Book Review – Portable Magic

January 27, 2007 by  
Filed under books, reviews

Book Review - Portable Magic

Portable Magic: Tarot is the Only Tool You Need
by Donald Tyson
Llewellyn Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-7387-0980-2
230 Pages
Reviewer: Taylor Ellwood
StarStarStarStarNo Star

When I read the first half of this book I wasn’t initially impressed. Tyson did a good job of covering the history of tarot and laying out the basics, but I wanted to know when the reader would get to the meat of the book, i.e. the portable magic system he was talking about. It wasn’t until I reached the second half of the book that I got what I was looking for in this book — an innovative and original approach to utilizing tarot cards in magical practice.

In the second half of the book, using the Golden Dawn as his paradigm, Tyson explains how Tarot can be used in practical and metamorphic magic. He does an excellent job of laying out how his system works, and even explains how the magician can use the astrological correspondences in tandem with the rest of his system. What I really appreciated were the examples of workings he provided and his notes on how he personalized his own approach to Tarot magic, by changing some of the correspondences in the traditional Golden Dawn Paradigm. Additionally, it was heartening to see internal citations used in this book, a step up from the majority of works that are released without out those citations.

There are only two issues I had with the book. The first issue is the one I mentioned above in regards to the first half of the book. I’d have liked it if he’d cut down on some of the basics material, pointing readers to other works instead, so that he could focus his work more on his innovative approach. Additionally, while he referenced Golden Dawn ritual work for the Tarot, it would have been nice to have seen some focus on other approaches to Tarot that utilize ritual magic. Gareth Knight’s work and Mary K. Greer’s work particularly come to mind. These two issues lowered my rating to four out of five stars.

©2006-2013 Taylor Ellwood. Edited by Sheta Kaey

Taylor Ellwood is the author of Space/Time Magic, Inner Alchemy: Energy Work and the Magic of the Body, and Pop Culture Magick, among other works. You can visit his blog at

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