Tarot and the Archetypal Journey: The Jungian Path from Darkness to Light by Sallie Nichols. Originally published as “Jung and the Tarot” with a 1980 copyright, and republished in 2019 by Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC, 65 Parker Street, Suite 7, Newburyport, MA 01950. This is a 6 inch by 9 inch soft cover book with a matte color illustration on the front cover and a book description on the back cover. There are 398 pages with somewhat small black typeface printed on white paper; the quality of the printing is somewhat inferior, which could be why the images are not very clear and appear to be reprinted rather than original images. Tarot and the Archetypal Journey follows the Journey of the Fool through the Major Arcana and explores the connection between Tarot imagery and Jung’s archetypes.
We begin with a forward by Mary K. Greer and an introduction by Laurens van der Post. Then we dive right into one of those amazing rabbit holes one encounters whenever we delve a bit deeper into the Tarot. If you read nothing else in this book, the first two chapters, “Introduction to the Tarot” and “Map of the Journey” will bring powerful insight into the Tarot Majors/archetypes connection. But definitely don’t stop there or you will miss the meat of the book.
Nichols has chosen the Marseilles Tarot (one of the oldest designs) as her focus for this book, and that makes sense if we are exploring traditional Tarot imagery and symbolism. What makes the Marseilles Tarot a particularly valuable teaching tool for exploring the subconscious is this deck does not come with a traditional LWB or companion book; thus we can’t fall back on explanations conveniently provided by others but must find our own.
Despite the fact that Jung himself did not write much about the Tarot, Nichols has been able to offer an average of 7 to 15 pages dedicated to each of the 22 Major Arcana cards, offering images, symbolism, history, connections to other cards, and an in-depth explanation of the effects of the card’s corresponding archetype. That is a total of 345 pages of information! For example, there are 12 pages and two images in the section dedicated to the 16th card of the Majors, titled The Tower of Destruction: The Stroke of Liberation. Nichols speaks of the Biblical associations with this card, the association between lightning and a spiritual message, possible psychological interpretations for the figures falling from the tower, comparisons to contemplate with the images in The Magician, The Emperor, The Pope, The Popess (The High Priestess), The Hermit, The Hanged Man and The Devil.
After the detailed descriptions of the Major Arcana cards there is a chapter offering information about using the cards, an explanation of a Nine-Card Tarot Oracle Spread, some definitions, and references identifying the many images and direct quotes presented within this book.
This is not a how-to-read-the Tarot book, not necessarily a beginner’s book. It is a way to understand the power of Jungian archetypes in combination with the symbolism of the Major Arcana, how to understand them and use their power for personal evolution, and how to identify their effects in order to lessen their hold upon our lives. Nichols explains that once we begin to pay attention in this way to the characters inhabiting the Major Arcana, they will begin to pop up with regularity in our lives, offering us opportunities to get in touch in a more personal way with our cards and our psyche.
I am happy to have this book on my Tarot bookshelf; not that it will spend much time there. I’ll be reading it, often. I will be anticipating the effects of the cards and the archetypes on my daily life. After all, according to Sallie Nichols, “Strange things can happen when one confronts an archetype.”
About the Author:
Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot Reader and Teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher. Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.