The Tarot Bible
The Tarot Bible: The Definitive Guide to the Cards and Spreads is a glossy full-colour book packed with tarot information and images - history, correspondences, the basics of choosing a deck, the meanings of the cards, spreads, extras for developing your tarot skills, and much more.
By Sarah Bartlett
Book - 400 pages - Published by Sterling
Review by Bonnie Cehovet
Quite frankly, the title of this book did not impress me. The words "Bible, definitive, and complete" together in a title seem to be a bit of overkill. Once I opened the book, my opinion did a 180! There is a great deal of wisdom packed into this very small book! Measuring 5 1/2" by 6 1/2", "The Tarot Bible", at 400 pages, is packed with wit, wisdom, beautiful color scans of the cards and interesting color photos and illustrations. There is a 3/4" colored strip down the edge of each page, with a different color for each chapter.
The back cover encourages the reader to "Look into your past, present, and future by consulting the tarot today." It encourages the reader to tap into their subconscious to learn more about themselves and experience self-growth. What more can we ask!
The intense coloring in this book makes for a wonderful reading experience. There is a section describing what Tarot is, and what it does, that acts to place Tarot in a very positive light for anyone not familiar with it. The Tarot history presented is concise, with interesting takes on the individuals involved, such as John Dee, A.E. Waite, and Aleister Crowley. There is a discussion on why to use the Tarot, and how it works. The symbolic language of the Tarot is addressed, as well as the fact that it mirrors our life situations/issues. There is a stunning photo of a person facing a mirror, holding their fingertips up to the mirror, so that we see both their hand, and the reflection of their hand. This type of thoughtful addition to the text is sprinkled throughout the book.
Under the section on the structure of the Tarot, color scans are included (in miniature) for each card in the Major and Minor Arcana. Associations are listed for elemental quality and suit keywords. This is followed by a discussion of different Tarot decks, with scans, including the "Rider-Waite Tarot", the "Visconti-Sforza Tarot", the "Minchiate Etruria Tarot", the "Tarot of Marseille" and the "Thoth Tarot".
In discussing how to begin reading Tarot, Bartlett covers issues such as pitfalls (such as always interpreting a card in the same manner), the potential of Tarot (i.e. to develop your ability to focus, and to access your intuitive self), choosing a deck. She also presents exercises for getting to know the cards, setting sacred space to perform a reading in, shuffling techniques, and drawing/choosing cards. Other issues addressed are letting go of projections, how to format a question, and a step by step guide to performing a reading.
To help readers develop their interpretation skills, Bartlett works with a three card spread, including a sample reading. She also presents techniques to use with Yes/No questions, and drawing a daily card. There really is no information on reversed cards, as Bartlett does not read with them. Neither do I, but if a reader is interested in doing so, I would recommend "Tarot Reversals" (by Mary K. Greer). There are separate sections for reading for yourself and reading for others.
The Major Arcana are presented with full color scans, the card number, astrological association, keywords and phrases, and a discussion of the cards qualities, including how it would appear in a reading.
Prefacing the section on the Minor Arcana is a short discussion and exercise on the Court Cards, and a table with keywords for each of the numbers. Each suit, in turn, is discussed, given keywords, and has a short exercise. The Minor Arcana numbered cards are presented with a full color scan of each card, key words and phrases, and an in-depth interpretation. The Court Cards are presented with a full color scan of each card, key words and phrases, and an in-depth interpretation.
The section on spreads is powerful enough to be the main reason for buying this book! The spreads are broken down into categories: everyday spreads, relationship spreads, revelation spreads, and destiny spreads. these are all powerful, almost 100% "new to me" spreads. If you want to start designing your own spreads, get this book, and look at how these spreads were developed.
The final chapter is ... well, it is magickal! Entitled "Developing Skills and Knowledge", Bartlett touches on Tarot magic (associating a Tarot card with a specific color of candle and types of spells), numerology (with a chart defining Quintessential numbers), astrology (associating each of the Major Arcana cards with an astrological sign or planet), Sun sign card interpretations, Kaballah (complete with a gorgeous Tree of Life representation and a Tree of Life spread!), crystals (associating each of the Major Arcana with a crystal and a key word), psychology and archetypes, meditation, a short take on creating your own cards and spreads, and a short section on pairs and group work.
At the end of the book there is a glossary and an index.
There are 1001 reasons why this book belongs in everyone's Tarot library! It is well written, easy to follow, presents a wide range of information, and is a treat for the eyes.
© 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.