Review by Bonnie Cehovet
Tarot Journaling is meant to function as a crossover book - aimed at both the Tarot community (and those who may or may not journal), and the journaling community (who may or may not know anything about the Tarot). Each is meant to support the other, but I have to say that I did feel a bit of a letdown here, as I would have loved to have seen a book that went deeply into the Tarot through the venue of journaling, without the constant need for balance between both communities.
Noting the use of the Celtic Cross (a traditional Tarot spread), I had the horrible thought that each journal entry was meant to be a complete Celtic Cross reading (which would mean using a ten or eleven card base, depending upon whether the reader chose to read with a significator or not). Fortunately, this was not true. The Celtic Cross was used as a venue to break down the information presented in the book. The sections are as follows:
1. What Covers You
2. What Crosses You
3. What Crowns You
4. What Grounds You
5. What Lies Behind You
6. What Lies Before You
7. Your Self
8. Your House
9. Your Hopes and Fears
10. What Will Come
The foreword to this book was written by licensed psychologist and certified professional Tarot reader Elinor Greenberg, Ph.D. I have always enjoyed reading Dr. Greenberg's articles on the Tarot, and felt that she set a good tone for this work. She talks about using journaling as a form of therapy in and of itself, as well as being a means of keeping her clients connected to their therapy work between sessions. She sees themed journals, such as a Dream Journal, or a Tarot Journal, as helping people move beyond what can become an overwhelming obstacle - choosing what to write about. This frees the individual to write about whatever comes to them, to allow their world to unfold within a theme. She notes that it is also an important way to access that knowledge that not be within our normal consciousness. She makes an important statement about Tarot journaling when she states that combining the magic of Tarot with the introspective nature of journaling gives us a powerful tool for personal growth.
In her preface, Kenner remarks on those who work with the Tarot and those who work with journaling as both being involved in highly creative processes. Unfortunately, this is also where the balancing act starts between the two venues, with Kenner pointing out the separate advantages to each group in combining the two venues of Tarot and journaling.
In the section on how to use this book, Kenner goes into the basic definitions for the Celtic Cross spread, as well as the basic foundation of the Tarot itself, and its divisions of Major and Minor Arcana, Pips (numbered cards) and Court Cards. She also presents several suggestions on how to choose the card (or cards) for each journal entry.
The benefits of Tarot journaling are broken down into the ten defined positions:
1. Yourself: This speaks to the private, sacred nature of the journal.
2. What Covers You: This speaks to the notion that your Tarot journal will help you to better understand the depth and breadth of your current situation.
3. What Crosses You: This speaks to the ability to recognize the roadblocks and obstacles in your path.
4. Your Foundation: This speaks to the images and archetypes of the Tarot existing not only on paper, but in our conscious and unconscious being.
5. What Crowns You: This speaks to what helps you tune in to your higher self and live up to your higher ideals.
6. Your Past: This speaks to journaling functioning as a form of therapy.
7. Your Future: This speaks to journaling functioning as an aid to creating the future.
8. Your Self-Image: This speaks to using your tarot journal as a tool for developing a strong self-image, and good self-esteem.
9. Your House: This speaks to journaling functioning as a tool to help you see yourself clearly, and to see how others see you.
10. Your Hopes and Fears: This speaks to the ability to recognize what your hopes and fears are, and the ability to then articulate them.
11. Your Most Likely Outcome: This speaks to your Tarot journal functioning as a tool to see where your current course is taking you, and what you may want to change to achieve your desired goals.
Kenner works through the types of material available for journaling, defining the pros and cons for each. (The entry that seemed to push the envelope here, at least from my perspective, was e-mail journaling!) Personalizing a journal was also discussed (each person will see themselves, and their journal, in a different manner). My Cappie self sees me with a very formal, leather-bound journal. How do you see yourself?
From here, Kenner uses the format of a Celtic Cross reading to address the various issues connected with journaling:
"What Covers You": This sections covers the physical space within which journaling is done. She addresses creating sacred space, as well as how to start writing in your journal. Included are a chart with abbreviations for each card within the Tarot, a short note on the use of reversals, as well as a chart with astrological glyphs and the card associated with each of the signs and planets. There is also a short checklist covering information that you might want to include with each journal entry.
"What Crosses You": This section covers what can become stumbling blocks in journaling, such as the writer's attitude towards the journal, and making time to do journal entries. Procrastination is NOT the name of the game, and every card has something for us, even the ones that we might consider bad, or negative. Here we also read about meeting and greeting our inner critic, and finding a place for them. Another person that we might want to meet - our personal Guide! This section ends with twenty-two tips for keeping a journal fresh. The tips were good ones, but for me this was more information than was necessary, which I felt occurred throughout this book.
"What Crowns You": This section covered privacy and ethics issues when working with journaling.
"What Grounds You": This section addressed using the Tarot journal as a foundation for working with Tarot cards. Included in this section are various methods for interpreting the cards, working with the "card a day" technique, and the function of spreads and layouts. Using the Tarot for meditation is addressed, as well as timed writing, and working with various Tarot prompts.
"What Lies Behind You": This section addresses looking at the past, and at times rewriting it. There is a presentation of the Tarot, in groups of seven cards, that is well worth studying here.
"What Lies Before You": This section addresses designing our own futures through the Tarot. The ability to make plans, as well as to move back and forth in time, is discussed here.
"Your Self": This section addresses how we see ourselves, what we see as our strengths, what we see as our weaknesses, how we express ourselves, and how we see the world. Included in this section is a listing of statements to be completed by the person doing the journaling. These are broken down into the categories of spiritual self, emotional self, physical self, and mental self. While this is a strong section, I also felt that it was overkill.
"Your House": This section addresses rebuilding relationships, reconciling old grievances, and reconnecting with family and friends through journaling, if not in real time.
"Your Hopes and Fears": This section addresses exploring our hopes and desires, as well as the shadow issues in our lives.
"What Will Come": This section addresses, quite simply, the future. The issue of intuitive versus psychic abilities are discussed to some extent. Unfortunately, intuition takes a knock that it does not need to take. Developing psychic ability is addressed, with several common sense guidelines listed.
Appendices are included for writing prompts, Minor Arcana correspondences, conducting a Tarot reading, Tarot card keywords, and forms and templates for making the actual journal entries.
Kenner has developed an adjutant Internet site, which is rich in Tarot Journaling content, including downloadable templates. There is also an associated Yahoo Group, where weekly writing prompts are presented for group members.
"Tarot Journaling" is a very good basic start to journaling with the Tarot. There will always be parts of any work that individuals disagree with (a significant disagreement for me was with the presentation of the significator), but that does not mean that the work does not merit study/use. A good caveat here would be to take with you what works, and to leave the rest behind.
© January 2006
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.