Tarot: The First Handbook for the Master by Eileen Connolly          Review by Michele Jackson

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Connolly’s new book picks up where her last book “Tarot: A Handbook for the Journeyman” left off. Each book in Connolly’s series gets more specialized. The main theme of Handbook for the Master is an in depth study of the Celtic Cross Spread. Connolly presents what she calls the “Malkuthian Celtic Spread”. This spread is to be used whenever a Celtic Cross spread has four or more Major Arcana Cards. The premise is that the querent is “experiencing unavoidable karmic situations - good, bad or indifferent”. Connolly’s system is fairly complex and consumes the majority of the book. She also provides a long initiation ritual as a “Master Tarotologist”. As is her style, she provides precise instructions which should be followed to the letter. You must have a table covered with purple paper, a purple candle, a piece of amethyst, etc. The “Master Tarotlogist” who reads for him or herself, teaches and reads for other should have “THREE distinct pairs of tarot decks” (six decks). Of course there is a section devoted to the Connolly deck which she claims “was designed to create an extended vibratory level that could be seen visually by the Tarotologist”. She provides upright and reversed meanings (the “key”), a “master pearl”, a “benchmark” and “Connolly Codicils”. Altogether they encompass a lot of information to memorize for each card. The codicils are an extension of the “divination in depth” concept in Connolly’s first book “A Handbook for the Apprentice”. Connolly promises another book tentatively titled “Tarot: A Second Handbook for the Master” in which she plans to provide additional information on the Major Arcana and in depth information on the symbolism in the Connolly deck.

Overall, I found this book and the system it describes complicated and dogmatic. I also wonder about the preoccupation with titles and initiations into those titles. If I complete this book and initiate myself as a Master Tarotologist, what does that mean? Connolly fans may like this book, particularly if they have studied and used the methods presented in Connolly’s previous books. This book is not for beginners in my opinion, nor is it suitable for more advanced students who do not subscribe to Connolly’s views. Those who use Connolly’s deck may find the interpretations useful as an extension of those provided in Connolly’s “Handbook for the Apprentice”.


The collection of the Ten Malkuthian Keys for the Malkuthian Celtic spread. The content and nature of this unique Spread is Cabalistic. The Student master Tarotologist would soon recognize the need to investigate and acquire a basic knowledge of Gnothology which is the esoteric Science of Numbers (See Connolly book of Numbers Vol. 1 and 2.). This would enable the Master to pursue the Malkutian keys in a much deeper way. Initially the Student Master Tarotologist can work with the Malkutian keys and gain a level of wisdom and satisfaction. Eventually you will realize how much further you can probe and by delineating the combined esoteric sciences of Tarotology and Gnothology. You can then be far more exacting in regard to past lives and interpreting the karmic path of Destiny and its future probabilities.

(Page 20)

Without the necessary Apprentice, Journeyman and Master studies this series will not be readily understood. This future series will explore the outer bounds of Tarotology and expose the reader to areas of studies practiced by the true Master Tarotologist.

(pg. xiv)

Tarot: The First Handbook for the Master
Author: Eileen Connolly
ISBN#: 0878772359
Price: $18.95

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

Copyright 1996/97 Michele Jackson