For many people, the Major Arcana of the Tarot symbolically represent Everyman’s Journey: they are the element of Spirit in the Tarot, and speak to the path that the Seeker follows in seeking a deeper connection with the Divine. In Jungian terms, the Major Arcana of the Tarot have to do with the process of bringing the conscious and unconscious selves into harmony, called individuation. In Tarot and Individuation Dr. Gad amplifies the symbols of the Major Arcana by corresponding them with the cabala, alchemy and the chakras.

In the first edition of this book, Dr. Gad corresponded the Tarot Trumps to the Cabala and the Tree of Life, positing that the first ten Major Arcana trumps represented the Cabalistic Path of Lightening (Lightening Flash), or the descent of Spirit into matter. The remaining twelve cards were corresponded to the Serpent of Wisdom. A reader asked if the Serpent of Wisdom could be correlated with the Kundalini serpent, and Dr. Gad began to look for the answer. In Carl Jung's four lectures on "Psychological Commentary on Kundalini Yoga" Dr. Gad found an important argument in favor of her intuitive interpretation of the Major Arcana Trumps XI - XX. This led to Part III on Tarot and Kundalini (Part I being The Lightening Flash (Tarot and Cabala); Part II being The Path of the Serpent (Tarot and Alchemy).

From a Jungian perspective, individuation is a process of psychological and spiritual development having as its goal the fulfillment of one's personal destiny. It is the result of a dialectic confrontation between collective and personal, between the unconscious and consciousness. Dr. Gad suggests that the first ten trumps of the major arcana of the Tarot represent the descent of the spirit into matter. The difficult journey back to the spiritual source is traced through the next twelve trumps. The ultimate goal of a balanced, thriving and creative individual in essential harmony with his/her environment is potentially achieved by awareness and integration of all levels of consciousness. Dr. Gad proposes that Tarot imagery can be an activating stimulus of inner archetypal energies, as well as a helpful guide through the struggles inherent in the path leading to this essential goal of creativity and harmony.

Other additions to the 2004 revision include a new spread in the Divination Appendix, taken from Rosemary Guiley and Robert M. Place's The Alchemical Tarot. Dr. Gad calls this spread "The Transcendent Function Spread", and presents it as a tool for looking into the underlying aspects of relationships and conflict. The existing section on Alchemy and the Tarot also underwent growth, the result of linking prima materia (the beginning of the work) to the philosophers’ stone (the end result of the work).

Appendices are included for Astrological correspondences to the Tarot Trumps, and an in depth section on Tarot and divination, where Dr. Gad presents a comprehensive array of Tarot spreads (more than 70 in all, ranging from single card spreads to those that include all of the Major Arcana).

Despite being a hefty and dense volume, Tarot and Individuation is an easy read. There are numerous charts and graphics, and intriguing scans from old alchemical texts that show some of the comparisons between alchemical imagery and the imagery contained in traditional Tarot decks. It will have major appeal to those readers interested in Jungian thought, and how Jungian thought applies to occult perspectives such as the Cabala, alchemy and the chakras. Well, and clearly written, it is a delightful collection that entertains as it educates.

 ~review by Lisa Mc Sherry

Author:  Irene Gad

Nicolas-Hays, 2004

pp. 456, $29.95

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