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 18 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 she holds about the cards. For example, in a section on caring for the card she writes: “In some mysterious way, the Tarot cards seem to be influenced by the vibrations of those who handle them.”1 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.

  1. p. 16 []