Heart of Tarot- Book Review and Tarot knowledge

I bought this book hoping that it would develop my intuitive tarot skills for reading for others , what I received was a slight disappointment.

The main premise of the book, is a tarot method called gestalt tarot, in which the tarot reader does nothing more than sit and facilitate while the querent reads the cards themselves with (usually) no esoteric or even basic knowledge of the cards. The motivation behind this type of reading is that it more accurate than traditional tarot reading (which is a combination of intuition, esoteric and tarot knowledge), and is thus more helpful to the querent.

In divination, I tend to be a whatever floats your boat type of person, and I take no issue with a reader reading directly from a book, from other esoteric symbolic systems or even plain intuition, but I do have a huge problem with this method.

You know those movies, t.v programmes, books etc that feature tarot readers? And then the death card comes up and it supposedly always means death or tragedy of some kind? That is usually what happens to someone who has no clue about tarot and is trying to read the cards with not even basic skills. It’s a common stereotype and maybe one that is not so true of many people who go for tarot readings, but from what I’ve seen, in my own life is that many people still think good ol grim is going to take their life or the life of someone they love in some tragic manner soon after getting that card. Even with my Faery Oracle by Brian Froud, a class mate from varsity saw the Death card and said it was a bad card. Now really, do you honestly want to give the querent free reign of the meanings of cards when tarot is a system of symbols, spreads and pictorial keys that they likely do not have experience with?

There is a reason that The Magician is card no. 1 and that The High Priestess is card no. 2, and why The World is the last Major Arcanum, and why Death is no. 13. There is a meaning behind tens, three’s and fours. There is a motivation behind why there are 4 court trumps in each suit and why each suit is a variation of discs, swords, cups and wands. Some Tarot systems are different than others with possibly different/non traditional symbolism like the Thoth (Which I really want) as compared to the Robin Wood. If you do not want to work with the meanings of the cards (general or given by the specific deck through other symbols) and you’d rather just not use any esoteric knowledge then use an oracle deck. Most of my oracle decks are fantastic for just such a purpose (Faery Oracle, Dragon Fae oracle especially). Tarot is a specific system, and although pictures may vary and may be interpreted slightly differently, I always interpret them with esoteric and intuitive knowledge.

Another issue with this system of “reading” is that most people go to a tarot reader for the tarot reader to actually read the cards, and while I always believe it should be a very interactive reading, I feel it is still the readers job to, you know, read the cards. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post and both Earthdragon and her husband agree, this method is lazy and the reader may as well tell the querent to get their own cards, I most certainly wouldn’t pay a tarot reader to just tell me “Look at the card, what is it saying, who does that represent, here put on this cloak and hold this cheap sword and pretend you’re the Queen of swords (no jokes)”. And even If I didn’t pay I’d probably smack the reader for being so insolent.

What I did find helpful about the book is that it can help develop your imagination, although I’d prefer this method for oracle cards. I also liked the inclusion of non traditional tarot spreads, I also like the inclusion of practical advice for setting up your own tarot practice and motivations behind it.  As I’m a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to tarot I’ll be the party pooper and give this book 2 1/2 stars for the last sections of the book saved it from a below average score.

To finish it off here is a quote from an Amazon reviewer which I just found that reiterates me, almost to the word:

” Though I can tell that a lot of time was put into the writing of this book, the method really does fall flat. Having clients interpret the cards themselves is not the right idea. If you are going to use this method, you might as well just tell a client to go buy their own deck and a book, and then charge them for that advice! Part of my role as a Tarot reader is to interpret the cards because the client cannot or doesn’t want to take time to learn. I’ve been reading Tarot for over 40 years, and this is about the most ridiculous method I’ve ever seen. …” – K Walton Card reader

A few quotes from querents looking at cards:

“The two figures falling from the tower actually jumped. They got tired of all the storm and melodrama, so they dived into the sea, where I think they will be rescued by friendly dolphins” p50 (No dolphins depicted in the card shown)

The devil card looks like a “tattoo you might see on an outlaw bikers arm…violent and dangerous men” p48 (My father was a biker, and the bikers did charity runs every year for abused women and children, and orphans)

Knight of pentacles: “There’s all this green leafy stuff on his helmet, he looks like an exploding can of spinach.”  p 83 (Um, alrighty then)

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3 thoughts on “Heart of Tarot- Book Review and Tarot knowledge

  1. Pingback: Celebrity Tarot Reading for Steve Jones from US X Factor « Contemporary Tarot Association

  2. Pingback: Free Tarot reading for Nightshade « Contemporary Tarot Association

  3. Pingback: Tarot Threes: Opening to Abundance and Creativity « Beyond the stars astrology

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