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"Ultimate" RWS book by Fiebig and Burger


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Quote:
Originally Posted by closrapexa View Post
......Looking at it felt like I was Punked; it proclaims itself as one thing, and delivers not something else, but rather the same old gray horse mash. The same kind of "intuitive" interpretations practically all RWS books are stuffed with, but with a far more annoying title, that could, and probably did, actually mislead people......
It's unfortunate, but Waite asked for it by publishing a deck which superficially looks exoteric for the most part. I wonder what the Ultimate book says about the Temperance image, in which the Samekh Path on the Middle Pillar fairly screams out to be recognized. For example.... Why is the Sun on the head of the Angel, and the Crown in the sky instead of the other way around? Why does the Angel have a foot in the Water? (Don't answer.)
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I purchased the book, read it, and got disappointed.
I believe an explanation of symbols requires some authorities, citations, or quotations. If the symbols are personal to Pixie Colman Smith or A.E. Waite, we need a detailed discussion on them and their relations to the events in their lives. I find none of these. Just a series of short statements, and admittedly those might be useful in the actual reading sessions.

Most probably it's my fault to expect historical elements in this book. But it's titled "The Ultimate"
Top   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by closrapexa View Post
Looking at it felt like I was Punked; it proclaims itself as one thing, and delivers not something else, but rather the same old gray horse mash. The same kind of "intuitive" interpretations practically all RWS books are stuffed with, but with a far more annoying title, that could, and probably did, actually mislead people.
I have to disagree with you. While I find some of the comments in it perplexing, and while it is certainly a beginner's book, it is a much better beginner's book than most of the others I encountered in my day--mostly because of its extensive commitment to card neutrality (or its willingness to point out good and bad about each card). When I was a beginner, it was very frustrating to have a classically negative card pop up in an ostensibly positive card position and have no idea how to read it because modern publishers (following Waite) say that the card indicates only humiliation, defeat, or ruin. The same was true when a negative card fell as the predicted future. I wish that I had had access to this book back then, and I'm glad that beginners today do.

I'm not really certain why people thought Fiebig & Burger's book would be a great esoteric text. Nothing on the back cover or promotional material that I've encountered says this, and the previous books I've read by Fiebig certainly break with tradition. By my view, the authors wanted to write an accessible, comprehensive introduction to the most popular tarot deck for beginners, and they largely accomplished that. Seasoned readers who find a great deal of value in Waite's own meanings will probably be disappointed in this book, but those who don't--those who'd like to see some balance returned to the swords suit, for example--will probably find something valuable in it.
Top   #23
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Title: The Ultimate Guide to the Rider Waite Tarot

Description: "Discover everything you ever wanted to know about the world's most popular tarot deck......"

Even if it were the best beginner's book ever written, it is being promoted as something far more comprehensive than that. I was really hopeful that the title and description were not hype. Of course, the gross exaggerations may have been the fault of the publisher, but unfortunately it reflects negatively on the authors.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SixDegrees View Post
I'm not really certain why people thought Fiebig & Burger's book would be a great esoteric text.
Speaking only for myself, the first couple of posts in this thread got my hopes up. They set up an expectation that it is "Waite's Symbols and References Explained," as referred to in the first post. If I'd first seen this book on the shelf at Barnes & Noble I wouldn't have blinked an eye at the title - I'd just see it as marketing, same as a restaurant can claim to have the Ultimate Cheeseburger or something.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SixDegrees View Post
I'm not really certain why people thought Fiebig & Burger's book would be a great esoteric text. Nothing on the back cover or promotional material that I've encountered says this, and the previous books I've read by Fiebig certainly break with tradition. By my view, the authors wanted to write an accessible, comprehensive introduction to the most popular tarot deck for beginners, and they largely accomplished that. Seasoned readers who find a great deal of value in Waite's own meanings will probably be disappointed in this book, but those who don't--those who'd like to see some balance returned to the swords suit, for example--will probably find something valuable in it.
I certainly don't mean esoteric. A book can explain symbolism without delving too deeply into esoterics. But like LRichard aptly emphasized, it does hype itself as "ultimate," not "beginner." Truth be told, I don't see much Waite in it, if the excerpts can be counted upon to at least represent the book.

A good beginner's book, for example (although for a different deck) is Understanding Aleister Crowley's Thoth Tarot. In terms of esoteric study it is very basic, and doesn't go too deep. What it is, though, is a great introduction to a deck, allowing whoever wants to go deeper if they wish, but flatly stating that that isn't the scope of the book. It also bases itself on source material, and tries to explain what it mentions (otherwise it doesn't mention what it cannot explain, whatever it doesn't mention being too complicated for beginners).

This book, though, makes statements it doesn't explain and tries to distance itself from Waite. While I can appreciate the novel and clever deconstructions of the cards, something that is missing in other books, it ultimately reminds me of Angeles Arrien's horrendous book, in which she flat out say everything is her own invention.
Top   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SixDegrees View Post
......I'm not really certain why people thought Fiebig & Burger's book would be a great esoteric text.......
That's a straw man statement. No one has claimed that. The book purports to explain the symbolism of the Waite deck. Some symbols are esoteric, some are not. I wonder if the book mentions the real reason why the Hanged Man's head glows. I'm almost (but not quite ) curious enough to buy the book just to find out what it says about things like that, but my spirit guide is now urging me spend the money on a burger, fries, and a drink instead.
Top   #27
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(Let me start by saying that it seems like many people are judging this book without having actually read even much of it.)

My apologies, LRichard. I thought that in asking questions about the book's approach, you were critiquing it for pretending to be an esoteric guide. My original point is not a straw man, however. Some people on this thread DO seem to be critiquing the book for leaving out esoteric content (or at least historical/authorial meanings, which amounts to roughly the same thing given Waite's credentials).

Personally, I'm more troubled by the blind spots in some of the standards of judgment here than I am about the book's supposed deception. Believing that "some symbols are esoteric, some are not" brings up all sorts of indefensible thoughts about tarot tradition, the scope of authority, etc. I choose to judge the book's value on its utility rather than its adherence to indeterminate history/systems, and for beginners I think that it is quite useful. In fact, how anyone could possibly expect such a slim volume to deliver a deep or complete look at the RWS is unclear to me. Beyond the size, it should be at least somewhat clear from the use of "Top 10" lists that the book is intended to be used as a quick reference.

I could go on (I can see how "ultimate" may be mutually exclusive of "beginner," although that's certainly not a rule), but it seems like we should just agree to disagree on our opinions of the book. It is useful for those looking for intuitive insights (perhaps some that are unique to Fiebig & Burger), but it is certainly not comprehensive or concerned with certain aspects of the RWS's history.

(Of course, what I cannot defend at all in the book is closrapexa's point about some inexplicable statements--absolutely true, and unfortunate for a book I believe is aimed at beginners.)
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I just thought it was going to be something that it's not (as far as I can tell from the previews and reviews). I'd like to know where bogiesan got the idea that it explains Waite's symbols and references. I went over to Llewellyn's site and didn't see anything to suggest that at all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bogiesan View Post
(2013.04.04) A new Waite-Smith book is announced over at Llewellyn. Looks like a fun read although
I tend to be wary of anything that has "ultimate, final, absolute, best, or extreme in the title as it never turns out to be any of those. The preview offered suggests the book might have been better as "Waite's Symbols and References Explained."
I would just love to have a book that really does explain Waite. Because I've tried reading him. The Pictorial Key is not too bad but some of his other stuff is difficult to penetrate.
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I'll be watching this thread with interest


I can't wait to read more posts by those who get this book. "Ultimate" does indeed up expectations, and ultimate is also up for interpretation, but perhaps this book answers that challenge. For those who have, or have read, many tarot books, I would especially be interested to read how you feel this stacks up.
Top   #30

 

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