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Join Date: 18 Oct 2001
Location: USA
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Hi Herodotus,

Thank you for posting your views on this book! I largely agree with your points, although I'm a bit more inclined to think positively of the book, because, having tried her method (minus the don't-read-for-yourself stuff), I find it really works for me, the cards seem to speak to me in a way that I haven't experienced before. Of course that's all subjective, everyone will have their own experiences, positive and negative.

Also, her historical perspective doesn't bother me. I feel she has a right to her own historical perspectives. Even though I don't agree with all of her conclusions, I feel they're not unreasonable. She's not claiming that tarot originates in Egypt or Atlantis, so I'm good.

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Originally Posted by Herodotus View Post
Lee, despite the fact that I'm sure your own treatment of the Majors is indeed insightful (I haven't read your book), I suspect that the very fact you wrote about the Minors at all is precisely why so many are drawn to your book. Gilchrist's book, on the other hand, is just another book for the already bloated stack of what I like to call "Major Arcana Studies".
What I found interesting about her triumphs-only approach is that in her card meanings, the meanings for each card expand to encompass more mundane meanings which we usually associate with the pips. This hadn't really occurred to me before, that in the absence of the pips, the triumphs can expand to accommodate them.
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Finally, the Fool's Mirror spread itself is reason enough to hold onto this book for a while. It is very useful without getting bogged down in rules and restrictions (with one exception: apparently, if the Fool shows up in the center line, the reading should be scrapped. I'm sure Gilchrist has a good rationale for this, but I failed to grasp it if it was there).
This is just a guess, but I think she was perhaps inspired by horary astrology, in which a chart is cast for the moment the question is asked. After the horary chart is cast, one looks for certain technical conditions that must be met before the reading can continue. If those conditions aren't met, then the chart is considered invalid. Perhaps she's trying to encourage a feeling on the reader's and readee's part that the universe is giving the okay for the reading to continue. Personally I don't really feel the need for it, but I can understand the rationale.

Just a small point, but what she says is that if the Fool shows up in the center line, the cards should be shuffled and laid out again. Only if the Fool shows up in the center line three times in a row should the reading be scrapped.
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The style that I liked so much when I agreed with the content turned into an annoyance when I didn't.
Very well put! I feel that this is a great illustration of the age-old tension in cartomancy between wanting the freedom to read as one likes versus following someone else's system. If one reads completely freely, one becomes frustrated with the presence of too much freedom - "don't have such an open mind that your brains fall out." On the other hand, it can be pleasurable to simply follow someone else's ideas, but eventually it becomes frustratingly restrictive. Gilchrist's strongly-expressed opinions are great, until she says things that many of us will find unacceptable, like the proscription against reading for oneself.

The thing I love about this book is that after reading in much the same ways for decades, I've found an excitingly different way to read. Perhaps it's good for us to radically change things up, now and then. Perhaps I should extend this to other kinds of cartomancy -- maybe I'll try reading Lenormand completely intuitively!
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