Book Review: Going Beyond the Little White Book by Liz Worth

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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.)

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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.

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Beginner Learning and Teaching of Tarot: A Socratic Method

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I often get asked how I would teach tarot to a beginner, what Lesson 1 would be, and also how to learn tarot if you are a beginner with no past exposure to tarot.

Recently I had an encounter where I gave my version of Lesson 1 of beginner tarot and I’ve been granted permission to share a transcript of it. Of course, this is paraphrased, but my memory for details is pretty good. I dare say this is a pretty accurate representation of the conversation and discourse that took place. I taught by the Socratic Method, though I wonder if she realized that.

The cards drawn and as identified are the actual cards from the Lesson 1 reading experience. For those who are more familiar with tarot techniques, basically what I did was first have her select her significator card, perform the Opening of the Four Worlds from the First Operation of the Opening of the Key, and then from the card pile she found her significator, draw three cards at random and perform a three-card past, present, and future reading.

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If you’re at all curious how I might teach Lesson 1 of Beginner Tarot, here it is, as a downloadable PDF.

Download “Beginner Learning and Teaching of Tarot: A Socratic Method” (PDF)

Coming Soon: An RWS Keywords and Reversals Deck from U.S. Games

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Sometimes happenings confirm to me that prayers are answered and the universe is looking out for me. A little while ago, I put together a Rider-Waite-Smith keywords and reversals deck, three versions, (original blog post here) and granted all files out to the public domain and made it available to everyone for free download.

It included a Read-Me document that explained exactly how you could fully customize the deck files for yourself, from selecting your own card back design while still giving you dozens of free card back design options, and even how to edit and change the keywords to reflect ones you like. I also explained that folks could do as they will with the digital files I made.

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While I received many thanks and good wishes, I received an even greater torrent of messages from people kind of expecting free customer service to go along with the free deck files. It was nuts and utterly outweighed and outnumbered the thank yous.

What do I do? If I ignore them and don’t answer their messages, I’d feel like a terrible snob. If I answer all of them one by one, I would not have time for anything else in my regular life. People were asking the whole range of questions, from questions that were already answered in the Read-Me document to questions about the keywords and how they would have opted for this and that keywords instead of the ones I picked or they would ask me to provide a rationale and explain why I chose the keywords I chose. I got questions asking what I thought were the best ways to use the deck, or where to print them, how to print them, logistics, how to design a card back, which card back design was my favorite… Wow. Really? I was inundated with people wanting me to hand-hold them.

I went to sleep one night thinking that cliché thought of “gee, no good deed goes unpunished.” I hate dealing with sales and customer service and by giving the deck files out for free, I had opened up an unforeseen can of worms. I had figured folks would understand they’re on their own. I guess not. Suddenly, I was being treated like a deck creator even though I am not one, don’t identify as one, and don’t want to be one.

And yet I really liked the idea of the keywords and cut-splice card images for reading reversals. I wanted it to be made available to the public but– admittedly– I didn’t want to deal with the public…

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Waite-Smith Tarot Keywords Study Deck

10/06/2016 Update: I have exciting news to announce soon enough! For the time being, I’ve de-activated the zip file download link in anticipation of the cool news to come! All my love.

10/08/2016 Update: Read about the exciting announcement of a new deck to be released here.

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I don’t know how you feel, but I really like how this deck looks.

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And the card backs. I love the card backs. Oh, wait you probably can’t see it that well in the above pic. Here you go.

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Two versions. Two different card back designs. Two different sizes. I like the big one better. That’s the black one above on the left, at 3.5″ x 5.75″.

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This is the second version. Can you spot the difference? One has astrological/elemental correspondences in the top corners and this one above does not. There is a third version, too, but we’ll get to that.

September 20. That morning I pulled the Ace of Wands from the Tarot of the Holy Light and thought it pertained to this book I’m working on at the moment. So to heed the divinatory message, I was outlining and note-taking for the manuscript. For some reason (won’t talk about it now) I needed to look up card images from the Grand Etteilla. Then a bunch of loose ends connected with each other in my head. Now I wonder if maybe the Ace of Wands had nothing to do with that book I was/am working on and instead has to do with this, what this post is going to be all about.

Card I pulled that morning, as posted on my Instagram. From the Tarot of the Holy Light.
Card I pulled that morning. From the Tarot of the Holy Light.

A few days prior I had a conversation with a friend who was lamenting about how she wanted to learn to read tarot with reversals but she found the upside down images visually distracting, so much to the point that she couldn’t get over it. I then thought about how the card layout of the Grand Etteilla would work quite well for someone like her, if the larger box featured the card image upright and the smaller box had it going in the opposite direction.

Let me explain.

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