Today’s Journey Tarot: A Traveler’s Guide
Today’s Journey Tarot: A Traveller’s Guide is the companion book to the Today's Journey Tarot deck. It has expanded descriptions, commentary and concepts on the 78 cards, and also includes chapters on how to read tarot, spreads to use, and meditations on the cards.
By Expanding Dimensions
Book, eBook - 183 pages - Published by R.C. Linnell Publishing
Review by Lori Lytle
Bonnie Cehovet wrote a superb review of the Today’s Journey Tarot deck, and this is where I turned first before I dove into my exploration of the companion book, Today’s Journey Tarot: A Traveller’s Guide.
The opening words of her review certainly resonated with me, saying, “I first saw that this was an “updated” deck before I even saw the cards. This actually made me disinclined to like it, as my preference is the older, more esoteric decks.” I plead guilty to this inclination as well, but as I looked through the deck and immersed myself further into the companion book, my admiration for the cards and the sincere tone of the guide began to grow. I recommend Bonnie Cehovet’s comprehensive review for details concerning the deck, but here are my thoughts on the companion book.
The creators of the Today’s Journey Tarot, Expanding Dimensions, is a group of five members with a combined experience of almost a century of studying, reading and teaching Tarot. In the introduction to the companion book, with the intriguing title of The Today’s Journey Tarot: A Traveler’s Guide, they explain that although they kept returning to the classic Rider/Waite/Smith deck, it became apparent to the group that, “this deck is dated”. Ok, I have to admit as a devoted RWS practitioner, this statement got my back up. However, they went on to clarify by saying that their goal was in fact to create an updated Tarot deck, one that could be easily understood by all, where the meanings of the cards aren’t hidden behind obscure symbolism. They wanted everyone to be able to benefit from the many insights and great wisdom that Tarot can give us, a truly admirable purpose that permeates this book in a genuine and heartfelt way.
So, you may well ask, “Why then would I need a companion book, if anyone can just pick up the cards and start reading?”. Although this deck with its modern imagery may be more accessible to beginning students of the Tarot, the companion book is a very useful and I think necessary tool for a reader who wants to achieve a deeper understanding of this particular deck and of the Tarot in general. I found that not all of the concepts and symbolism included in the imagery of the cards are self-explanatory, for example, color choice plays a significant role in the deck and not everyone may be able to understand intuitively that yellow means the intellect or blue means healing. The companion book provides detailed information about each card, as well as useful spreads and advice on how to read the cards, and acts as a needed yet accessible study guide for this deck.
The guide is divided into sections that include explanations of each of the Major Arcana, called the Keys, and each of the Minor Arcana, called the Elements. This is followed by a chapter on spreads, an explanation on how to read the Tarot, meditate with the Tarot, and a glossary of numbers, colours and symbols.
Each card is explored in depth and with equal attention to detail, for both the Keys and the Elements. Included are a statement of wisdom the card expresses, primary concepts or keywords, a visual description, commentary, the card’s meaning in a reading, a mantra for meditation, and the card’s significance as a daily reading. This format presents a lot of information in a clear, easy to digest way, and the writing tone is formal but entirely positive and pleasant to read.
The discussion of the Keys starts by explaining that these cards represent universal forces such as synchronicity and karma, and teach us how to successfully navigate the cycles of life’s journey. Although some of the explanations didn’t completely resonate with me, others had a profound effect that really made me think twice about how I perceive a particular card. I especially appreciated the depiction of The Wheel of Fortune, here called Life, as a large roller coaster with daunting loops and turns, ups and downs, signifying that although we can’t control everything that happens to us, the truly important thing is to “embrace life’s challenges with grace”, and to remember that you always have a choice in how you react to your experiences. Also notable is the Sun, here called Illumination, which tells us to release limitations and embrace freedom through the thrilling image of a bareback rider on a white horse galloping along a sun-drenched beach.
The section on the Elements starts with a discussion of the importance to our lives of fire, water, air and earth in both their physical and non-physical forms, and how it is the struggle for balance between these forces that defines our existence. The authors keep the traditional correspondences of the Tarot suits and the elements, but they have changed the Court Cards to the Family Unit of Child, Youth, Mother and Father. The amount of detail and content included about the Element cards is impressive, and it is gratifying to see them treated as equal in importance to the Keys/Majors, which is often not the case. I found the depiction of the Five of Air (Swords) very fitting, as it shows a used car salesman who has just taken advantage of a trusting family. The explanation encourages us to be on the lookout for dishonesty, and advises that, “victory gained through deceit is fleeting”.
The guide also contains a section of straightforward layouts, including one card readings, a useful variety of three card spreads, an adaptation of the Celtic Cross, and the Today’s Journey Tarot Seven Card Merkaba Spread which was created specifically for this deck and works very well with it.
The book continues with a FAQ section about how to read the Tarot, addressing common issues such as how to store and shuffle your cards, the use of reversals, how to read for yourself, and an extensive Code of Ethics. This information is indispensable for beginning readers, and I would advise novices to start with a quick read of this section. Following is a brief but captivating chapter on suggestions for meditating with the Tarot. There is one very uplifting meditation that was created just for this deck, and the authors also include tried and true methods such as entering the card and meditating with affirmations/mantras. This was one of my favorite sections of the book as it encourages exploration of the cards in a very personal way and is an effective method of building a deep relationship with your new deck.
The book concludes with a glossary that includes numbers, colors and symbols, which can be used as a quick reference instead of consulting the long descriptions of the cards.
The Today’s Journey Tarot is a unique, collaborative project, created by a group of people who love the Tarot and have extensive knowledge on the topic. Although it is possible to do a basic reading with the cards alone, I recommend the Traveler’s Guide companion book for anyone who craves more extensive knowledge of the symbolism contained within the cards and a more profound understanding of what the creators’ intentions were as they carefully crafted the rich images we see on the cards. The book is written with clarity, positivity and the intention to share wisdom openly and freely. If this deck resonates with you, I highly recommend the companion book as a valuable partner to take with you on your journey of exploration.
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.
Review by Megan
This deck really appealed to me from the pictures I’d seen online because of its brightness and contemporary approach, so I was delighted to receive a copy of the deck and book to review. I thought it would be very readable and accessible, and indeed it is. It can feel a little hectic sometimes, because of the detail, but it’s worth it; it can be totally serious and yet also light hearted.
My favourite card is probably the Wheel, renamed as “Life”. Indeed, all of the Major cards have been renamed and are referred to as “Keys”. Mostly, I feel it is successful and works well with the modern vibe of the deck. Personally, I don’t like the renaming of Justice as “Karma” but that’s just my personal opinion and likely it won’t be an issue for most readers. It certainly doesn’t affect the readability of the cards and does go with the theme of the deck. The Court cards have also been renamed – Child, Youth, Mother and Father.
I do like the backs of the cards; the cool dark blue, with a merkaba. They are also reversible, for those readers who like to work with reversals. Another clever touch is the use of different coloured borders for the Majors and the suits – so dark blue for the Majors, red for Fire (Wands) light blue for Water (Cups), green for Earth (Disks) and yellow for Air (Swords). This really helps to see in a reading what the dominant elements and energies are, at a glance. I’ve not come across a deck before that has this and I find it useful and effective, both for reader and querent.
The deck comes with a decent LWB, all in the usual good quality sturdy Schiffer box. There’s a short introduction, then each card gets a page, with a few keywords and two paragraphs, one explaining about the image and the following one explaining about the card in a reading. So is this enough? Well, yes, it could be. But I’m the kind of person who always likes to have a companion book for a deck, if at all possible, and I certainly recommend it with this deck, not least because the Major arcana cards have been renamed, so it’s useful to know more about why this was done, and to have the further information on the cards that the book provides.
And this book doesn’t disappoint. In fact, I think it’s one of the best companion books I’ve come across. Also, it is a superb guide for those new to tarot. Given that the Major Arcana cards are all renamed, as I’ve said earlier, that might potentially be off-putting to those new to tarot. However, given the comprehensiveness of this book, I don’t think that should be a concern. I recently bought a copy of both deck and book for a friend who is new to tarot and she was delighted. She said that both brought the tarot alive for her, whereas she’d found the standard “what everyone says you should learn with” Rider Waite, to be distant and difficult to get into and frankly not representative of the world we live in now.
Whilst the LWB accompanying the deck only offers one spread, a seven card ‘Merkaba’ spread, the book shows many more, including a nice range of 3 card spreads, suggestions for one card readings, and ‘Today’s Celtic Cross’ – a variant with 13 cards. So it offers something for everyone, from beginner to experienced reader. In the book, each card has between a page and a page and a half, devoted to it. The information on each significantly expands on that given in the LWB. For example, there’s more detail in the description and commentary, plus a suggestion for meditation and interpretation of the card in a daily reading.
One of the books great strengths is that it gives so much additional information. For example, there is a short section on the elements which I found very helpful and a really useful little glossary of numbers, colors and symbols. There’s an in-depth section entitled “Reading the Tarot”, based around important questions such as “what if I see something bad in the cards?” that the creators have been asked over the years and a particularly good section on the ethics of reading tarot. There’s also an interesting chapter on meditating with the tarot, which is a new area for me. Plus, there’s more information about the five people behind Expanding Dimensions who put the deck and book together, along with a little more detail about the artist.
If you like your tarot vibrant, colourful and thoughtful, I’d really encourage you to take a look at this deck and book.