Best Tarot Books for Beginners
Over many years here at Insightful we have had many submissions to our site for reviews on tarot books. We decided instead of having many pages on the subject to submit them all on one page so you can get a sense of what book is right for you as a tarot newbie or looking to learn more about how to work the cards.
Recommended Tarot books for beginners
Learning the Tarot: a Tarot book for Beginners
Submitted by: Melanie Scortio
Joan Bunning’s Tarot course, although available since 1995 on her website, only came out in a book format in 1998, just before I bought it. It was about time as the book format really has the advantage of practicability and manageability over the downloaded format; you can easily carry it around without risking to loose sheets, and it is lighter.
The book is divided into five sections: the lessons section, the exercises, the suggested answers to the exercises, the individual card descriptions and interpretations, and the information concerning the Celtic Cross.
The lessons are more like at set of good articles. They cover everything from the reversed cards, to formulating a question, to setting an atmosphere. They are clear and concise, but although a bit short. I just had a look at the exercises but didn’t actually do them. The card information is the best part: Bunning definitely takes an intuitive approach that I like. She provides useful keywords as well as an opposing/reinforcing card section. The Celtic-Cross information is awesome. At the end of the book, she provides appendices full of interesting information: court cards pairs, suit pairs…
I really love this book; it is my favorite and my main interpretative reference.
I recommend this book for the following reasons:
- This is not a scholar work. Contrary to many books on the market, it is not loaded with astrological, numerological, or cabalistic blah-blah; instead, Bunning’s approach is more intuitive than anything else.
- Usually, Tarot books have the very annoying tendency to under-consider The Minor Arcana, dedicating all their attention to the Major Arcana. This is not the case of this book; the Minor Arcana receive their fair share of description and interpretation.
- Bunning’s Celtic-Cross approach is by far the best one I have seen. The description and explanation of the positions and their signification are excellent, complete, but without being over-technical.
The only thing that disappoints is the fact that she doesn’t provide enough tarot card spreads: in fact she only gives the Celtic Cross! Even though she explains it well, one spread is not enough, and I don’t thing it would have been so hard to come up with a few more…
This is definitely THE book for beginners and an excellent reference for the more advanced.
The complete book of tarot reversals
Submitted by: Melanie Scortio
Thank heaven it’s here! The wait has ended at last! Those of us who have been holding our breaths in anticipation of the definitive book on reversals from this Tarot doyen of the West Coast can breathe once again, as family members gratefully watch our faces resume their normal color.
The inaugural book in Llewellyn’s new “Special Topics in Tarot” series, this book is unlike any of Mary’s earlier books. During the last couple of years, many of us have attended Mary’s workshops on various aspects of reversals, and it is a relief to finally see all of those loose handouts we’ve acquired printed in one place. But the book contains more, much more, than any handouts you might have received.
In addition to including expanded information on the upright and reversed meanings for each card, the book also contains a brief glossary of specialized terms and, in several appendices, an explanation of elemental dignities, a list of the elemental correspondences for the Major Arcana, general suit and number keywords, Internet addresses and resources, and an innovative presentation of reversed cards representing the heroine’s journey.
This came about, as Mary writes, because many of the reversed cards reminded her of scenes in myths and fairy tales symbolizing the journeys of heroines such as Rapunzel, Snow White, and Psyche.
Throughout her lifetime of Tarot work Mary has created many inviting spreads, along with new ways to read conventional spreads, and that is also true in this book where she presents the idea of doing basic one- and three-card readings with all reversed cards (be brave, dear hearts).
Mary’s Hanged Man tarot spread, each card is read first as a problem, and then as an inner response to Spirit. Her Hidden Influences spread is extensive and complicated, but not to be missed as a detailed experience in examining major life concerns and how they are influenced.
If you have never had the experience of having a reading from her, the sample reading for Sarah demonstrates the way Mary can “work” a Celtic Cross spread. You’ll never take the Celtic Cross spread for granted after reading this chapter, nor believe that you can ever afterward get away with a 15-minute Celtic Cross reading, the way I have heard some “experienced” readers brag.
There are two glitches in this book, which in no way detracts from its major importance or impact. Mary speaks of “what Jung called” the bright shadow, although it is my understanding that this term was not used by Jung himself, but rather was originated by Esther Harding, M.D. in her 1965 book “The I and the Not I”.
I like that the card illustrations are all reversed. If you have never carefully looked before at the upside-down scenes, you will be forced to do so now (When, if not now?), and may be surprised at a “new” message for yourself.
Mary presents ideas of what reversed cards may say about projections, health issues, and the shamanistic and magical levels of the cards.
My own preference is the idea that projections and shamanistic meanings apply even when the cards are upright, but, whether upright or reversed, I think you will agree that much of her information about these issues is thoughtful, and will provoke you into an expanded level of thinking about Tarot cards both upright and reversed. Congratulations Mary and Llewellyn.
The Complete Book of Tarot Reversals
Published by Llewellyn Publications
Tarot For Self Discovery
Submitted by: Chance Leiter
My first experience with Nina Lee Braden’s self discovery exercises came a short while after beginning my Internet life a few years back. I was fascinated at this new approach to working with tarot which served to strengthen the importance of tarot in my life. The exercises showed me, even more, how tarot plays a role in everyday life.
Tarot For Self Discovery is a workbook of exercises that can be worked with any tarot deck. Each of the 52 self discovery exercises has something different to offer. The exercises vary from beginner, with the exercises being lighthearted and fun, to intermediate levels which add complexity and have you reaching within yourself on a much deeper level. Ms. Braden offers an explanation of tarot for self discovery and how the tarot and exercises work together in the first chapter. She discusses the exercises and what you can expect from working them, and offers a list of information that can be included in your journal when recording your exercises.
The more details that you write down in your journal, the easier it is to recall this time in your life and to see how you have grown during this time. She also offers suggestions for choosing cards, narrowing down your card choices, working through the exercises, and following your work up with concrete steps. A concrete step is a specific action that you can take shortly after completing the exercise which helps to bring your self discovery work into action.
The specific steps that you take, after working an exercise, strengthens the transformations you desire to make in life. Not all of the exercises have concrete steps. The second chapter begins with the easier exercises, which tend to be more lighthearted, comforting, and can perk up your spirit. The exercises are very flexible and have a playfulness in them.
The third chapter begins the intermediate exercises. The exercises in this chapter are longer in length, and are more complex than the previous chapter. Having some experience with tarot, astrology and numerology is helpful when working through some of the exercises. The back of the book includes appendices with an introduction to chakras, astrology, and The Golden Dawn.
The fourth chapter includes exercises for special occasions. The exercises in this chapter vary from being light and easy to being more complex and cover a variety like weddings, holidays, and a host of other occasions.
Chapter Five is a chapter of examples of exercises that have been worked by various people. Reading through these examples has emphasized for me just how much each exercise is different for each individual, and that as we grow and change, each time that we work an exercise over repeatedly, we get a different outcome than before. When considering this, the book is one that I cannot see ever growing old or boring.
Ms. Braden discusses suggestions for writing your own self discovery exercises in the last chapter. She offers her guidance about choosing a focus for your exercise, breaking down the steps of the exercise, and how to close the exercise with a concrete step, if one is appropriate. The tools that you can use to work the exercises vary. A tarot deck and journal are necessary. You can use objects as visual aids. Photographs, candles, incense, plain paper and drawing tools can be used. All these add depth to the feelings you experience when working an exercise. The book does not include tarot spreads, nor does it include the meanings of tarot cards ( major arcana nor minor arcana), so tarot experience can be of benefit. Using your intuition and experience with the cards allows you to reach a truly personal level with the cards when working through an exercise. Each card(s) that you work with becomes very personal and your personal connection and understanding of the card’s meaning grows from this experience. The exercises offer a great deal of learning about yourself. Ms. Braden asks questions, as suggestions within the exercises, which offer you ideas to contemplate and foster new ways of thinking. You can benefit from taking your time with the exercises, mulling them over, and allowing your thoughts and feelings to flow while working through them. Nina Lee Braden has created another unique way of working and playing with the tarot. The exercises in the book are good to work alone or within a group of close friends. The book has much to offer in variety and activity.
Nina Lee Braden’s book Tarot For Self Discovery is one of several books published in Llewellyn’s Special Topics In Tarot series. The cover of the book has an image of The Hermit by Brian Williams, with a foreword by Mary K. Greer.
Tarot Made Easy
Submitted by: Celest Marks
Have you ever had a reading that has cards that look totally irrelevant? For example, you ask about your financial future and the Queen of Sword turns up. What has the Queen of Swords got to do with your *financial* future? It could mean that you might be meeting a strong and reliable female who might influence your future financially…or, it might not. For those who have ever encountered this problem (from experience, all readers encounter this sooner or later in their course of studying the Tarot), this book will answer many of your questions.
The most unique aspect of this book is that it divides all the meanings of the cards into different sections or categories. For every card, there is a list and when you encounter a card which you are confused with, you simply turn to the page in the book with the appropriate card and look under the heading (for example, in the problem above, you can look up the heading under Financial).
One of the advantages worthwhile pointing about this book is that the author has given both the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana equal attention. Very frequently, most books pay lots and lots of attention to the Major Arcana (some can write about 2 – 3 pages about the Major Arcana) and leave only a single page per Minor Arcana Card. True, the Major cards are the Greater Secrets after all and are very important but the Minors are important too and seldom gets the attention it deserves. Fortunately, this book pays attention to both parts of the Tarot.
On the flip side, this book is better used as a reference when you’re really stumped or as a permanent guide, permanent guide as you use only this book and no other, simply because the meanings deviate rather terribly from the norm. When the meanings don’t deviate, there are a lot more of them and it can be rather confusing when one tries to use this book alongside another Tarot Guide, one is apt to end up rather confused.
All in all, I feel this book is worth adding to one’s library of Tarot Books because you never know when you’re going to get stumped!
Mastering the Tarot
Submitted by: Celest Marks
Mastering the Tarot is written by Eden Grey, who wrote a few other books about the Tarot but I found Mastering the Tarot be more accessible than the other two. This is the book which I learnt the Tarot from and after seven years, I still refer to it.
Mastering the Tarot is a rather traditional book, beginning with the Minor Arcana Cards grouped together by the numbers rather than by suits. Every Minor Arcana Card has a brief description on the card followed by the meanings of the card when it is upright and reversed. For the Major Arcana cards, the author goes a little more in dept, studying the symbol in each card presented. All the cards in the books are the Rider Waite Cards and the meanings conform closely to the cards, mirroring Rider Waite‘s original interpretation for the cards.
While this book not particularly detailed, it is quite suitable for beginners to the Tarot or for those who want more meanings than the little book that comes with Tarot Cards but want to avoid long winded sentences of the more advanced guide books.
The book also teaches the basic spreads such as the Celtic Cross spread. What struck me most about this book was that the author covered a bit about the ethics of reading the cards, how a reader should present readings to the querent and how readings should be worded. This is a section I have not yet seen in the books that I have gone through and this, I feel, is something that every card reader, whether reading for other people or otherwise, should know.
This definitely is a book worth reading, and keeping.
Textbook of the Tarot by Janet Berres
Card meanings, six tarot spreads, symbols, colors and numbers, all the basics are covered in this well written, easy to follow book. According to the forward, this book actually began as a one page typed hand out, evolving then over eighteen years to this perfect bound second edition. All those years of presenting this information and teaching others really shows through in this fine book. I really appreciate the economy with which the information is presented. I remember learning to read, and although the books I chose to learn from where wonderful, I often found myself lost and confused. Janet’s book presents all the information you need to get started reading the very day you buy the book, as well as plenty more information to meditate on and study as your talent and knowledge base grows.
I personally couldn’t think of a better book to begin reading with. From the first page the reader is made to feel comfortable and confident, a real boon for anyone attempting to learn a new skill. At 6″ x 9″, it is also a great travel size, fitting neatly into a purse, backpack or folder.
The back inside page allows room for personal notes. The common imagery of the Rider-Waite illustrations in this book should be most helpful to the new reader with the major arcana and minor arcana, and quite familiar to the more advanced.
What a great gift this would be for someone learning Tarot divination, as well as a wonderful source to keep in your own library.
Cover Art by Marlene Hill Werner
Illustrations from the Rider Waite Tarot Deck
Copyright 1990, Janet Berres
Second Revised Edition – June 1997
Published by The International Tarot Society
Tarot for beginners
Submitted by: Melanie Scortio
“Tarot for beginners” by P. Scott Hollander was my first real Tarot book. Therefore, I can’t really be too objective in analysing its content. But still, it is a good book that I really enjoyed at its time.
It is structured the following way:
- Part one; the Majors Arcana
- Part two; the Minor Arcana, including some interesting numerological information (Half Pythagorean and half Tree of Life inspired)
- Part three; divining with the Tarot.
The descriptions and interpretations are rather classical. Hollander is very traditionalist in her meanings; in fact, she gathered these meanings from well-experienced practitioners from different backgrounds and sources, which gives a rather eclectic result and sometimes lead to things such as:
“5 of cups – upright meaning = an upcoming union, a possible marriage or partnership…”
Strange, no? I am so accustomed to the regret ad sorrow image that this strikes me odd. Her approach of the Sword suit is far too restrictive; this suit seems to embody all that is bad, evil, mean and not to be trusted. Another big flaw is the way she chose her illustrations; she picked images from the Tarot of the Orishas (in which she confuses the Babalawo with the High Priest), the Witches Tarot, the Arthurian Tarot, and the Healing Earth Tarot. I hope this was a requirement from Llewellyn, because these decks absolutely don’t fit in there.
She scatters how-to information all over the book without real order instead of having a section for such issues. For example, tips on choosing your deck are in the middle of the Minor section, her last part on divining is far too small…
The two five and seven card spreads she provides are not among the best I have seen. Her Celtic Cross description and approach is extremely traditional, which in this case I found good.
Other good points of this book are the extensive attention she gives to card descriptions, and the no-hypocritical way her meanings are given; no cat walk, and straight to the point.
Overall, I like this book, but I recommend not to stop with it. You will ultimately need to graduate to another book that will provide you with better advice on how to actually interpret the cards.
tarot and astrology the pursuit of destiny
Submitted by: Lanie Walker
The purpose of this book is to show us how to use the ancient system of birth date and time conditioning. Based on a 10 day cycle formula, the sun and earth’s shifting patterns have a psychological as well as a physical effect on human conditions, and your birthdate can influence your psychological make-up.
The author gives us a chapter explaining the reason for the way that the cards are ordered. The Tarot Pack described in The Golden Dawn (by Israel Regardie Vol. Four) as “BOOK T” shows the suits not following their logical sequence. The 22 keys (major arcana) are at the end of the document. The Aces come first, but separately to themselves, followed by a separate description of the 16 COURT CARDS. The 36 Cards of the Four Suits ( minor Arcana) come under the Decan the name for the 10 day cycle.
The 10 day System uses Spot Cards – one card that has specific symbols that represent the basic qualities and potential of each ten-day cycle. These “Spot” cards, instead of being described in their normal sequence, one complete suit at a time, go back and forth between the suits, not following the order of the Tarot pick but of the solar year. In the 13th century, the Church banned the use of any literature other than Holy Writ. The Church also banned the use of mathematical, alchemical and the astronomical. Research shows that the wise men of Fez constructed the Tarot to be a glyph or composite symbol. This Glyph is our modem Tarot deck containing their belief that “mankind is a part of the universal order of things”. They put their most important doctrines in a book of pictures, and used the Kaballa as a lettering and numbering system. There are four suits in the tarot cards which are based on the Sacred Symbolism of Four: Ezekiel’s Wheel and the Four Beasts, Four seasons, Four winds, not to mention the Four Elements; Earth, Air Fire, and Water. The wise men of Fez thus created an indestructible record for future generations to decipher.
The first few chapters are a bit hard to navigate through while the author explains her history and research involved in writing this book. Try to understand what you can and just skip to the meat and bones chapter about the numbers, qualities, and frequencies. From there, go straight to the pages on birth dates of your querents and see for yourself how well Astrology applies to Tarot as handed down and preserved for us from the 13th century wise men of Fez.
Here is the way that the cycles work in conjunction with the tarot. Each group of three 10 Day Cycles falls between the boundaries of a 30 day period involving the 12 zodiac signs. A tarot Key card precedes the cycles and is the symbol for the zodiac sign of the group. The formula (10 Day Cycles) provides three principal factors in personality – Basic Quality, Frequency, andPotential. The ancient scholars divided everything into four great divisions symbolically named Fire, Water, Air, and Earth. Every 10 day cycle falls into one or another of these four groups.
The structure of the 10 day cycle formula is simple as it deals only with impulses, reactions and desires of the individual. The formula indicates theBasic Quality, Potential, and Frequency (psychological factors) according to his/her birthdate. The 10 Day Cycle is based on the astronomical, not the calendar year.
Where does the Tarot fit into the astrology? The attitudes, actions and expressions of the symbolic figures in the Waite Deck generally fit the personalities of the cycle. The twelve signs of the zodiac are divided evenly among the four elements. There are Three Signs, each containing three 10 day cycles, allocated to each element. These are distributed at regular intervals along the pattern of the year, which begin traditionally with March 21st. Each sign covers a period of approximately 30 degrees.
FIRE – Aries Leo, Sagittarius
EARTH – Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn
AIR – Gemini, Libra, Aquarius
WATER – Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces
The Potentials (numbers 2 through 10) indicate the driving force of the personality —
2. initiative, adaptability, uncertainty
3. determination, intensity, pride
4. stability, order, restriction
5. activity, power, opposition
6. ambition, egocentricity, leadership
7. versatility, dominance, fear
8. sagacity, short-sightedness, prudence
9. forcefulness, capability, obstinacy
10. persistence, conservation, self-will
The Seven Frequencies (Planets) represent the type of desire, or quality of emotional character of people born during each cycle. The frequencies have nothing to do with the planets; the formula pattern is based entirely on the cyclic changes in the field of the earth, through its relationship with the sun, during the course of the solar year.
MARS – desire for action: energy, impulsiveness
SUN – desire to achieve, ambition, pride
VENUS – desire to create: productivity, extravagance
MERCURY – desire to reason: sagacity, cunning
MOON – desire for change: adaptability, instability
SATURN – desire to integrate: constructiveness, intensity
JUPITER – desire to stabilize: order, caution
Lets put this theory to a test. I am a Leo, born on August 10. The Strength Card is normally my birth Card, but in this book it is the “spot” card for the 30 day period of July 22 to August 22. The card for my birthdate is 6 of Wands for the decan (ten day period) of August 2 to august 11. This card is the Six of Leo
Potential: six (ambition)
Frequency – Jupiter (stability)
Basic quality – fire (dynamic energy)
Idealists with an indomitable will, idealistic rather than practical, having great energy and endurance, Leo sixes take center stage, have an innate capacity for leadership, and are very hard to satisfy. These qualities are a definite part of my psychological make-up! I shared the findings in this book with other friends I have done readings for. This book definitely assisted me as a reader in getting even deeper, more satisfying results for them. By applying the 10 Day Cycles to a Tarot reading, clients may able to see what it is in their personality make-up that helps or hinders them in applying the knowledge gained from a Tarot reading.
Having gained a perspective on how the Tarot can predict human personalities, we can appreciate the author’s quote from Alice in Wonderland. When Alice returns to the real world, she says to the human race in general, “You’re nothing but a pack of Cards!”
Which personality traits does your character portray?
Read Tarot and Astrology and find out!
by Muriel Bruce Hasbrouck; ISBN 0892811218
Illustrated Tarot Spreads 78 New Layouts for Personal Discovery
Submitted by: Lanie Walker
Originally published in German in 1995, this is the first available English translation. Illustrated is no kidding! The cards have layout positions superimposed over their gray-scale illustrations and the illustrations represent what the layout is about. Many decks are used: Aquarian, Arcus Arcanum, Art Nouveau, Chinese, Hanson Roberts, Morgan Greer, Renaissance, Tarot of the Ages, Universal Waite, Crowley-Thoth Original, Ibis, Weise Frauen, Cosmic, Voyager and Electric.
For only being a paperback with 96 pages, I thought that having 78 pages of tarot card layouts was a treat! The pages are shown as two sections on each page of 8 1/4 x 10 7/8 bordered illustrations and their layout explanations, side by side, almost as if they were originally in a notebook that’s laying open. The layouts range from only three cards to 34 cards. My favorite is the “Four Elements”:
- Lay the cards in the shape of a star.
- 1 Overall Situation (Center of the star )
- 2 Fire – Encounter at Work (top right point)
- 3 Water – encounter in love (top left point)
- 4 Air – State of my health (bottom left point)
- 5 Earth – financial situation (bottom right point)
- 6 My prophecy – advice being given (top point of star)
Other layouts include Karmic Development (past life issues), a Health Oracle, and Decision Making. I especially like the “Weise Frauen” deck 8 of Wands which illustrates a woman surrounded by eight flying brooms for the Decision Making spread.
Pages 81-92 are dedicated to layouts for each sign of the zodiac. Leo addresses questions about: ego and domineering, acting on stage, love and romance, children, risk and speculation, and generosity. Wouldn’t it be fun to see what characteristics your zodiac layout addresses? On page 15 is a list of your personal tarot cards, both majors and minors based on your birthdate.
This book may be enjoyed by beginning students and experienced readers of all levels. Represented are some decks that up until now I hadn’t seen before, which, of course, I am going out immediately to search for! One of the things I liked most about Illustrated Tarot Layouts is that the theme of the layout matches the card’s illustration and the card coincides with what the layout represents. This book also gives key words, some of which are the insights of the authors: Emperor – diplomas (This is a new one on me…), Tower – revolution, Moon – change in personality, 2 of Wands – big plans, 7 of Wands – critique, 4 of Swords – excommunication (this is the first time I have ever seen this meaning), 5 of Pentacles – lover (Huh?), and 9 of Pentacles – neglect of a partner for financial reasons (This makes sense to me when I see the woman sitting alone in luxurious circumstances while looking out a window.) This book is currently available at Borders Books. Being the passionate layout collector that I am, this book just had to come home with me, and I am well pleased that it did.
Heidemarie Premier and Marcus Schirner; ISBN 080696345X
How to Read the Tarot
Submitted by: Celest Marks
Is presented in a rather unusual format (the way it is written, not the book). In most Tarot Books, the Minor Arcana are found in one section (whether in the front or somewhere in the middle is variable) and the Major Arcana in another. In this book, the cards if the same number are presented one after another. For example, the Magician card is introduced to the reader, and then comes all the Aces (which are numbered ones). Similarly, the High Priestess is then introduced, followed by all the Minor Cards numbered two.
The most unique aspect of this book is that it uses a keyword system. For example, the keyword associated with all cards numbered one is ‘New beginnings’ and ‘No new beginnings’ for the reversed cards. This is a quick way to learn the cards, simply because the different cards relate to different spheres, like Cups with Emotions so the Ace of Cups will mean a beginning in a matter of Emotions. One just needs to remember the keywords (quite easily done) and the rest of the meanings come easily.
This is also a pretty modern book, that is to say, there are a number of modern meanings which fit into our society. Meanings such as: “Fear of New Age Material” & “Discipline promotes Economic Stability” are found in this book.
All in all, this is a valuable addition to any Tarot Reader’s Library, whether beginner or otherwise.
This is written by Sylvia Abraham and published by Llewellyn as a part of its How to, which promises quick and easy ways to learning various disciplines. The Tarot is the discipline under discussion here.
A Forest of Souls a walk through the tarot
Submitted by: Chance Leiter
is a book that is truly intriguing to read. The book is written with the purpose of searching for meaning by ways of exploring new directions, gaining new perspectives, asking questions of wisdom from the Tarot, and seeking the answers. Rachel Pollack takes us beyond the boundaries that we can set for the Tarot. She takes us out of critically defining the symbols of the Tarot and invites us to allow the images, myths, and stories to take us on a journey. We can creatively reach beyond any preset card and symbol meanings, and freely exploring the possibilites that are waiting to be tapped into and wondered through spiritually.
Rachel Pollack opens the doors to “playing seriously” with the Tarot. And, why not? When we stretch beyond the boundless limitations we set for ourselves, our spiritual paths, and, yes, the Tarot and truly reach out in an openness to possibilities by asking the question of what if, and investigating the possibilities of the statement, I wonder, is when we can truly learn and grow. Each time a Tarot deck is shuffled and the cards are laid out in a tarot spread, something new is brought before us. We study the cards, their meanings, and the symbols so seriously. If we study seriously, shouldn’t we also consider serious play? Serious play for deeper spiritual growth?
In the Forest of Souls, Rachel experiments with Wisdom readings by asking questions such as: What is soul? She takes us through various theories from mythological to mystical in the wonderment of asking the question of “How?” How does the Tarot work?
The book has 15 chapters, a recommended reading list, and a Gallery of Quotations. Although the meanings of the cards are not printed back to back on the pages like the Tarot books we have studied and learned from, various meanings of the cards are discussed in regards to the readings they appear in. She also writes about the symbols in the cards, and often relates them to stories or myths, which I enjoyed reading very much. Cards from many decks are used in black and white illustrations throughout the book, including Rachel’s own deck, The Shining Tribe Tarot.
A Forest Of Souls is a book packed with interesting stories, wise words, knowledge, Wisdom readings, and questions that we can ponder long after reading the book. Rachel Pollack writes in a smooth-flowing, comfortable, and down-to-earth manner and I found it a hard book to put down. I have enjoyed the journey this book has taken me on, and recommend that you take this journey, too.
A Forest Of Souls A Walk Through The Tarot by Rachel Pollack is published by Llewellyn.
Submitted by: Lindsay Teyler-Mackenzie
I found Power Tarot, by Trish MacGregor & Phyllis Vega, to be a practical, hands on book. It is especially useful for beginners who would like to actually start doing readings and not simply read about the process. It also serves as a handy guide for experienced readers who would like to have access to over 100 tarot spreads covering a number of daily concerns, such as romance and work, as well as more unusual concerns such as pets and children!
The spreads range from a simple 1-card Daily Spread, to a much more intricate 24-card Double Horoscope Spread. There really is something for everyone from beginning reader to advanced. Not only are these tarot spreads good for answering specific questions, but I feel as though many of the spreads in this book would serve as great outlines for creating your own spreads as well.
In addition to spreads, Power Tarot lists some basic meanings of each of the 22 Major Arcana, and 56 Minor Arcana cards. What I especially liked about this book is that it also includes the meaning of each card in the context of a general reading as well as in various areas of life, such as work and romance, health and spirituality. Each card includes an “empowerment” as well, which sums up the card quite nicely, giving the beginner a good way to memorize the meaning of each card.
Power Tarot, in my opinion, is definitely an empowering book. The authors do a great job of not only offering a wide variety of specific tarot spreads and tarot card interpretations, but they also show readers how to use their own intuition. In this way they guide the reader towards creating their own personal Power Tarot!
Power Tarot (ISBN 0684841851) is published by Fireside and available through your local bookstore.
Tarot for All Seasons
Submitted by: Lindsay Teyler-Mackenzie
I’m not one who is enamored of Jette’s first two books, so I’m happy to say that I thoroughly enjoy her third production. Written as a book to celebrate the days and nights of power, as the book’s subtitle says, it focuses on the solar and lunar celebrations of the pagan Wheel of the Year: the sabbats or solar rituals, equinoxes, and full-moon celebrations called ebats.
If like me, you are not a Wiccan or pagan practitioner, you still can employ and enjoy the rituals and spreads from this book. Since the ebats honor the goddess, women, may find this book particularly meaningful. For each occasion, Jette also offers ideas on associated scents, teas (called “magical brews”), and candle colors to use in accompanying rituals.
Whether or not you engage in these celebrations, the book is excellent for mapping out a year of readings using Jette’s new tarot spreads, and thereby creating a year-long narrative of your life. Although the spreads can be used anytime during the year—Jette explains the unique purpose of each—I would imagine they are more powerful or significant if used near the date for which they were designed.
While four cards from the Robin-Wood Tarot are shown on the cover, one of the values of this book is that Jette does not employ any particular deck in her discussions of the cards drawn for sample readings. Rather, she speaks in general about what each card means within an example spread and then gives short upright and reversed meanings for all the cards in the book’s appendix.
I like that most of her example readings appear to be done by the querent herself, often indicating what action—often several—she has decided to take as a result of the reading. The example spreads also indicate that sometimes a specific “answer” is not immediately forthcoming and/or the spread is not the end of the work. The querent reads other tarot books, thinks about the reading, meditates, makes journal entries, keeps certain of the cards on an altar, and otherwise continues to work on the spread. I don’t have to tell you that this is the way spreads should be used, but all too many books make it seem like once the pat definitions of the cards are given, the reading is finished and complete.
Jette also suggests three different three-card layouts that can be used to expand on information from her spreads. They can be used to summarize the entire layout, to clarify the meaning of one puzzling card, or to offer a time frame.
(ISBN 0-7387-0105-X) is published by Llewellyn Worldwide. You can visit their website at www.llewellyn.com.
Tarot a new handbook for the apprentice
Submitted by: Lindsay Teyler-Mackenzie
Gnothi Seauton-Know Thyself.” This is the first phrase in the above mentioned book. It is clear that Eileen Connolly considers Tarot to be a study of spiritual growth and esoteric sciences. Not only does “Apprentice” cover the elementary basics of Tarot. It also introduces the reader to additional occult sciences such as astrology, numerology and the Cabala (Connolly’s preferred spelling).
Exercises, meditations and, worksheets add further depth to the book.
In section I, chapters 1-4, cover the basics on Tarot studies. Most noteworthy in this section is a Daily Record Sheet and a Tarot Log to aid beginners in recording their readings and meditations.
Exercise 10, ‘Entering the Major Arcana’, entices readers to clearly develop a sense of card meanings.
Chapter 5 and 6, which begin section II, are a bit more complex and should be read carefully.
TERMINOLOGY as Tetragrammaton, Gnothology, and Multiple Vibration could confuse a beginner.
THE TREE OF LIFE CHART is very detailed and again could be too much information for a tarot newby. However, these two chapters will challenge the more experienced and they also explain how to utilize chapters 7-10.
Connolly refers to each card as a MENTOR, which is a refreshing way at looking at the cards. Each mentor contains the following information: KEY- key phrases for upright position of card. REVERSE KEY-key words/phrases for reversals. MEMORIES-a short rhyme that relates to the card in its upright and reversed position. GUIDELINES-possible situations that a card could indicate for both upright and reversed. COMPARISON CHART- reveals the relationships between each card to Cabala, Astrology, Gnothology-esoteric numerology, and Divination-a brief discussion of the meaning of certain card sequences which beginners will find most helpful.
THE MAJOR ARCANA include a meditation and suggested time to meditate for enhancement.
Section III concludes with a discussion of Tarot reading preparations, several spreads, the subject of determining time frames and lastly Tarot ethics.
Other points of interest include the book’s illustrations. Connolly illustrated her first edition with the Rider-Waite. Since then she uses her own deck to illustrate her newer editions.
Whichever edition one chooses, all will appreciate the larger than usual print size for ease of reading.
Since portions of the book are complicated and are filled with the evidence of a definite philosophical slant this book may not be for every beginning Tarot student.
“Tarot A New Handbook for the Apprentice” can be easily found in bookstores with metaphysical sections.
Career Press 1991
Tarot Plain and Simple
Submitted by: Lindsay Teyler-Mackenzie
When I first started reading this book by Anthony Lewis, it instantly grabbed my interest and drew me into its pages. This book is very easy to understand and well written. The Robin Wood deck, with its superb illustrations, are used throughout.
If you’re a Pagan you will truly appreciate this book. Anthony Lewis gives many key words for each of the seventy-eight cards in its upright and reversed position. He also has a section where he gives the situations and advice for all the cards in both positions. Then he describes what type of person can be represented by each card in both positions.
This is excellent guide for beginners because of its simplicity in writing. While it will work for the Rider-Waite deck, Robin Wood’s illustrations are more detailed and realistic. That’s what really got my attention. They simply tell more of a story for me.
The book begins with a brief history of the tarot as well as insights into shuffling a deck. He also gives a brief account about how to keep a tarot notebook or journal. Also included are several different types and sample spreads.
Anthony Lewis has an excellent section on Astrology and the Tarot. He shows the difference between Astrology and Witchcraft in discussing the seasons and compass direction. He includes a section on numerology and the Tarot as well.
I think this book is one of a kind. I cannot find one thing wrong with it. Tarot Plain and Simple (ISBN 1567184006) is definitely a Tarot book to add to your personal library. It’s available from Llewellyn
Submitted by: Lindsay Teyler-Mackenzie
You don’t have to be a “witch” in order to use and enjoy Janina Renee’s book “Tarot Spells.” In a radical departure from the traditional use of Tarot as a tool for divination, the author combines magical practice with the sound psychological techniques of affirmation, visualization, and meditation to create simple rituals for personal empowerment. Novices and master readers alike will delight in using these simple spreads and ceremonies to help achieve personal goals and add positive influence their daily lives.
This book uses illustrations in black and white from the Robin Wood Deck. The author, however, encourages readers to use whatever deck has personal appeal to them.
After a brief introduction there is a chapter on “Tarot Magic,” which describes how it works, the ethics involved, and how to use the cards. Renee talks about the use of meditation, visualization, and affirmations as tools to focus the mind on the desired goal. Finally, in this chapter, she teaches the “Rite For Tarot Magic”, detailing how Tarot spells are to be performed.
Section II contains the spells, with detailed instructions on how to carry out rituals using the specified Tarot layout to accomplish such things as “help in overcoming a bad habit, success in starting a new business” or “for courage when facing a difficult situation.” There are also spells for life transitions, for success in starting a family, for an amicable divorce, and to preserve health and delay aging. There is even a spell to recover stolen property.
I chose a card from my Robin Wood deck that would help me close this book review. The Six of Pentacles came up, and in this case its interpretation is “sharing.” I am happy to share this book, “Tarot Spells,” with you, and I feel certain you will want to share it with others.
Tarot Spells (ISBN 0875426700) is published by Llewellyn Publications and available through your local bookseller.
The Complete Illustrated Guide to Tarot
Submitted by: Melanie Scortio
This is the typical type of book you would offer to someone interested in Tarot who comes up to you for introductory references. Rachel Pollack has made a great effort coming up with this book. It is beautifully illustrated, eye catching, full of images and vivid colors. It is an excellent introduction to Tarot in general. It tries to cover many fields related to the Tarot such as numerology, Qabbala, Animals, herbs/plants, Astrology… But, because of that, she cannot afford to go too deeply into any of those areas, which gives the book a slight impression of superficiality. The book is structured the following way:
- Introduction; what is the Tarot? a general introduction to Tarot.
- Part one; origins and history. In this section she exposes the many different myths, tales and legends surrounding the Tarot, while dispelling them and identifying the real facts.
- Part two; symbols and structures. Here she explores the structure of the Major, Minor, the court cards and the links between astrology, elements, tree of life and other occult systems.
- Part three; the cards. Instead of plainly going card by card, she does her analysis of the Major Arcana associating them two by two. I like the Empress/High Priestess, Emperor/Hierophant… She then goes through the Minor Arcana following a numerological pattern, associated with the tree of life.
- In the fourth part, the readings section, she provides spread descriptions and sample spreads.
- Last part; things to do with the Tarot. This sections is more like a set of articles covering everything, from FAQ to meditations, music, creating one’s own deck… A little bit new-agy, but it is tolerable.
This is an excellent book to get a general idea of what Tarot is all about. It allows you to see a wide range of images from many different decks and eventually make up your mind concerning those you might end up buying. It is full of interesting points and articles, like for example the anecdote of the Papess, that you wouldn’t find in a normal Tarot book. However, it can’t be your sole or principal Tarot reference, especially if you want to learn how to read cards for personal or professional practice.
The only problem I had with this book is that it is sometimes too “newagie”: I didn’t like the way she glossed over the interpretation of the Death card.
Overall it is a very fine book, but once again, you’ll never learn to read from it. It is and introductory work, well suited for beginners, but from which more advanced people can still learn something.