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"Tarot Triumphs" by Cherry Gilchrist

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And I realize now that she really only ever "suggests" that the Minors shouldn't be used, although something about the way she writes made me think her feelings on this and other matters is unnecessarily strong, and that I'd be scolded if she caught me divining with pips.
As I think about it, the reason I feel this way may have been because Gilchrist had a tendency to repeat herself numerous times throughout the book. Repetition is common throughout - we got three separate runs through the entire Major Arcana! It's a great way to make sure we walk away remembering the points, but I found it a little unnecessary at times. For example, she would begin a chapter with a summary of what she'll be discussing in the next couple of chapters, and then would do this again every couple of chapters. This is how I was taught to introduce academic essays, but the otherwise conversational tone of the work left me feeling like this *wasn't* meant to be all that "academic", despite the research that was clearly behind it.

Her opinions on matters like reading for oneself seem so driven because she mentions them almost every time she talks about reading, which comprises a great deal of the book. After a while, I found myself thinking, "ok, I get it, you don't want me to read for myself. But I'm not going to follow that advice, so can we please move on to the actual point?"

I don't know - I feel like I may still be being too harsh - was I maybe in a "mood" while reading this book that I wasn't conscious of? I've disagreed with Tarot books before (like Waite's), but have always either liked or disliked it overall. I cannot say I feel so uniformly about this one, although the scale does tip in the favor of "liked".

As I said a while back, I really want to revisit this book in light of this discussion, but I think it'll have to wait, because I'm not really in a Marseille sort of mood right now.
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Couple of thoughts about Gilchrist's book. She's comes to tarot from a reverential perspective that not all might share, and it makes sense that she would surround the reading process with rings of beliefs that she accepts as givens. In her philosophy, the unconscious is populated by complexes stronger than the rational mind, such that even experienced readers are vulnerable to their effects - especially when there is an emotional investment in the subject of a reading. She doesn't want us to stir sleeping giants, so she suggests that we confine self-readings to areas that are not terribly important to us, or - better yet - altogether impersonal.

Of course, the problem with that approach is that tarot produces the most accurate and striking readings when it is brought to bear on issues of genuine, heartfelt concern - those readings offer "teaching moments" of a very singular kind, quite different from daily draws about walking by the river (one of Gilchrist's examples of an acceptable self-reading).

Like Lee, if I read only for others I would hardly read at all - so I do read for myself, and the results can be sobering. But that's part of a growth process for me, and I learn to deal with sleeping giants by encountering them. Gilchrist seeks to protect the reader from surprises, shocks amd misinterpretations, a stance that seems appropriate for beginning students - but at some point, readers need to step outside of their comfort zones. That is one way that we learn how to assist people through plights that we, ourselves, might not have passed.

Overall, I think this is a very good book for students - and I include seasoned readers in that category, since we're always learning - who view tarot as a means of contact with the spiritual or deeply psychological side of life. I get the feeling that she holds back a great deal of what she knows in the interest of protecting her readers, which in a way defeats the purpose of the book. But her writing style is admirable, and she presents very good word pictures of each triumph. Also like Lee, I profited by her discussion of layouts like the Fool's Mirror and abbreviated Celtic Cross.

In terms of tarot history, the book provides a reasonably accurate overview that is (not surprisingly) slanted toward her own worldview and philosophy. Her main source material comes from Robert Place and Ronald Decker, both of whom are respected writers in the field (though not all tarot historians accept their interpretations of the few facts we have - which, to be sure, is the case with any historical pursuit). Gilchrist does not include a bibliography, but she provides chapter notes with citations. I don't consider blog posts and websites to be primary source material, but then I'm a card-catalogue throwback - even a snob - when it comes to research.
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For me, the true test of a book's value is how many of the "bits" I found significant at the time I will actually remember (and even use) in the long term. So far, beside the Fool's Mirror spread, the discussion of the "Tripod of Life" diagram has led me to further exploration. I created my "Tripod of Self-Discovery" spread after reading it. I'm sure there's more, but I'll have to read it again.
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For me, the true test of a book's value is how many of the "bits" I found significant at the time I will actually remember (and even use) in the long term. So far, beside the Fool's Mirror spread, the discussion of the "Tripod of Life" diagram has led me to further exploration. I created my "Tripod of Self-Discovery" spread after reading it. I'm sure there's more, but I'll have to read it again.
Right. I think the book bears two or three readings, perhaps seen through a different lens each time.
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She's comes to tarot from a reverential perspective that not all might share, and it makes sense that she would surround the reading process with rings of beliefs that she accepts as givens.
This is a great description of her approach. Despite the difference in particulars, her book reminds me a lot of Eileen Connolly's books in that respect, where she includes a whole bunch of stuff into a complete system and package, including how to shuffle, whether to take money for readings, etc. For me, it dilutes the force of her message a bit on what I consider the important things (card meanings, spreads, etc.).

By the way, I'm a little uneasy about the fact that she seems to have gotten most of her system from her teacher Glyn, yet doesn't further identify him. Perhaps it's a completely innocent omission, but it seems unnecessarily mysterious and odd to tell us that her system was taught to her but then not inform us of the guy's last name.
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By the way, I'm a little uneasy about the fact that she seems to have gotten most of her system from her teacher Glyn, yet doesn't further identify him. Perhaps it's a completely innocent omission, but it seems unnecessarily mysterious and odd to tell us that her system was taught to her but then not inform us of the guy's last name.
Agreed. It struck me as a bit precious.
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After more than a year a half(!) away from the cards and the forum, I've been around again and am trawling through the threads. I was happy to read your review of this new TdM book, Lee (*waves*), and then all of the other thoughts everyone posted.

I'm nearing the end of the book, almost to the end of the chapter on the Fool's Mirror spread. Although there's a little something about the author's tone that very very slightly rubs me the wrong way, I'm very charmed by the idea of reading with the majors only, even on practical, mundane topics. She's somehow made it seem do-able, even with that crazy 22-card spread.

I got the impression over the years, accurate or not, that many people who write (books) about using the TdM with majors-only recommend high-minded, spiritual development sorts of readings that aren't what I'm usually interested in. Gilchrist's way of explaining the cards and the readings pulls them back down to earth for me. I think I could toss the minors for the time being and actually give this a shot!

I'm pretty excited about trying this soon (maybe with those wonderful practice questions someone posted on Medium). So thanks for the thread!

Oh, and with regard to her only using her teachers' first names, I assumed it was because she's writing after her last teacher's death, and didn't even know the full names of the first two. Maybe she's protecting Glyn's privacy, or that of his family, or isn't sure how he'd feel about the notoriety even after death? But I may assume this because I lean toward keeping a low profile myself. The part that made me roll my eyes was calling even the first guy, whom she met only once and who took her to the weird empty room to lay out the cards, one of her "tarot masters"...
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After more than a year a half(!) away from the cards and the forum [...]
Hi kalliope, nice to see you! Good point about her teacher's name, we really don't know the situation and perhaps we shouldn't jump to conclusions. It just had an odd vibe to me, and I agree with Astraea that it comes off as a bit precious. If you try her spread, let us know how you like it!
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I'm thinking that she could have just called him "G" in keeping with the practice of some Victorian (and possibly other?) authors. Then she really would have had us guessing!
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