Tarot Secrets is a simple beginner's book helping the novice start reading the cards straight away. It covers choosing a deck, spreads, upright and reversed meanings, theories of tarot's origin, and shortcuts to learning the cards.
By Amy Zerner & Monte Farber
Book - 160 pages - Published by Sterling
Review by Bonnie Cehovet
“Tarot Secrets” – the Tarot does indeed have its secrets! However, they were not exactly handed down by the Secret Chiefs! From the back cover:
Everything You Need To Know To Read Tarot Like A Pro!
Tap into your inner powers and explore your psychic potential. “Tarot Secrets” helps you understand the present, predict the future, and manifest your goals. It’s fun, it’s fast, and it works!
- Read the cards of virtually any Tarot deck in minutes.
- There’s nothing to memorize! All seventy-eight cards are interpreted for you, in both the upright and reversed positions.
- Twelve Master Spread layouts show you how to answer any question.
- Helpful shortcuts include Keywords, Quick Reads, and Secrets.
- Learn how to ask the right questions so you receive clear answers.
- Become aware of unseen influences, patterns of behavior, obstacles and strengths.
- Take Monte and Amy’s guided tour of the Major Arcana and learn the spiritual meaning of this ancient fable.
In the introduction Monte makes a very important point – that he and Amy take divination seriously – because it works for them. Tarot can be as simple, or as complicated, as we wish to make it. To take it seriously is to honor it as a tool of personal empowerment, which in turn honors the individual working with the Tarot. Tarot can be joyful, wise and serious – all at the same time! Monte also indicates that the main secret that he and Amy would like to share in this book is that the reader has their own gift for reading the Tarot – it is inherent in all of us. I love insets – there is an inset in this section that reads: “Reading Tarot cards is not a fanciful waste of time. Rather, it is a practical skill that can help one be more successful not just financially but on every level of daily life.”
In the beginning of the book there is a section entitled “A Gentle Warning”. Now – that intrigued me no end! What was Monte warning his readers about? And how dare he do that to the Tarot! Is gentle warning is this – that even the best of Tarot readings is not a substitute for your own logical thinking and conventional planning, nor is it a substitute for the advice of licensed professionals. These thoughts are inherent in every reader’s Code of Ethics – I was happy to see it iterated here. Monte goes on to note that no reading is so dire in nature that it cannot be made better by the guidance from a follow-up reading. Ask and ye shall receive – what you do with the answers is totally up to you. Sage advice here!
In “Secrets For Choosing Your Own Tarot Deck”, the caveat is that the deck that you choose should resonate with you, and that it should stimulate your imagination. Different decks are discussed, as well as the possibility of purchasing a blank deck and illustrating it yourself. Revealed here is another secret: “… Learning to read Tarot cards is more than a little like learning philosophy because so many of life’s central lessons are contained in the meaning of your Tarot cards.”
The Major Arcana are presented as the Twenty-two Spiritual Principles of Life, while the Minor Arcana are presented as Guidance For Daily Life. Each of the four suits (Wands, Swords, Cups and Pentacles) are defined by element, energy and keywords. For instance, Wands (Clubs, Scepters, Rods) are associated with Fire, the actions that the Querent/Consultant should take to create their own destiny, the power of the Querent to energize a situation, and the keywords Business, Action, Judgment, Acumen, Alertness, Brevity, Speed, Order, Plans and Development.
Before the cards are presented, there are sections on the significance of the numbers (Aces through Tens), and the Court Cards, shuffling the deck and formulating questions. The inset here gives very good advice: “Have faith in your ability to know the truth when you hear it and to act appropriately when you do. You can handle whatever life throws you, especially when you’ve been forewarned of coming challenges.”
The Major Arcana are presented in both upright and reversed positions, with a “Quick Read” for each position For the Fool, the Quick Read in the upright position is “Have fun – you are truly blessed!”, while the Quick Read for the reversed position is: “Don’t be foolish.” The “Secret” for the upright position for the Fool is: “Fear is a four letter word, especially now. Be adventurous. Taking chances and making leaps of faith that you might have been too timid to attempt in the past can lead to amazing rewards at this point in your life. The influence of an innocent and playful individual is favored.” The “Secret” for the reversed position is: “Stay away from gossip and silly, unprofitable behavior. It may seem harmless, but it could lead to trouble and misunderstandings. You could be deluded about yourself or someone else, thinking that you or the individual in question has wonderful qualities when that is not really the case. Alternatively, you may be led to make some foolish choices. It’s time to be more serious.” In the upper right hand corner of the page for the Major Arcana cards is a listing of keywords. For the Fool, we see: “Trust, Innocence, Playfulness, Leisure, Adventure and Beginning.”
The Minor Arcana (Pips and Court Cards) are presented in the same manner as the Major Arcana: upright and reversed meanings, a “Secret” for both the upright and reversed card, Quick Reads for both positions, and keywords at the top right hand side of the page.
The twelve spreads that are included in this book (with examples) are: Mind/Body/Spirit, Law of Attraction, Past/Present/Future, Chakra, The Lucky Horseshoe, Wish Upon A Star, Relationship, Spiritual Growth, Tree of Life, Magic Mandala, Celtic Cross and Zodiac Wheel.
In the section “The Secret Origin of the Tarot”, Monte discusses some of the theories concerning where the Tarot evolved from, including using pasteboard pictures of gods and goddesses to teach their divine properties to illiterate people, and brought to Europe from India, to purported origins in Egypt. I did like the humor in this section, where Monte talks about the old joke about every kind of scholar: Put two of them in a room, and you will get three opinions. (These boys have been hanging out in the Tarot forums, I just know they have!)
At the end of the book Monte presents the spiritual journey taken through the Major Arcana. A very nice end note to a well put together book.
In my humble opinion, this book is not only good to use to learn to read any and all decks, but it has something for every reader, no matter what their skill level. The very beginning student to the most sage reader will find something here to think about, something that will help them to grow.
© 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.