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Balancing Art and Craft in Tarot Reading

This post was written by Barbara Moore
on October 12, 2010 | Comments (1)

Tarot shelves at bookstores are filled with beginner level books. Do we really need so many? Aren’t they all essentially the same?

I think we do need so many and that they are not essentially the same. First, they all differ in terms of voice and presentation. People learn differently and respond better to some styles of communication than to others. Every author has his or her own voice and way of explaining things. Second, not every tarot reader interprets or reads the cards in the same way. By seeing that there are so many different methods and schools of thought, new readers are encouraged to explore until they find what works for them.

This month we will look at eight different books that might be appropriate for beginners. Today’s book is The Complete Tarot Reader by Teresa Michelsen.

For the more committed or serious reader, one who is ready to jump in feet first and really experience the tarot, this is the perfect book. It is meant to be worked through and interacted with, like a workbook. Each section includes study goals and exercises. It doesn’t so much teach card interpretations but teaches how to read the cards. There is an important difference between learning interpretations and being able to “read” the cards. One involves study and memorization. The other, a trust in intuition. This book addresses both sides of the art and craft of tarot reading.

Here is a great exercise from the chapter on the Majors:

Exercise 6: Repeating Cycles

Think about some of the “ruts” that we all get into in our lives, where we seem to repeat the same cycles over and over. Pick one [rut], and try to identify what series of trumps seems to reflect this repeating cycle (you do not have to use the cards in the same order in which they appear in the deck). Based on what you have learned about these trumps and which trumps come next on the journey, what would be one possible way for you to break out of that cycle?

Her book concludes with techniques that are what I’d call advanced beginner. The reader who has worked through the book and gained confidence and hands on experience will be quite ready for these: reversals, timing, and elemental dignities.

I am particularly fond of her appendices.

  • Keyword Self-Test
  • Numerology and the Tarot
  • Astrological Associations
  • Elemental Associations
  • Glossary of Symbols
  • The Game of Tarocchi
  • Glossary

How fun are those?

This is a great book for the eager beginner. There is, I think, a lot here for a more advanced reader as well. And it would be great structure for teaching tarot.

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