Detail from Six of Birds, Shining Tribe TarotThe Forest of Souls, by Rachel PollackThe Forest of Souls: A Walk Through the Tarot, by Rachel Pollack
Llewellyn Worldwide, 1567185339, 278 pp. (incl. recommended reading and index), 2003

This is the first book by Rachel Pollack I’ve read, though she’s written a few others which have been highly acclaimed — and after reading this excellent book, I can understand why. She is perhaps best known for 78 Degrees of Wisdom, one of the most comprehensive books on tarot published.

Pollack opens with a description of the various histories and mythological guesses at the origins of the tarot, combining it with its known history, and personal experience. Spirituality, symbols, myths and archetypes are common themes explored in this book as Pollack approaches the decks in a more spiritual rather than divinatory light.

The text is beautifully accompanied by a variety of black and white illustrations of various tarot decks, many of which I’ve never seen before. She examines the commonalities found within them, and explains much of the mythology and reasoning behind such images. Pollack relies heavily on the Shining Tribe Tarot she created, obviously as that symbolism resonates best with her understanding.

There are methods of asking questions of the tarot that she seems to feel others would find heretical. Coming from a chaos magick background myself, I can’t quite understand why, though I’ve found my work enhanced by her suggestions. She expands upon the traditional spreads listed in every other book with spontaneous questions and insights of her own. Previous to reading The Forest of Souls, my tarot readings were much more rigidly structured. Pollack has given my practice a much needed breath of fresh air, allowing for much more creativity and spontaneity in my readings.

The Forest of Souls is n excellent book for expanding one’s thought on traditional histories and practices of tarot.