The Tarot Journal: Using the Tarot to Explore the Unconscious by Carl Japikse
Review by Diane Wilkes

If you would like to purchase this book, click here.

Quite a few years ago, I read and really enjoyed Japikse's Exploring the Tarot, so I was happily surprised to recently discover that The Tarot Journal: Using the Tarot to Explore the Unconscious was available on Amazon.com. Journalling with the tarot is one of my many passions, which meant that the book was high atop my hit list.

Having never seen The Tarot Journal in a bookstore (and I frequent many and often!), I had no idea what to expect...and must admit to some disappointment when I finally saw it in the flesh (paper...you know what I mean).

The advice about journalling is first-rate, and the Celtic Cross Template is well-designed. It includes a space for the date and the question asked (Japikse emphasizes that the cards will answer the question you ask, not the "question behind the question," so be clear when you ask and refer back to your written question so that you can't re-design the answers to suit your inclinations.) There is also a list that helps you break down your spread into the number of  Majors and the four suits, the spread layout itself, and a full page for notes about the spread. Japikse has a unique take on the Celtic Cross and the designated card meanings are springboards for insight-laden readings.

So, why am I disappointed? Because, of the 176 pages, only ten are devoted to Japikse's text about his particular version of the Celtic Cross, journalling tips, and why the tarot is so well-suited to self-examination. The remaining pages consist of the Celtic Cross template and page for notes. Limiting oneself to one spread--and a ten-card spread at that!--seems like a one-size-fits-all-so-it-really-doesn't-fit-anyone approach. When using a tarot journal, sometimes you want to use a large spread, but other times one card will do. Other times, you will want something very specific. Admittedly, Japikse's Celtic Cross is one that would fit most circumstances and afford great personal illumination, but it's still relatively monotonous. In this day and age, one can duplicate a spread on the computer and save a lot of money, money that can be better spent on a book with some variation!

The ten pages of text are thought-provoking and astute. The author notes that we all have blind spots that the tarot helps us to see, and offers several examples of questions, including many that are similar to the wisdom questions Rachel Pollack talks about in The Forest of Souls. And, as I point out earlier in the review, the material on the Celtic Cross is innovative and valuable.

But. There are only ten pages of text. And the remainder of the book consists of the one spread, forever and ever, amen.

If you are looking for a book that contains 75 Celtic Cross templates, Japikse's Tarot Journal is for you. If not, you would do better to seek out Exploring the Tarot (which also covers Japikse's Celtic Cross spread in-depth) and creating your own spread templates on your computer.

The Tarot Journal: Using the Tarot to Explore the Unconscious by Carl Japikse
Publisher: Ariel Press
ISBN#: 0898040442

If you would like to purchase this book, click here.


Review and page 2003 Diane Wilkes