Now in its third year, Llewellyn's 2007 edition of the Tarot Reader features a colorful menagerie of instructional articles, reading tips, deck reviews, and spreads. The Almanac calendar section provides phases and signs of the Moon, major holidays, and a place to record daily card readings, special events, and appointments. (I've been meaning to use the calendar section for daily card reading since the Llewellyn Tarot Reader debuted in 2005, and I've finally got around to doing it consistently since New Year's Day! What a great tool for keeping track of personal readings and patterns; I only wish the spaces were larger to accommodate more writing!)
I found the articles in the 2007 Tarot Reader especially engaging this year, and here are a few of my favorites:
* Bless this Deck by Geraldine Amaral - Ms. Amaral outlines ways to clear and consecrate your Tarot deck. She shares an *excellent* Tarot Mission Spread for focusing intention, as well as asking revealing question of the cards such as "What is my greatest personal strength that helps me in my use of the Tarot?" and "What areas in my life are still being developed that would not be helpful in my work with the Tarot?"
* When Good Cards Go Bad by James Ricklef - One of my favorite Tarot authors, Mr. Ricklef details excellent exercises for gaining a more balanced perspective of the cards, including brainstorming tools for finding the negative aspects of "good" cards and beneficial traits of "bad" cards. Because we often see people in the same black and white terms that we apply to certain Tarot cards, Mr. Ricklef also shares a healing process he created for dealing with emotional hurts and wounded relationships. Using the cards, we can gain insight and compassion for "flaws" and viewpoints of others.
* Legal Readings: Playing the Justice Card by Corrine Kenner - Not long ago, Ms. Kenner found herself in an unusual and horrifying reading dilemma: a man came to her for a legal reading, and it wasn't until the cards were shuffled and spread that he disclosed that he had been a accused of molesting a teen girl in a public library. Ms. Kenner shares how she dealt with this unexpected situation, and takes readers on a guided tour through the Tarot--examining which cards often come up in legal readings and what they tend to indicate in terms of the law, major players such as lawyers and judges, emotional ramifications of lawsuits, and potential outcomes.
* Regal Ladies: Living the Queens by Elizabeth Hazel - Even if you're like me and don't use Significators, this utterly fascinating article about the psychology of the Queens highlights why we tend to have a "wrong-shoe-size" Queen in hiding in the closet of the unconscious. Using Jung's model of personality types, Ms. Hazel explains that three Queenly traits are accessible to us, while the fourth stays submerged in the unconscious. Ms Hazel invites us to gaze into this gaping hole in the personality, showing readers how to make a conscious attempt to access this neglected component of the psyche. She astutely observes, "...the unconscious Queen is stored in the same place as things best forgotten. Her specific traits have been displayed by someone else in life--probably someone the individual doesn't like very much because her behavior created discomforts. Women are particularly sensitive to this phenomenon, as their unconscious Queens may be the very image of their mothers." I suspected this was one reason I've had a stormy relationship with my Taurus mother, but now I know why I tend to avoid Earth-ruled women--especially since we seem to clash so terribly. Why, it's because I have a Queen of Pentacles in my closet!
Other fine articles imparting penetrating wisdom and practical advice in Llewellyn's 2007 Tarot Reader include:
* The Mindfulness Spread by Mary K. Greer
* A Journal Meditation by Arnell Ando
* Responsible Reading by Cerridwen Iris Shea
* Teaching Tarot: The Practical Path by Errol McLendon
* Questions We Love to Hate by Teresa Michelsen
* The Fool's Safari by Thalassa
* The Hanged Man by Elizabeth Genco
This year's installment displays only five spreads in "The World" section beyond the dusty Celtic Cross, a far cry from the fourteen in the premiere edition. I was eager to try Corrine Kenner's Secrets, Lies and Promises Spread, but unfortunately, my results were clear as mud. However, I had much better success with Mary K. Greer's Will/Fortune/Fate/Destiny Spread. (Honestly, can this woman write or create anything that is NOT helpful or insightful? I sincerely doubt it!)
A major faux pas I discovered in the 2007 Tarot Reader concerns The Llewellyn Tarot, a deck celebrating Llewellyn George, the adventurous, Welsh founder of Llewellyn Publications. Page 40 dedicates one of the "A Closer Look At" sections to the Llewellyn Tarot, but the descriptions are a far cry from the actual deck (which doesn't resonate at all with me). It says the Llewellyn Tarot uses "bold, contemporary art to jumpstart the brainstorming process...designed to generate ideas, expand creative expression, and stimulate thought processes."
What?! No way could this be describing the Llewellyn Tarot! It took me all of 30 seconds to access my well-honed Scorpionic data banks before I realized "Wait a minute...I bet they're talking about Mark McElroy's Bright Idea Deck!" (Incidentally, the most underestimated, unappreciated, under-exposed, and poorly marketed deck in all of Tarot, in my opinion). So I grab my 2006 edition of the Tarot Reader, and guess what I find on the exact same page? A word-for-word description of the Bright Idea Deck (this time, with the correct deck attribution and card images). See, this is one reason I rarely review Llewellyn books anymore: oh so sloppy editing that overlooks important details or omits them entirely. Gosh, the Llewellyn Tarot is their signature deck for crying out loud...and no one spotted this glaring error? Sheesh...
Two out of the five deck reviews aren't Tarot deck reviews at all, but *oracle* decks. Now why is this? Zach Wong's wonderful Revelations Tarot hasn't even gotten a mention yet, never mind that the Deck Reviews section now reads like an advertisement for Llewellyn or Lo Scarabeo decks. (That's right, no decks from U.S. Games or baba studio in the 2007 edition...not even card images from other publications!)
Sticking points aside, Llewellyn's 2007 Tarot Reader is an insanely affordable tribute to (mostly) Tarot and there is truly something for everyone in this book. Having a handy built-in calendar for daily card readings is a great feature and there's always some new way of looking at the cards, readings, and even yourself offered by the contributors. (However, I will admit to missing the voices of Ruth Ann and Wald Amberstone in this edition, as well as those of Mark McElroy and Nina Lee Braden. Maybe next year...)
Janet Boyer, author of The Back in Time Tarot Book: Picture the Past, Experience the Cards, Understand the Present (coming Fall 2008 from Hampton Roads Publishing)