Review by Bonnie Cehovet
I do not like to hear the word "fortunetelling" used in conjunction with the Tarot. If someone came up to me and said: "I understand that you read the Tarot. Would you tell my fortune for me?", they could be assured that I would not read for them. I am decidedly NOT a fortune teller!
The aim of this book is to: show how the structure of the Tarot can help you to read the cards quickly and easily; learn how to phrase questions to get clear answers; learn basic spreads and techniques; learn how to interpret the symbols and images on the cards; learn how to interpret reversed cards; combining Tarot with common sense in making predictions; learn how to read the cards ethically and responsibly. Pretty much what most basic Tarot books cover.
There are scans from three different decks used in this book: the Universal Tarot by Robert de Angeles, the Liber T Tarot by Pietro Alligo and Roberto Negrini, and the Llewellyn Tarot by Anna-Marie Ferguson.
Kenner begins with is what essentially a FAQ ... answering common questions about the Tarot, such as "What do you mean by fortune telling?" and "Can the cards predict the future?" There are also a genre of questions that I would not include, specifically "Are Tarot cards evil?" and "Can using Tarot cards open you to evil forces?"
I found it annoying that this book was organized by section, rather than by chapter, and that each section was organized like an Internet page ... bold headings that appeared in somewhat random order. No real beginning, no real ending.
The introductory section on the cards lists archetypal characteristics for each Major Arcana card, the spheres of influence and elemental associations for each of the four suits, the "Royal Families", and the general meanings for the pages, Knights, Queens and Kings. General associations are also given for numbers Zero through Thirteen and Twenty-two, as well as associations for color symbolism.
In the section on reading the cards, subjects covered include phrasing the question, and how to choose a significator, including a chart on the Court Cards and the Pips (numbered cards) and their associations with astrological decants.
Under spreads and layouts we find Past/Present/Future, the Three Mysteries, the Horseshoe Spread, the Celtic Cross Spread, the Wheel of Fortune, and Six Months From Now. I have to personally take issue with the "Six Months From Now", which starts out with six cards for the Present, then goes down one card for each month, on the theory that the further we go into the future, the less accurate predictions are. One other quibble ... there is a heavy black line across each of the pages with spreads, which leaves the top card looking like they have been hung out on a cloths line!
Kenner also discusses what she terms "Wild Cards", which include cards drawn for clarification, advice, future, alternate outcome, or "hidden" information. She discusses how to read a single card, and cards in combination (she also includes information on this topic from A. E. Waite and Crowley), and reversed cards.
There is a step by step section on how to do "fortune telling". (The art of fortune telling is defined in the beginning of the book as the art of making predictions. Quite frankly, I do not see the aim of a Tarot reading as predicting anything. It shows what our options are, and what "may happen" if we take no action, but I do not see that as prediction. There is choice and free will involved here.) Types of readings include relationship readings, career and financial, health readings (which includes a chart associating astrological signs with body parts and Tarot cards), and legal readings. We are also told to keep things like health readings light and optimistic ... as in do not bring up illness or death. I would rather have seen the reader advised that health, financial and legal readings should be left to professionals in these respective fields!
The cards are presented with black and white scans from all three decks, a discussion of the symbology in each of the three cards, "What Does Your Future Hold?" (a discussion of how the cards may be applied in a reading), and "For Future Reference", which includes upright and reversed keywords, mythic and numerological connections. "For Future Reference" for the Court Cards includes upright and reversed keywords, and astrological timing and dates.
At the end of the book is a bibliography and an index (which is incomplete in my copy, which is an uncorrected proof).
There are some good charts presented in this book, but I personally did not see the reason for presenting three different decks. The writing was kept to a level that was as simple as the techniques, which to me comes very close to talking down to the reader. This is a very basic primer that presents itself as a "complete guide". It is easy to understand, and does present all of the information necessary to do a reading, but there are certainly other books out there that do the same thing. If all you are looking for is a basic way to understand the Tarot, and to begin reading the cards, yes, this book does fit into that category.
© August 2007
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.