The Tarot: History, Mystery, and Lore by Cynthia Giles
Review by Nina Lee Braden

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For the modern student of Tarot, an excellent and indispensable resource is Cynthia Giles' The Tarot: History, Mystery, and Lore. Giles has a Ph.D. in Humanities, specializing in Jungian and archetypal psychology. Her book, first published in 1992, is filled with a variety of Tarot information, presented in a scholarly yet readable fashion.

Giles has a unit on the history of Tarot which includes chapters on the facts and theories of the origins of Tarot, esoteric Tarot, the persons involved with the development of modern Tarot, and the transformation of Tarot from the tool discovered by Court de Gebelin to the versatile tool that it is today.

Giles' second unit is on the mystery of Tarot. In this unit, she discusses the occult tradition and Tarot, Tarot and the imagination, Tarot as a way of knowing (actually, a discussion of Tarot and psychology, including the Jungian concept of synchronicity), Tarot and science (with special attention to quantum physics), and the Life of the Spirit, which details the use of Tarot by a group of surrealists in the first half of the Twentieth Century.

The third section of Giles' book is, in my opinion, the weakest. In this unit, she briefly discusses several popular Tarot decks, has an annotated Tarot bibliography, and gives a short list with notes, of ways to use the Tarot. Her annotated bibliography is excellent, and I have used it as a springboard for much of my own Tarot study. However, the rest of this unit is much weaker than the rest of her book.

Overall, Giles' book is one of the best books on Tarot which can be found on the market. It is solid, comprehensive, and generally quite accurate. It is not a book for learning to read the cards or for learning to become a Tarot reader, but is instead a book about the Tarot itself rather than the individual cards which constitute the Tarot.

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Review Nina Lee Braden
Page 2003 Diane Wilkes