I don’t really think you can call yourself a tarot expert. Or maybe you can, but there is always so much new stuff to learn that it seems at times that you don’t really know anything at all.
However, this does not mean that learning Tarot is impossible. You have to think more of it as a relationship with any person in your life. It doesn’t matter who it is, your mother, father, a close friend or a lover, you will never know any of them completely. There will always be mysteries, surprises. Someday something will happen that will make you see them in a completely different light. As so it is with Tarot.
But again, as I said there is no reason for us to start this beautiful relationship. If anything, doscovering new things is what fills life with grace and flavour and I am sure you would have it any other way. Neither would I.
So, if you would like to accompany me, I would like to show you some resources that I have found really useful in my Tarot journey. I hope you find them useful too.
Oh yes, I am a sucker for books. They are my addiction, and my passion. I think I have spent like 70% of my life’s income on them.
The first book I would like to recommend is The Tarot Playbook, by Lynda Cowles. This is a pretty funny little book filled with activities to bond with your deck. I love this book because it helps you bring the deck, and whatever it wants to tell you to your daily life. I have tried most of the activities, since I save them for occasions when I am feeling very “serious” about my tarot studies. Take, for example, the activity associated with the Chariot, “Taroga”. It asks of you to take some cards at random and try to replicate the bodily positions of the characters present in the card. I found this activity a bit silly, but at the same time it worked for me as a kinf of pathworking, where you enter the card and start wondering: why on earth would anybody be in this position?
Two other great books are The New Tarot Handbook and Seventy-eight Degrees of Wisdom, by Rachel Pollack. I would recommend that you read them in that order, despite the fact latter was published first. The reason for my recommendation is that The New Tarot Handbook is more of an introduction to the topic. It provides you with a very brief introduction to the Major Arcana and it starts right away. What I loved is that it gives you a spread for each of the Majors, so that you can explore their themes. The Minor Arcana follow, naturally. They are organised by elements and we also get a reading per suit, plus a reading for the Court Cards, which are organised separately.
Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom is a much more extensive, comprehensive work. It is organised somehow differently. The first part of the book explores the Major Arcana, but Ms Pollack proposes that the Majors can be read as three groups of seven cards, which show a development through the different stages of human experiences in terms of archetypes: society, growth, and identification with the forces of life. The second sections covers the Minor Arcana cards, and explains to us how they can be related to the Tree of Life or to Astrology, as well as the elements. Finally, in the last part, you can learn about carrying out Tarot readings.
The next book I want to mention is Practical Tarot Techniques, by Marcus Katz and Tali Goodwin. I have to say, I LOVED this book. As I mentioned in my previous entry, this book is a great resource because it REALLY gives you practical techniques. I was talking about bridging, the technique that allows you to make connections between the cards. You first start by connecting the cards by the elements the pictures have in common, but soon your intuition will start taking over and you will find yourself making connections that will surprise you at first.
Another great resource for both learning and relaxing is The Tarot Coloring Book by Theresa Reed. The title says it all. You get a page-sized black and white version of the Smith-Waite Tarot on the right page, alongside the description of the card and its meaning. It is for you to decide how to use the book, but I really enjoyed reading the descriptions and meditating on them while colouring the card.
Finally, I would like to recommend a great little Tarot book, Tarot Games, by Cait Johnson and Maura D. Shaw. I haven’t been able to use all the activities in the book because I am hoping to be able to assemble a group of people I can play with. Anyway, this book is organised into 4 parts: the first one includes beginning games to plpay in a circle; the second part includes games for groups of different sizes; the third consists of games for larger groups of people. What I think is great in this book is part 4, which is full of activities to play with children. The activities included in this book ARE games, but also tools for learning. It is lovely how you can learn about your own deck of cards while you learn about the people around you.
The next installment of this post will go through some other books that you might find helpful. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please feel free to comment below.