Tarot Card Combinations
Illustrates a selection of common and easy-to-read card combinations, to help the new reader in linking and blending card meanings.
By Dorothy Kelly
Book - Published by Weiser Books
Review by Bonnie Cehovet
Tarot is a wonderful world of archetypes and symbols, all gathered together into story form. One of the most difficult tasks facing any beginning Tarot student is how to apply the basic energy/meanings for the individual cards into a coherent story that answers the question(s) of the Seeker and provides guidance as to the next step(s) for them to take on their path in any given issue/situation.
From the preface:
"It would be impossible to demonstrate every combination of cards that could exist, as there are endless combinations. The point of working with these combinations is to show you a variety of common, easy-to-read combinations so you can get acquainted with interpreting and linking cards. The tarot cards tell their own story, and this book will help you learn how to discover the story.
Many students of the tarot lose interest and self confidence when trying to read the cards. They don't have enough information to combine and link the cards where necessary or appropriate, and they miss the story that the cards are trying to portray. Some believe that some sort of psychic ability is needed to interpret the cards, and that without this gift they won't be able to read the cards accurately. The gift for reading cards has been given to all of us, so we shouldn't be afraid to use our gifts of perception. If used correctly, the cards are incredibly accurate as they foretell events and give answers to questions that may be troubling. The cards can guide us in our journey through life."
Dorothy Kelly has done a wonderful job of presenting a "Just the facts, Ma'am" template for storying the Tarot. She begins by introducing us to the Tarot - the Major Arcana, and the Minor Arcana (pips and court cards). O may quibble over a few things - such as the fact that she sees the court cards primarily as people in the Seeker's life, and she gives a numerical age range for each card (King, Queen, Knight and Page). For those that feel comfortable with this scenario, that is fine, but I personally do not. (Please note - Kelly does also say that the court cards can be a part of the Seeker's psyche, but this is very much down played.)
Kelly works with twelve keywords for each card - six upright, and six reversed. She also suggests that if the reader has other keywords that work better for them, that they should use them. What she does not do is work with any of the esoteric nature of the cards - including the symbols on the deck. (Please note: The book makes heavy use of black and white scans of the Universal Waite deck.)
The presentation of the cards and how they are read together is quite nicely done. Kelly advises starting with one card, then going on, in order, with two, three, four etc cards. She presents the cards, in their upright positions, on the left hand side of the page. On the right hand side, we see two or more cards in varying positions - upright/upright, upright/reversed, reversed/upright, reversed/reversed and the cards in reverse order. She takes one definition from the upright keywords and one definition from the reversed keywords for both cards. As they say - seeing is believing. In this manner we can see how the "plot" of the storyline emerges.
She defines the energy of the suits as follows (from page 81):
Wands=Action, Occupation, Work;
Cups=Sense, Feelings, Affection;
Swords=Difficulties, Hardship, Crisis;
Pentacles=Finance, Wealth, Income.
Aces represent the seasons: the Ace of Wands represents Spring, The Ace of Cups represents summer, the Ace of Swords represents Autumn and the Ace of Pentacles represents Winter.
Using this concept, Kelly does something that I have never seen before to pinpoint timing. The Fool represents immediate events - things that will happen within one week of the reading. The remaining Major Arcana cards represent days, while the pips represent weeks. In her method, the deck is shuffled and the cards dealt face up until an Ace, or "season" card appears. Shuffle again, and deal the cards face up until a pip of the same suit as the season card appears. Shuffle the cards a third time, and deal them face up until a major arcana card comes up.
From the book (page 14):
"Ace of Wands = Spring
VII of Wands = the 7th week
The Hermit (IX) = within 9 days of the 7th week of spring."
At the end of the book Ms Kelly has presented six spreads, along with sample readings for each. They are:
* Celtic Cross
* Six Month Reading
* The Rainbow Spread
* The Open Spread
* The 28 Card Spread
* The Yearly Clock Spread
As readers, we all reach points in our work where we are stagnant, where the readings that we are doing no longer claim out interest or have any "pizzazz". I recommend Tarot Card Combinations to all readers at any stage in their Tarot journey. This gentle book has something for everyone - it opens doors that we may not even have realized were closed.
I will allow Dorothy Kelly to have the final word. From the dedication to Tarot Card Combinations:
"The path of life is not always clear. Sometimes at the crossroads you need directions, and when the way is in darkness, a light ahead will show you the way."
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.