Practical tarot techniques from two experienced teachers, the Amberstones from the Tarot School. This book is an easy read with answers to 78 common questions of the beginner - from choosing a deck to shuffling, reading ethics to year cards.
By Ruth-Ann Amberstone & Wald Amberstone · Book · Published by Llewellyn
Review by Bonnie Cehovet
I have been waiting to read this book since the news leaked out that it was in progress! Part of my reasoning was along the same line that Mary Greer took in her forward to the book: that the Amberstones represent a marvelous attribute to the Tarot community - as readers, teachers and innovators.
Their mission is to empower through the Tarot. They are respectful of themselves, their business, their students and their clients. I have taken teleconference classes from the Tarot School, and one of the things that stand out for me is their treatment of their students. While you are there, you are there to learn, and to have some fun along the way. The class time is a time to put your best foot forward, and to become part of the process - take notes, follow the thoughts being presented, ask questions, share reactions. Students are encouraged to share - if they feel comfortable doing so.
At the teleconferences that I attended there was a large amount of information presented in a short time. The pace was fast, but time was taken to make sure that everyone was absorbing the material. And the study was in depth - so that often you werre touching shadow sides of your own psyche. Respect, courtesy, and a willingness to help - all trademarks of this wonderful couple!
Tarot Tips is culled from the e-newsletter of the same name that the Amberstones have been writing through the Tarot School for several years. The answers Ruth Ann and Wald give are in depth, to the point, and respectful of all viewpoints. Their aim is to empower you to find your own creative self, to experiment on your own, and to enable your own wisdom. Tarot Tips is a wonderful "storybook", as each question and answer form their own story. But it goes beyond that - in each answer is a "way" of getting to where you wnat to go, a technique that will empower you, if you choose to use it.
Tarot Tips is presented by grouping questions and responses together by topic. The topics covered are: Decks, Cards & Card Handling; Interpretation & Meaning; Reading Techniques; Spreads; Other Things You Can Do With Tarot; Ethics - and a personal afterword.
Decks, Cards & Card Handling:
The questions that someone new to Tarot might have are addressed here. Things like: "Does my first Tarot Deck have to be gifted to me?", and "How do I choose a deck - what is the right deck for me?" Websites that review Tarot decks and books, as well as publishers websites, are listed here. What a gift to someone new to the field - or to someone who simply has not had access to this information! Then we get into the cool stuff - cards that fall out of a deck when shuffling, damaged cards ... and the newest innovation, the blank card. (You have to read the book to hear what they have to say about each of these things!)
Interpretation & Meaning:
Nope - this is not a section filled with definitions for each of the 78 cards. It is a section devoted to showing the student how to determine their own meanings for the cards! (With the caveat that nothing is written in stone. :) The first issue addressed here is the use of the Universal Waite deck - whether it needs to be the first deck for a new Tarot student, and how it can be used in learning in conjunction with a deck that the student is more drawn to. Card meanings, how to look at the symbols in a given deck, card interpretations that may seem to be contradictory for the same card from different decks, card combinations, difficult cards ... and the lovely but shadowy court cards are addressed. There is more to this section - including suits and strategic capability, reversed cards. creativity and the suits, astrological and Qabalistic attributions - t hey all have a place here. Want to know about secret paths? Read this chapter!
Working with questions - how to form them, how to clarify them, and what ten of the most practical questions are is covered in this chapter. Clarity and intent - the very basics for reading Tarot! Dealing with clients that do not want to interact with you, following your gut instinct with an interpretation, using numerology, working with questions of timing - all well covered here. There is a very nice question and answer on astrology and Tarot that everyone should see. It is a wonderful starting point for study.
This is a topic near and dear to my heart! I love to find new spreads, and I love to create spreads. Such a feeling of accomplishment when it all works out! One card readings (a good place to start learning!), different ways to do Yes/No readings, reading without assigned positions (I had to do a lot of readings before I was comfortable with this when I first started out as a reader), the ubiquitous relationship spread and more - it is all here for the student to work with. There is a listing of websites where Tarot spreads can be found, as well as a short listing of relevant books.
Other Things You Can Do With Tarot:
This heading certainly opens things up a bit! Here we look at methods of meditation, using the Tarot for creative writing, story circles - and my all time favorite - birth cards (plural - they act as the gateway into and out of each lifetime - well worth reading!).
The ethics of Tarot is a huge subject - one that the Amberstones handle well. They cover how to deal with "bad news" in a reading, how to deal with the Death card, asking third party questions (people do this all the time - but it is usually not that hard to show them where the lines are drawn, and why), reading for children, reading for the question of life spans, questions about going pro as a reader (and determining your own Code of Ethics) - all of this and more is found here.
There is an appendix that lists books and sites that will help the Tarot reader - beginning or otherwise, and a nicely done index so that you can look up the area that you want/need information on. Also, throughout the book if one "Tarot Tip" leads to another tip elsewhere in the book, the section and page for that tip is listed with the first tip.
This is a book that I highly recommend - it is a wonderful reference, and covers areas that are applicable to all levels of Tarot student/reader. I want to send my thanks to Ruth Ann and Wald for taking the time to see this book through to its "birth"!
© December 2003
Bonnie Cehovet is Certified Tarot Grand Master, a professional Tarot reader with over ten years experience, a Reiki Master/Teacher and a writer.