July Book Review: Keywords for the Crowley Tarot by Hajo Banzhaf & Brigitte Theler
I've had this book for years, purchased shortly after I bought the Thoth Tarot Deck. Curiously enough it's one of the few decks that has more than one book that can accompany it and it came to me highly recommended.
While I'm not personally a huge fan of Aleister Crowley or his work, I do love his deck that has such vibrant symbolism placed within.
The section on "Coincidence and the Random Oracle" in the beginning was of particular interest to me. The references to psychology and how we perceive the importance of a given sign or meaning is very intriguing.
In the following sections the authors delve into more history about the cards and some ideas about how they might be read in general (non-specific to this deck). More information is given about some of the evolution of the Tarot and the rise of one of the most popular decks, commonly known as the Rider-Waite.
It is then that the authors get to the nitty gritty and begin speaking about Crowley's tarot. For anyone who may be less than educated about Crowley, who he was, and what he did this section is of particular import! Differences between the "traditional" deck and Crowley's are named which paves the way for reading this deck more easily.
Further investigation is also given to other points respective of tarot, such as the amount of variations in decks, whether there are right or wrong decks, and the ever popular "frequently asked questions". I will not say that I personally agree with each of the recommendations given by the FAQs (I do for the most part), but they are most definitely worth the read.
Perhaps one of the most valuable points of interest for someone eager to use this deck is their "Quick Access for People in a Hurry". It outlines a specific method by which to read the cards. The book continues on by listing the specific spreads, what they may be used for and a difficulty rating. Direction is given in ways questions may be asked and how to shuffle the cards. In the final section of reading more tips are given on how to generally interpret the cards, then a special summarizing techniques which involves some aspects of numerology is given. Some brief lay out tips are given as well.
What follows is a section on full layouts for this deck. Each has several pages of information connected with them and a pictoral sample of how to lay out the cards. Rather than the typical expression of spreads which most books give this one goes into nice detail about each including tips on how to read and considerations one may need to know for choosing and interpreting with a given spread.
There is a brief explanations preceding the individual card interpretations that touches on how Crowley's tarot differs based on symbolism and method of interpretation. Here the authors include a table helpful info concerning numerological references for the minor arcana. For those who may not be overly versed in the particulars of numerology in regards to the tarot this table provides a great wealth of knowledge.
The bulk of the book deals with individual interpretations of the cards. Unlike many books relating to the tarot, even specialized ones concerning a certain deck, this book quite literally dissects each card. Each point of symbolism is touched on and a meaning is given. After a number of comprehensive meanings are given touching on various subject matters from general, to work related, in romantic matters, with both message of encouragement and warning, as a card for the day and in the case of the major arcana as a card for the year.
The book ends with two sample readings, a bibliography, brief glossary, and of course an index.
While I would say this book may be considered a daunting read to a new student of the tarot or one who may be used to a more simplistic form of reading the cards it is a great eye opener for the wealth of information that can be transcribed through the pictures. Even if you choose to read with other decks the detail and format described can be helpful in adopting to give you a more complex reading style. From experience I didn't have much luck in using the spreads with other decks - in my interpretation they didn't seem to be clear. All in all I give this book 5 out of 5 for comprehensiveness, deep insight, and valuable techniques to consider.
In the comments below I'd love to hear your feedback on this book. If you haven't read it would you? And did you find this review helpful in making the decision to read (or not read) it?
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