Holistic Tarot



My deepest gratitude to all who supported Holistic Tarot toward winning the 2015 Tarot Professionals Tarosophy Book Award, First Place for the 2015 American Tarot Association Reader’s Choice Award, the Best Text for Divination in the 2015 International Tarot Foundation CARTA Awards, and a Finalist for the 2016 First Horizon Award for the Eric Hoffer Book Awards.


Book Description

Designed for beginning as well as experienced tarot readers, Holistic Tarot offers a fresh and easy-to-follow approach to the use of the tarot deck for tapping into subconscious knowledge and creativity. The tarot deck has been used as a divination tool for more than two centuries; while the tarot is still most commonly thought of as “fortune telling,” the true power of the tarot lies in its ability to channel a clear path for our deep intuition to shine through. Consulting the tarot can help clear creativity blockages, clarify ambitions, work through complex decisions, and make sense of emotions and relationships. Whether used for simple decision-making or an understanding of your life’s purpose, learning tarot can be an indispensable tool for being more mindful of the factors that can assist or weaken your efforts toward success.

In Holistic Tarot, author Benebell Wen provides a complete guide to using the tarot to foster personal development. Wen gives a comprehensive overview of the history of the tarot and a wide array of theories on its use (including its relationship to Jungian archetypal psychology and traditional Chinese divination practices) before digging deeply into one of the best-known tarot systems, the Rider-Waite-Smith. Beginners will find a complete guide to working with the tarot, including choosing and caring for a deck, how best to learn and remember the attributes of the major and minor arcana, the interpretation of cards and spreads, the role of meditation in a tarot practice, and how to use the tarot for improving relationships, professional development, and personal resilience. More advanced practitioners will appreciate nuanced theoretical discussions of the tarot as well as practical advice about reading others’ tarot cards and setting up a practice. Containing over 500 illustrations and detailed information on each card as well as numerous spreads, Holistic Tarot is a complete compendium of tarot study that every practitioner should have in his or her library.

  • Paperback: 870 pages
  • Publisher: North Atlantic Books
  • Publication Date: January 6, 2015
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158394835X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583948354

lineOkay, now in my own words…

This is one monstrosity of a book on tarot. And honestly, I’m scared that you’ll be scared off by its size. I just found that as I got to writing, I had a lot to say on the subject of tarot practice. You’ll see that I devote a lot of time (i.e., a lot of pages) to the topics that matter the most to me. Over the years I’ve read a lot of books on tarot. A lot. As I was learning the basics, there were times I wasn’t quite sure how to execute the instructions of the author and wished for more examples. So that’s what I offer in Holistic. Examples. Case studies. I mean, that’s how textbooks for other fields present the subject matter, with case studies. In every form of graduate school I can think of, learning means learning through case studies. Lots of case studies. Why should tarot be any different? It’s not. And that’s why case studies are important. That’s why my book is littered with them.

Most tarot books I’ve come across do a great job teaching the basics, and teaching the various components that go into a reading. What’s tougher to teach is how to put it all together. How do you read a spread? How do the cards relate to one another and how can you, the tarot practitioner, pick up on those relations and interpret them? I made it my mission to answer those questions.

My purpose for this book isn’t to teach you proficiency. In fact, I hope you can learn mastery with Holistic Tarot. The writing of the book came about when I was teaching tarot and drafting a syllabus for students. I hope Holistic Tarot is a compendium for the Rider-Waite-Smith system that you’ll keep and use forever. I hope what you learn from this book can enrich your life in some little yet significant way.


WHERE TO ORDER (direct links below):

If you are interested in the author’s recommendation for how to navigate Holistic Tarot, click on the below banner to download free study guides. There are three different study guides: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced, each with accompanying additional supplemental downloads, all free. The study guides and supplemental downloads are intended to be used in conjunction with independent tarot studies with the book.

Click the above for free Holistic Tarot study guides and supplements.


About the Author

BENEBELL WEN is the author of Holistic Tarot: An Integrative Approach to Using Tarot for Personal Growth (North Atlantic Books, 2015) and the forthcoming The Tao of Craft: A Primer on Fu Talismans and Casting Sigils in the Eastern Esoteric Traditions (North Atlantic Books, 2016). She is a corporate attorney practicing law in California and New York, who also happens to be a practitioner of various metaphysical arts. She studies tarot, feng shui, the I Ching, numerology, and both Chinese and Hellenisic astrology. Wen is of Taiwanese descent. She currently lives in Northern California with her husband James and their beloved cat.



49 thoughts on “Holistic Tarot

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  6. Mario Oliveira

    Hi I started to seriously learn tarot starting in December, and I have a few question about elemental dignities and the court cards in the Rider Waite smith. I am currently reading your book, and I am split on which way to go when studying the court cards. Namely I have not made up my mind when it comes to the Knights and the Kings of that deck. Some people have Kings as air and knights as fire, though in your book you have Kings as fire, and Knights as air. Right now I want to set up my learning so it fits into kabbalah and astrology, so my question is what books should I focus on, and my second question is how did you make up your mind when it came to court cards and elemental dignities.


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  9. You were right about intimidation factor – I received this book a few weeks ago and actually “GUFFAWED”. lol. But then, I opened it, of course, and read the first few pages. Just even in those first hundred or so words I got majorly inspired. I am so amped to read and study this book, and I thank you many times over for being this impassioned about Tarot to create a monstrosity. Your mind must be a fascinating place to be. Thank you, for your work, your efforts, and your creation.


    1. Hi Tracee!

      I’m so glad to hear from you! What a blessing to read your message today. Thank you so much for your kind words about the book. 🙂 It means the world to me! Much love and all the best on your journeys and studies with the tarot! ❤ – bell


  10. Irina


    First of all, I LOVE your book! But I found one strange detail which bothers me…

    In Chapter 9 we read about the Emperor’s throne:
    Ram heads are sculpted into his throne.

    Then the throne of the Queen of Pentacles:
    Her throne bears carvings of a ram, for power and leadership

    And the throne of the King of Pentacles:
    Ram heads adorn his throne.

    But that’s true only for the Universal Tarot by de Angelis. On the same cards of the Waite-Smith’s Tarot there are different heads of the astrological symbols. Ram’s head for Aries of the Emperor. Goat’s head for Capricorn of the Queen. Bull’s head for Taurus of the King. They are quite distinguishable. For example, heads on the Queen’s throne have beards.

    I found no additional notes in the book or in the amendments section of the site. Could you, please, clear this moment? Thank you!


    1. Hi Irina!

      Although the ram’s head is the sign of Aries, a Fire sign, in terms of animal totems, a ram can also represent the element Earth, which I speculate is the interpretive approach in the tarot decks featuring that imagery for the Pentacle courts. It’s to symbolize Earth-dominants from the animal kingdom and tie the courts to the Earth, both as an element and as a material plane.

      My apologies for not being able to provide a more thorough response at this time. My schedule at the moment is booked up right down to every minute! But I did want to make sure I responded to acknowledge receipt. I’m happy to discuss further and study the imagery you reference with you further at a later time! Hope you are well and we should definitely connect to chat about this more when I’m not completely pulled in a million different directions! =)



      1. Irina

        Thank you for quick reply!

        Actually you’ve answered the question I’ve forgot to ask… Initially it was the discrepancy in the book between the pictures of the Queen and the King (which are from the RWS deck) and descriptions (which suit Universal Tarot) that set me wondering.

        But those ram’s heads on Pentacles (in the Universal Tarot and the Harmonious Tarot, for example) has really unsettled me. It seems that I got stuck to astrological symbolism, and that’s why I haven’t thought that it could be linked to Earth. So I was like: “Queen of Pentacles and Aries?! How can the two have something in common?” Now I see the logic there.

        I definitely need to read more about rams =)



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  12. I finally bought and am greatly enjoying the book. Your care and craft and thoroughness are inspiring, and as a long time tarot nerd, I am a happy camper! I also recently received a gratis tarot reading from you, and girlfriend—you are a tarot hero to me!

    I am, however, having an issue with the casualness of use of the word ‘gypsy’ in the early chapters. For many Rom, Dom, and Lom people this word is seen as, frankly, a slur. Though certainly some within the Romani communities have reclaimed it, for those not Rom (or Dom, etc.) it is generally agreed that to use the term is not respectful—and at the very, very least, if it is used it should be capitalized as it refers to an ethnic group.

    I fully recognize that the word has developed as slang in the US to mean a free spirit of sorts, and I know it is easy to not be aware of the issues of a minority community. I write this comment with full respect, and in fact only choose to do so becasue you are a thoughtful writer who clearly is still learning (which makes for the best kind of teacher, in my opinion). I am part of another subculture where the G-word gets used thoughtlessly, or as meaning an exotic, unchanging, free spirit somehow outside of the norms of society, without any recognition that in fact it refers very real group of people who are poor, economically and socially oppressed, misunderstood, and often villainized and scapegoated. There has been great headway and positive education made about Romani issues, there is a lot out there about it, and I would be remiss to not bring it up here, as well.




    1. Hi Monica!

      You’re right, the word “gypsy” appears once in the book. My intention was to call upon a well-known reference found historically in all the seminal texts on tarot, much the way history books published today would use the word “oriental” even to denote people, but it is done so as a historic reference. Nonetheless, greater conscientiousness is always a good thing, and I will be more conscientious going forward.

      all my best,


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  14. Susete

    Hello. My name is Susete and I live in Lisbon – Portugal.
    I just finished read your book yesterday. Wonderful. I’ll have to re-read some parts. Thank you. Susete

    I just read your book yesterday. Wonderful. I’ll have to re-read some parts. Thank you. Susete

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Catharine

    I received your book a week ago and have been devouring it. I am new to tarot and as a recovering academic, the endnotes, appendices, and the general tone of the text make my heart swell. I am so glad this book is my introduction. Thank you for writing such a well thought out, complete volume.


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  21. Rita

    Hello Ms.Wen,
    I love your book, and am learning a lot from Holistic Tarot.
    I ‘d like to ask a question, if I may.

    In the explanation of The Chai Eighteen-Card Spread in Chapter 14, it says, “Note that, at least in the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, the Hebrew letters for YHWH ( ה- ו- ה- י ) appear on the wheel in the Wheel of Fortune card, card ten of the Major Arcana” (p.360, line 10-12).

    How does this relate to the number 6?


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  40. Pingback: Learn more about me and my ways of introducing myself. You can also find me on Instagram @bellwen and YouTube as Benebell Wen (oh yeah, I have a YouTube channel) and Twitter - Professional

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