Book Reviews,  Reviews

Book Review: Llewellyn’s Complete Book Of Tarot

Review by Treewitch / Margo Benson

Anthony Louis is known to many as the author behind the popular titles, ‘Tarot Plain and Simple’ and ‘Tarot Beyond the Basics’. He is an astrologer, physician and psychiatrist and is well known on the lecture circuit.

Faced with what he says is the daunting task of writing a ‘complete anything’, he says in the Preface that: ‘This book would follow certain principles to offer a “complete” and even-handed approach in the space of a single volume.’ He has succeeded in doing just that, this is a wonderful book! I highly recommend it to anyone from beginner to professional and beyond. This is a thorough walk through the world of the tarot.

Louis delivers an enormous amount of information in a concise manner. He has an easy voice and adds interesting and humorous personal experiences. The 309 pages cover a massive range of subjects, including:
Where Did the Tarot Come From? A Capsule History of the Tarot
Will the Real Tarot Please Stand Up – a fascinating chapter on the structure of the deck and a journey through development from the early Mamluk decks to the versions we use today, including themed and oracle decks. Louis spends time discussing the main types of tarot; Tarot de Marseilles, Rider-Waite-Smith and the Crowley-Harris Thoth Tarot.
Being an astrologer, the information concerning astrological associations covers a great deal. Louis includes uses of birth cards, timing within a reading, and plenty of clear tables showing how zodiac signs can map onto the cards. In the Appendix, there are tables noting the positional differences between the Tropical and Sidereal calculations.
There are dozens of exercises and spreads to try, with plenty of examples of reading methods and ethical considerations.
More chapters cover other useful additional correspondences such as numerology, Kabbalah and the Tree of Life, and elemental dignities.
When Louis goes through each card, he does so with the inclusion of such esoteric heavyweights as French occultist Etteilla, the British occultist Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, Arthur Waite, Aleister Crowley and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Each card is presented with an interpretation from each of these ideals, showing the development of meanings over time. Each card is seen with its astrological and numerical association; its associated Hebrew letter; myths and archetypes; positive and negative keywords, and the meanings when a card is read upright or reversed.
The deck used throughout the book is Llewellyn’s Classic Tarot with the images shown actual size and rendered in black and white.
Anthony Louis and Llewellyn have produced a terrific resource with this book. When people ask for a recommendation of that one book, which is able to pull together myriad aspects of the art of tarot – give them this one!
Author: Anthony Louis
Publisher: Llewellyn
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Want to read more? View Margo’s blog: Realm of the Treewitch