The Ultimate Guide to Tarot Card Meanings by Brigit Esselmont is the long-anticipated print book copy of a text on tarot card meanings she had published previously as an e-book and which formally memorializes much of what had become one of the most popular go-to card meanings site on the interwebs, BiddyTarot’s Tarot Card Meanings.
If you don’t know Brigit of BiddyTarot, then you simply do not know anything about the tarot community either– meaning, this woman has a loyal cult-like following of avid tarot enthusiasts who have propelled her to the top of the ranks for all things tarot. She defines the present generation of tarot readers and in many ways, her latest book The Ultimate Guide reflects that newfangled epistemology of divination-can-be-for-the-masses camp of thought. That has become the new wave of thought in tarot, collectively the loudest voice in current modernity, and leading that camp really is the BiddyTarot culture.
The Ultimate Guide is a fresh, contemporary voice in the body of tarot literature and will resonate more with those who embody the modern approach to card meanings. Not to be confused with The Ultimate Guide to Tarot by Liz Dean (the two titles can be confusingly similar), Esselmont’s The Ultimate Guide expresses a new consciousness of tarot, which is to integrate it into everyday mainstream, to normalize tarot, and to promote the practice of personal spirituality through living a tarot inspired life.
Artist Nicole Piar has hand-painted 48 cards that call upon the familiar spirit of the cat to heal us, guide us, inspire us, and bring us joy. When I’m hit with a bout of anxiety, feeling stressed, fatigued, or need comfort, going through these cards will lift my spirit up immediately. There is a soft, playful, and gentle energy about the Spirit Cats oracle deck that will absolutely elevate your mood and put a smile on your face.
Piar has depicted these cats as kami, or nature spirits, and reflect a cat kami that is here as your guardian spirit or spirit guide. The deck in its entirety is the embodiment of a cat animal totem, which you can call upon for daily guidance, creative or intuitive inspiration, and to cultivate peace of mind.
Installment Payment Plan Available! (Details Below)
This is a beginner’s course on how to read both a Placidus and a Whole Signs astrological chart with the tropical zodiac (the sidereal zodiac is not taught in this course, though we will cover the differences between a tropical and a sidereal zodiac). Yep, that’s right. Both will be taught. The mission of this course is to get you to know how to read both Placidus and Whole Signs, even if Whole Signs is my preferred system. (Meaning, there’s going to be a bias in favor of Whole Signs…)
This course does not teach chart construction and will only cover how to read a chart that you already have on hand, Placidus or Whole Signs. After covering the basics, you will learn how to read a natal chart, perform transits astrology readings, get a sense of both traditional astrology and modern astrology, dwarf planets and asteroids included, and if I’ll be damned, you are going to have one rock solid foundation in Western astrology that won’t be beat.
Competitive in content, by scope and depth, to beginner astrology courses that cost in the hundreds, Astrology Course for Beginners is intended to be budget-friendly, so everyone can learn how to simplify the complexities of Western astrology.
This is a “quiet” course, taught primarily through your own independent reading and study of a two-volume workbook set, for a total of over 500 pages. The workbooks are intended to be worn in, meaning these pages consist of exercises and practicum. Only by doing the exercises and practicing astrology readings on the charts provided in the workbook can you gain proficiency through this course.
The learning process happens as you follow the practice exercises in the workbook. That’s the core mode of learning– practice exercises in the workbook and then checking your answers against model answers.
You’ll also be expected to assemble your own astrology study journal (what I like to call your astrology grimoire). A blank journal template for your first astrology grimoire is provided along with instructions on how to put it together.
There will also be an introductory video lecture to commence your studies.
Although the course content itself is beginner level astrology, presuming no prior knowledge on the subject, the pedagogical approach is structured after a graduate level independent study seminar. If you have never taken a college-level independent study course before or don’t think you would be prepared to keep up with the rigor of a college-level course, then my instructional approach is not going to be right for you.
The accompanying videos will only guide your use of the workbook and how to approach astrology. Actual teaching and instruction are done through the workbook. In other words, there is a lot of reading involved. A lot. And lots of exercises. You will be doing a lot of writing or typing.
Table of Contents Preview:
From the table of contents, you’ll see how broad in scope this course will be. Look at the number of pages in the workbook and you’ll see how deep we go. Click on any image below to enlarge viewing.
Who Would Benefit from this Course:
Those interested in learning how to read an astrological chart, with specific instruction on natal charts and transits charts (solar return charts, progressed charts, and transits for specific dates)
Complete astrology beginners interested in learning how to read their own birth chart
Intermediate astrology enthusiasts interested in strengthening their core foundational knowledge of the craft
Metaphysical practitioners who want to learn the basics of Western astrology and integrate astrology into their spell-working practice
Tarot readers who want to integrate an understanding of astrology into tarot (although I never talk about tarot in this course, you will nod with familiarity at the core principles presented here)
Seasoned astrology enthusiasts with years of study under their belts might still find a refresher course on the basics to be of use
PDF Workbook (Two Volume Set) [Complete Single Volume PDF also provided in case you prefer one book rather than two.]
PDF and DOCX files of the template and structural organization for your astrology studies journal [You will be assembling both a digital study journal and a printed out hard copy one in a three-ring binder.]
PDF and DOCX files of references and handouts for your astrology grimoire starter kit [For the three-ring binder.]
Zip file folder of dozens of birth charts for public and historical figures to practice on
Content Included in this Course:
Understanding the differences between a Placidus and Whole Signs chart
Understanding the Tropical zodiac (cf. Sidereal zodiac)
Chart shape analysis
The foundational building blocks of astrological theory (the binary, the three modalities, and the four elemental triplicities)
How to read a Placidus chart
How to read a Whole Signs chart
Understanding the twelve zodiac signs
Understanding the twelve astrological houses
The Sacred Seven (sun, moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn)
Key personal sensitive points (ascendant, midheaven, the north and south lunar nodes)
Modern astrological considerations, including Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, Chiron, Juno, and Ceres
Popular asteroids (Hygeia, Pallas, and Vesta, etc.)
Understanding angular aspects
How to read a chart specifically for romantic prospects, career prospects, health concerns, personal spirituality, and shadow work
Preview of intermediate topics, such as working with planetary rulers, decan rulers, essential dignities, and Arabic Parts (or Hermetic Lots)
Your astrology grimoire starter kit
Private Facebook Group
I will be setting up a private Facebook group where anyone who ordered the course can join if they choose to and connect with other astrology enthusiasts. Discussions won’t be limited to astrology! We’ll talk about all the various metaphysical intersections with astrology, including tarot, numerology, craft, and more. Share your astrological interpretations of charts and offer your insights to others. The private Facebook group will be our best attempt at a classroom setting where “after school hours” the participants in the course can chat with each other and interact.
Please note that due to my schedule, I won’t be able to stay active within the Facebook group and may not be able to join in on every discussion. I’ll try my best to pop my head in here and there, but just maintain your expectations and understanding that the group is more for participants to interact with each other.
Practice Makes Perfect…
…so I’m providing you with a whole bunch of charts to practice on. The course materials includes a zip file folder of birth charts for public figures, historical figures, and charts for a couple of major events that you can study. Many of them are referenced in the workbook as case studies to illustrate points I’m trying to make.
Content Not Included in this Course:
How to cast an astrological chart manually
Reference material for every planet to planet aspect or what each sign in each house means or each planet in each house or sign indicates (rather, this course will teach you how to arrive at your own interpretations for yourself)
Significance of degrees or Sabian degrees
Advanced astrology topics, such as reading discrepancies between true node and mean node; in-depth understanding of the co-ascendant and polar ascendant; planetary returns and how to read them; esoteric astrology; midpoints; term rulers; past life astrology; aphesis; etc.
Professional-level astrology (this course is not intended to teach you how to become a professional astrologer; the purpose is to teach you astrology)
Dozens of sample astrological charts are provided in the course for you to practice the workbook exercises on. However, nothing beats practicing on your own, so I’m offering a $10 add-on service you can get in addition to the course, which will provide you with your birth chart (based on the birth details you send me) in four different versions, as noted below. Keep in mind you don’t need to get the add-on! You can probably find an online chart generator and get your birth chart for free, though getting all four versions may be hard, and even harder to get all four versions that feature many of the key sensitive points, asteroids, and dwarf planets we talk about, such as Eris, Chiron, Vesta, Hygeia, Pallas, Black Moon Lilith, and White Moon Selena, among others.
You will get your birth chart constructed per…
Tropical Whole Signs
Sidereal Whole Signs
Important Terms and Conditions
There will be no refunds. First of all, this course is already underpriced by maybe $100 if not more and if you don’t believe that, then either you have not been shopping around for online astrology courses or you really didn’t put in the effort to learn the content and use the materials provided, and now seek to punish me for your own lack of effort.
The entry barrier for this course is not price, because even at $40, I’m more than happy to work with you on $10 installment payments over any period of time that’s comfortable for your current budget. The entry barrier is dedication. You are not going to yield any benefit from this course if you are not prepared to put in an intense amount of work on par with a graduate level independent study course.
Although there are no “hidden costs” involved, if you want to make the most out of this course and reap the biggest bang for your buck, I strongly recommend that you follow my suggestion and print everything out to bind or assemble into binders. If you send the files to a third-party professional printer, then it could cost about $20 USD plus whatever shipping fees are involved to spiral-coil-bound the Workbook. Considering the sheer number of pages of content, printing costs are likely to be significant, unless you have free access to a printer that is capable of taking heavy-duty print jobs.
Order Your Course Materials Now for $40
Send $40 (Forty Dollars) USD via PayPal to the e-mail address email@example.com. Yes, it’s going to say “James Zhang from Castro Valley.” That’s the Hubby.
You can also use the following link to pay by credit card:
Send $50 (Fifty Dollars) USD via PayPal to the e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org PLUS e-mail me at that same address with your (a) date of birth, (b) time of birth, and (c) location of birth (city, state/province, country)
You can also use the following link to pay by credit card:
I’m totally cool with installment payments. Send $10 or $20 or whatever and just let me know you’re on the installment payment plan. We’ll make note of it in our records and it’s all good. Pay when you can, in the installments that you can, until it totals $40 (or $50, if you’re going for the add-on of custom charts).
VERY IMPORTANT! When you send payment, please include:
Your name or a name identifier for me to reference you by, (~and~)
Your e-mail address, so I know where to send your ordered course materials to.
You will then receive a confirmation email response from me acknowledging the order and confirming delivery date. If you don’t receive a confirmation email within 2 business days of your payment, then please contact me at the below email address asap.
But if any of that sounds confusing or you just don’t know, no worries. Email me at email@example.com to let me know you want to place an order. We’ll take it from there together.
Optional Certificate of Completion
If you’d like me to certify that you have completed the course, there are a few guidelines, which will be provided to you when you enroll, and then I’ll be happy to provide a Certificate of Completion for the hours you’ve dedicated to the course. A sample certificate below.
The Tarot Activity Book by Andy Matzner was first published in 2013 but has recently resurfaced in a surge of popularity. I speculate that it might be attributed to the recent rise in interest for the intersection of tarot and psychology and use of tarot in life coaching. That particular facet of tarot practice is on trend right now, so perhaps that’s why there’s this collective revisit of Matzner’s treasure trove of a book.
Matzner is a psychotherapist, licensed clinical social worker, life coach, adjunct professor, and published author. His other works include Male Bodies, Women’s Souls: Personal Narratives of Thailand’s Transgendered Youth and The Buddha Diet: A Guide for Creating a Positive Relationship with Food and Eating. You can read Matzner’s full biography and background here.
By the way, I also came across the podcast interview of Matzner on psychology, self-care, and the tarot. The theme of the podcast is centered on the intersection of tarot and psychology. You can listen to it here, on The Hermit’s Lamp podcast.
The Tarot Activity Book is an indispensable resource to be included on any tarot enthusiast’s bookshelf and I maintain this stance for several reasons. The prompts in the book help you to build relationships, not just a relationship with yourself, relationship with others if you work through the exercises collaboratively in a group setting, but also your relationship with any particular tarot deck.
One of my favorite uses for this book is to follow a handful of the exercises with a newly acquired tarot (or even oracle) deck that I want to connect with better. Although maybe not shadow work per se, many of these prompts are incredible for personal reflection and rumination, so they’re great to incorporate into your private journaling, especially if you’re trying to wrap your head space around a particular situation.
I’m going to walk you through an easy beginner’s methodology for I Ching and tarot divination. We’ll be doing a simple one card tarot draw plus casting I Ching hexagrams by the coin toss method. So in addition to the instructions here for the I Ching divination, I’m presuming you have a tarot deck and know how to operate one. If not, no worries. This doesn’t need to be I Ching and tarot. It can just be I Ching! 🙂
I use traditional coins for my personal practice, but we won’t be needing those today. Any three coins of the same value in your change purse will do. Go find three pennies, or three nickels, or three quarters–whatever pleases you. And give them a good wash.
Here I’m using disinfectant soap and water. Dry them thoroughly. You can use a towel. Anything. Just be practical.
Going Beyond the Little White Book: A Contemporary Guide to Tarot was published in 2016 and is one of the best and most readable Tarot 101 books I’ve come across. It’s the book I’d give my sister, along with a tarot deck, if she asked me for a book that will teach her tarot.
(True story: Actually I gave my sister a copy of my own book, Holistic Tarot, but she never touched it and now it collects dust. When I called her out on that, she defended herself by saying she just wanted to know what the Three of Cups means when she pulls it for a question about a guy she’s dating and she isn’t out to earn an advanced doctorate degree in tarot or become the next great tarot master. Ergo, a more palatable and practical guide to the tarot is needed, such as Going Beyond the Little White Book.)
Going Beyond the Little White Book is by Liz Worth, a Toronto-based author, tarot reader, and astrologer. She’s also published previous works of nonfiction (specifically on the Toronto 1970s punk scene), fiction, and poetry. Worth brings that command of language to explaining how to read tarot. It’s incredible. She’s such an incredible writer and it’s a treat to have someone like her teach tarot in a comprehensive, meaty, yet easy-to-read, user-friendly manual.
The deck pictured in these photographs is the 2014 version produced by Devera Publishing. It comes in a beautiful full-lid lift top glossy box of high quality and the cardstock quality is great. Love that the accompanying guidebook fits inside the box and contains a wealth of tarot card meaning insights, many that would add to your compendium of tarot knowledge. The guidebook here is not just a rehash of the same old card meanings. There is a lot here specific to the symbolism on the deck and how that symbolism and manifestation exemplifies the traditional card meaning.
In a social justice law course I took back in my law school days, the professor went around the room on the first day of class and asked each one of us to offer what we think brings about social change in this world. A classroom populated by, um, well, white folks, offered thought bubbles like grassroots mobilization, advocacy, charismatic leadership, lobbying, equal access to justice, public policy, etc. Funny, I was thinking about it from a different perspective.
When it was my turn, I said, “Pain.”
Pain is not only the impetus for social change, but it is the impetus to greatness. Profound feelings of marginalization lead to zealous advocacy on behalf of others. Even when your pain looks different from my pain, the common emotional denominator between our pains is the same, and through that common emotional denominator, you and I can connect, create an incredible, powerful fusion, and together, through collectivism, become the impetus for social change and for mutual greatness.
A friend gifted me with the Pagan Otherworlds Tarot and Guidebook, believing I’d love this deck, and boy was she right! This deck is currently the darling of the tarot community. Everyone is just fawning over and crushing on it.
Let’s start with the Guidebook, Tarot: Notes From the Pagan Otherworlds. It’s perfect bound, a beautiful compact square size, and features the Page of Cups.
I’m so thrilled to have the companion guidebook. It does an incredible job explaining the deck creators’ rationale for depicting the various cards as they have done, e.g., in this deck, the Nine of Swords is the card of transformation, so on it is depicted a swan, symbolic of the struggle this deck’s Nine of Swords represents–the struggle of coming into your own. This deck’s Nine of Swords is one of the most exquisite Nine of Swords I’ve come across.
The deck and guidebook together would be an incredible gift and starter tarot kit for someone just learning tarot. However, the deck is a bit of a mix between the Rider-Waite-Smith structure, placing The Fool first, Key 8 being Strength, and Key 11 being Justice, as you’ll see in subsequent photos in this review, but features unillustrated pips (meaning no narrative imagery on the pip cards), reminiscent of Tarot de Marseille.
When you’ve dedicated yourself to the study of craft, you’re going to want to start your own written record of the path. It is the most natural thing and the concept of keeping a grimoire, book of shadows, or book of methods is found across all of the cultures of magical traditions, East to West. Now it’s your turn to feel that pull. You’ve got your big, beautiful blank book ready to go. Where do you start? How do you start?
By its nature, a private journal means no one can tell you what to do. Yet some of us just want tangible insights for inspiration, so that’s what this is. I’m most certainly not trying to tell you how to keep your own private journal. My own grimoire does not come close to following the instructions I am about to give.
Yet the other day, I was thumbing through a rather incredible tome, quite esoteric in nature for sure, and that tome offered some of the most brilliant insights into grimoire organization that I have ever come across. So I shall share that text with you today.
That’s right. It’s The Professional Chef by The Culinary Institute of America.
Okay, it’s a cooking book. But I swear if you went through this thing you’d agree it’s esoteric as hell. Who knew broth making and a roux could be so complicated. I digress. And I’m serious. This book provides incredible insights into how you might consider organizing and creating your grimoire.