Table of Contents


Tarot Reflections

February 1, 2004

Early-Bird Sneak Peek
Tarot Decoded: Understanding and Using Dignities and Correspondences
Written by Elizabeth Hazel for Red Wheel/Weiser, coming in May 2004
Valerie Sim, CTGM

Valerie Sim serves as the VP of Communications for the ATA. She received her first deck of tarot cards 32 years ago and began studying astrology in 1973. Both have continued to be passions for her over the years and have led to the authorship of her own tarot and astrological teaching materials, with which she has been an online teacher for the past year and a half. 

In her position as VP of Communications, Valerie is the Editor of ATA's bi-monthly e-zine, Tarot Reflections, and the members-only tarot magazine, the ATA Quarterly.

 Valerie is the Listowner of a popular tarot email list, Comparative Tarot, a list which is populated by tarot students, readers, teachers, authors and artists. She is currently finishing up her book about the Comparative Tarot method and ways to keep tarot fun and exciting, called Tarot: Out of the Box; has written the pamphlet, or "little white book," for the recently published Lo Scarabeo Comparative Tarot Deck; and is a frequent reviewer for Tarot Passages. On the shamanic path and active in animal rescue, Valerie has many favorite decks including Animal Wise, Vision Quest and Shining Tribe.


Tarot Decoded will not debut until May, but I was so impressed with the manuscript when asked for my endorsement, I just had to do this early-bird review specifically for the tarot/astrology insiders that have been avidly reading Elizabeth Hazel's "Stars and Cards" articles here in Tarot Reflections and in The ATA Quarterly. Interested readers can place advance orders with Red Wheel/Weiser even though the book isn't out yet, but please do not misunderstand that you can walk into a bookstore today and pull this tome off the shelf. Information for pre-ordering this excellent book is included at the end of the review.

Tarot Decoded presents original and welcome methods of synthesizing tarot and astrology. It is a book for which the time has definitely come. With techniques and exercises, some based on metaphysical writings a century old and other ideas that are all her own, Elizabeth Hazel integrates the two pursuits in innovative and exciting ways.

If you (like myself) are a person passionate about both tarot and astrology, you have probably read numerous top-notch astrology books as well as many excellent books on the tarot, but have found a dearth of material combining the two subjects. This book is the first to step unabashed into that void and to provide many thought-provoking avenues for a successful and rewarding integration of the two arcane subjects.

The author starts out by elucidating the various types of dignity: elemental dignity, modal dignity, shared status, numeric dignity, locational dignity, and planetary and zodiacal dignity. The material Ms. Hazel includes on the four elements, astrological modality as applied to the tarot and numerology, are in of themselves worth the price of the book. Successive chapters are dedicated to demonstrating how each of these forms can be used to add exceptional depth and detail to tarot reading. Each chapter is illustrated with excellent spreads for which there are usually several lengthy sample readings.

The author admits within the first few pages of the book to being partial to the Golden Dawn system of correspondences, but demonstrates her willingness to endow her initial studies with insights gleaned during the course of her decades of continuous work with both astrology and the tarot. A prime example of this is her frank discomfort with the attribution of Saturn to the World card. I had to chuckle over her logical argument because I have always had a "Saturn problem" myself, though mine arose out of my personal lack of comprehension as to how tarotists miss the Saturnine feel to the weathered and bent old man in the Hermit card. It is good to know that I am not the only tarotist/astrologer who, though initiated into other systems, sometimes sees correspondences a bit differently, and is not afraid to say so.

For those proficient at tarot but versed in only rudimentary astrology, Ms. Hazel's material will walk you carefully through enough basic explanatory material to have you up and running. I predict that this book will make tarotists who have previously only dabbled in astrology want to learn more in order to continue to combine the two systems for increased depth and detail in their readings.

No book can teach everyone everything. For that reason the author does not attempt to teach tarot basics. The premise for this book is that it will be read primarily by intermediate and advanced students of the tarot that may or may not be accomplished astrologers and who want to learn to add astrological nuances to their readings.

I close with a quote from Ms. Hazel herself: "Tarot offers a way for the querent to participate in their own pathfinding session. It's a visual aid for them to experience. I find astrological charts tend to leave querents cold; the tarot is much more appealing. As much as I love astrology, clients respond more positively and interactively to the tarot. Merging these two occult arts has been a wonderful quest for me."

If only all quests were pursued so diligently and completed so well. I give this book an enthusiastic two thumbs up.

To pre-order this book:
Toll free phone: 800-423-7087


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Tarot Reflections is a publication of the American Tarot Association - Copyright (C) 2004
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