Tarot and The Tree of Life: Finding Everyday Wisdom in the Minor Arcana by Isabel Radow Kliegman
Review by Michele Jackson

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This new book fills a much needed gap in the Tarot/Kabbalah field. Most books which discuss Tarot in terms of Kabbalah are about the Major Arcana and the Paths. To find an entire book devoted to the Minor Arcana was a pleasant surprise. The book is illustrated with the Universal Waite deck and the descriptions of the symbolism are geared towards this deck as well. Kliegman starts with an introduction where she discusses some uses for Tarot and recommends a means of studying/meditating on the cards. Chapter One is a discussion of the Minor Arcana in general and provides some historical background for the connection between Tarot and Kabbalah. Chapter Two is an introduction to Kabbalah. Kliegman has a gift for explaining things in an easy to understand manner. My only caveat is that this chapter only provides a bare-bones introduction to the subject. For someone familiar with Kabbalah, this is a refreshing change of pace, but I don't think it provides enough information for a complete novice to sink his/her teeth into. It is obvious that she is well versed in her subject matter. She draws from a wide variety of sources in her interpretations, including religious works and the Western Mystery tradition, though her primary source seems to be her understanding of the Jewish Kabbalah. Kliegman uses a conversational writing style which makes the book easy to read, unlike most books about Kabbalah.

Chapters Three through Six are devoted to the Ace through Ten of each suit. Each card has its own section which describes its symbolism and how it exemplifies the qualities of the Sephirah to which it is assigned. Chapter Seven discusses the court cards. Kliegman uses personal experiences, anecdotal information from various sources, history, mythology and Jewish folk tales in order to make the information easy to understand. It would be difficult to read about any card she describes and not find something that makes you say "aha!" Kliegman's interpretations are often personal and she invites each reader to use the Kabbalah, the scenes on the cards and their own experiences to develop their own interpretations. This is not a book of interpretations for memorization, rather it is a book designed to provide a framework for discovering the interpretations for one's self.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I highly recommend it for anyone looking for an accessible introduction to Tarot and Kabbalah. Beginners will find it a good introduction to Kabbalah and more advanced readers will no doubt find some food for thought.

Tarot and the Tree of Life: Finding Everyday Wisdom in the Minor Arcana
Author: Isabel Radow Kliegman
ISBN: 0-8356-0747-X
Price: $14.00 USD

Excerpt

Seven of Pentacles

We now move to Netzach, the seventh sephirah associated with Venus and the top of the right hip, and to the place of the Seven of Pentacles. I think what we see here is best expressed by saying, "Is that all there is? There must be more to life." This is not a card of failure; it is a card of success without fulfillment. Here we see a gardener. He has sown, he has cultivated, and he is reaping a bumper crop of pentacles, so plentiful that they cover the vine. Gee, does he look happy! Not exactly. His whole demeanor, from his facial expression to the heaviness of his body as he leans on his hoe, conveys dejection. But why isn't he satisfied? Could it be that it is time for that caretaker to move out of his carefully cultivated garden and climb the mountain?

...Netzach as we recall, is called "victory," but it is also the vessel from which our passion flows. The success of the morose gardener challenges us to examine what constitutes victory in our own lives. making a lot of money? Outdoing a perceived competitor? Achieving a stated goal? How about graduating from college? Any of these may be victories, but none carries that guarantee...In the Seven of Pentacles we see the hollowness of victory without passion and the moment at which we experience the need for passionate involvement in our lives.

Tarot and the Tree of Life pg. 62 - 63

Read another review of this book by Diane Wilkes

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