Tarot Deciphered: Decoding Esoteric Symbolism in Modern Tarot

by by T Susan Chang, M M Meleen

I’m giving this book 5 stars, even though I didn’t enjoy reading it. Here’s how that works: this book is an extremely well-written, knowledgeable resource. I discovered that esoteric symbolism isn’t what interests me about tarot. Because I don’t read with either of the two main decks created out of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Thoth and RWS, this made the text less interesting to me. So, unsurprisingly, this book wasn’t really for me.

That said, this book is a great resource for Quabalistic readers. Again, that particular discipline isn’t really my thing. But for those who want to learn about the Kabbalah/Quabalah origins of tarot, this book is for you. However, the sections on astrology, elements, geomancy, bibliomancy, I Ching, and mythology were more interesting to me.

The authors of the book are the hosts of the Fortune’s Wheelhouse podcast, so they really know their tarot. Their knowledge shows in how they’ve approached the subjects in the book, to make it accessible to readers who are new to esoteric study. Tarot Deciphered differs from other tarot books on the market because it’s bursting with information, instead of the “page bloat” you see when there isn’t much substance. I factored this into my 5-star rating for a book I wasn’t particularly interested in.

The book is super well-structured and laid out so that all this intricate information isn’t overwhelming to the reader. This helped me, since I discovered pretty quickly that tarot esoteric symbolism, while interesting, doesn’t hold my interest for a whole book.

Finally, I rate this book five stars because there aren’t a lot of modern books on the market in this particular discipline. In fact, the only one that comes to mind it A.E. Waite’s Pictorial Guide to the Tarot, which is over a century old. Overall, I’m glad I read Tarot Deciphered, even if it’s not a book I see myself re-reading. But for the person who’s truly interested in this aspect of tarot, this book will be a stellar addition to your tarot library.