Tarot shelves at bookstores are filled with beginner level books. Do we really need so many? Arenâ€™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. Todayâ€™s selection is the Easy Tarot Handbook by Josephine Ellershaw. This book comes in a kit along with a copy of the Gilded Tarot by Ciro Marchetti.
A little bigger than How to Read the Tarot, Easy Tarot is an excellent book for beginners in part because it gives more equal measure to the aspects that go into reading the tarot. That is, it gives short, concise, easy to understand interpretations for the cards. But it also gives lots of instruction for actually performing a reading.
A few things set this book apart from many other beginner books. First, she unabashedly says that she is not writing a chapter on the history of tarot. She gives enough info so readers know they cards didnâ€™t come from Egypt or Atlantis, that the earliest evidence points to 14th-century Italy, but says quite plainly that most people initially come to tarot because they want to do readings. They donâ€™t much care about the history. I think this is wise. It is important to keep new students engaged and if you put them off with a long, complicated academic treatise about which they donâ€™t care anyhow, you may just lose them.
Instead, Josephine keeps to the art and craft of reading the cards. She takes an interesting tact by introducing the Minor Arcana cards first. She believes that the Minors are easier to learn, so begins with those, in order to build up the studentâ€™s confidence.
She ends with several useful spreads and her signature Life and Anchor Spread. This is a challenging (but worth it!) combination spread. It is done with two decks. A Majors only deck forms the Anchor. Then a full deck is used in the Life Spread. The two spreads work in tandem. This is something that even a seasoned tarot reader can appreciate and it is worth getting a copy of this book for the spread alone.
Josephine kept her audienceâ€¦complete beginnersâ€¦in mind from beginning to end and consequently created a book that is well-loved by many.