Tarot for One
Tarot For One: The Art of Reading for Yourself is a wonderful guide focusing on the often challenging exercise of self-reading. The book covers the practical, theory and practice of Tarot and is a useful guide for beginners as well as readers with years of experience.
By Courtney Weber
Book - 243 pages - Published by Weiser Books
Review by Lori Lytle
When I discovered Courtney Weber’s book, Tarot for One, the ingenuity and relevance of the subject matter hit me like a bolt of lightning. Many of my clients tell me that they read Tarot for themselves, but they find it to be a difficult and confusing process, and they don’t trust that they are giving themselves an accurate and unbiased interpretation of the cards. Ms. Weber addresses this issue elegantly and clearly in her beautifully written book, which contains an excellent balance of the magical and the practical, theory and practice.
The opening section, “Welcome to the Self-Read”, provides a brief history of the Tarot, how it works, how to choose and care for your deck, and addresses why you might want to read for yourself and how can be challenging. The way that Ms. Weber describes working with the Tarot immediately resonated with me, as she emphasizes the importance of honoring both the traditional meanings of the cards as well as your own personal response to them. She says, “Know this: Tarot needs to learn your system of association more than you need to learn its system of symbolism. Through this book, you will have the opportunity to discover your own association systems and share them with the cards, creating a unique language for you and the cards alone.” (pg. 2). Ms. Weber takes the reader on this journey with a combination of information and exercises, and although she works with the RWS deck she encourages the reader to use any illustrated Tarot deck that they truly like.
Chapter Two introduces us to the idea of Tarot as storytelling, and reminds us that we are the hero of our own personal myth and epic adventure. Ms. Weber gives an introduction to the themes and interpretations of the Major Arcana through the story of the Fool’s Journey, telling personal stories and including references to pop culture, films and literature, to help the reader start to resonate with the cards. She speaks of Tarot “moments”, for example, this is an “Empress moment” or a “Hermit moment” to further deepen the connection with the cards, and to show us how these archetypes are not removed from us, they appear in our daily lives. One of my favorite “moments” was Ms. Weber’s story about her “High Priestess moment”, when she received her first professional Tarot reading as a teenager, a deeply mystical and impactful experience for her. Chapter Three explores the Court Cards, including traditional meanings as well as exercises to help the Tarot student connect with these figures on a more personal level. It includes a detailed look at each Court card, considering the impact of the suit and element, as well as the Character, Traits, Experience, and Reversed meaning of each. She describes the Knight of Swords as, “the fastest of all the Knights, but he is not always the most graceful or accurate”, and the Queen of Wands as, “accomplished at her craft, whatever that craft may be.” Ms. Weber conveys the essence of the card clearly and concisely at the outset, and then provides ample opportunities to get to know to them further, to work with them as a combination of people in our lives, and aspects of ourselves. A particularly interesting and useful section of this chapter offers perspectives on working outside the Binary-Gender Mold in the Court Cards.
Chapter Four introduces the numbered cards of the Minor Arcana, providing key words while again encouraging the reader to recognize and honor their own long-held associations with particular and favorite numbers. Ms. Weber also provides guidance on how to integrate all the lessons thus far and read with the whole deck, including easy to follow example readings.
Chapter Five is where things go to a deeper and intriguing level, with the title, “Recognizing the Voice of Tarot”. Ms. Weber gets to the crux of the matter, to the seed of doubt within the hearts of new readers, addressing the question of, “Am I only seeing what I want to see in this reading?”. She provides strategies for hearing the true voice, the real story, of the cards, and how to separate that message from the reader’s own projections.
Covering another tricky topic, Chapter Six provides insights into incorporating reversed cards into self-readings. Ms. Weber explains several different ways to interpret reversals, and how a reader can discern which method to use at any given time. She also emphasizes that it is not necessary to use reversals, while clearly illustrating the depth they can add to a spread.
Chapter Seven addresses two equally juicy topics, the benefits of paying attention to what DOESN’T appear in a reading (e.g. missing suits, Court Cards, Major cards) and how to deal with cards that are often perceived as tough, difficult or scary.
As we near the end of the book in Chapter 8, Ms. Weber brings things full circle by discussing when it may NOT be a good idea to read Tarot for yourself, or to read Tarot at all. Situations include when the reader is upset or deeply worried, or becomes obsessed with asking the same question.
Finally, in Chapter Nine, Ms. Weber leaves us with an abundance of useful, practical, and insightful Tarot spreads, some classic and some original, so that the reader can get down to some further hands on work. I found the “Present Triangle”, an extension of a simple Past-Present-Future spread, and the “Daily Oracle Spread” particularly impactful and yet easy for Tarot beginners to use.
I enjoyed reading this book immensely and I am excited to try more of the exercises, activities and techniques contained within. I will recommend it to my students whole-heartedly, and also to Tarot practitioners with years of experience. I felt so at home with Ms. Weber’s voice and outlook on Tarot! She is knowledgeable, genuine, and in her book so gracefully blends the spirit, magic, pragmatism and practicality that makes Tarot such a powerful companion. Highly recommended.
Lori Lytle is a professional Tarot reader based in Toronto, Canada and the founder of Inner Goddess Tarot. Her email and in-person readings focus on empowerment and personal growth. Visit her website and blog at innergoddesstarot.com.