Top critical review
One person found this helpful
on 4 October 2014
This DVD is aimed at the beginner market, as emphasised by the "Made Easy" branding. It's full-on celeb advertising, and very different to the other tarot learning DVD (Tarot Stripped Bare) that I reviewed a couple of years ago. Here, Michelle Knight gives her very personal take on all things tarot. The DVD is quite glitzy: Michelle's hair, make-up and clothing are Hollywood perfect, and they've used a fancy hotel as the location. This does mean that the DVD quality is good: there are nice little clips embedded within the menus, and these are easy to navigate. The only flaw that I noticed was that whoever did the spell-checking missed the "Penticles".
The DVD starts with Michelle introducing herself and talking about how she was surrounded by the tarot as a child with her Italian psychic mother. She gives a brief description of how to store your deck (wrapped in silk and in a box - very traditionalist), and describes the history of the tarot (erring on the "shrouded in mystery" side). On the plus side, she recommends tarot journalling, and advises using your intuition in your readings.
There is also a section in which she explains how to shuffle, showing three different methods: the basic lift and drop forward; the split and riffle together; and smooshing around on a flat surface. Personally, I found the shuffling techniques to be extremely basic. Also, at no point did she mention reversals, which you would get with the second two ways that she showed of shuffling (as she didn't turn the split pack so they would all face the same way after riffling - a simple 180º twist after the split). I found this quite a serious oversight - she should at least mention that cards can end up reversed, even if she then said to ignore this.
Also in this "Getting Started" section, Michelle talks about "getting your energy" into the cards by shuffling for several hours (!!) before using the deck. She further suggests that, at least when you start reading, you do so in a sacred space. She suggests a little altar with cloth and candle. This might seem a bit woo-woo, but she does explain that this is a good way to tell your subconscious that what you are about to do is special and help unleash your psychic ability or creativity.
The rest of the DVD is broken into sections covering the Majors and the Minors by suit. Basically, Michelle turns the cards over one at a time and talks about them giving her own, sometimes quite idiosyncratic, take on each card. With some cards she does give a nod to the "traditional" meaning, but also says what the card means to her, and she is always very positive and up-beat.
Discussing the Majors, she claims this is where the real "magic" of the tarot is to be found. She gives brief meanings for each, not straying far from what you'd find in most books. She emphasises the positive even in "difficult" cards like the Devil or the Tower, and reiterates that none of the cards are bad.
As for the Minors, Michelle says these represent day-to-day situations, and will pass quickly! Once again, all her meanings are very "sunny". When talking about the Seven of Swords, for example, she admits that she doesn't like to see the negative side of things. She says that although the card suggests dishonesty, you shouldn't overreact to it, and that it will be short-lived anyway as it's a Minor card. Some of her other "keywords" are: Two of Pentacles - travel; Ten of Pentacles - being watched, for good or bad; Ten of Swords - betrayal, but deal with it; Six of Cups - past life relationship.
In terms of the Court cards, while once again encouraging intuition and journalling to put these into the context of your life and the readings you do, she also defines them astrologically. So, the King of Wands would be a mature man, Aries, Leo or Sagittarius. The Queen of Cups would be a woman, Cancer, Scorpio or Pisces. I found this to be one of the weakest parts of her presentation, in part because of the limiting by sun sign, and what if you don't know it. Also, because it assumes or requires a certain knowledge of the characteristics associated with astrological signs. It felt like Michelle or the producers did not want to admit this is a complicated area where you'll have to learn something, either astrology, or more about Court interpretations than she could fit onto the DVD within the "Made Easy" framework.
Finally, there is a section on spreads, with the normal one card draw, three card past-present-future, and the Celtic Cross. She does an example reading for herself, which is clearly unscripted as she draws the Devil, but saves it nicely by saying that it's good as it highlights her point about no card being bad, but perhaps helping you be aware of things and take a bit of extra care. She defines the Devil here as suggesting going a bit wild, but don't overdo the partying. Then she does a Celtic Cross spread for someone who says they've never had a reading done before (pulled from the hotel or the film crew?) and who ends up saying the reading was very good. Although it seemed pretty general, it did at least feel unscripted, once again. I also like how Michelle draws to the end saying that you should use the tarot to take charge of your destiny.
All in all, the DVD covers the basics and does what it says on the label. If you know someone who likes Michelle Knight, or generally likes "celebrities", and doesn't know much about the tarot then this would probably appeal. However, it does have several weaknesses - idiosyncratic and very short/limited card meanings, no mention of reversals, glossing over Court Cards. I think to really learn the tarot there are better products out there, but so long as this wasn't the only thing someone used, it's pleasant and quite entertaining viewing.