Tarot Triumphs: Using the Marseilles Tarot Trumps for Divination and Inspiration is an excellent introduction to the history of tarot and the process of divinatory readings with Marseilles-style cards.
By Cherry Gilchrist
Book - 320 pages - Published by Weiser Books
Review by Mythic Silence
Tarot Triumphs is written by Cherry Gilchrist and features illustrations by Robert Lee-Wade. This 295 page book is designed for use with the Trump cards from a traditional Marseilles Tarot.
The exposition provides a worthwhile examination of Tarot history, especially for newcomers to Tarot who may not be familiar with the facts and theories surrounding the Tarot’s creation. The first portion of the book also explores divination in general to provide additional context for Tarot divination in relation to other methods. Additionally, Gilchrist shares pivotal moments in her personal journey with the cards.
Gilchrist examines the Trumps individually, outlining key themes, ideas, and historical tidbits. Full page line drawings of each Trump appear alongside the text. Next, Gilchrist shares a couple of small spreads with the reader to acquaint them with the process of reading cards and provide options for different types of inquiries. The final portion of the book is primarily dedicated to the “Fool’s Mirror” technique that is alluded to several times throughout the book, as well as tips and considerations for conducting readings and connecting with the cards. One of my favorite reading tips was “try not to worry about the reading later, and wonder whether you said ‘the right thing.’”
The Fool’s Mirror technique includes important concepts that some readers may be familiar with, such as the idea that all of the cards have positive and negative qualities, and it incorporates new ideas, like embracing paradoxes within the layout of cards, as well. The accompanying spread is thoroughly explained to make it easy to practice and understand. The spread utilizes all 22 Trump cards, which could be intimidating for some, but Gilchrist breaks it down into smaller pieces and provides tips and examples of card pairings to aid the reader. The thorough and focused examination of the Trump cards and the Fool’s Mirror spread left me feeling equipped to pull out my Marseilles deck and give the layout a shot!
This book draws more from a historical vantage point than one of occult systems, and Gilchrist’s personal perspectives on Tarot reading are presented in a polite manner along with her reasoning. For example, Gilchrist is not an advocate of reading Tarot for oneself because she believes the necessary level of detachment is lacking. A second example is Gilchrist’s suggestion not to revisit a reading that you did previously. She believes that we do the best we can in the moment, and what we think of later may be more along the lines of unsolicited advice. Some of Gilchrist’s opinions differ from those in other books on the market, and I appreciated her insights. I have a lot of respect for her willingness to put her perspectives on the table, and they provide some excellent food for thought.
This book is a marvelous choice for beginners who are looking to use the Marseilles Tarot, especially for divination rather than a more counseling based approach. Those who are familiar with Tarot and are looking to commence work with the Marseilles deck may also find this book to be a user friendly and accessible starting point. While there is mention of spiritual techniques and tools, these are not a focal point, and someone interested in strictly reading cards would likely find the book to be an informative read. Those who are interested in learning more of the historical aspects of the Tarot rather than New Age or occult philosophy may find this book to be tailored to their needs as well.
Gilchrist’s book is well edited and its content is presented in a professional and accessible manner. It features a glossary and thorough footnotes brimming with additional information. The book itself has tight binding and the cover is a matte finish that feels pleasant in your hands.
Tarot Triumphs is a practical text on Tarot divination with the Marseilles Trumps that emphasizes a balance of study and intuition. It’s a good choice for a beginner interested in a modern book on Tarot without a self-help, counseling, or spiritually focused approach. I think it is fantastic that Tarot Triumphs puts a classic deck on center stage and encourages new Tarot users to explore what it has to offer.