Review by Bonnie Cehovet
In her foreword, Rachel Pollack touches on a part of this book that I thought was very telling – and that is Masino’s association of each of the four suits with a cardinal virtue: Wands with Courage, Cups with Faith, Swords with Justice and Pentacles with Charity. I found this telling because it shows not only a solid grasp of the subject of Tarot, but also hints at an underlying familiarity with the esoteric arts that runs deeply and consistently throughout this book. Pollack points out that “Best Tarot Practices” is a useful book, and that that in itself is a virtue.
In her introduction, Masino states that the focus of this book is on personal insight and spiritual growth, while the purpose is to tackle all aspects of Tarot, making it a great resource guide. The book is divided into four parts: Part One – The Reader and the Tarot, Part Two – Three New Tarot Spreads, Part Three – New Meanings and Meditations For the Major Arcana, and Part Four – New Meanings and Meditations For the Minor Arcana.
In her discussion on mastering the card meanings, Masino takes the reader through a series of steps: for the Pips (numbered cards) she begins by presenting a theme for each of the suits (i.e. Wands indicate fortitude, courage, will, authenticity and aspiration), and then suggests that the reader take these themes and develop three or more keywords for each suit. The next step is to write down card titles, keywords, and how the environment appears to the reader. In the third step, information from the first two steps is combined to create the “reality” of the card for the reader.
For the Court cards, Masino presents character qualities for each of the suits, and suggests that the reader develop three keywords for each Court card from these qualities (i.e. Cups – intuitive, introspective, imaginative; interested in future possibilities; loving, nurturing, emotional, creative; powerful dreams; deep sustained faith). Masino then discuses six different techniques for learning the Court cards: descriptive storytelling, explaining or teaching to someone else, connecting word and picture, dreams, symbol and theme and association to family and friends.
For the Major Arcana, Masino recommends going through the cards one at a time, scanning each card and connecting the symbols within the card to the one theme that represents the card. After scanning the card, the reader then writes down the colors/symbols within the card that drew their attention. She suggests that the reader then turn to the Major Arcana section of this book, read about the card being studied, and then write down the words/phrases that help clarify/enhance their interpretation.
In helping the reader to understand a reading, Masino presents a sample reading and interpretation, following this up with a series of card descriptions. The reader is to determine which card they think is being described. (i.e. “You are a loving woman.”, “Faith opens your heart, and uncertainty closes it.”) The answers are provided at the end of the chapter.
In the section on creating a positive reading experience, Masino covers designing effective questions, bonding with the Seeker, working with a negative reading, and assessing the central message of a reading. She also discusses how to recognize channeled information, how to use different psychic skills and how to handle difficult clients.
Three spreads are presented: a Zodiac spread, the Whole Self Spread and the Four Seasons spread (recommended for use at the autumn and spring equinoxes and the summer and winter solstices). I found the Zodiac spread especially interesting, as several cards were added to the traditional spread: three cards laid above the spread, representing Past/Present/Future, and the Daath cards – seven cards laid below the spread, bringing out hidden information that relates to the primary spread.
In the section on the meanings and meditations for the Major Arcana, each card is listed by archetype (i.e. Fool – Spirit, Star – Inspired manifestation of true self), a short paragraph on the card, an interpretation, upright and reversed meanings, questions to consider, affirmations and a meditation. This is where the esoteric/occult information really comes out strongly, and is a great gift in understanding the cards.
The meditation on the Fool gifts the reader with techniques for a breathing exercise that provides serenity and opens the channel to the Higher Mind, and a technique for connecting with symbols of all kinds. The meditation for the Hermit connects the reader with their Inner Guide. The meditation for Justice deals with karmic adjustment. The meditation for the Star aligns the chakra system. Each meditation builds on previous meditations, and gifts the reader with a powerful portfolio of tools of empowerment.
In meanings and meditations for the Minor Arcana, each suit is broken down into Triumph cards and Challenge cards, with definitions given for each (as well as what reversed cards bring as challenges on their own). (i.e. For the suit of Pentacles, the Triumph cards are Ace, Two, Three, Four, Six, Eight, Nine, Ten, King, Queen, Knight and Page. The Challenge cards for the suit of Pentacles are the Five and Seven of Pentacles. Reversed cards carry the challenge of uncharitable conditions both inwardly and outwardly, lack of value in work and profession, low self-valuing, belief in cruelty, and alienation from spiritual sources and creative gifts.
Blank templates for each of the three spreads presented are placed at the end of the book.
I was very impressed with the quality of the writing, the quality of the understanding of the Tarot system, and the depth of understanding for the esoteric associations with the Tarot. Through discussion, exercises, questions, and meditation, information on the Tarot is brought through in such a way that each reader is able to develop a deep understanding within themselves of the work that they are doing with the cards.
I highly recommend this book to all Tarot students. Beginning students could use it, but I would really place this material in the intermediate to advanced category. It carries value for all levels of reader, and is a welcome addition to any level of Tarot library.
© April 2009
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.