Review by Solandia
“Tarot Stripped Bare is the 21st century approach to learning tarot. Cut through the myths and mysticism with this practical and simple to follow guide. Discover how reading Tarot can be fun and enlightening for you!”
Tarot Stripped Bare is a practical DVD-based guide that starts the complete beginner on their journey of reading with Tarot cards. It demystifies the cards, dispels common myths, and quickly gets the newcomer to Tarot up and running through simple explanations and plenty of live readings.
The DVD* has three main live lessons and two more static, informational sections with tarot spreads and the 78 card meanings (all using the International Icon Tarot). As you follow the presenter, moving from tarot newbie to doing her own readings for other people, it crosses back and forth between live, natural-seeming readings; conversational interviews between the reader and presenter; and straight PowerPoint slide style tarot instruction and information, accompanied by a voiceover.
Section One begins with the presenter, Helena Martin, introducing the idea of tarot cards and very quickly dismisses the myth that you need to be psychic to read the cards. Helena explains how to buy a deck, and the difference between scenic and non-scenic pips through the performance of a couple of one and three card readings, and a simple method of tarot reading by describing the images you see. Then it’s straight onto how to read, beginning with how to ask your question, and following with the first of the tarot reading demonstrations. Helena sits as the querent for the first of several sample tarot readings by real and experienced tarot readers.
There are plenty of sample readings on the DVD, performed for an (apparently real) querent by a professional reader. The sample readings cover some questions on common topics like job interviews, why relationships fail, the start-up of new businesses – even less serious questions like whether a kitten should go outside. In each reading, the reader explains the elements of the card image and what they might mean in the querent’s context. Each reading is also subtitled for the learner’s benefit with the card name and the question, the card position in the spread, and the major keywords of the card in focus. The readings start of simply and grow longer and more in-depth as the beginner’s knowledge of tarot builds.
Section Two gives a lot of new information on the concept of different types of decks, and the structure of a tarot decks. More tarot myths are dismissed, and some tarot tips are included in between the explanations of the differences between the major and minor arcana cards, suits and court cards and how to read them. In Section Three, we are given more tarot tips and shown more sample readings using up to five cards, and culminating in readings by the presenter herself for two novice querents.
The Spreads section presents ten simpler spreads, outlined in white on black with a short explanation and position labels. I like how they show shorter spreads best for beginners – there’s no complicated Celtic Cross spread to confuse the novice with all the card meanings; only the cut down five-card version. The biggest spread is an eight-card Life Guidance spread.
The Meanings section gives an idea of the meanings of the 78 tarot cards, which can be viewed automatically (at thirty seconds for each card) or individually selected through the menu. This part is best viewed on television though; there’s no easy way to go back or forwards through the meanings, and once you choose one to view – the Eight of Wands, for example, it will continue on automatically from that point. Another minor quibble with package was the white text of the card titles on the orange background was a little hard to read.
Tarot Stripped Bare can be viewed on your TV or (as I preferred to watch it) on your computer, where it can be paused or rewound if you missed one of the card meanings or wanted to take notes. The production quality and participants are professional, and the sample readings make it easy to see and understand how a reading works. There are also no hard meanings to memorise or complicated symbolism in this system, as it suggests thinking about the feeling the card evokes and paying to attention to what the people on the card are doing.
Tarot Stripped Bare is an extremely basic but encouraging introduction to tarot reading. Recommended for complete newcomers to the concept of reading the cards, who might be bit daunted by the concept that they could read the cards for themselves, or thought tarot might be too hard or boring to learn from books.
* The DVD I reviewed is in PAL format and classified Region 0 (region-free). There's also now an NTSC version available from Amazon.com for US viewers.
Kate Hill (also known as Solandia) is the founder and editor of Aeclectic Tarot, and has reviewed more than 200 decks over the years.