Tarot Beyond the Basics: Gain a Deeper Understanding of the Meanings Behind the Cards, by Anthony Louis
Llewellyn Worldwide, 9780738739441, 383 pp. (incl. notes, appendices, and bibliography), 2014
Anthony Louis brings us an enriching and thorough examination of the modern tarot by first introducing us to its fascinating history. He begins in China, where the paper and cards was created, then to Egypt and the Mamluk slave soldiers who played games with a deck of 52 playing cards, much like today’s playing card decks. Then he travels into Spain where the court cards are changed to include Kings, horsemen and pages. In Italy is where the queens were added and the church became involved in their design.
Many readers of today have heard the rumours that the tarot is originated from the Egyptian pantheon, or that the 22 major arcana cards reference the 22 letters in the Hebrew kabbalah. Louis notes that this assumption appeared in an unsubstantiated paper that was published in Paris in 1781 by clergyman Antoine Court de Gebelin and the French occultist Comte de Mellet. The only reference that Louis could find about the tarot originating in Egypt was through the Mamluks and their love of playing cards. Continue reading
Tarot-inspired poetry can be a vehicle for ritual, reflection, joy, and for release. Creating it adds a new layer to the act of divination, requiring introspection and expression. Metaphor and mythology feed the imagination in tarot readings and when tarot is used for poetry.
A poet’s strongest tool, arguably, is metaphor, which helps interpret the significance of tarot cards. The sea on the Rider-Waite-Smith two of pentacles represents a bumpy, busy emotional or subconscious experience informs a card reader, and it is just this work that a poet does, with or without cards. Do not be afraid to consider those undertones in your cards, as poetry often draws from our depths, and the subtlest message of each card is easily fodder for poetry.
Poetry – and creative writing in general – provides opportunity for a personal journey. The results of creative, conscious efforts have no room for judgement. To explore your words is the means and the reward. Poetry is a unique language that condenses the larger universe and plays with anything the imagination offers. Poetry is allowed to roam and wander, or it may creep and crawl and gather details other forms of language will not. The poet is often a navigator, but in this style of writing, one should always let mood, inspiration, spirit or whatever you wish to call it, lead you. Continue reading
The Transparent Tarot, by Emily Carding
Schiffer Books, 9780764330032, 280 pp., 72 cards, 2008
Emily Carding provides a rather extensive book with her tarot deck, I felt I would cover them together. It’s nice to see a deck that’s published without the dreaded “little white book”. The Transparent Tarot comes with a book that’s nearly three hundred pages long, a book that’s appreciated even as a seasoned tarot reader, and would be invaluable if this deck happened to be someone’s first.
Carding explores the cards Continue reading
Mastering the Tarot: Basic Lessons in an Ancient Mystic Art, by Eden Gray
Signet, 0451137191, 221 pp. (incl. glossary and index), 1971
In Mastering the Tarot Gray outlines eighteen simple lessons to begin one’s studies in the Tarot. Using the Rider-Waite-Smith deck for reference, along with the picture, each card has listed an interpretation, reversed meaning, a description of what it could mean in a reading, and description of the card itself.
Several spreads are included, but he does not go into much depth in regards to finding or creating others. Along with the descriptions of the spreads, Gray also provides sample readings to indicate how the cards may be interpreted in a real setting.
I do have a few slight criticisms. Gray does have a tendency to shy away from negative meanings, especially when they may portent physical death, as well as a few silly superstitions he holds about the cards. For example, in a section on caring for the card he writes: ‘In some mysterious way, the Tarot cards seem to be influenced by the vibrations of those who handle them’. Taken with a healthy teaspoon of salt, these are not too prevalent and may be overlooked to a certain extent.
Despite some of its shortcomings, this is one of the better books I’ve read that aims to self-teach beginners, and I would recommend this, along with a few others, as a useful book for the beginner’s Tarot shelf, especially those using the Rider-Wait-Smith deck.