Tarot For Magical Times
Author: Rachel Pollack, Johannes Fiebig
U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
I can never say enough about Rachel Pollack’s work, and this book, co-authored by Johannes Fiebig, with a contributing article by Ernest Ott, is no exception. Reflected is a world of magical practices and interpretations for each of the 78 cards of the Tarot, coming from the perspective of two of the finest minds in the Tarot world.
In their forward the authors address the fact that these are changing times. They talk about the years 2008-2024 as representing a “phase” in which we find the planet Pluto in the sign of Capricorn. They note that the last phases that saw Pluto in Capricorn were the era of the Reformation (1516-1532), and the era of Enlightenment (1761-1778). The common thread here being that Pluto in Capricorn places focus on the basic tenets of both the individual and their culture being subjected to a process of change.
The Tarot is offered as a tool of change, and it is offered in a very unique manner. The first three chapters of this book serve as a kind of triptych, with each of the three authors (Pollack, Fiebig, and Ott) presenting their approaches on how the Tarot can best help us in these times. All three chapters are incredibly well written.
Pollack’s chapter, entitled “It is the Moment, Not the Date”, works with the concept of the Tarot as representing the larger picture of the world falling apart, and then coming back together in such a manner that the past is able to be released, and a new world ushered in. I have always liked the manner in which Pollack presents the Major Arcana in the “3X7” theory, with the Fool above the cards, and three lines of seven cards each beneath him. In this book, she presents other ways of looking at this progression: (1) in two lines of 11 cards each, with the first line as 0-10, and the second line being 11-21, (2) with the Fool as the journeyer, and standing above the other cards, and the World as the destination, and standing below the cards. Between them are two lines of ten cards each (1-10 and 11-20). The Minor Arcana are denoted in an interesting manner: Wands – the way of struggle, Cups – the way of the heart, Swords – the way of Sorrow, and Pentacles – the way of the earth. The Court cards are seen as forming their own group, representing people, as opposed to actions or events.
Fiebig’s chapter, entitled “Riding the Storm”, focuses on the cultural revolution, around the time period of 1968. He sees the hippie movement of the 1960’s, and the feminist movement of the 1970’s as the “chief agents” behind the mass circulation of the Tarot. He notes that as with all symbolic languages and oracles, the Tarot is of special help when we have reached a dead end using other means. He also notes that all three contributors to this book, without consulting each other, gave the Tower central importance. Not surprising, since this is a book about change. As Pollack did in her chapter, Fiebig bases much of his commentary on the events of 9/11, and different people’s reactions to it. He talks about the archetypes as representing patterns of behavior of the soul, and the “Twin Towers” in Manhattan being destroyed because of their symbolic importance. “Whoever dares an own design for a living becomes a “Rider on the storm”.”
Ott’s chapter, entitled “New Life Blossoms In The Ruins”, focuses on the astrological significance of Pluto in Capricorn. (Note: Ott is Head of the School of Astrology in Karlsruhe, Germany, and founder of the German Tarot Association.) He talks about the three phases of moving from the old world structure to the new world structure: (1) Destruction of Walls, (2) New Life blossoms in the ruins,and (3) Resurrection of all that is buried. He notes that Pluto in Capricorn aids a resurrection of the shadow in the horoscope, and tearing down the walls of fear.
There is a short section by Pollack on spreads, presenting ways of looking at one, two and three card spreads. Fiebig has added an excellent section on paying attention to the positive and the negative of the cards – IOW, reading with 360 degrees of meaning.
Each card is presented with a small, full color image from the Rider/Waite/Smith deck, a short description of the card, the divinatory meaning, reversed meaning, and an action that can be taken based on the energy of the card.
The final section in the book talks about the qualities of time – the decans of the twelve months, and the cards assigned to them. For example: the Aries month is entitled “Turning a Desert into a Garden”, presents the basic quality for the sign of Aries (21 March – 20 April), discuses the Emperor, Tower, and Queen of Wands, as well as the three decans (1st decan – Two of Wands, 2nd decan Three of Wands, and 3rd decan Four of Wands). Note: Each decan has a short discussion, as well as words of advice. For the 3rd decan of Aries, the Four of Wands, the advice is: “Don’t accept any rotten compromise. Avoid nitpicking solutions. Do not hide your true reasons and your authentic feelings. They offer the best motivation and guarantee beautiful results!”
We are in transformational times – the authors take this one step further and present the Tarot as being a prophecy for this transformational change, and a guide to a rebirth into a new world – both on the individual and the community/world level. Through the use of full color images and astutely written texts, the authors offer us a new way of thinking and a new way of being. For me, the presentation in this book was a magical as the concepts. And it doesn’t end there – the book will be coming out simultaneously in English and German versions!
Needless to say, I highly recommend this book as a quality addition to any Tarot library, and a wonderful resource.
© December 2011 Bonnie Cehovet