Reviews & Interviews

Book Review – Tarot Deciphered: Decoding Esoteric Symbolism in Modern Tarot by Susan Chang and M.M. Meleen

Book Review

Tarot Deciphered: Decoding Esoteric

Symbolism in Modern Tarot

by T. Susan Chang and M.M. Meleen

Publisher: Llewellyn Publications

672 Pages

Publication Date: 3/8/2021



Tarot Deciphered is an in-depth voyage into the esoteric roots that underlie the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot, the Thoth Tarot, and the myriad of decks that share their symbology. This card-by-card analysis reveals detailed insights drawn from the multi-layered traditions of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the magical order that most strongly influenced modern tarot.… From the Publisher

Tarot Deciphered: Decoding Esoteric Symbolism in Modern Tarot by T. Susan Chang and M.M. Meleen is a massively informative text containing every correspondence and point of reference you would most likely find of use and then the authors treat the reader to even more. In this case the use of the word “massive” is a nod to the 672 pages that serve as the distributors of a wealth of research, cross connection and interpretation beyond the ordinary standards.

Each card is defined through the esoteric disciplines of Astrology/Element, Mythology/Alchemy, Hermetic Qabalah, Rider-Waite Smith Symbolism and Thoth Symbolism. The Related Cards within the tarot keys and Advanced Concepts for Further Exploration complete the chapter. Being a teacher of Hermetic Qabalah and reader that prefers the imagery of the Thoth Tarot deck, I especially appreciated the incorporation of these tools ion a one-stop source vs. reliance of individual texts and meanings to draw greater conclusion from.

The Introduction gives the reader ample information about the inclusion of the Thoth Tarot deck as a point of reference for each of the cards. This is not a deck traditionally used other than those aligned with Aleister Crowley’s teachings and the understanding of multi-layered systems of Qabalah and ceremonial magick. Another interesting discussion is the influence of the Golden Dawn on the cards of the Major Arcana.

The offerings at the beginning of each of the Tarot Key’s chapters include the Card Number, Element, Hebrew Letter, Hebrew Letter Meaning, Path (of the Qabalistic Tree) Color Scale in the Four Worlds and other Themes and Keywords. This provides a nice quick look for easy reference and sets the tone for the more in depth discussions by topic within the chapter itself.

The approach of synthesis taken by T. Susan Chang and M.M. Meleen in Tarot Deciphered: Decoding Esoteric Symbolism in Modern Tarot ensures that the reader will come away with a better understanding of the multiple disciplines that compromise a diverse and well-rounded practice.

Would I Recommend:

Tarot Deciphered: Decoding Esoteric Symbolism in Modern Tarot by T. Susan Chang and M.M. Meleen is an absolute must for anyone seriously interested in Tarot studies and exploring the common threads found in all of the esoteric disciplines. On the scale of cost for most books these days, this title is a bit pricey, but the compendium of resources gathered in one reference will more than validate the cost.

Tarot Deciphered: Decoding Esoteric Symbolism in Modern Tarot by T. Susan Chang and M.M. Meleen is a well written and user friendly book from cover to cover. This book is definitely one that I will be adding to my library. And, be returning to frequently to explore new perspectives and fresh interpretations.

About the Authors:

T. Susan Chang (Springfield, MA) is the author of Tarot Correspondences and the co-host and producer of the Fortune’s Wheelhouse tarot podcast. She reads tarot weekly at the Inspirit Crystals shop and offers an ongoing online tarot course called Living Tarot.

M. M. Meleen (Worcester, MA) is the illustrator/creator of the Tabula Mundi Tarot, the Rosetta Tarot, and the Pharos Tarot, as well as the author of Book M: Liber Mundi, The Book of Seshet, and Spectrum Fari: The Keys of Pharos. She is the co-host and cocreator of the Fortune’s Wheelhouse tarot podcast.

Tarot Deciphered: Decoding Esoteric Symbolism in Modern Tarot on Amazon


About the author:

Robin Fennelly is an Elder within The Assembly of the Sacred Wheel Tradition and serves as High Priestess of Coven of the Mystic Path, the 12th Coven within the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel Tradition. She teaches and facilitates classes for the Pagan Experience Study Group that serves as foundation for membership within Coven of the Mystic Path.  

Her spiritual journey is strongly rooted in both Eastern philosophy and the Western Magickal systems from which she has formed a core foundation that is diverse in knowledge and rich in spiritual practice.  A life-long learner, her practice has evolved from the classical and philosophical teachings of books, practical experience and enrichment of this knowledge base by attending workshops of various spiritual traditions presented by master teachers.

Robin formally came to the Wiccan path in 1994. Following a practice as a solitary for 2 years, she dedicated to Oak and Willow Coven of The Assembly of the Sacred Wheel Tradition in November of 1996. She received her 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th (Elder) degrees within the Assembly Tradition and has served as High Priestess of two ASW covens since Samhain of 2001 and the Winter Solstice of 2015.

As a teacher of esoteric and magickal studies she uses Energetic Anatomy, Tarot, Astrology, Hermetic Qabala, Eastern Philosophy, and Numerology as the foundations of her diverse selection of workshops and writings for more than 25 years. Exploration of varied energetic protocol has been the focus of her work for some time now and the information gained through direct experience informs all of her magickal and spiritual work.

Robin’s writings have been featured online, and in print Internationally.  She has authored several books incorporating her unique style of writing making use of poetry, prose and pathworking to enhance the concepts presented.  She has taught extensively throughout the Pagan community, including Sacred Space Conference, Spring Magick, Between the Worlds Interfaith Conference and Free Spirit Gathering Festival. Her most recent projects include a channel on youtube: A Journey to the Inner Chamber. She also shares audio pathworkings and ritual on her bandcamp site: Teachings on the Path with Robin.

Robin is the owner of Holistic Embrace providing services for mind, body and spirit such as Tarot readings, Astrology reports, Spiritual Guidance and other related offerings.  She lives in Eastern Pennsylvania and her life is blessed by a 40+- year marriage, five children and the opportunity to work in the field of public education.


Coven of the Mystic Path,

Her books can be found on Amazon or purchased directly through her website:

For more info

The Inner Chamber, Vol. 1 It’s Written in the Stars-Astrology

The Inner Chamber, Vol. 2 Poetry of the Spheres-Qabalah

The Inner Chamber, Vol. 3 Awakening the Paths-Qabalah

The Light of SELF: Consciousness, Spiritual Practice and Learning to Breathe

Magickal Verse: A Collection of Poetry and Prose

A Year of Gaia: The Eternal Cord

The Elemental Year: Aligning the Elements of SELF

Temple of the Sun and Moon: Luminous Devotions

Sleeping with the Goddess: Nights of Devotion

A Weekly Reflection: Musings for the Year

The Magickal Pen: A Collection of Esoteric Writings

The Enchanted Gate: Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

The Temple of the Sun: An Astrological Solar Year

Writings in the Shadow: An Exploration of the Shadow Nature