Monday 9 December 2013

Review: The Syzygy Oracle - Transformational Tarot

This review of a new book about tarot and the Kabbalah was written by folklorist and occult tour guide Paula Dempsey:

Many of us recognise the importance of correspondences in ritual work. Using the right incense and candles enhances the experience and gives a sense of the working being properly connected up. Heather Mendel has drawn on this power of connection, on feminist spirituality and on her Jewish heritage to produce The Syzygy Oracle.Her book is a manual, with the subtitle Transformational Tarot and The Tree of Life,on how to use the oracle cards and can be purchased separately. Black and white printable versions of the cards are available free of charge from Heather’s website but it’s worth shelling out for the very beautiful colour set. The Syzygy Oracle has truly lovely artwork.

Each card in the deck mirrors a card in the major arcana of the standard tarot deck. There are additional cards that represent pathways along the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, linking the meanings together. Mendel has changed the wording on the cards from the traditional names of the sefirot to words more easily understood by someone with little or limited knowledge of Kabbalah. For example, Chochmah (Wisdom) becomes Understanding in this Syzygy Oracle.

When I started learning tarot 25 years ago, I loved Juliette Sharman-Burke’s The Complete Book of Tarot,which sent the learner on the Fool’s journey through the major trumps, using myths to help me relate the symbols on the cards to the journey through life. Medel uses a similar approach; each card has a Mentor, an archetype there to embody the energies and meanings of that card. The Mentors are goddesses and mythical women drawn from many spiritual traditions including Hindu, Jewish, Egyptian, Native American and Hawaiian.

What I loved about this book – the wonderful array of goddesses that guided me through each card, the artwork and the book’s very grown up approach. This is an oracle set that requires time and effort to master and could be a gateway in to further study of the Kabbalah. I also really liked the author extending the correspondences to include essential oils, making using the cards a multi-sensory experience.

In my opinion this is a deck for personal contemplation and inner working rather than reading for others, but as that’s my view on tarot as well your mileage may vary! I loved it and would especially recommend it to anyone interested in women’s spirituality and working with feminine energies.

The Syzygy Oracle - Transformational Tarot and The Tree of Life is published by Dodona Books.

Links and previous related posts
The Syzygy Oracle - Transformational Tarot and The Tree of Life: Ego, essence and the evolution of consciousness

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