Review by Bonnie Cehovet
The back cover of “Tarot 101” touts this book as having “An all new approach to Tarot”. Guess what – it does! A little background on the author – Kim Huggens has been studying the Tarot since the age of nine. She is the co-creator of two Tarot decks, and her writing has appeared in “Offerings” and “Pentacle” magazines and the American Tarot Association Quarterly. She has also edited several anthologies of a non-fiction nature on mythology, magic, and occultism, and gives talks and workshops on the Tarot throughout the United Kingdom.
This is not a conventional Tarot primer. It is aimed at both the beginner and the Tarot student that has some knowledge under their belt. It is organized in twenty-two lessons, but does not follow the order of the cards, as most instruction books do. The reader is encouraged to work with the lessons in order, but the lessons are presented in such a way that they can act as stand alone studies.
The lessons on the Major Arcana are organized as sets of three (in one case four) by theme. Each lesson also includes sections on techniques, skills, symbolism, spreads, and useful tools that fit the theme. At the end of each lesson are optional homework and exercises so that the student can put the skills learned in each chapter to use in a real way. This is a course that is meant to be hands on, to help the reader develop a personal relationship with the cards and the system of Tarot.
The lessons for the Major Arcana are broken down as follows:
Lesson Three (Progress Cards) – Fool, Magician, Chariot
Lesson Four (Feminine Archetypes) – The High Priestess, The Empress, The Star
Lesson Six (Masculine Archetypes) – The Emperor, The Hierophant, The Hermit
Lesson Seven (Virtues and Vices) – Justice, Strength, Temperance
Lesson Eight(Cyclical Things) – The Wheel of Fortune, Death, The World
Lesson Ten (The Dark Side) – The Hanged Man, The Tower, The Devil
Lesson Eleven (What’s out there? In here?) – The Moon, The Sun, Judgment, The Lovers
Within each lesson is a discussion of each of the cards, common symbols found within the card, and what they mean, keywords, examples of the archetype in literature and film, and what kind of person would represent the archetype.
There are sections on the origin of Tarot through history and myth, what it is, how to choose a deck, the Hero’s Journey and Joseph Campbell’s monomyth. Huggens also discusses Tarot readings, the physical process of a reading, reading styles, and more. Under objectives are such things as honesty, accuracy, empathy, non-judgment, advice/guidance, and effective listening. This is the section where I definitely had one of those “WTF!” moments. It was the only part of the book that bothered me, but bother me it did! The objective was to get the reader to pause at various stages of the reading process and take note of what they were doing. This was achieved by inserting the word “Stop!”. I cannot tell you how very annoying this was!
Other than that, the book is very in-depth, and very well presented. Under Masculine Archetypes there is a discussion of Carl Jung and the Fourfold Divine Masculine. Under Virtues and Vices is a discussion of Medieval virtues, Thelemic Retellings, an a chart on Alchemical Roses, and the associations with different colors of roses.
Journaling, and the reasons for keeping a Tarot journal, are sprinkled throughout the book. The questions included in various chapters include: “Where does my potential lie?” (The Fool), “What does the concept of balance mean to you?” (Justice”, and “How has fear manifested in your life?” (The Moon).
Under the Court Cards is a nice presentation on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and a new to me related presentation on Keirsey Temperaments.
Also discussed are using Tarot for magic, working with affirmations, creating an alter, ritual work, and pathworking. Then we come to what to do with difficult questions, emotionally needy querents, obnoxious querents, client confidentiality and more.
At the end of the book is an appendix on the Four Elements and their associations, as well as an appendix presenting a diagram of the Tree of Life, and an excellent bibliography.
I highly recommend this book for everyone. It is a fun read, it makes the reader think, gives them tools to work with (and ways to work with the tools), contains great information that acts as a springboard for further study, and basically presents the Tarot through fresh eyes. Kudos to Kim – this book is a treasure!
© Bonnie Cehovet
Bonnie Cehovet is Certified Tarot Grand Master, a professional Tarot reader with over ten years experience, a Reiki Master/Teacher and a writer. Bonnie has served in various capacities with the American Tarot Association, is co-founder of the World Tarot Network, and Vice President (as well as Director of Certification) for the American Board For Tarot Certification. She has had articles appear in the 2004 and 2005 Llewellyn Tarot Reader.