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Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Seven Days of 78 Degrees: Day Five

It's already Day Five of my 7-day review of Rachel Pollack's 78 Degrees of Wisdom. I feel a sense of relief at coming to the end of the minor arcana today. It's a bit of a slog to read through the full minor arcana card by card, when all the interpretations have been very familiar to the point of it feeling like a revision guide. While this is encouraging as it affirms my tarot knowledge, it can make for tedious reading if no new insights pop up from time to time.

One thing I  notice is the reversed meanings of the cards seem to have no real pattern. Sometimes they are given as a deepening of the upright meaning, sometimes they are the opposite of the upright meaning. This isn't a huge problem, but I do tend to look for patterns and so when one doesn't make itself apparent, it does not sit well with me. Also, the meanings are deeply and completely RWS interpretations, and I am in a place now where I am exploring other systems or ways of looking at the minors, and would have enjoyed seeing something a bit broader. Perhaps the book should be titled 78 Degrees of Wisdom: A Close Look at the Rider-Waite-Smith.

I will say that the explanations of the cards are all very lucid, thorough and easy to understand. I would recommend this book as a reference to be kept on the shelf beside other good guides such as Sarah Bartlett's Tarot Bible and Pictures from the Heart: A Tarot Dictionary by Sandra A Thomson.

I look forward to reading the chapters on divination and tarot spreads.


  1. For something that isn't just RWS, take a look at more modern books by her. Tarot Wisdom looks at the archetypes across a number of different decks, both old and modern. Or The Forest of Souls which mainly focuses on her own Shining Tribe deck, but looks at the archetypes in relation to the Tree of Life and myths and fairytales, including readings on such things as what is tarot, and what is god :)

  2. I had the Shining Tribe, and I just can't deal with any book that harps on about it too much. It did nothing for me. The companion book was interesting but the cards--ugh. She should have commissioned an artist.

  3. Holy Mother of Earth, has my opinion changed of that deck! I'm so glad I was able to find a replacement copy in exactly the same shop for exactly the same price -- I willed it to be there!