Book Reviews


Some reviews of TAROT of the FUTURE: RAISING SPIRITUAL CONSCIOUSNESS by Arthur Rosengarten, Ph.D.
 (released March 1, 2018, Paragon House Books):

-From Tom McBride, English Professor Emeritus (ret.), Beloit College

A Brief Review: The lamentable conditions of contemporary existence seem plain enough, ranging from our visits to the supermarket, where we immediately become one more item in an enormous data set, to the rise of authoritarian power in Europe, the Near East, and even the United States. This is likely only the latest chapter in a world—the modern one—that has been marked by a decline in traditional religion, the rise of scientific influence (or scientism), and the mass society created first by the seemingly long-ago “Industrial Revolution.”

But now comes a new book by Arthur Rosengarten, Tarot of the Future, which speaks at least indirectly to these trends and offers an alternative to the unease they have created in us. As soon as the word “Tarot” appears in a title, some may run, as the term sometimes has about it the whiff of fortune telling or New Age hokum. I am here to say this brilliant new book has none of that. It is not an anti-scientific book per sebut even suggests that while the biochemistry of the future may make us happier, and free us to pursue more spiritual goals, the pills and implants themselves will not really cure what ails us.

Briefly stated, Dr. Rosengarten’s thesis—illustrated in great and synergistic detail—is that the Tarot system mirrors the structure of the human unconscious. He makes his case in lucid, lively prose—at once provocative in tone and yet also careful to be courteous and sensitive to the reader, for whom some of this material is bound to be new. This is an entertaining and enlightening book. Dr. Rosengarten, in a wonderfully memorable phrase, reminds us that we are all “keepers of our own interiors,” and he wishes to show us how the Tarot system can become an inspiriting template to help us find in ourselves those impulses of the spirit that we never knew existed before. Here is a work that can help us contact the various gods within. This is not a book that prescribes open-ended meditation, bogus divination, or overrated scientific solutions. It is a book that is, at once, transcendental in its outlook and yet extremely concrete in its exploration of Tarot meanings and themes. Therein lies the genius of the effort.

A central trope in this book is “travel,” and this was the chapter that meant most to me, primarily because my own research has revealed to me that no matter where we go these days, we will have seen everything online before we even pack our bags. Dr. Rosengarten, for me, lays bare the threadbareness of this high-tech reality in favor of a travel into the unconscious where the endpoint is uncertain and the process difficult, uncertain, but potentially enthralling and peace-bringing. And yet he never suggests that there is some stable and final tranquility but insists that it is always a search in progress. In sum, this is not a book with final answers. It is a book of new directions.

He makes an excellent case that, for all the ways Tarot has been manipulated and ballyhooed, it is based on the ancient wisdom of an olden time, when there were gods to turn to instead of the spuriously magical answers of progress. The gods are gone, but Dr. Rosengarten suggests that, although they are not coming back, they remain extant within us, where they always were. This volume is a pioneering and fascinating accomplishment.

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-From Wald Amberstone, Director of The Tarot School and The Reader’s Studio:
-In this deeply interesting book, Dr. Rosengarten sees the essential task of both tarot and psychology as having moved beyond the practical matters of daily life. The analogous issues of divination and mental health remain important but are no longer the leading edge of thought and practice in either discipline.
Now, Dr. Rosengarten says, both tarot and psychology have reached and entered the territory of existential question and answer. The root questions are no longer “What’s going to happen to me?” or “What’s wrong with me?” The question now is, “Where am I going, really?” This intriguing book was written with a rarified and elevated tarot psychology to ask this question and attempt to answer it.
Congratulations to Dr. Rosengarten for having taken this important evolutionary step forward.
Wald Amberstone
Director, The Tarot School
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-From Emily Augur, Editor of Tarot In Culture, in Mythlore 36.1, Fall/Winter 2017  265 Reviews: Divination in Mythopoeic Literature

TAROT OF THE FUTURE: RAISING SPIRITUAL CONSCIOUSNESS. Arthur Rosengarten. Paragon House, 2018. 326 pp. with notes, bibliography, index, and b/w and color illus. ISBN 9781557789334 (paperback) $24.95; Kindle version available.

Wisdom, with its sense of continuity, repetition, precedent, and prudence, is the highest form of the ordinary functioning level of society. The revolution is far in the past; it is part of tradition now, and without the fifth stage of prophecy the culture reflected in the Old Testament would have nothing unique about it. For prophecy is the individualizing of the revolutionary impulse, as wisdom is the individualizing of the law, and is geared to the future as wisdom is to the past.—Northrop Frye, The Great Code 125

A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man. —Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces (qtd. inTarot of the Future 153)

It is not the Fool’s Journey but the Fool’s Story (illustrated by the infinitecombination of letters to form words) that affords us a mind-boggling peek at the workings of the divine mind—a creative consciousness in which patterns and formulae play a secondary role in a cauldron churning with the potentiality of all possible possibilities. This would explain the desirability to transfer the concept of each letter to cards that can easily be shuffled and grouped in nearly infinite combinations.–Lon Milo DuQuette, The Tarot Of Ceremonial Magick (qtd. in Arthur Rosengarten, Tarot and Psychology 161)

ARTHUR ROSENGARTEN IS THE AUTHOR OF THE FIRST accredited dissertation on Tarot and of Tarot and Psychology: Spectrums of Possibility (2000), The Tarot of the Nine Paths (2009), and Tarot of the Future: Raising Spiritual Consciousness (2018). In Tarot and Psychology, he details numerous fascinating case studies of the use of Tarot in clinical therapeutic practice and provides extensive information on approaches to reading the cards. Perhaps the most interesting of these address the relevance and appearance of opposition (especially in the Tarot card twos), dimensionality (memory, fantasy, body language), and directionality (cards upright or reversed) in relation to human and card interpretations. Readers of mythopoeia are also likely to find his chapter on universality of special interest because it connects the traditional cards directly to archetypes familiar to many novels: the Hermit as the wise old man, the Chariot as the Hero, and so forth. Further to the implicit connection between Tarot and personal narrative, and thus between Tarot and mythopoeia, is the understanding of the entire set of Tarot Trumps as a linear sequence about the “Fool’s journey,” the Fool numbered 0 being the person/character setting out on that journey, and the cards assumed to inevitably follow in order from 1 through 21. Although conventionalized in such decks as the Rider-Waite, the order of the Trumps has been variable ever since their fifteenth-century invention as an add-on to the suited gaming deck, so, as Rosengarten observes, this understanding seems presumptuous. So too then is the notion offered by various authors that the Trumps can be understood hierarchically in three rows of seven, with the journeying Fool on the outside.

It is in his most recent works—The Tarot of the Nine Paths and Tarot of the Future—that Rosengarten provides a solution to the apparently artificial rigidity of the linear sequential and seven-card three-tiered arrangement of the trumps, one that is both elegant and (perhaps unintentionally) responsive to cries for change to the dated assumptions about how our stories—personal and fictional—ought to play out. Rosengarten does not mention it, but I have always found the conclusion of the Tarot Trump sequence with the image of a nude captive woman being watched by the creature symbols of the four evangelists unsatisfactory. The image evokes the infinite number of novels that likewise conclude with a woman subservient to a marriage or some other confine and under constant surveillance, or the trope of the male author and his female muse. Developing an idea about the importance of the number nine or the “Hermit effect,” that originated for him, at least in part, in the work of Angeles Arrien (135), Rosengarten added a number of trumps, including five after the World so that it is possible to lay them out in three tiers of nine with the Fool included, rather than outside, as the last card. These new cards—Well, River, Ring, Dragon, and Web—alter the connections between the cards on each tier and in the same column. The Empress (Passion) points to the Hanged Man (Surrender) and the World (Integration); the Chariot or hero to the Tower and one of the new cards, Dragon; and, most importantly, the final sequences are Strength (Lifeforce), Star (Essence), and the Great Web (Interbeing); and Hermit (Wisdom), Moon (Imagination), and Fool (Possibility).

As he writes of the possibilities opened by Tarot, rather than the inevitable endings invoked by prophecy, Rosengarten seems inspired by the same illumination that captured Northrop Frye when he spoke of the individualizing of the revolutionary impulse, but Rosengarten’s vision is colorfully prismatic rather than categorical. He wants to get down to brass tacks, as it were, helping others find their futures; for him, the revolution Tarot individualizes is that of psychology. Tarot accomplishes its goal, as other oracles do, by converting the Fool’s question into a kind of dream language that reflects the forces—which are often unconscious—at work, and showing that in every situation there is “an inner spirit trying to communicate with us” (15). He devotes most of his book to describing Tarot use in relation to air travel, albeit travel into the future than between geographical destinations, emphasizing the terminal, particularly terminal 9, the gates, the liminal, and so forth. With Tarot as our guide, he proposes, we are free to travel anywhere in our futures. Nothing is fixed about the story each of us writes in life and nothing is fixed about the tales authors of mythopoeia may tell. The possibilities are infinite.

—Emily E. Auger

WORKS CITED

Frye, Northrop. The Great Code: The Bible and Literature. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1982.

Rosengarten, Arthur. Tarot and Psychology: Spectrums of Possibility. Paragon House, 2000.

Published in Mythlore 36.1, Fall/Winter 2017  265

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From Lon Milo DuQuette,  on back cover of Rosengarten’s Tarot of the Future:
-Tarot, like all true art forms, is a reflection of human consciousness–an evolving living organism that remains alive, relevant, and stable only because of its continuing ability to grow and change. Dr. Rosengarten is uniquely cognizant of the natures of these changes and how they apply to the art of Tarot. With his Tarot of the Future he continues to break rational new ground in the ancient garden of Tarot.
Lon Milo DuQuette, author of Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot and Tarot of Ceremonial Magick.

Some Reviews of Tarot and Psychology: Spectrums of Possibility by Arthur Rosengarten, Ph.D.

Review by Kathleen Meadows (See online at http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/books/psychology-spectrums/

If you are a tarot reader and have often considered what a brilliant study in psychology the Tarot provides, then this book is for you. If you are a practicing psychotherapist who has been eying a Tarot deck for a tool to add to your therapy kit, this book is for you too. Dr. Rosengarten has written this book with humour, wisdom and enticement. An easy read with only a few complex psychological references to throw the novice psychology buff off kilter. But if you are a tarotist interested in psychology (really what tarotist is not interested in psychology?) you will thoroughly enjoy reading a psychologist’s perspective on not only the process of reading the tarot, but it’s inherent, instructive psychological meanings as well.

When I discovered this book I was ecstatic. I am a psychotherapist who has become a full time tarot reader. I don’t call myself a psychotherapist now. There was a time when I saw clients during the day for therapy and taught the tarot in the evening. Although I would teach psychology to my tarot students, I never spoke of the tarot to my psychotherapy clients. Sad but true. I became a full time tarot reader for the freedom and openness possible in working with clients. I wanted to be free to say what I think and feel while drawing upon a brilliant synchronicity tool to open a sacred space untethered by convention. Although best practice overlaps in both realms (confidentiality, honour and respect) the arena, culture and underlying assumptions are vastly different.

Dr. Rosengarten describes a study he launched in California whereby volunteer, high-risk couples were invited to participate, using tarot readings as the centre, therapeutic modality. This is not something that would fly in Canada (unfortunately!) but in California, not only was it permitted but it also received some government funding! Dr. Rosengarten does some statistical analysis about what cards tended to show up the most often in certain positions for both men and women. For example, the Knight of Wands shows up in the warning position of most women who have suffered abuse at the hands of their partner! This study in its entirety makes for a fascinating and unique read.

This is only one the many, many examples Dr. Rosengarten shares in his experience as a therapist using the Tarot to enrich, enliven and deepen his connection to clients in therapy. He describes working with a client named David, who is dying of aids. Creative, explorative and joyful, you are carried right into the heart of these sessions which end just prior to David’s passing on to spirit. You won’t soon forget the extraordinary and rare glimpse into this profound work done by the author with a grace that is truly awe-inspiring.

He describes being invited to do a reading for a group of women who had been meeting for years and had hit a bump in their process. I laughed out loud reading, “Up to that moment, I must say, the energy in the room had been genuinely quite friendly, supportive, accepting, and welcoming (that is, remarkably Empress-like), as one might expect from a group of warm and bright women who had been meeting together in this way for years. Now, after two measly Tarot cards, hot steam and dragon fire began erupting like Mt. Saint Helens. Tarot, it seems, had presented an opportunity to air certain grievances, apparently quite atypical of this group’s normal functioning (I was later to learn).”

The Tarot as usual brings both light and shadow to any situation. The atmosphere of play, anticipation and curiosity associated with doing a “reading” opened the women to a whole new perspective on their group and ultimately saved the group from complete dissolution.

Dr. Rosengarten introduces this book by saying, “Finally, I wanted to offer some new ground to those seasoned tarotists, hermeticists, artists, mystics, magicians, and sundry esoteric thinkers who were interested to learn more of Tarot’s psychological and therapeutic properties and possibilities. Psychology, I would show them, is intrinsic to both the structure and the method of Tarot itself.” Dr. Rosengarten meets this goal brilliantly in this book which has been on my highly recommended list for Tarot students for many years. You will quite simply love this book.

Kathleen Meadows, M.A, is a Certified Tarot Grand Master with 20 years reading and teaching the Tarot from a feminist perspective.

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New insights for both psychologists and Tarotists                              Review by Linda Gail Walters

This is a book that challenges the thinking of both practicing clinical psychologist and practicing Tarot readers. The primary audience is the clinician, but that does not mean that the advanced student and practitioner of Tarot is left out, far from it. There are three main sections of the book: The Tarot of Psychology, The Psychology of Tarot and Empirical Studies, so there is something for both disciplines.

The first section, The Tarot of Psychology, introduces the clinician to the world of Tarot’s archetypal images. This is where this book distinguishes itself from other books that seek to connect Tarot and psychology. Most of these other works give a brief introduction to Jung’s theory of Archetypes and then go on to be fairly pedestrian descriptions of the Major Arcana of Tarot. Unlike its rivals, this work is based on solid clinical training and the author’s own extensive research and practical clinical experience.

In the second section, The Psychology of Tarot, the clinician is not forgotten, but the emphasis here is more toward exposing the student of Tarot to the deeper psychological meanings in the cards. Dr. Rosengarten does an excellent job here of leading the non-specialist, non-clinician into the often confusing world of psychology. For example, an error often made by dilettantes who attempt to show the psychological meaning of Tarot is to equate it to the TAT or Rorschach tests. Dr. Rosengarten quite correctly states that Tarot is not at all like these tests, which, being extrinsic, that is, being themselves meaningless, are in no way related to the Tarot, with its deep symbolic and archetypal meanings. This second section is also where we see the reason for the subtitle, “Spectrums of Possibility”. The author has developed a Spectrum of Possibility for each card in the Tarot deck. These spectra are not the cut and dried “card meanings” found in the Little White Books that come with decks of Tarot cards, but rich shades of psychological meaning.

Appendix A of the book provides the spectra for the entire 78 card Tarot deck. The final section of the book is Empirical Studies. The first chapter of this section alone is almost worth the price of the book. This chapter is entitled simply, “Synchronicity”. In less than a score of pages, the author explains the Jungian Theory of Synchronicity, that is, the notion of acausality. This is the most lucid and uncomplicated exposition of this important and oft misunderstood subject. The main part of these Empirical Studies come from the Tarot Research Project, a rigorously scientific study of the use of Tarot in clinical studies of both victims and perpetrators of domestic violence. As both a serious Tarotist and scientist, this reviewer found this section fascinating.

Appendix B summarizes composite Tarot spreads from the perpetrator’s and victim’s readings into a “Dialog”. Finally there is an extensive Bibliography to supplement the end-chapter references and a very good index. This is a “must read” for clinicians who are looking for new approaches to old problems and for Tarotists looking for a work with more depth and meaning than yet another description of the archetypal images of the Major Arcana. DISCLAIMER: This reviewer has, for some time, been a student of both Dr. Rosengarten and Forward author Lon Milo DuQuette.

Linda Gail Walters is a software engineer.

What experts have said:

“A deliciously rich exploration of the Tarot. Never have I seen the Tarot’s deep wealth of meaning uncovered and explained with such skilled and loving intelligence.”

-Allan Combs, author of Synchronicity: Science, Myth, and the Trickster and The Radiance of Being

“Arthur Rosengarten’s Tarot And Psychology: Spectrums of Possibility joins Sally Nichols’ Jung and Tarot and Irene Gad’s Tarot and Individuation as the third major book on Tarot from a Jungian perspective. Spectrums of Possibility combines moving case studies with practical details of exactly how Tarot can be used as a therapeutic tool. There are no apologies here for his acceptance of Tarot as a divinatory tool; instead Rosengarten tries to show even skeptics how divination is rooted in the synchronistic coming together of a questioner’s need with the layout of the Tarot.

More than any other book to date, it also provides a deep theoretical examination of how this synchronicity is inherent in the archetypal symbolism of the Tarot. An important and useful book.”

– Robin Robertson, Ph.D., author of Jungian Archetypes

“What happens when psychic arts meet scientific methodologies, when prediction marries meaning, when image and empiricism come together? In this radical breakthrough and brilliant masterwork, Art Rosengarten merges Tarot’s 600 years of psycho-socio-cultural symbol-encoding with the newer discipline of psychology. Tarot reading therapists can come out of the closet! Rosengarten demonstrates through research, case-studies, and psycho-therapeutic techniques how both disciplines benefit from a mutual ability to amplify personal meaning, the “heartbeat of experience.”

By integrating psychology’s rigorous standards with Tarot’s imaginal landscape to create “spectrums of possibility,” Rosengarten lays an impressive groundwork for a 21st century working relationship. Seasoned Tarotists will value his unerring instinct for analyzing the card reading process itself, opening a magician’s bag of tricks to the light of conscious application. I predict a major success, and a turning point for Tarot as well as for psychologists who pioneer the use of this demonstrably valuable resource.”                     

– Mary K. Greer, author of Tarot For Your Self, Tarot Mirrors, and Tarot Constellations

“Few people understand the therapeutic potential of the Tarot better than Dr. Arthur Rosengarten — a skilled and successful therapist and a gifted and insightful Tarotist. His work spans the abyss that yawns between psychology and mysticism. Remarkably, it does so without diminishment to either art or science, indeed, both are enriched by his unique contribution. We of the Tarot/metaphysical community should be especially gratified. Rosengarten’s Spectrums of Possibility gives us a compelling andprovocatively enlightening new look at an ancient tradition.”

– Lon Milo DuQuette, author of Angels, Demons, & Gods of the New Millennium and Tarot Of Ceremonial Magick

For three decades…Tarot served me well in my private life. A Tarot reading, like other projective devices such as sandtrays, could make me rethink my attitudes, allowing for unconscious or tacit factors I had neglected. In my practice, though, I used Tarot images only in amplifying dreams and sandtrays. Not until I read Dr. Rosengarten’s manuscript was I aware of the potential of Tarot. If I were still in practice, I would certainly try using it.

James A. Hall, MD author of Jungian Dream Interpretation and The Jungian Experience           

 “Most Tarot literature is gobbledygook. Unqualified ‘adepts’ using the thick smoke of their sorcerer’s cauldron to compensate for heavy doses of nonsense. In Tarot And Psychology we have a qualified author attempting a new approach. Dr. Rosengarten adapts the profound symbols of the Tarot to the diagnosis and treatment of psychological problems. In a series of studies and case studies, he uses the symbols as part of thehealing process.   The symbols are being applied in a systematic and scientific manner to their original purpose – the development of the individual. The 15th century Italian inventors of the Tarot would have been delighted!”

 -Robert V. O’Neill, Ph.D., author of Tarot Symbolism