Review by Bonnie Cehovet
Thursday Night Tarot is one of the most incredible books I have ever read. Maybe this is because it presents a view of kinder, gentler times. Through the auspices of editor Arisa Victor, a series of weekly talks on the wisdom of the Major Arcana, given by Jason C. Lotterhand, is presented in book form (by special permission of the Builders of the Adytum).
Jason Lotterhand was on the path of self discovery from the age of twelve. A businessman by profession, he was friends with and studied under the late Paul Foster Case. In 1944 Mr. Lotterhand became Director of the Builders of the Adtyum (BOTA), Dr. Case's educational organization. Upon retiring, Mr. Lotterhand became Director Emeritus of the Mystery School.
Starting in 1950, Mr. Lotterhand held study groups in Ancient Philosophy every Thursday evening at Fort Mason, Bldg C in San Francisco. The textbook that he used was Paul Foster Case's The Tarot: A Key To Understanding The Wisdom Of The Ages, a book dedicated to the 22 Major Arcana of the Tarot.
In the author's preface to this book, Mr. Lotterhand discusses the Cabala (the spelling that this book uses) and the Tree of Life, defining the ten Sepiroth and briefly discussing the placement of the 22 Hebrew letters that appear as paths on the Tree. Mr. Lotterhand also makes the point that in coming to realize that we are all ONE, all parto f the same energy, that we invite the presence of the Divine into our lives.
In compiling the information for this books, approximately ten tapes for each of the twenty-two Major Arcana were sifted through and edited. The result is a marvelous gift to the Tarot world - a series of lectures given in plain English, with no pomp or ego involved, that discuss the Tarot, the Cabala, and the path that we each need to follow for growth and self-discovery.
Thursday Night Tarot begins with several different charts that are referenced throughout the talks. The first one is called "The Pattern On The Trestleboard". From the book:
The Pattern On The Trestleboard
This is the truth about the Self:
0. All the power that ever was or will be is here now.
1. I am a center of expression for the Primal Will-To-Good which eternally creates and sustains the universe.
2. Through me its unfailing Wisdom takes thought in form and word.
3. Filled with Understanding of its perfect law, I am guided, moment by moment, along the Path of Liberation.
4. From the exhaustless riches of its Limitless Substance, I draw all things needful, both spiritual and material.
5. I recognize the manifestation of the undeviating Justice in all the circumstances in my life.
6. In all things, great and small, I see the Beauty of the divine expression.
7. Living from that Will, supported by its unfailing Wisdom and Understanding, mine is the Victorious Life.
8. I look forward with confidence to the perfect realization of the Eternal Splendor of the Limitless Light.
9. In thought and word and deed, I rest my life, from day to day, upon the sure Foundation of Eternal Being.
10. The Kingdom of Spirit is embodied in my flesh.
There is also a chart called the Tarot Tableau, which shows the Major Arcana with the Fool standing above three lines of seven cards each, followed by a schematic of the Tree of Life, sound and color attributions for the Major Arcana, as well as a chart listing key concepts, intelligence's and astrological attributions.
The talks themselves flow in a very gentle, yet purposeful manner. Each card is discussed, covering its archetypal nature, how it works in our lives, and how it relates to other specific cards in the Tarot. The Path for each card is defined, showing its placement and intent on the Tree of Life. Mr. Lotterhand shines through as a very old school gentleman both in his choice of words and in his manner of speech. He is respectful of his subject and of his audience, and has a very sharp sense of humor that he doesn't hesitate to point at himself, as he tells stories to make his points clear. Mr. Lotterhand is converse in many diverse esoteric systems, and does not hesitate to bring them into his talks.
After he is done with his weekly talk, he opens the forum for questions, which have been included in this book. I am going to present a few of the questions, and their answers, so that you can get a sense of the tone of this book.
Question: How would you define infinity?
Answer: The Infinite is that from which you can draw forth anything without depleting it in any way. It is like the old fairy tales of endlessly productive pots and purses. As it says in statement zero in "The Pattern On The Trestleboard, "All the power that ever was or will be is here now."
Question: What do you think keeps the Fool from stepping off the cliff?
Answer: Why don't you ask him? That's a Tarot technique. If you have a question about a Key, you contemplate the Key itself.
Question: What if you don't know what you are looking for?
Answer: It will come to you. For instance, I never dreamed I'd get married. I had envisioned living my whole life as a bachelor. Now I'm glad that I did get married. Good things happened to me because of it. It was a big surprise, though.
Question: The Emperor looks so stern.
Answer: It's unfortunate that the rulership represented by the fourth Key is associated with a bunch of you-know-what in history. However, you don't need to be afraid at all of this personage. In the Tarot deck, the knights are likely to carry weapons, but the Author of the Universe doesn't need weapons. There isn't anyone outside of himself who could possibly attack him. There's no competition. He is in the same position as the Hermit, who is alone.
The Emperor sits in the Mercy Seat, which is also said to be the Seat of Jupitor. His purple outfit is the color of Jupitor, that great benefice of astrology. In the words of Milarepa, Tibet's favorite yogi, "Goodwill and harmlessness his weapons are." In other words, love is disarming. That's the greatest weapon of all, isn't it.
Each of the talks ended with Mr. Lotterhand thanking those present and sending them off with something to think about for the next weeks card. From the book, when moving from the Empress to the Emperor:
"Thank you for joining me and making my Thursday a happy one. Without your company it wouldn't be Thursday at all. You should have a good week because the Emperor isn't a bad fellow. He doesn't have any offensive weapons and if he's not offensive then he must be okay."
This book was a step back in time for me. Mr. Lotterhand is a genuine gentleman, and you feel very graced in the company of his words. I highly recommend this book for all students, at all levels, and for personal as well as group work.
© June 2004
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.