Have you ever felt that you can read the tarot incredibly for others, but when it comes to reading yourself, then it’s a bumbling mess? I certainly have. As a long-time tarot reader, I would say one of my greatest challenges is accurately doing my own readings without letting personal bias cloud my judgement. Michael Orland Yaccarino offers tarot lovers a book exclusively focused on the process of self-reading in Heart Vision: Tarot’s Inner Path. His comprehensive step-by-step guide is a great for those who, like me, want to brush up on the art of self-reading.
Heart Vision is divided into four sections, with additional thoughtful forward by Rachel Pollack, and an afterward by Normandi Ellis. To negom, Yaccarino leads the reader through a thorough history of the tarot, from its origins in the 9th-century China as game-playing cards to the development of its use as a divinatory tool in 18th-century France. He notes the impact of Arthur Edward Waite and Pamela Colman Smith, and briefly touches on the esoteric influences in the tradition Rider-Waite-Smith deck, including kabbalah, Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, alchemy, astrology, and so on. Yaccarino’s approach to the tarot is through what he has named “Heart Vision,” which allows the dimensions of tarot to be explored “by both focused contemplation and illuminated intuitive knowing sparked through the art of divination.”1
Heart vision, according to Yaccarino is experienced in “those moments when we simply know, with unshakeable conviction, that the right conclusion has been uncovered.”2 To achieve this knowing, the focus is on connecting the intellect with the heart to tap into a deeper essence, or inner reality. It is the heart that is most important in doing a self-reading, because it leads the reader down the path towards inner knowing. The journey of reading for oneself in this way becomes a mixture of “real practice, life experience, and self-reflection.”3
Tarot cards are instruments of revelation. Even so, we must remember how they are fashioned from the simplest of substances – nothing more than humble paper adorned with beguiling imagery. Yet to be sure, something extremely unique happens when surrendering to their message through the eyes of the heart.
Yaccarino concludes the first section with extremely helpful list of recommendations of things to consider before working with the cards for contemplation or divination. Points include allowing the message of the cards to evolve, viewing the card’s human figures free from “age, gender, race, color, creed, nationality, or sexual orientation so they may represent anyone,”4 and knowing that cards can offer simultaneous messages. There are only a few items on his list, yet I found that musing on these suggestions was extremely helpful in my readings. I particularly like viewing the human cards free from the traditional associations with the images on them, because it liberated the energy outside of the physical features of the human images on the card. This allowed me to know the card from the perspective of my heart, rather than my mind.
The journey of the major arcana and the path through each element of the minor arcana comprises the bulk of the second section. For each card in the tarot Yaccarino provides a description, a revealed aspect, and a veiled aspect. The revealed section is a literal description of the imagery of the card; it does not feature a description of symbolism or occult meaning. The revealed aspect describes the more positive aspects of the card. Finally, the veiled aspect focuses on the darker aspects of the cards. The interpretations given are not the standard definitions for the cards, but rather are Yaccarino’s understanding of them reached through contemplation and study.
To be honest, I have mixed feelings about this. I hardly had any interest in the description provided for each card, because it states what one would gain from simply looking at it. I would have enjoyed the description more had it focused on the esoteric symbolism hidden in the image. The revealed and veiled aspects, at times, provided a new lens for me to understand them. This is particularly true of the veiled aspects for traditionally very positive cards, such as the 10 of Cups and the Empress. It was interesting to ponder the hidden, darker aspects to the cards, such as “the image as the portrait of a family linked by a secret burden,” for the 10 of Cups. 5 However, each card had only minimal information. I feel it would have been preferable for Yaccarino to include more fulfilling descriptions. I don’t feel this book would be suitable for someone just beginning to learn the cards’ meanings, because his interpretations tend to stray far from those more widely accepted. This method both is interesting and illuminating, and worth pondering for someone who is already familiar with the standard interpretations.
Section three is where Heart Vision truly stood out for me. Yaccarino provides the best writing on doing self-readings that I have ever come across. I am particularly grateful for this section, as it is often a topic that is overlooked. I am inspired by the way he compares doing a self-reading to the living art forms of dance, performance, and art. He writes, “a transformative reading involves soul-touching — a happening in which a profound communion takes place between yourself and the source of a deep truth through the cards.”6 This section offers methods, spreads, and strategies to grow one’s practice of self-reading. He provides spreads that guide the reader through examples and help to strengthen the accuracy of interpretation.
Heart Vision: Tarot’s Inner Path it stems from the core of the tarot community. For the past two years I have attended the Tarot and Psychology conference, part of Reader’s Studio held by The Tarot School each May. I had been doing readings for quite some time, yet when I met this community, my understanding of the deck grew in leaps and bounds. Through their own personal contemplation, as well as dedicated study, a realm of wisdom is developed that goes beyond the more conventional meaning of the cards and their significance. This book is the sum of Yaccarino’s journey with the tarot and I very much enjoyed the unique insights offered.
Heart Vision: Tarot’s Inner Path helped me feel confident in doing self-readings. It focuses on the tarot as a spiritual path, a fulfilling method to divine the insights hidden in the wisdom of our hearts.