Llewellyn’s 2018 Tarot Calendar

Llewellyn has just come out with its Tarot Calendar for 2018 and it is a thing of majesty. Tarot nerds, enthusiasts, and aficionados: rejoice! This is your monthly calendar that you’re going to want hung up on your wall at home or in your reading space. It’s simply marvelous.

The calendar features cards from so many tempting decks that just gives the calendar such magic. It’s vibrant, well-produced, and after 2018 has gone and passed, you’ll want to hold on to your calendar for memory’s sake.

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Book Review: The Fortune Teller by Gwendolyn Womack

Gwendolyn Womack’s The Fortune Teller, which was released earlier last week (June, 2017), is one of my favorite novels to make reference to tarot. It is the story of a woman who unlocks her heritage as a seer, tracing her roots back to ancient Alexandria, and in doing so, reveals the origins of the tarot.

We follow the characters across many continents, countries, time periods, and delightfully, historic figures and fictional interact. Tarot enthusiasts of all stripes will enjoy this novel and I highly recommend that you add it to your summer reading list.

Spoiler Alert: In this review I’ll highlight the key features of the novel and what I loved about it, though in doing so, may give away a couple of spoilers. I promise it won’t take away from the ending or the enjoyment of reading this book for yourself.

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Kitchen Table Tarot by Melissa Cynova

Deck Pictured: Triple Goddess Tarot (Lo Scarabeo)

Imagine a written book that captures the spirit and the style of your best friend, who happens to be a psychic and damn good tarot reader, agreeing to sit down with you at your kitchen table to teach you tarot. That best friend is straight with you, cuts to the chase with no meandering explanatory treatise, and is both encouraging and entertaining.

That’s Kitchen Table Tarot by Melissa Cynova. The book is 288 pages, portable, a book you’ll want to take with you on the go, and forecasted to be Llewellyn Publications’ next big star.

I love the content organization. Cynova presumes you don’t know the top of the deck from the bottom and starts there, guiding you every step of the way. Right from the beginning she addresses many of the common misconceptions and answers the frequently asked questions that tarot novices have.

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Book Review: The Ultimate Guide to Tarot Card Meanings by Brigit Esselmont

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.

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Review of The Tarot Activity Book by Andy Matzner

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Book Review of Shamanic Astrology by Lucy Harmer

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When I cracked open the front cover of this book, I didn’t even know what shamanic astrology was. I didn’t even know spirit animal signs were a thing. So that’s where I’m coming from as a book reviewer– not a place of knowledge or expertise, but the place of a beginner and how this book might serve the beginner.

Shamanic Astrology: Understanding Your Spirit Animal Sign by Lucy Harmer (North Atlantic Books, 2009) introduces the twelve spirit animal signs of the Native American medicine wheel and how these animal signs correspond with our date of birth. Prominent public figures in the metaphysical community, such as Judy Hall (The Crystal Bible) and astrologers Derek and Julia Parker, Dr. Steven Farmer (Earth Magic and Animal Spirit Guides), Vicki Noble, creator of the Motherpeace Tarot, and so many more have thrown their positive weight toward Shamanic Astrology to give their endorsements.

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The book is delightfully comprehensive. An introductory chapter acquaints you with shamanic astrology, the medicine wheel, and both the solar and lunar cycles. Then Harmer dives into the background of how spirit animals are interpreted, i.e., seasons, cycles, winds and directions, elements and clans, metaphysical correspondences, life paths, etc. Each of the twelve animal signs are covered, starting with a profile chart, description of personality, key metaphysical correspondences and influences, and then general insights into that sign’s luck– career, money, health, and then love. In the love section, compatibility with the other animal signs is provided. Shamanic Astrology closes with advanced material on the medicine wheel and the lunar calendars.

Now let’s take a look at the twelve spirit animal signs. Later in this review, check out Table 2.10 from Shamanic Astrology, which outlines the strengths and weaknesses of the twelve spirit animals.

Table 1.1 from Shamanic Astrology. Click image for closer viewing.
Table 1.1 from Shamanic Astrology. Click image for closer viewing.

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Review of Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford

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Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition by Paul Pitchford (North Atlantic Books) is one of those reference tomes every holistic healing practitioner will want to have in the personal library. I’ll be reviewing the Third Edition published in 2002. It was first released in 1993 and since then, over 500,000 copies have been sold and no wonder.

Click image to enlarge.
Click image to enlarge.

Healing is well-organized, which is a prerequisite for any reference book. He begins where every holistic healer using traditional Chinese medicine would begin: covering Qi vitality and the binary of yin and yang, which he then expands on to cover hot/cold temperaments; interior/exterior physical conditions; and diagnosing for excess versus deficiency.

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Review of the Gaian Tarot

Gaian Tarot 01 Box Set

A deck that taps into earth consciousness like no other deck, the Gaian Tarot is the much talked about, beloved, and exceptional deck borne from the genius of artist and writer Joanna Powell Colbert.

The Gaian Tarot was initially self-published by Colbert in 2010, and then it’s popularity convinced Llewellyn to publish it in 2011, and then somehow mysteriously, it went out of print. Copies of the deck were going for outrageous prices all over the interwebs as folks clamored to get themselves a copy of this beloved deck. Now, be happy all my friends, because the Gaian Tarot is back in a new published version by Schiffer Publishing and I’ve got to say, Schiffer has done a remarkable job with Colbert’s work.

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Here’s an interesting point about this deck. At least four professional writers I am connected with use the Gaian Tarot for creative writing. One writes women’s fiction, one writes metaphysical books, one writes literary fiction (with a collection of short stories that has won prestigious book awards), and one is a bestselling author. Only one of them– that I know of– subscribes to a pagan-based spiritual path, and the only reason I mention that is to showcase the diversity and versatility of this deck. I don’t know if it was ever intentionally meant to become a “writer’s tarot deck,” but that it certainly has!

Be sure to read about Colbert’s creative process for the deck here. From what I could gather, Colbert works with mixed media. The inspiration for each Gaian Tarot card image begins with photographs– with one single photograph as the main focal point. Then a photographic collage is used for the background. Layered, the deck image is created. Then Colbert transitions into working by hand. The photographic collage becomes a line drawing and colored pencil sketch, and the final colored pencil sketch is cleaned up digitally.

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Let’s try a reading for you. Left to right above, the cards represent Mind, Body, and Spirit respectively. However, you’re to choose only one of those three cards. Which would you like to divine upon today? About your Mind, your Body, or your Spirit? Left, center, or right-most card? Remember your selection.

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Here I’m lifting the idea of the “Mind, Body, Spirit” spread from the accompanying guidebook comes with instructions for three-card readings.

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A Year in the Wildwood by Alison Cross

A Year in the Wildwood by Alison Cross (Book Cover Image)

This is my review of the book A Year in the Wildwood by Alison Cross, and this won’t be a review of the Wildwood Tarot deck, though of course I’ll make reference to the deck while I comment on the book. Cross has published a thoughtful, explorative, and detailed guide to the Wildwood Tarot deck, a favorite and popular deck among tarotists today, especially those with a pagan persuasion. The e-book came out on Amazon Kindle earlier this year, 2016, and I am lucky enough to receive a copy for review.

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Throughout this post, please feel free to click on the screenshot images of the e-book for an enlarged view.

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