Review by Bonnie Cehovet
This definitely is Tarot outside of the box. Clearly de Angeles is quite a creative person, and she has a long history with the Tarot, both as a reader and as a teacher. Overlay this with a Pagan background that has an equally long history, and you have the foundation for what is, at the least, a thought provoking work. I would not be surprised to see her ideas cracking open how the Tarot, and Tarot readings, are viewed. I don't agree with everything that is presented here, but it is presented in a thoughtful manner, so that the individual reader can make an informed decision on how much of the information they want to place to work in their own life.
Before I begin, I would like to mention that I am reviewing an uncorrected proof of this book. The black and white card scans are present, as are the layouts for the recommended Tarot spreads, but some of the art is missing (for the sample spreads), and there needs to be some serious editing done as far as the copy is concerned.
The book is presented in syllabus format ... as if this were a brick and mortar class. It breaks down into four parts (Part One - The History of Everything, Part Two - Tarot, The Living Tradition, Part Three - Practicing Your Craft, and Part Four - The Future), with each part being broken down into "units", as opposed to chapters.
De Angeles teaches what she calls "Walking The Web - Tarot Collectives". She presents the thought that when the Tarot becomes aware of you, and you begin to change in accordance with the nature of the Tarot, you "become" the Tarot. A major concept behind all of this is that everything is part of a Whole ... that nothing is separate. I see this as rather at odds with the concept that a reader channels the wisdom of the Tarot. While channeling, do we become part of the Tarot? I think we become part of the process, but I also think that her ideas have validity, and could make for some intense discussions!
Part One is basically a discussion of time ... biological time, physical time, calendar time, psychological time ... bringing us to the concept of infinite time. Included in this section is an interactive visualization that guides the student in holding the thought of two things at one time, followed by Y-Node Theory and a written exercise.
Now we come to another point that de Angeles makes that will undoubtedly lead to some lively discussions (and perhaps an intense row or tow!) ... the question that she presents for consideration is "What if the events predicted through the Tarot would never have occurred if they had not been predicted?" The Tarot Police will glom onto this one post haste! Crimes against humanity! The subject is serious enough that I am going to quote from the book (the backdrop for this is the template of a reading experience... the client arriving, the reader preparing the cards, the client shuffling, the reading being laid out and interpreted, the client paying and leaving):
"Everything plays a part in what happens next: the client, their DNA interacting with the paper of a series of images that have inherent meaning, albeit in symbol-form and the interpretation of that set of symbols in a pre-learned pattern that basically tells a series of stories and events, complete with emotion and sensation.
The thing is ... when you begin to speak you are collapsing what was, until that moment, the probability of only one of very many possible futures! You have entered into the perceived world a material essence - your voice. you have imprinted your words into the mind of the client and: What's spoken cannot be unspoken."
de Angeles goes on to give two further considerations: (1) much of a reading could be forgotten if not recorded, and (2) readings that are recorded are material realities (as much as any recorded sound can be).
At the end of Part One de Angeles briefly mentions something that she calls the "random factor". This involves the Fool showing up in a reading without the interaction of other cards. In this instance, she feels that it hides an event that the client is not to know about. She feels that it does because some things in an individual's life have to "seem" to be accidents in order to change the individual's future.
Part Two presents the theory behind the Tree of Life, the macrocosm and the microcosm, and the individual sephiroth there is an interesting exercise in this unit where the reader makes their own glyph of the Tree of Life (poster size), using traditional planetary colors, then places the cards of the Major Arcana in the order of the Lightening Path, and recording their observations.
In her work, de Angeles has reversed the direction of the Tree of Life, working from Malkuth to Kether (physical to spiritual), making Malkuth the first sephiroth and Kether the tenth sephiroth. there is a practical exercise in Part Two where all 78 cards are placed in the pattern of the Lightening Path, allowing you to access information about individuals and events in your life.
The Soul's Journey of the Major Arcana is presented through the 11 by 11 theory, with the first phase of 11 cards (beginning with the Fool) representing "I am the Parent Tree": Challenge, and the second phase representing "Dropping from the Parent Tree": Individuation. Personally, I follow the 3X7 theory, with the Fool standing above the remainder of the Major Arcana, representing the individual taking the journey, and able to insert himself anywhere in the card sequence.
The cards themselves are presented with black and white scans, and a short description of the energy they carry and how they would appear in a reading. In the Court Card series, the Knight is presented before the Page, and is seen rarely as representing a person, but as movements, or modes of transportation. de Angeles also makes the comment that "There is usually nothing insidious or worrying when this card is involved." Now, that specific statement was made in reference to the Knight of Wands, but the text for the other three Knights falls along the same line.
In her section on spreads, de Angeles presents eight spreads that she uses in a specific sequence when reading for clients. They are: the Celtic Cross; General Events; Other People and Specific Events; the Tree of Life; The Warning; Anything Else; Destiny (Major Arcana only); and Question. The traditional Celtic Cross spread has six cards added two it: cards for Past/Present/Future are placed to the left hand side of the spread, with the remaining three cards placed at the bottom of the spread, and read as a unit. Examples are given for full consultations.
At the end of the book there is a very useful section on cards as they are paired with other cards, and how they would be interpreted. I don't agree with all of de Angeles' interpretations, but I feel that this is an important section, because it shows the process of how integrating card meanings is done, and allows the reader to go off on their own and essentially come up with what works for them.
There is also a section on going professional, as well as an annotated bibliography, and a short reference section including both books and Internet sources.
There is quite a bit of information presented in this book, and I do feel that it will open people's minds to new ways of looking at things. The caveat here is to take what works, and leave the rest behind. There are things in this book that will not work for everyone ... one of them being the Opening Pentagram ritual that de Angeles presents as a way of clearing the energy from a previous client. This is a magickal procedure that everyone may not feel comfortable with. She also advocates that you never shuffle the cards yourself when reading for a client, as this contaminates the cards with your own future experiences. Another topic for lively discussion!
I feel that this book is not really a beginners book ... that it is better suited to intermediate or advanced students. I also feel that very little information was actually given on the cards themselves. The heart of the book is in the sharing of readings and life experiences that de Angeles does. This is an excellent book to use as a starting place for future studies for someone who has a basic Tarot background.
© August 2007
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.