Review: Every Man’s Tarot: Tarot and the Male Experience

Okay, this is it, one more review and then I’m going back to do normal posts on Vanatru and writing and stuff. I just HAD to give you my impressions of this book, I HAD to! (You’ll see why in a moment.)

It probably doesn’t bear mentioning that many books on tarot (much like many Pagan books) are written by women, primarily for an assumed female audience. The point of this book (in case the title wasn’t a clue) was to make tarot more relevant to men and male concerns. For each card of the major and minor arcana, Mangiapane has upright, reversed, and “Worst case scenario” situations for each card.

It’s really unfortunate that this book could also be titled “John Mangiapane’s Ego is in Overdrive” because this could have been a great book (although, IMHO, a great tarot book wouldn’t assume the audience is a particular gender at all).

For one thing, the author insists that his tarot is (to quote the text) “revisionist” not-so-subtly implying that other tarot decks on the market rely too much on traditional interpretations of the tarot. This is especially hilarious when the reader realizes that the interpretations of the cards are about as “traditional” as one can get–with a side order of patronizing. Men, if you really like being talked down to, you will love this book, because the author does a lot of it! Most of the images that he drew for a might-be-published deck are just the standard RWS images with extra beards (and a heavyset man as the Knight of Pentacles).

What I find terribly ironic about this hot mess is that he critiques conventional interpretations of the tarot as claiming to be universal when they aren’t….and then states that his deck aims to capture the “universal male experience” as in these quotes:

“After a lot of work, rethinking, calling on my years of experience reading and teaching Tarot, and living the male experience firsthand, I have created this Tarot book for men, written by a man…..” [bold mine]

“I also wanted to create a universal interpretation for men to use.” [bold mine]

What is this “male experience” you speak of? I’m not a man myself, but I’d hazard a guess that Mangiapane’s experience as a gay man (I believe he self-identifies as a bear) is different than my straight brothers’ experiences, or a trans* man’s experience, or even a gay man who isn’t a bear’s experience. In short, I suspect it’s about as useful to men as “women’s experience” was (and still is) to anyone who wasn’t a white, middle class woman when second wave feminists started talking about it.

If I didn’t know any better, I’d also make some pretty crazy assumptions about men based on some of the statements that are made in this book, for example:

Men are all ‘Mighty Hunter’ types:

This [the High Priestess] is a card about that much-maligned word sensitivity. Since this book is aimed at those with male chromosomes and this card is one of those undeniably ‘female’ cards, how do I keep your male attention? (There are no lions to hunt anywherearound here…)

Men aren’t intuitive:

After all, men don’t ‘get into’ intuitive processes [not that a few of the most famous diviners of the past weren’t men] and these writers didn’t address the male percentage of the population.

Men are lazy:

However, left to their own devices, men can be pretty lazy, especially if they are unchallenged in what they do.

No men are ever romantic/dreamy types:

[On the Knight of Cups] Here is one of the cards that are the reason I decided to write this book! In female-oriented Tarot books, this Knight is oftentimes described as (are you ready?) “A romantic dreamer… if the Querent is a woman, she may be falling in love with such a young man…” GAG ME WITH A SPOON! “He may be bearing a token of his affection for you.” BARF-A-RONI! Do real women really still believe this shit about a white knight that is going to come out of nowhere and sweep them off to Camelot? Nowhere do these books mention anything if the Querent is a male … that is where I come in.

and other stereotyping.

Also, the Celtic cross is WAAAY too complicated for a MANLY MAN tarot:

“The standard Celtic Cross layout (included in this book for those interested in trying to use it) is just too many cards to read using my revisionist methods.”

Some of the passages in this book are just insulting:

There are many readers who feel that the World is such an excellent card that even in reversal it is almost impossible to read negativity in it. If you want to be a Pollyanna your whole life, don’t let me stop you from the wealth of my experiences. After all, Tarot is mostly subjective.


Oh, and he also assumes that you don’t know how to shuffle a deck, because he gives extremely detailed instructions on how to do it (because….men can’t seem to figure out how to shuffle bigger cards, I guess?).

Men, you can do so much better than this book. Really, you would probably do better not using any books, but please, you deserve better than this patronizing BS trying to pretend it’s revolutionary.


One thought on “Review: Every Man’s Tarot: Tarot and the Male Experience

  1. I have read quickly this review me being a hetro man do not really think it matters about what gender uses what type of decks? they all give the same interpretions NO matter what gender you happen to be…so i’m abit lost about the concept of this Tarot?

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