Book Reviews

 My Top Five Picks:

The Book of Thoth – Crowley
The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need – Woolfolk
The Mystical Qabalah – Fortune 
Tarot For Yourself – Greer
The Tree of Life – Regardie



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The Book of Thoth – Aleister Crowley
If you’re going to attempt using the Thoth Tarot deck, you must buy this book – there is no option. Crowley insisted that the deck and book be sold together, and so I strongly encourage all new Thoth readers to fulfill his request. Why they actually aren’t a package deal is a mystery to me. This book contains everything one needs to read and understand the Thoth deck. It’s a book you will want to read several times over the course of your lifetime, and I promise you will absorb something new each time.

Rating: 5 Cups

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The Book of the Law – Aleister Crowley 212wZ2jRGsL
Further required reading, in my opinion, if you are thinking of using the Thoth. This is not a book that needs any commentary on my part. I would only advise you to read it with your own head on your shoulders, and not someone else’s. 

Rating: I don’t believe this is the type of book one rates.

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Liber 777 – Aleister Crowley 51vEAke5w1L

They say that the Qabbalah functions much like a file cabinet, with each sephira and path serving as a storage unit for various symbols and myths from around the globe. 777 is the best homage to this belief available. The book is mostly charts, but for the student of tarot and all things esoteric, this book will prove to be a valuable resource.

Rating: 4 Cups

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The Mystical Qabalah – Dion Fortune 71gYe7UiO1L._SL1500_

Dion Fortune is considered by some to be the female counterpart to Crowley in terms of quantity and quality of output. The Mystical Qabalah is one of her most useful books as it contains some of the best explanations of the Sephiroth I have ever read.

Rating: 5 Cups

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21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card – Mary K. Greer 51+OQw36XxL

Greer is simply a fantastic teacher, and gets you to see the art of Tarot reading in a whole new way. Brilliant for the reader whose style is particularly empathetic and therapeutic. Downplays the need to have psychic accuracy in readings, and emphasizes the importance of empowering the querent in their situation. Personally, I think 21 different ways is a bit overkill, but it nonetheless is a fascinating experiment in exploring the tarot’s adaptability and overall organic nature.

Rating: 4 Cups

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Tarot for Yourself – Mary K. Greer 51KA-Q2DfrL

For the individual who believes reading for yourself is impossible, this book will teach you a myriad of ways to use the Tarot for things besides divination, and will help you use it to grow and discover yourself. Well written, sensitive, and motivating. Mary Greer, as usual, delivers another useful resource.

Rating: 5 Cups

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Tarot 101 – Kim Huggens 510ANUZEErL

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! Was entertaining, well-written, and thoughtful. Huggens pushes you to thoroughly contemplate the cards, and provides you with all the tools necessary for further study and personal development. She provides wise, practical advice for those who wish to become more professional readers. I appreciated that Huggens “came out” as a Thelemite (so to speak) in this book, and was not afraid to gently introduce readers to some of the more esoteric Crowleyan elements of tarot. 

Rating: 5 Cups

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Tarot and the Magus – Paul Hughes-Barlow 81C2D5ReWzL._SL1500_

As much as I found this book confusing, I thought it was an interesting new way of looking at the infamous Opening of the Key spread of the Golden Dawn. In this book, Hughes-Barlow works only with the first operation (the spread is actually five operations long), which you may either like, for the sake of brevity, or dislike, as the original instructions do not suggest doing this. That being said, some warning: the methodology prescribed in the book is not the same as that of its creators. Still a worthwhile read nonetheless.

Rating: 3 Cups

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The Mystical Origins of the Tarot – Paul Huson 7188R1Ix2BL._SL1000_

Even though I disagree with certain things in here, and the scholarship is admittedly sketchy, I found his theories on the origins of the Tarot very intriguing. Huson may exaggerate the role of medieval and Renaissance morality plays in the creation of the trumps, but it was still a connection that opens up some possibilities. Honestly not my favorite tarot book I’ve ever read, but anyone interested in historical spreads and reading practices from the 18th and 19th centuries should check this book out.

Rating: 3 Cups

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Tarot & Magic – Donald Michael Kraig 51N7YVeVl-L

Definitely a worthwhile read if you’re looking to use tarot in your magical approach. This book was what encouraged me to finally take the leap and try it, and I will admit that the results were great! Simple, streamlined information, and Kraig writes in a congenial way that I enjoyed reading. Kraig makes you feel confident that the great, big, scary world of magic is actually something you can attempt for yourself.

Rating: 5 Cups

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78 Degrees of Wisdom – Rachel Pollack 51Taa5Vl3FL

This is a fantastic book for beginners, and may be a fresh look for more advanced readers. Personally, I did not find much new in this book, but I still appreciated it for Pollack’s thorough analyses and holistic approach to understanding tarot. Pollack’s book is a beloved classic for a reason, and I still believe it’s worth reading.

Rating: 4 Cups

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The Kabbalah Tree– Pollack 51IU13h0eGL

I’d be lying if I told you I finished this one, however. Pollack’s knowledge of the Qabbalah was strong and certainly provided food for thought, but it lacked something. This missing element, whatever it was, was only exaggerated for me by the awkward interplay of Pollack’s analytical text with her attempts to seemingly market Hermann Haindl, whose painting of the Sephiroth provides the confusing backbone and impetus for this book. This painting does very little for me in terms of symbolism or aesthetics, and so I struggled to get into a book that equally struggled to validate a (dare I say, mediocre?) painting about a centuries-old, complex, vibrant symbol. Perhaps that was the overall missing element for me – vibrancy. The dull, muddied Haindl painting just made me wonder what the point was, but this is not to say that this book doesn’t have useful information in it.

Rating: I can’t fairly rate a book I haven’t finished, but I’m thinking it lies somewhere between a 3 and a 4…

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Tarot Wisdom – Pollack 61g-B+d+TRL

Another book by Pollack. Similar to 78 Degrees of Wisdom, but certainly more in-depth. Pollack examines each card by drawing upon myths and symbols from around the world. Each chapter on the Major Arcana ends with a spread based on that particular trump, which I really liked as I prefer tarot books in which there are things for me to try out and actually do. Nothing’s worse than reading another book about divinatory meanings. This book doesn’t feel like that at all, and is rather a well-written, well-researched compendium on tarot. Highly recommend this book for all types of readers.

Rating: 5 Cups

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A Garden of Pomegranates – Israel Regardie 51ypljEUxvL

Israel Regardie’s first book, (written when he was just in his mid-twenties) this work focuses on “skrying” on the Tree of Life, an old Golden Dawn meditative practice in which the adept attempts to astrally move up and down the paths of the Tree in order to gain personal insight into its mysteries. Whether or not you’re looking to actually skry the Tree, this book is wonderfully helpful to the student of the Golden Dawn and Qabbalah in general.

Rating: 5 Cups

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The Middle Pillar – Regardie 51h9IUBTgGL

I believe this is one of Regardie’s later books, and constitutes the culmination of a life’s work in the sense that it serves as Regardie’s manifesto for advocating the union of psychology and magic. For him, the two seemingly disparate camps are actually one in the same, and can and should learn from each other about human development. The Ciceros do a fantastic job of editing all of Regardie’s work, as they also add some valuable insight of their own in the form of commentary and additional chapters and exercises for the reader to try.

Rating: 5 Cups

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The Tree of Life – Regardie 41DI+5ihrHL

Great introduction to Golden Dawn interpretations of the Sephiroth and its magical uses. Also a great introduction to magic in general. Regardie’s attempted use of comparative religion is always admirable. A bit tedious to read, but certainly a worthwhile Qabbalistic resource.

Rating: 5 Cups

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The Thoth Companion – Michael Osiris Snuffin 51zrzJ4rbqL

This is unfortunately one of the few available books out there on the Thoth Tarot. I found this book FAR more helpful than Lon Milo Duquette’s book on the deck, though I recommend reading that too for more general background of the cards. Snuffin’s work is far more in depth and practically useful for interpreting the cards personally, but I find some of his interpretations of certain symbols to be a tad farfetched and unsupported, and therefore not necessarily accurate. Snuffin, in my opinion, and for better or worse, is a Thelemite with an agenda, and I don’t know that his analysis of the cards is truly free from that. 

Rating: 4 Cups

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The Secret of the Tarot – Robert Swiryn 71GZccFz23L

Another attempted historical look at the origins of the tarot. Swiryn looks at the possible connection between the tarot’s unique symbology and the history of the Cathar heresy, which was an issue in southern France and northern Italy between the 12th and 14th centuries.

Rating: 4 Cups

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The Pictorial Key to the Tarot – Arthur Edward Waite 41wnQ57GMTL

Written by the well-known co-creator of the Waite-Smith pack, The Pictorial Key to the Tarot is Waite’s work dealing specifically with his own tarot. It draws a bit on some of his previous writings on the tarot, namely from his Tarot of the Bohemians. I found this book interesting, but altogether too icy. Waite’s style is rigid and obscure. Nothing is so much explained in this book as it is introduced and left dangling, which may not be what you’re looking for.

Rating: 3 Cups

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61Cb5rrCuALThe Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need – Joanna Martine Woolfolk

The title of this books is 100% accurate. Woolfolk’s work here is brilliant, and whenever I have a question about anything astrological, this is the first book I turn to. Worth every penny.

Rating: 5 Cups

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  2 comments for “Book Reviews

  1. Samweiss
    July 24, 2014 at 11:04 am

    Have you ever read book “Tarot & Astrology: The Pursuit of Destiny” by Muriel Bruce Hasbrouck? She was a student of both Crowley and Paul Foster Case. Quite an interesting little book in my opinion.

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