Taking the Tarot to Heart
Taking the Tarot to Heart is the second book from Mark McElroy, applying his very practical and no hocus-pocus style to using Tarot in love and relationships.
By Mark McElroy
Book - 200 pages - Published by Llewellyn
Review by Bonnie Cehovet
I have been eagerly awaiting this book. Not necessarily for the content (although anyone who has done any amount of Tarot reading knows that this subject is one of the most addressed issues out there!), and not necessarily because Mark showed us in his first Tarot book how good a writer he is (tells stories well too!). Nope - I was waiting to see the cover! Along the way, the book did undergo a name change (from Putting The Tarot To Bed to Taking The Tarot To Heart), and a revamping of the cover. I never saw the first version, but the final version is much better than the 1950's take that graces Putting The Tarot To Work. I am satisfied. ;-)
What did carry over from Putting The Tarot To Work is the style of presentation: tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, tell them what you told them. All done in bullet point style. In a way, I find this style very annoying. However, it does have its place, as it makes the points that are being made stand out.
Tell them what you are going to tell them
At the beginning of each chapter Mark lists a preview of what to expect. From the book, for Chapter Three:
Preview: What to Expect in Chapter Three. (1)
This chapter explores:
* Why Tarot makes a particularly powerful tool for visual brainstorming.
* The benefits of working with Tarot.
* How to respond when people say, "Tarot cards? Get real!"
From the Table of Contents: (2)
Section One: Getting Started
Chapter One: Get Twenty-eight Dates In Ten Minutes
Chapter Two: Putting An End To Romantic Roulette
Chapter Three: Why Brainstorm With The Tarot?
Chapter Four: The Least You Should Know About Tarot
Chapter Five: All Hands On Deck!
Chapter Six: Learning To Read
Chapter Seven: All Purpose Power Tools
Chapter Eight: The Personal Romantic Profile
Section Two: Spreads For Singles Chapter Nine: Exploring Strengths and Opportunities
Chapter Ten: Searching For Soulmates
Chapter Eleven: Defining Your Perfect Partner
Chapter Twelve: Telling The World "I'm Ready!"
Chapter Thirteen: Looking For Love (In All The Wrong Places) Chapter Fourteen: Finding A Partner
Chapter Fifteen: Showing Your Interest
Chapter Sixteen: Enjoying A Date
Chapter Seventeen: Meeting More People
Chapter Eighteen: Online Options
Chapter Nineteen: Exploring Your Compatibility
Chapter Twenty: Making A Commitment
Chapter Twenty-one: Dealing With Break-Ups
Section Three: Spreads For Couples Chapter Twenty-two: Defining Your True Feelings
Chapter Twenty-three: Sharing Your Feelings
Chapter Twenty-four: Conflict and Compromise
Chapter Twenty-five: Granting Forgiveness
Chapter Twenty-six: Spicing Up The Bedroom
Chapter Twenty-seven: Giving Great Gifts
Chapter Twenty-eight: Taking It To The Next Level
Chapter Twenty-nine: Looking Ahead
Appendix A: Sample Meanings and Associations For Each Card
Appendix B: Recommended Decks and Further Reading
Tell them what you told them
At the end of each chapter is a synopsis of what was covered. Since I used the preview for Chapter Three, I will also use the synopsis from Chapter Three. From the book (3):
Chapter Summary: Chapter Three In A Nutshell
Tarot is a particularly powerful and convenient tool for visual brainstorming. The cards are easy to find, inexpensive, and loaded with symbolic content. In a world where time to pause and reflect is rare, working with the cards is an engaging way to invest a few minutes in asking important questions about our options, desires and goals.
Many people overlook the potential of the cards, seeing them as nothing more than a fortuneteller's prop. Others, misinformed about the history and symbolism of the cards, associate the Tarot with the worst sort of spookiness.
Ultimately, the Tarot amounts to seventy-eight pieces of laminated cardboard. If you want to use them as coasters or bookmarks, you can! Their real value, though, becomes quickly apparent when used as a portable, approachable source of great ideas for action.
Right from the start, Mark makes it apparent that his rapier sharp sense of humor is an integral part of his writing. As much as I might dislike the "bullet point" format, I consistently found myself giggling into my coffee, truly having a marvelous time with this book! I also give huge kudos to Mark for writing in a manner that accepted the fact that each situation that he covered could be experienced by any individual (or couple), whether gay, lesbian or heterosexual. As a phone line reader for over ten years, I have given readings for gay, lesbian and heterosexual couples, and the issues remain the same over 95% of the time.
Mark covers how to set up and read for a heart (romantic/sexual) related reading in a concise manner, starting with how to frame the question. The whole idea behind his work is to get the Seeker involved in their own reading, whether they are reading for themselves or having someone else read for them. It is the Seeker's perception of the symbolism on the cards that drives the direction of the reading.
He covers a myriad of situations, from getting back into the dating game, to discerning whether or not to continue a relationship, to strengthening a relationship, to adding some "spice" to the relationship part of the Seeker's life.
I liked this book - it made me laugh, and it made me think. It can be used by individuals with no previous Tarot experience, as well as by experienced Tarot readers. It gives new Tarot readers guidelines to go by to give the best reading (and advice) that they can in an area that will more than likely crop up frequently in their readings. It gives experienced Tarot readers guidelines to follow for developing either specialty readings, or something along the line of "added value".
If you are still uncertain whether this book is for you or not, go and visit Mark's site at www.tarottools.com. Here you will find the introduction to Taking The Tarot To Heart, plus information on Putting The Tarot To Work and Mark's new projects, The Bright Idea Deck, Brainstorming With The Bright Idea Deck, I Ching For Beginners and What's in the Cards for You?
Footnotes: 1. ibid page 19 2. ibid IX, X 3. ibid pages 25-26
© 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.