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Seventy Eight Degrees of Wisdom

4.23 of 5 stars 4.23  ·  rating details  ·  856 ratings  ·  57 reviews
A psychological approach to the tarot, examining all aspects of the cards--their origins and symbolism and their historical, mythological, and esoteric background.
Paperback, 368 pages
Published April 1st 1998 by Thorsons Publishers (first published 1980)
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1984 by George OrwellFahrenheit 451 by Ray BradburyThe Two Towers by J.R.R. TolkienCatch-22 by Joseph HellerOne Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss
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115th out of 840 books — 129 voters
Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom by Rachel PollackThe Complete Guide to the Tarot by Eden GraySeventy Eight Degrees of Wisdom by Rachel PollackThe Easiest Way to Learn the Tarot-Ever!! by Dusty WhiteThe Voice of Faerie by The Silver Elves
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3rd out of 23 books — 16 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,770)
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Danusha Goska
Rachel Pollack's tarot book "Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom" epitomizes the errors of New Age thought.

Writing clearly is thinking clearly. Clarity is non-existent in Pollack's book. Her constant fudging of consensus reality is typical of New Age thought.

If one wanted to use tarot for divination, it would be necessary to assign clear meanings to each card. Pollack doesn't provide that. She provides rambling stream of consciousness. An example: her "explanation" of the Chariot card. Here's a pa
These days most anybody can do a tarot reading. There are literally hundreds of different decks all complete with canned readings for each card. In a way, it's rather like reading your daily horoscope as the results are rather generalized to match virtually anyone.

Definitely, not every tarot reader is equal in quality. The best readers go beyond simplistic generalizations. They not only tailor their layouts and reading results to match the individual but also look to the deeper meanings of the
Shannon MacLeod
This is one book that I can't recommend strongly enough, and one that I feel belongs on the shelf of every Tarot enthusiast. Using the popular Rider-Waite deck for illustration, it contains essays on each card, covering aspects of the symbolism as well as origins, history, mythology, and sociological, psychological, esoteric and religious implications. It's rare to say that a book on Tarot is a “can't put down page-turner”, but this one is it!

Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom is very well written
I bought this book based on positive reviews and an observation I thought I'd read somewhere about Harold Bloom having said that it was essential to understanding the tarot. (I have since looked and been unable to find mention of this anywhere.) I was rather optimistic about it, thinking I’d at last found a book that could elucidate the symbology of the (Rider-Waite-Smith) tarot for me.

Less than a hundred pages later I was grinding my teeth, doing my best to dig out any interesting bits from all
This is easily one of the best books on tarot I've read. About a year ago, I started taking tarot lessons, and while I certainly felt as if I was progressing, throughout the six months of lesson taking, I never really felt as if readings flowed intuitively; I always felt mild anxiety before reading, anticipating what had become my standard confusion and muddling through.

Pollack's book has completely changed my approach, and as a result, things jump out at me almost immediately in readings, and
I started getting frustrated when I found myself drowning in a miasma of numerology, somewhere in the preface. The connections seemed rather tenuous, and my doubts were raised. I also found that the interpretations of the meanings of the cards didn't speak to me as did other sources, although they did seem to be a little more helpful in the context of doing a multi-card reading, especially for another person. But that's not how I've been using tarot, so it wasn't particularly helpful in that reg ...more
Armed with this book, I am preparing myself for my encore career: psychic to the stars! I will look into your soul and discover your deepest secrets! FEAR ME.

Or not. As Tarot books go, this is by far the best I have seen - lots of subtle nuances that are missing from standard books. I love Tarot because I am a huge fan of the power of symbolic images; the Tarot deck is like a Bacchanalian feast to me. I won't really tell all your deepest secrets. But I will enjoy the heck out of seeing how Tarot
Andrea Paterson
This was a super interesting look at the Tarot from a historical, philosophical, and psychological perspective. This is not a book about fortune telling. It's a book about the Tarot as a system of symbols that can be used to access the depths of your sub-conscious mind. It really reads the Tarot like a complex book that can be interpreted in almost infinite ways. A fantastic introduction for anyone who has any interest in the Tarot and what it really is--not magic, but a psychoanalytical tool th ...more
Stacey Riley
This is one of the best books for tarot that I own. It's very insightful and I learn something new every time that I read it. I haven't read it all yet as there is such a lot to take in. If you wish to purchase a tarot book alongside one for a beginner, this would be it.

My only gripes are that I wish the typeface wasn't so small, and that there isn't an ebook version available yet, so I could carry the book around with me.
For me, this book was the perfect foundation for beginning a deep study of Tarot. It lays out the philosophy and values of the Tarot tradition, demonstrating that it is as substantial as mainstream religions. The intuitive and creative aspects of Tarot get equally careful attention. I read the 1997 updated edition.
Terri R
I am not ready to rate this book just yet, but so far it is very insightful and well organized.

This is an insightful and well organized book, which I found very helpful for the genre. I will continue to use the book as a reference guide.
Nov 02, 2010 Natalie is currently reading it
It's official: I am the auntie who wears healing crystals and peasant dresses. All that aside, Rachel Pollack has much in common with Joseph Campbell and her analysis of archetypes is really interesting.
Thorough and insightful work. Wish th at her explanations of reversed meanings were more fleshed out but still serves its purpose and leaves you with more than enough to draw your own confusions. Better read from cover to cover than merely used for reference.
Excellent book. I'd call this a must read for anyone who works with the Tarot. Rachel Pollack takes a very through approach to the cards, this goes beyond those books that give simple formulaic meanings. She discusses the majors from many angles and it has given me new perspective. I can't believe it took me so long to get around to reading this.
Laura Hogensen
A great reference source that emphasizes tarot as a means for reflection, meditation, and personal insight rather than its more commonly mistaken use: fortune telling. Pollack uses symbolism, psychology, and a variety of ancient religions and occult cultures to illuminate the Rider Waite deck.
Stephen Hanrahan
Definitly a comprehensive book on tarot cards. I havebeen reading them since I was 9. originally as a fun little parlor trick. and now I use them for various thoings including readings and meditation. the book in many ways made me have another look at the cards and pick up on details I have never noticed before. some of which profoundly influenced the way I look at a great many of the cards.
im taking one star away because reading the book, its easy to become burried under meanings and often ten
Yannis Theodossis
A great book for beginners and intermediate in tarot reading.

Well, I guess that there are two main approaches in tarot reading: New Age and Mystical. This book is one of the new age approach, no doubt about that. And I don't really like New Age personally. But this book is not a Bible; it will not teach you the Tarot once and for all. It is an excellent introduction to its world and I firmly believe it does not tie you to a certain school of thought about it. You may begin with it and then switc
Alex Boon
I find this book very hard to review. For its value in teaching me tarot I'd give it 3 stars. For its value in being an interesting read with great experience I'd give it 5. There are some great insights that are really helpful, especially in the last section on readings. For Pollack's point of view on science and scientists, 2 stars, sorry I don't agree with all-or-nothing "scientists are materialists" doctrine, nor do I really agree with materialism itself as a legitimate concept but I am awar ...more
I bought this book for my 48th birthday Tarot reading. The reading is still being analysed for further insights with the help of this very well written guide to Tarot symbolism and interpretation with references to Mythology, Jungian archetypes and other synchronicity based systems of interpreting reality and our place in it like Astrology, the I Ching, the Kabbalah etc.
Great tool for learning the basics on using the Tarot cards for self-knowledge and growth. I particularly value the entries on
Cathy Ponybutcher
a bit too cryptic and all over the place, but good overall
My go to book for tarot using classic Rider-Waite deck. Comprehensive writing, really going into the meaning/symbolism of the pictorals on the cards themselves. I like - for the most part - understanding the cards as they relate to each other and the universal picture they together are expressing. AT other times it's a nuisance to read through it all to find only then being left still to decipher personal meaning. That said, when I look at other guides and interpretations, I still find myself pi ...more
One of THE classic tarot books. This is one of the first books I read when I began working with tarot. Its filled with so much information that I know I did sort of struggle through it. However, its a standard for good reasons. Ms. Pollack knows her stuff. She's a wonderful academian, meaning her research is flawless, and she also knows how to tell a good story, so the book is very readable. For anyone interested in tarot this is a book you'll go back to time and again.
This book is a classic, and a must to own. Rachel loves tarot and explains very well the symbolism behind the cards, in this case the Rider-Waite Smith Tarot, and we journey along with her through the majors. The reason why I give 4 stars instead of 5 is because of the minors. While Rachel goes deep with the majors she briefly talks about the minors. There are brilliant moments from her there but there are as well too many times bland comments about the cards too.
The Complete Illustrated Guide to Tarot was the 1st Tarot book that i read & when i found that this was available at the library i checked it out. It is very informative and helped reinforce and demystify a great deal. I will definitely end up buying a copy for future-reference.
This a terrific set of books for a deeper insight into the Rider-Waite tarot symbolism from a Jungian/psychological perspective. Pollack explores the archtypal meanings of the cards following the hero's journey from The Fool through The World, and on through the minor arcana. Try this if you're looking for more than a simple list of one or two word definitions of each card.
Ellen Gilbert
This book was my first exposure to Rachel's writings on Tarot and one of the first Tarot books I used as I was learning the cards. I think it was also her first book on Tarot (?). Although I didn't find it quite as user friendly or helpful as Mary K. Greer's books, I did refer to it often. Rachel's later books on Tarot, however, are quite awesome, I must say.
This is one of the best instructional Tarot books I have read yet. It's well written, unlike most. Pollack makes good arguments for considering reversed cards and using significators cards, two methods I've shunned in the past but am now reconsidering. She also does a good job explaining how to interpret and connect the entire spread together.
Marcello Tarot
Da leggere e rileggere

Il capolavoro di Rachel Pollack! Anche quando lo si rilegge a distanza di tempo, o anche se se ne consultano solo delle parti, si trova sempre qualcosa di interessante da apprendere.
Recensione originariamente pubblicata su nell’estate del 2010.
Kimberly Cain
This is one of the best books on Tarot I've seen. I've used it as a reference for years. Pollack's writing is deep & insightful. I have found many other books on the subject to be trite & silly. Pollack has really studied the layers & layers of rich meaning in the Tarot & this book is a treasure.
Shari Smith
Jan 13, 2008 Shari Smith rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Tarot Enthusiast
Shelves: tarot
This is one of my favorite Tarot references. Not only do you get a meaning for all the cards, but Ms. Pollack poses questions, and gives you little bits and pieces to start thinking, and create an internal discussion. If you're buying more then 1 Tarot book this must be on your list.
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Rachel Pollack is an American science fiction author, comic book writer, and expert on divinatory tarot. Pollack has been a great influence on the women's spirituality movement.
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