Table of Contents


Tarot Reflections

  August 01, 2003

Review: Tarot in the Spirit of Zen
Tracy Hite, ATA Treasurer, Networks Manager

Tracy began her own Tarot journey while recovering from her first son's birth on New Year's Eve, 1996. She tried to study on her own for nearly a year, picking up what she could from books and websites, but she had a lot of trouble piecing everything together. Through membership in  the American Tarot Association, she met the contacts and gained the expertise needed to gain her certification as a Certified Tarot Master.

Tracy uses a variety of decks to gain a fresh perspective on problems, or to point out ideas or issues she might not have considered otherwise. She admits that she can't predict the future, but does believe that working with the cards can help "move life forward."

She's honored to serve as Manager for both the Free Reading Network and the Free Tarot Network. She is also the excellent Treasurer of the ATA. Please contact Tracy at


Each Tarot reader has his own vision of the cards, his own version of the perfect Empress or the ideal Devil card, even if it’s only in his head. Some, like Osho, work with artists like Ma Padma Deva to give their visions form and share them with others. In Tarot in the Spirit of Zen, the companion book for the Osho Zen Tarot, Osho presents the philosophy behind each card in his unique deck.

Although black and white illustrations of each card are included throughout this book, they cannot do justice to these very colorful cards. To give readers a better feel for the deck, tucked into the back are a set of full color mini-cards (1 1/8” x 1 ¾” / 3 cm x 4.3 cm) of the Major Arcana you can punch out and use. Only the Master card, unique to this deck, is not reproduced in color. A table of correspondences between the Osho Zen Tarot and two other “standard” decks, the Rider-Waite and Crowley’s Thoth, is also included.

By Osho
ISBN 0-312-31767-0
Trade paperback published
by St. Martin’s Press

A card-by-card reference book, Tarot in the Spirit of Zen uses stories and anecdotes to expand on the Zen philosophies depicted here. There is often a story reflected in the card image, but it doesn’t really go into any individual symbols or details of the images as some other tarot books do. My favorite story, Conditioning, corresponds to the Devil in other decks. This card shows a young lion with a sheepskin tied around him, standing quietly in the middle of a flock. Osho relates a parable about a lion cub raised by sheep, so that both they and the lion were all convinced he actually was a sheep. The lion grew up acting and thinking like a sheep, eating grass instead of meat, always hiding in the middle of the flock where he felt safe. An old lion, hardly believing his eyes, sees the sheepskin-covered lion and drags him off. The young lion kicks and screams, terrified he’s going to be eaten. He could have easily overpowered the older lion, but thinking like a sheep, this never occurred to him. The older lion finally leads the younger to a  pond and tells him to look into the water. When the younger lion sees both golden faces reflected together he finally realizes he’d been a lion all along; it had only been his conditioning that convinced him he was a sheep.

Tarot in the Spirit of Zen is much more a book about Zen philosophy and how this deck reflects it, rather than about tarot in general. There is nothing here on spreads or on the history of tarot, nothing about how to combine the cards into readings. This is a no-frills in-depth reference work designed specifically for the Osho Zen deck, an excellent set of cards for spiritual and motivational readings, and especially for reading  for self-discovery. The stories here resonated deeply for me far more often than not, and explain a lot of the nuances unique to this deck that I had never considered before. I highly recommend Tarot in the Spirit of Zen for those intermediate or advanced readers who are already using or are considering the Osho Zen Tarot, and for non-tarotists who are interested in learning more about Zen.


Subscribe to Tarot Reflections, and receive notification of each update!

Request to be added to the list by sending email to!



All articles remain the property of their respective authors.
Tarot Reflections is a publication of the American Tarot Association - Copyright (C) 2003
Questions or Comments? Contact Us.