What's in the Cards for You?
What's in the Cards for You? is a workbook of thirty original 'experiments' designed so the reader can find for themselves how Tarot can be useful in their lives. The book is written in McElroy's typical skeptical and demystified style.
By Mark McElroy
Book - Published by Llewellyn
Review by Bonnie Cehovet
Kudo's on the cover - this one actually grabs attention in a positive way! This time around Mark is addressing the myriad ways in which the Tarot can be used to gain personal insight. He targets the following areas: creative, educational, magickal, psychological, predictive, and planning. Something for everyone! The promo on the back cover suggests that by doing the fifteen minute a day exercises, the reader can discover ways in which the Tarot can be of help:
* Generate dozens of creative ideas in minutes for writing, painting, or any artistic endeavor
* Receive clues to help you locate missing objects
* Focus your mind for better meditation and stronger visualization
* Better understand the symbols and messages in your dreams
* Predict the outcomes of events in your life
The usual format is followed: tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, tell them what you told them. For example, Chapter Two is entitled "Making Meaning". Under "Preview: What to Expect in Chapter Two", we find the following:
In this chapter, you'll:
* Discover how your innate powers of association allow you to generate meaning for any Tarot card, even if you've never touched a Tarot deck before.
* Receive a "secret weapon" designed to boost your powers of association and enhance your natural ability to tell what any card means.
* Learn to use the secret weapon to decipher card meanings for yourself.
* Find out everything you need to know to start discovering "What's in the Cards For You!
The meat of the chapter is very well organized, and very well written (as is all of Mark's work). He starts out by stating that generating useful information from the Tarot involves two things: (1) making meaning, and then (2) relating that meaning to the question, situation, or any other issue under consideration. Mark does a very credible job of showing, through example, how to generate meaning from a card through the use of a series of questions that the reader works through for themselves.
The information that evolves is them placed in chart format, listing the questions asked, the answers obtained, the personal associations that develop and any applications that the answers may have to the question/issue at hand. Mark also includes a chart reflecting associated meaning for primary numbers - the numbers one through nine. This is a good starting point, but I would advise that each reader needs to take this chart and fine tune it to their own understanding of the numbers.
At the end of the chapter, Mark presents a chapter summary, entitled: "Summary, Chapter Two for Short Attention Spans". The summary reads:
"Reading" Tarot cards involves making meaning through the power of associations, then relating those meanings to t he question, issue or situation under consideration.
When making meanings, don't worry about right or wrong answers - the meaning the card suggests to you than any meaning dictated by any other authority.
Your innate powers of association can be boosted by the Answer Mining template in this chapter. Answering its ten questions helps you explore a Tarot card illustration from dozens of different perspectives. It's your personal secret weapon for making meaning!
As you work with the cards, watch for repeating themes and unexpected options - they're often the key to the answer you're looking for. Keep an open mind!
Remember, you're in control. As you work with the cards, you'll come up with both good and bad options. Empower yourself by making responsible choices with your best interests in mind.
Mark begins What's in the Card's for You? with a reader "Attitude Survey". I found this an interesting tool, and one that may bring attitudes to the surface that the reader themselves were not aware of. Mark then asks the reader to sign (in ink, not blood) a contract with themselves to do the experiments and stick to the schedule - one experiment a day, fifteen minutes duration, for a total of thirty days. He also presents a list of decks that will serve the reader well in doing these experiments.
(Wait a minute here! The fine print also strongly suggests that the reader lay aside all turbans, purple cloaks and pointy toed golden shoes for the duration! What a nerve! I may have to renegotiate that contract!)
Mark covers a good variety of topics in his thirty days of experiments - and he strongly suggests that they be done in order, as they build on each other. If a day is missed, it is suggested that the experiments be picked up where they were left off the next day, and that more than one experiment not be done on any given day. This is not rocket science, he says this for a reason. Hopefully his readers will have the courtesy to listen.
Some of the topics that Mark covers are: addressing the Trumps, Court Cards and Pips; Personal Improvement; Working With Dreams; Timing; Either/Or Outcomes; Yes/No Questions; Facing Fears; Creating Compassion; Comparative Reading; and Exploring Past Lives.
The last experiment asks the reader to retake the same survey that they took before they committed to doing the experiments. The first survey acts as the before picture, the second survey acts as the after picture for the reader's attitude towards what Tarot can do for them. He then asks the reader to go back over their experiments to determine which ones they enjoyed the most. This is more than just a random thought - Mark has created a chart, listing the days down the left hand side, and the six applications (creative, educational, magickal, psychological, predictive, and planning) across the top. Once the reader has highlighted the days that they enjoyed the most, they can determine the category of the application associated with the experiments they enjoyed the most.
Mark takes this one step further by addressing each of the six application categories, with some thoughts about how each category fits into the reader's life, with suggestions for further reading/research.
In his Appendix, Mark suggests "first decks" for beginners, lists his personal favorite decks (as well as other decks of interest), and provides a short list of recommended books (from a diverse publishers).
There is a great deal of highly usable information in this book. However, I feel the need to note that Mark writes in what the promo on the back of the book terms a "lighthearted" style. What comes across to me is a style that resides in the realm of pithy to acerbic. I am also not an aficionado of a plethora of ideas developed in a minimum of minutes. The reader will grow as an individual if they choose to work with this book, but they will have to wade through knee high attitude to do it.
© 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.