Review by Mary Collins
My bookshelves are overflowing with books on tarot and spreads, but for my money, “The Tarot Directory” is the best of them in terms of simplicity and ease of use. I take this little book with me everywhere and often use it instead of whatever “little white book” accompanied the deck I’m using – it’s a great guide for beginners.
The book is spiral-bound and laid out in a straight-forward manner, including tabs to separate out the headings for “major arcana”, “minor arcana”, “readings”, etc. One thing I really like is that the author does not separate the court cards from the rest of the minor arcana in each suit; personally I always find that to be annoying, but that’s just me!
A total of a dozen different decks are referenced throughout the book. They are depicted in bright, clear, full-color illustrations. The decks used include: The Universal Waite (of course!), The Visconti-Sforza Tarot, the Tarot de Marseille, the Golden Dawn, the Royal Fez Moroccan Tarot, the Thoth deck, the Medieval Scapini, the Swiss 1JJ deck, the Herbal Tarot, the Russian Tarot of St. Petersburg, the Morgan Greer and Zolar’s Astrological Tarot.
Each card is clearly described in a two-page lay-out. Two or three pictures of samples from the various decks give an idea of how the card would typically look. (I believe that all of the decks used are classic RWS-based). In her descriptions, Lionnet gives an overview of the customary appearance and symbols found on each card. For example, she describes Temperance by noting that “a woman pouring liquid from one cup to another is the most common image to be represented on this card”. Then she goes into detail about the symbolism. Again using Temperance, Lionnet tells us that the card denotes “balanced emotions” and the need for “negotiation, compromise and cooperation”.
Finally, she concludes with an interpretation of the card that is usually very insightful. You can even do a reading for yourself using her interpretations. Continuing with our example of Temperance, her interpretation of the divinatory meaning tells us that “this card suggests that you need to adopt a patient, calm, and self-controlled approach to your situation.” There is much more detail, of course, but this gives you an idea. When I was first learning the Tarot, I found this combination of what the symbolism means and how to use that information in a reading particularly useful.
At the end of the book are several resources, including some sample readings, several basic samples of spreads, and a list of useful books and websites. (AT is not, alas, among them, but perhaps in a future publication?) The sample readings, or case histories, are fun. She even includes a little picture of the “querent” and a bio on them to put their question into context, which makes the case history much more lively and fun to read.
If you are just starting out in Tarot, or even if you’re already knowledgeable, I highly recommend this book for your collection.