Tarot Shadow Work by Christine Jette-- Review by Diane Wilkes

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

So often we see new tarot books and they seem only to be rehashing and re-warming old news.  This can be depressing for the tarot book collector who wants to read something that is neither trendy nor predominantly reiterative.  Hats off to Christine Jette--she has something new to say--and she says it cogently, with depth, passion, and compassion.

This 200+ page book is eminently readable.  Jette divides the book into three sections: The Shadow Knows, Into the Light and Star Guides.

 The Shadow Knows introduces the Jungian concept of the Shadow, the potentials and limitations of Tarot Shadow Work, a chapter on ritual work, ways to learn and use the tarot, and tips on grounding.  There are also exercises and lovely meditations.  Finally, there are two five card spreads, both in the shape of stars.  One spread is called the Star of Discovery, the other the Star of Recovery, which gives you an idea of the author's approach to the healing process: you must face and explore the shadow before you progress into the curative mode.

Into the Light covers various aspects of the shadow: denial, projection, regression, somatization, rationalization, and repression, along with the bright shadow, and methods of coaxing the shadow into the light of acknowledgment.  In this section, Jette also discusses dreamwork in some length, developing compassion, and practical, hands-on exercises to move towards healing and growth.   There is also another wonderful meditation and two more star-shaped spreads: the Star of Illumination and the Star of Hope.

Star Guides contains three appendices.   "Shadows of Tarot" offers the shadow and shadow gifts for each of the major arcana.  This section and the book cover are illustrated with the Robin Wood Tarot Deck.  Appendix B, "You are Not Alone" is a listing of various social service agencies, hotlines, and websites.  Appendix C is a varied and excellent "Recommended Reading" list, which lists tarot books by Mary Greer, Rachel Pollack, Gail Fairfield, and others, and also tarot organizations and websites.  Tarot Passages/Michele's Tarot Page, alas, isn't on the list, but no one (and no list) is perfect--as Jette points out in this book. 

Speaking of imperfections...there could be more variation in the spreads, and the author could have integrated tarot into even more areas of the book--the section on dreamwork comes to mind.  But it seems specious to search for flaws on a crystal as fine as Tarot Shadow Work.

The greatest strength of the book is the author's voice.  In all-too-many tarot how-to books, the writer comes across as rather dogmatic: silk is the only fabric to use to cover your tarot deck, you must (or must not) use reversals, and the best (and only) deck to use is the Rider-Waite-Smith...or Thoth...you get the drift.  Ironically, even some authors who urge you to find a personal connection with the cards have a shadow area in which they are doctrinaire.  Christine Jette repeatedly, continuously gives the power back to the reader.   

But it is not simply the author's voice that is so attractive to me.  Jette explains psychological terms and concepts concisely, without being patronizing, nor avoiding complexities.  Yet it is also accessible; this is one of the few non-fiction books I read as avidly as a novel.  I actually regretted coming to the end of Tarot Shadow Work.

The good news is that Llewellyn will be publishing Jette's next book, Tarot for the Healing Heart, in July of 2001.  Meanwhile, I recommend this book for beginning tarot readers and all tarot enthusiasts who enjoy exploring a psychological/spiritual approach.

Excerpt, Page 18:

A Note About Rituals and Tarot Cards

The purpose of rituals is to help us focus on the issue or task at hand.  People have discovered over the years that certain actions help them focus on the tarot cards.  Some of the most common actions (rituals) are:

Opinions vary on the many things you can do with the tarot cards.  Rituals are personal.  You will not, at any time in these pages, be told how to shuffle, deal, clean, or store your cards.  That aspect of your tarot experiences is up to you.

If you like rituals and they help you focus on working with the cards, use them.  No ritual you perform is sacred unless it is sacred to you.  If you develop a habit and the habit helps you focus, use it.  Its value is that it helps you to better read the cards.  The most powerful rituals are invented by you.  Use whatever ritual feels right when working with the cards, or use no ritual at all.  You should never do something just because a book tells you to do it.  Be aware of why you do what you do.  Start exercising your power of choice.  Treat the cards the way you treat anything else of value.  Tarot can be a powerful took for transformation and growth, but the "magic" does not come from the cards; the magic comes from you.

Tarot Shadow Work: Using the Dark Symbols to Heal
Author: Christine Jette
Publisher: Llewellyn Worldwide 
ISBN: 1567184081

You can read an interview with Christine Jette, the author of Tarot Shadow Work here.

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

Review and Page 2000 Diane Wilkes
Book excerpt 2000 Christine Jette