Review by Valerie Sim-Behi, CTGM
First let me begin by saying how much I like the title of this book, but how mis-leading I feel the subtitle might be to people who should simply not miss this work. Pictures From the Heart is a great opening premise and an apt description of what I know of Dr. Thomson's journey with the tarot over the last decade. But what's up with the inclusion of the phrase A Tarot Dictionary?
When I received a review copy of this manuscript I was initially admittedly put off by the use of the word dictionary in the title. I confess that when desperate I have been known to read dictionaries, encyclopedias, even cereal boxes. But I haven't been that desperate for reading material in years. I feared this might be the first work penned by Sandra Thomson that would disappoint me. I couldn't have been more wrong.
For those with an advance misconception similar to mine, be advised that this is far more than a dictionary. If you love Tarot, or even if you are mildly interested in the subject, don't pass this book up. There is something here for everyone from the Tarot beginner to those veterans of the Tarot that have more years in card study under the belt than it is chronologically comfortable to admit.
Simply put, if it pertains to Tarot, it is included here with the one exception of entries pertaining to living Tarotists, the inclusion of which would have resulted in an inappropriate and unwieldy popularity contest. Great pains are taken to discuss numerological, astrological, qabbalistic and alchemical references. Not too surprisingly, every card in the 78-card Tarot deck is described in great detail and from a multitude of angles and perspectives, but this tome does not stop there. Literally hundreds of entries are included covering history, lore, and most importantly and with great detail, the vast symbolism of the Tarot.
What are dignities? Who was Etteilla? What does a rose represent in a Tarot card? What is the significance of a "five"? What is meant by lingam and yoni? What is quintessence? How does one "clear a deck"? Do these questions piqué your curiosity? Then this book is for you.
Simply put, and laying to rest my initial caveat, this is no mere dictionary with brief and simplistic entries, but is a complete yet concise Tarot lexicon and reference manual that should become an indispensable resource for beginners and neophytes alike. Beginners shouldn't contemplate being without it and veterans will be delighted by nuggets of knowledge heretofore missed. I recommend it highly and without reservation.
Valerie has been studying both tarot and astrology for over 30 years. Her passion for both has led to the authorship of her own metaphysical teaching materials, with which she has been an online teacher for the past two and a half years. Valerie is the List Oowner of the popular tarot email list, ComparativeTarot@yahoogroups.com; serves as Vice President of Communications for the American Tarot Association; has just finished her soon-to-be-published-book, Tarot: Out of the Box; and has written the pamphlet for the recently published Comparative Tarot deck.