetime and lessons that are learned early in life.
* Soul Card: This is your soul purpose - the qualities that you need to express in whatever you do to feel fulfilled.
(Note: The Personality and Soul cards taken together form the destiny pattern for a given lifetime.)
* Hidden Factor Card: This card will not show up for everyone. When it does, it represents Major Arcana card(s) that are in the constellation of the Personality card, but that do not show up in the actual calculations. The hidden factor can act as the "shadow' side of the archetype (using the term "shadow" as defined by Carl Jung: unknown or little known parts of the personality). The "dark" shadow refers to those qualities that we dislike, distrust, or for some reason do not want to address within ourselves. The "bright" shadow refers to those qualities that we admire (such as creativity and assertiveness), and have the ability to manifest, but fail to see within ourselves.
Mary makes an interesting comment here that the Hidden Factor acts as our Shadow most strongly during our younger years. For people over thirty, she states that the Hidden Factor card most often acts as a Teacher card - in large part because this age group is ready to actively work with its energies. Of note here is that, according to Carl Jung, only by getting to know our shadow selves can we achieve individuation.
* Lessons and Opportunities Cards: These are the Minor Arcana cards that occur in each constellation. These cards define your gifts and opportunities, as well as the blocks and challenges that the Seeker may face in any given lifetime.
Mary suggests many different uses for information presented on the Tarot constellation cards. The primary use is to define the Personality, Soul and Hidden Factor cards. The information may also be used to determine how a card is defined within a reading, for understanding your Daily Triumph Card (a card a day type draw from the Major Arcana only), paying close attention when sever cards from the Seekers Personality Constellation appear in a reading, following the loves of famous people through studying their Personality Constellation, or looking for the "story line" within your own Personality Constellation.
(I use a different method for determining the Personality Card - one that gifts the Seeker with two Personality cards, rather than one. In this manner the two cards act in unison to form the theme of each lifetime, and the gateway into each lifetime. There are many ways that the numbers can be used, and each has its own gifts, as well as its own drawbacks.)
* Personal Year Cards: These cards are determined by adding the Seeker's day and month of birth to the current year. The resulting Tarot archetype represents the gifts and the challenges of any given year. Mary gives an interesting interpretation in answering the questions of "Do we start our personal year with our birthday, or do we start it with the calendar year (January 1st)?" Her response is that there are two different cycles: the year determined by the calendar refers to an outer cycle, to events happening to you, while your birthday to birthday cycle is one of inner experience.
There is much, much more to this book, including determining karmic years and using numerology to determine your name cards with the use of your given name at birth. I find it interesting to note that Mary feels that the energy of the birth name stays with us for our entire lifetime, but that it can be altered somewhat if we consciously choose to change our names.
As always with Mary Greer's work, Tarot Constellations is a well researched, well presented book, filled with charts and exercises that allow the Seeker to do some intense work with the Tarot. This book is OOP (out of print) - if you can find it, snap it up! You will find it well worth your while.
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.