Review by Sandra A. Thomson
Geraldine Amaral, author of Tarot Celebrations, calls her 45-minute instructional videotape, a "jumpstart" on learning the tarot. The tape shows Geraldine teaching parts of a workshop, plus interview statements from the participants, which reaffirm the value of Geraldine's viewpoints and the tarot's potentiality (my own beginning students loved it). Brief interview segments with Geraldine scattered throughout the tape express her philosophy and intent in using tarot decks. The tarot, she reminds us is a helper, or tool; the power does not reside in the cards, but, rather, in the reader. The tarot, she says, is an "introspective tool for determining our own inner patterns."
Inasmuch as learning 78 cards is sometimes inundating, Geraldine suggests that beginners learn to read the tarot cards by concentrating on the Major Arcana and the four aces, which she calls the "spokespersons" of their respective suit. She defines the overall suit meanings of the Minor Arcana but otherwise does not consider them in this video.
The bulk of the tape shows an artfully illustrated picture of each Major Arcana card based on Rider-Waite-Smith deck. It is accompanied by a half-dozen or so key definitions, attributes, or qualities. Further explanation of each card comes as a question is posed from a querent or seeker, and Geraldine offers a possible answer, showing how that card can answer the question. It is an excellent example, and review, of how to do a one-card reading, and turn general meanings into practical down-to-earth advice for the seeker to consider.
Although basically for the new or relatively inexperienced reader, Geraldine's insights and clever names for some of the cards may assist experienced readers in expanding their perspectives. For instance, she refers to The Hanged Man as the "shake and bake" card. Something in your life has shaken you up and you need to wait, to take time to let your ideas settle (bake).
In conjunction with demonstrating an actual five-card reading, Geraldine discusses setting the stage for a reading, what a reading ritual symbolizes, and shows Geraldine's own ritual for the reading. She also discusses the importance of properly formulating the question and how to refine limited questions into more open-ended questions.
The videotape offers a good balance of beautiful photographs, graphics, voice-overs by a moderator (reading key attributes of the cards as they appear on the screen beside the illustration of the card), and Geraldine's insights.