Living the Tarot by Amber Jayanti    Review by Diane Wilkes  

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It is always heartening when a good tarot book returns to print, particularly when the trend in tarot publishing is to release volume after volume of simplistic twaddle.

The re-release of Amber Jayanti's Living the Tarot is definitely a cause for celebration.  The majority of tarot books offer Swords-like information only.  By that I mean the approach to tarot is predominantly intellectual--memorize the author's meanings of the Major Arcana, suits, numerology, and the Court Cards, and you're home-free.  Nothing left to do but let those thoughts about tarot percolate in your brain and pour out readings like Maxwell House.

I hasten to add that Jayanti's book is not lightweight in the Swords department.  Hell, it brings the dreaded and feared Qabalah front and center (the author has also penned a book devoted to Qabalah...but don't let that prejudice you--this book is very accessible). 

Living the Tarot is solely devoted to the Major Arcana.  Each lesson is based on the cards published by Builders of the Adytum (B.O.T.A.), and Jayanti studied the lessons of this group for many years.  While this deck is not radically different from the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, Jayanti's emphasis on symbolism does not always apply to the R-W-S, because there are pictorial differences between the decks. 

Each lesson begins with a large-sized copy of the card, which Jayanti recommends the reader color as but one method of assimilating the card.  She begins each chapter with General Information and Symbolism, which is exactly what it says.  This section is filled with stories, specific attributions of symbols to card images, astrological, numerical, musical correlations, etc.  Jayanti then assigns a "Gateway of Life" to the card (Childhood, Adolescence, Adulthood or Wisdom), but the cards don't get stuck in a "Gateway" ghetto; she offers an example of all of the gateways for each card.  She then assembles many divinatory questions to ask yourself for the card being discussed.  Then she offers personal and student experiences of working with each card's energy, which are the sections I found most interesting and valuable.  At the end of each chapter, the reader is given Suggestions for Application and Integration for each card. 

The suggestions are good, but reiterative.  The first is always to color the card.  The next is to set the card in place where you will see it often as a visible reminder with which to work.  You are then advised to dream about the card, play the note correlated to the card, and pretend you are the card.  There are fifteen suggestions in all at the end of each chapter.  I think they're all excellent ideas, ones that can really aid the reader in understanding the tarot in visceral and vital ways...but, after the first few, they do seem repetitive.

At the end of the book, there is a section on coloring instructions, so that you can do them according to the B.O.T.A. tradition.  Then there is a Table of Attributions that gives the Major Arcana card, its Hebrew letter, name, and numeric value, color, musical note, herb, astrological correlation, chakra, element or metal, scent, and type of Qabalistic Intelligence.  Another table offers the card's function, direction, and opposites.

This book was originally published by Newcastle.  I know I am not alone in my gratitude to Wordsworth Editions for re-releasing it.  I remember a time period when numerous people were frothing at the mouth to get copies.  There have been some slight additions and revisions, as well as a new introduction, but the changes are minimal; if you already own the book, I can't say that there is a burning necessity to purchase it again.

Delightfully, the book is priced very reasonably; it costs approximately what it did when it was first released in 1988.  If this book is not already in your collection, you might find it a valuable addition.

You can read another review of this book by Michele Jackson here.

You can read more information about Amber Jayanti and her books and teaching at her website.


The Hanged Man

General Information and Symbolism

Out of all the Tarot cards, the Hanged One (although "man" refers to humanity, I prefer to call this card the Hanged One, because this being may be of either sex) has shown me the most faces; and as each has presented itself, I have renamed the card accordingly: the Hanged, Surrendered, Reversed, Hung Up or Suspended One.  Tradition associates the Hanged One with the idea of sacrifice and even crucifixion, which led me to entitle the card The Surrendered One.  Sacrifice is the act of forfeiting or surrendering something of value for something considered to have a greater value: a lucrative but excessively demanding career given up for peace of mind and more time with loved ones; rich foods for a healthier body; one's life for an idea of God/dess.  The hands of the figure are unseen, symbolising that something has been "handed over" or surrendered.  Furthermore, this individual has temporarily given up personal control in order to receive impersonal guidance...

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Book text 2000 Amber Jayanti
Review and page 2001 Diane Wilkes


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