Review by Solandia
We first hear the sound of a crackling fire, and the plaintive music of a harmonica as though an storyteller were sitting round the fire in an old hut, wind whistling outside. A Scottish voice reads:
"Welcome to the five stories of the Taroist. The astrological progression of the four elements and the spirituality journey on the tree of life, which make the 78 visions of wisdom."
So begins Taroist, an audio tarot book of five 'stories' describing the 78 cards of a tarot deck written and told by Allan Armstrong. The stories are set to original music and are titled Fire, Water, Air, Earth and Tree of Life, and explain the Wands, Cups, Swords, Pentacles (called Pentagonals by Armstrong) and Major Arcana.
Armstrong's stories begin with the minors. The Ace is first, moving onto the King, Queen, Knight and Page (the characters in the story), then the suit cards. He draws a quick picture with words by describing pertinent artistic details, and gives a very short interpretation that may include astrological and qabbalistic references. For example:
Ten of Wands
"The light at the end of the tunnel proves to be an oncoming train. Ah well. Shit happens. Pressures and responsibilities limit our horizons. We may have lost this battle, but we can still win the war."
Four of Cups
"The Fourth Cup. The Moon in Cancer. Your heart may feel heavy, but this is a good opportunity to gather your thoughts and prepare for the long road ahead. You should make the most of it, for it will not endure."
Music plays continuously in the background. The musical loop seems quite short and, for me, became a little tedious by the fifth or sixth card of the set. It also seemed at slightly too high a volume compared to the storyteller's voice, at times making it hard to concentrate on the words.
An unusual aspect of this CD is the cover, which is a black and white photo showing at a distance what appears to be a formally dressed woman in a park. The insert, however, shows a closer, colour photo of a man in same attire. The flipside explains that the storyteller is "traditionally veiled in a feminine appearance symbolising the union between male and female. The harmony of body and soul and the victory of mind of matter."
Taroist is a different way of familiarising yourself with tarot basics. While not for everyone, I think it most useful for beginners or auditory learners to pick up the basic meanings of tarot cards.
Kate Hill (also known as Solandia) is the founder and editor of Aeclectic Tarot, and has reviewed more than 200 decks over the years.