Strategic Intuition for the 21st Century: Tarot for Business by James Wanless Ph.D

Review by Diane Wilkes

If you are interested in buying a copy of this book, click here.

I ordered an advance copy of this book from an Atlanta bookstore that also offered a workshop with Wanless on the same topic. I was so excited when I read about it there. Talk about virgin territory--no book linking tarot with business had been written prior to this book, that I knew of, anyway.
 
I looked forward to this book even more because I respect Wanless' prior work. I admire the creativity and innovation of his Voyager Tarot, his scholarship in co-compiling (with Angeles Arrien) The Wheel of Tarot, which contains interesting articles of substance on divergent and unusual utilizations of the cards, and I frequently recommend his New Age Tarot for people interested in the Thoth deck because of its moderate price and vast array of unique spreads designed in conjunction with the cards' symbology and meaning.
 
Imagine my disappointment with this limited and limiting, simplistic self-help approach that reflects poorly on both the tarot and business community.
 
The first chapter is "Intuitive Business." The message is that many successful Chief Executive Officers rely on their intuition and will need to do so more in our changing times. He devotes six pages to this premise, which is at least five pages too many. I summed it up succinctly--why couldn't he?
 
I'll tell you why. This book is padded like a Maidenform bra. There's a lot of open white space on the pages...sidebars and ephemera compile almost half of the text. Trust me, had you read his chapter, you'd have gotten little more from it than my one sentence summary.
 
The next chapter is "Tarot Basics," and it, too, is scanty and could be summed up in a sentence or two: Tarot is a multi-use tool.  Wanless has chosen three decks to illustrate his points. The Rider-Waite-Smith and Crowley's Thoth deck are chosen for their popularity (now that's business-like), but the third deck, the Voyager, is "the most intuitively evocative of the decks. It encompasses symbolism from around the world...it is truly a universal language that crosses borders and spans the ancient/ future." That description is of a deck that the modest and self-effacing Wanless created. This is even more business-appropriate an approach, I guess: sell books and your decks simultaneously. The tie-in: a time-worn tarot tradition.
 
I know I'm being a bit scathing here, but I found several things in this book downright repellent, and Wanless' shameless flogging of his own deck is perhaps the most egregious of them. For example, in his chapter on "Quality Management," he puts forth a business-oriented "dictionary" meaning for each card. Voyager descriptions get first billing and are generally much lengthier in their verbiage. The word self-serving comes to mind again and again, directly opposing his self-righteous comments about his company being "dedicated to right livelihood," including
"higher purpose" as an ideal. It would seem to me that recognizing the other two decks as being at least equal in relevance to the issues confronting the business community at large would require giving them equivalent space. Isn't this a primary complaint of minorities'--being unrecognized and under-represented is a form of discrimination.
 
My intent was to recount chapter-by-chapter the contents of this book, but I could see it was turning into a blow-by- blow review that I really don't have the time or inclination to write. In the chapter on productivity (self-titled), Wanless' Personality Card Interpretations seem to be stretched thinner than a dead rubber band. "Downsides" for the Star are
"BS" or "lacking integrity," the Hermit is "limited to job definition" and "lacks initiative." The High Priestess' downsides are that she can be "tactless" and "uninspiring." Where does he get this stuff? Temperance is "superficial"--news to me. Death is "untactful"--I never knew this word existed, nor am I convinced that it is now.
 
Two more items that really annoyed me. Wanless talks about the popularity of Women who Run With Wolves and immediately mentions how Elisa Lodge, who conducts Wild Woman Workshops, uses the Voyager Tarot in her practice. This is deceptive because Clarissa Pinkola Estes, who isn't mentioned, wrote the "extraordinarily popular" Women who Run With Wolves. I am sure Ms. Lodge's workshops are fabulous, but my problem is the way Wanless tries to invoke the popularity of Estes' book, as if she had written a rosy blurb on the flyleaf. It is yet another indication of a lack of "higher purpose." Wanless also says that Aces mean "Number One." Nothing is mentioned about new beginnings, which would seem to be more helpful to businesses, not to mention more accurate. Why not say the theme song for the Aces is Queen's "We Will Rock You," and have done with it, if we're going to subscribe so completely to the macho, Ugly-American, Winning Uber Alles, sports coliseum mentality?
 
That really encapsulates my main problem with this book. It attempts to squeeze and limit tarot into business-speak, and if Wanless has to lop off a few facets of a card to fit it into his idea of the business box, he cuts his losses with abandon. But the loss is to the reader, and I don't believe it has to be this way. There could have been a more complex, less pop-tarot approach that would have been exciting for both communities. You can make something accessible and retain depth with a creative approach that respects your reader, a form of literary "quality control." This book is neither an exemplar for the business nor tarot community--it insults the readership of both.

Strategic Intuition for the 21st Century: Tarot for Business by James Wanless Ph.D

If you are interested in buying a copy of this book, click here.



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