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Heart of Tarot: An Intuitive Approach Paperback – 30 Jun 2002
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About the Author
Amber K is a third degree priestess of the Wiccan faith. She was initiated at the Temple of the Pagan Way in Chicago and served on the Council of Elders there. Her books on magick and the Craft have been widely circulated in the United States and Europe, and for nearly 25 years she has traveled across the U.S. teaching the Craft. She has worked with Circle and the Re-Formed Congregation of the Goddess, and served as National First Officer of the Covenant of the Goddess for three terms. She is a founder of Our Lady of the Woods and the Ladywood Tradition of Wicca, and currently is Executive Director of Ardantane, a Wiccan/Pagan seminary is northern New Mexico. Azrael Arynn K is a third-degree Wiccan Priestess and High Priest of the Coven of Our Lady of the Woods, and has also held offices in the Covenant of the Goddess. She resides in New Mexico, where she is both Facilities Director and Dean of the School of Sacred Living at Ardantane Pagan Learning Center. She co-authors books on the Craft with Amber K, and travels and teaches widely throughout the United States.
Top customer reviews
The whole of the Major Arcana is covered but not every card in the Minor Arcana, which may disappoint some beginners but students will soon realise that they are not needed.
I don't really think the sample Tarot readings section was necessary - but then I don't like them sample readings anyway - but that's a personal viewpoint!!
The spreads section is good and the section dealing with reading as a professional is excellent and shows how to deal with tricky customers.
The section on teaching the Tarot is short but good for those who do wish to teach - it gives fresh ideas for classes as well as suggested class structures.
Individually, Amber K was initiated as a Wiccan Priestess in Chicago, where she was also ordained. She has worked in an admin role for the Covenant of the Goddess, and taught in a training programme for a national Dianic network. She has a son, Starfire, who is a Wiccan security officer.
Azrael Arynn has had a very varied career, including being a police officer, racing-car driver, stockbroker, and architectural designer, as well as being a talented costume designer and ritualist.
The authors' intention in writing this book is to "honor his memory and preserve a fascinating technique by sharing this book with the world" (p.xiv). The person to whom they are referring is John McClimans, the creator of the Gestalt method of reading the Tarot. Amber K had a very strong connection with him right up until his death, and held him in the highest esteem.
The book is presented in a logical and methodical manner, starting with information on the history, origins and uses of the Tarot, along with a look at its structure. Next is an explanation of Gestalt Tarot itself and how it differs from other methods. Interestingly, when discussing Gestalt therapy and its origins, the authors make no mention of its founding father, Fritz Perls, preferring to leave such information until Appendix 2. Perhaps the most important point about Gestalt, whether in a therapeutic context of Tarot reading is that the client/querent is viewed as the 'expert' - i.e. the expert on themselves. The authors state that "What we are going with Gestalt Tarot is giving querents time and tools to think about their lives and come to understand themselves a little better" (p.15).
Following on from this is a chapter on the Major Arcana, using the Morgan-Greer deck for illustration. For each card there are some traditional meanings, three alternative meanings, and a space in which the reader can write down their own interpretations. This approach seems very balanced and encourages the learner to tap into their own intuition.
The authors take a similar approach with the Minor Arcana, but only actually show a small number of cards, stating that "Not all of the Minor Arcana will be included, but just enough cards to get a feeling for the possibilities" (p.63).
Next follow a section on the Gestalt Tarot Spreads, i.e. a longer and shorter version of the same one. they are heavily astrologically based and the reader would probably benefit from having at least some basic understanding of astrology. also included is some excellent information on looking for patterns in spreads.
The following section - 'Getting Started with Gestalt' - gives excellent descriptions of a wide variety of Tarot decks, providing the reader with a base from which to begin thinking about the sort of deck they might want for themselves, e.g. Rider-Waite, Visconti-Sforza, Robin Wood, Golden Dawn and Fantasy Showcase; also some interesting exercises to help the beginner to "see your Tarot Deck through Gestalt eyes" (p.110).
Having mentioned briefly some of the difficulties of reading for oneself, Amber and Azrael next present information about reading for others, which includes practicalities (time, place, fee etc.), and setting the scene. Much of this goes into unnecessary detail and seems prescriptive, e.g. "A simple, uncluttered decor is ideal. A vase of flowers, a nice painting or two and a couple of art objects would be fine; but too many magical or New Age knick-knacks will only distract from the reading" (p.120). This detail seems a little at odds with the Gestalt idea of the person working it out for themselves - they might only be suggestions but there are lots more details similar to the above. The chapter continues with the process of a Gestalt reading, including the various types of questions which would/would not be helpful.
Following on from this is a chapter giving two verbatim sample readings, demonstrating very ably the Gestalt process in the reading, and offering valuable insights into the skill required to be a really good Gestalt reader. Further spreads are then described, e.g. Snapshot Spread, Name Spread and the Yes-No Spread.
The section on Professional Reading addresses various issues such as motivation, legalities, telephone readings, along with details of how to welcome the querent, and 'Dress and Grooming', citing two extremes of dress, i.e. 'gypsy fortune-telling v business suit', and then suggesting that the best thing to do is to "......dress in normal semi-casual clothing......but with a striking piece of jewelry to mark the occasion as something special" (p.214). Again it seems somewhat prescriptive and directive.
The last aspect on reading professionally discusses the type of 'Querents Who Present Special Challenges', and is a fascinating look at e.g. the Sceptic, the Monosyllabic Reply, Guru Seeker, the Scaredy Cat and the Omen Watcher.
The penultimate section is devoted to teaching the Tarot, and includes a basic but very interesting outline for a series of six Tarot classes. The book concludes with a chapter on self-transformation through Tarot magic, using techniques such as self-cleansing, tapping into the elements and various spells to achieve e.g. prosperity and abundance, protection and the use of talismans.
So, have the authors carried out their intention of honouring John McCliman's memory and presenting his method of Tarot-reading? Perhaps only the man himself could truly answer this but what is apparent is that this book presents a new and unique approach to the Tarot which could be seen as a challenge to the more traditional reader - a challenge to be faced and tested. There is undoubtedly a lot to be learned from this book and as such it is highly recommended - a fascinating read.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
That said, while I disagree with the method, there ARE two excellent things about this book: the section about the different clients IS (as mentioned in another critique) hilarious; and, the outlines and lesson plans for teaching Tarot classes are creative and effective, as well as effective self-learning exercises.
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