90 Days to Learning the Tarot
90 Days to Learning the Tarot: No Memorization Required! is a three month program for developing your own intuitive meanings for the cards, guided by the symbols and elements.
By Lorri Gifford
Book - 288 pages - Published by Schiffer Books
Review by Thomas Freese
90 Days to Learning the Tarot is a well-written guide to learning the tarot for first timers, or a lovely workbook for experienced readers or teachers—who may wish to return to some basic questions. And there are plenty of thought provoking questions the author poses, to help readers examine and understand the basic meanings and associative nuances of each card in the deck of 78 cards. For example, study questions include how we may perceive a given card, let’s say # 16 The Tower; such as: what do you associate with this number? What comes to mind when you hear the word Tower? What colors seem to be calling your attention? What do the colors signify to you? What symbols, objects, animals or people do you notice? What do those symbols, objects, animals or people mean to you? This mindfulness of teacher tutoring neophyte encourages awareness without spoon feeding readers into rote memorization.
When I was an art therapy graduate student, we had one instructor who often responded to a question with, “what do you think?” While this dialectical method has its limits, in terms of a tarot workbook, posing a repeated framework of questions not only assists in showing how to read tarot, but also helps to train readers to interpret any deck for ourselves.
In addition, there is a good amount of valuable advice, wisdom which I recognize from reading tarot for decades that will likely save a new learner time and grief when reading for self and for clients. And speaking of self versus clients, the author gives perceptive perspective on transitioning from one to the other. I waited ten years before reading for others; likely this good resource will shorten that time considerably!
The Appendix is very complete, covering basics from conscious breathing (always a helpful consideration when sitting down with friend or stranger), to association charts, questions, a five minute reading drill, prayer of intention, closing prayer, basic 10 steps for giving a reading, the (good old) Celtic cross layout, some lined pages for notes and “making a person your meditation”. And seeded throughout varying chapters are topical and important nods to important basics; like boundaries, becoming the conduit, avoiding postulating your opinions to the client and open listening to connect and communicate with the Divine and the client and the clearing the energies to close the reading. It’s all good stuff, and this veteran reader recognizes the value to first time learners…and all accompanied by 113 color photos. I recommend 90 Days to Learning Tarot as an excellent resource.
One suggestion—it could be easier to write in the book if it had been spiral bound and a bit larger format.
Thomas’s first tarot deck in 1979 was a Christmas gift from his mother. Thomas is an experienced tarot and palm reader. He also reads from objects and photos. In addition he has authored 10 books on metaphysical topics and is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and Board Certified, Registered Art Therapist.
Review by medusawink
Tarot is a language, and like all languages there are fundamentals to be learned. Without understanding the basic rules and structures you will end up speaking nothing more than word salad, and so it goes with learning the tarot. It is much easier to learn to do it properly from the start than it is to unlearn incorrect information. Thus “90 days to Learning the Tarot” by Lorri Gifford inspires both delight and disappointment.
"90 Days to Learning the Tarot" is a system that purports to teach tarot in a three-month timeframe with no memorisation required. This is an intuitive system that allows the student to develop their own meanings guided by information about symbols and elements.
For the Minor Arcana, a student is typically given six or seven word associations with a card number, and this is to be combined with basic information given about the each suit. A student will undoubtably arrive at some of the most broad interpretations of a card, but all the subtleties, nuances, and fine tuning will inevitably elude them – simply because it is *so* specific, and it is not given by the author.
The Major Arcana is taught through a system of answering half a dozen questions – the same ones for each card…
“The (Major Arcana card) is associated with the number…"
"What do you associate with this number?"
"What comes to mind when you hear the word (name of Major Arcana card)?"
"What colours seem to be calling your attention?"
"What do the colours signify to you?"
"What symbols, objects, animals, or people do you notice?"
"What do they signify to you?"
The student is then instructed to write out the story they think is being told through the card.
Personally I think that this is a fairly inadequate method for a novice to be learning the tarot.For a student with all the traditional fundamentals under their belt, it is an excellent method for expanding their understanding and intuition regarding the tarot. It is also an excellent process for an adept wishing to develop some more progressive interpretations.
The first section of the book requires the student to seriously commit to assessing themselves honestly. There are questions that require self reflection, as well as some excavation of personal core beliefs. There are short introductions to concepts of intuition; connecting to the "Divine Storyteller”; and strengthening some psychic skills – clairvoyance, clairaudience, clairsentience, and claircognizance. There are also exercises for developing a repertoire of, and understanding, signs and symbols.
There is a fair amount of talk about "God" which is quite jarring. No matter what the intention of the author, or broader interpretations of the concept of ”God" i.e. Divine Nature, the nebulous, multifaceted Divine, the many faces of Divinity – choose your own deity; God generally reflexively refers to a Judaeo-Christian concept, and as such this is what the author invokes every time she refers to "God". This is only mildly offset by other references to the more general "God source".
Section 2 of the book concentrates on learning the cards. There are lots of exercises in this section, and plenty of space for the student to write their answers and notes. No traditional meanings are given to the student, instead they are left to develop their own interpretations through the methods outlined above.
Section 3 – having spent 60 days learning the meanings of the cards the student is now ready to start reading them. They can start with reading for themselves, and after two days of mastering this, they are ready to read for 'clients '. No, really.
Okay, so this aside, the rest of the information given in this section of the book is outstanding. There are valuable sections and exercises about becoming a conduit for the reading by connecting to the Divine, and the Divine within the client. There is a priceless chapter on *not* giving advice based on one's own limited beliefs and judgements, but rather conveying the direct message given by the cards. There is also good information about taking care of one's self, the client, and the cards. Additionally there is some fairly standard guidance on how to read a Celtic Cross layout.
It is not the content that is the problem with this book, it is the concept and marketing. Anyone who has spent time learning the tarot is likely to snigger at the notion that it can be learned in a mere three months. Tarot is a passion,a calling, a long-term commitment, an investment of time and interest, and an ongoing learning experience.
The information about understanding your own beliefs is really good; and the instruction given about doing readings is excellent… But the instruction for learning the tarot meanings is better suited to a more experienced student. If a tarot novice were to use this workbook in conjunction with a more concise beginners guide book they would certainly be fast tracking the learning process. But there is no substitute for experience, and that comes with time, a lot more than 90 days.