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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An I Ching and Tarot Divination How-To– Give This a Try

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.

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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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The Tarot de St. Croix by Lisa de St. Croix

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The Tarot de St. Croix was first published in 2014, distributed by Devera Publishing, and a second edition has just come out this year, which you can now order direct from the artist and creator, here.

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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.

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Why the Suit of Swords is My Favorite

English Magic Tarot by Ryn, Doodley, and Letcher

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.

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Pagan Otherworlds Tarot by Uusi

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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A Comparative Analysis of Fortune Telling and Divination: Free Lecture

Click on image for direct link to unlisted YouTube video.
Click on image for direct link to unlisted YouTube video.

A Free Online Course Presentation

Is there any value to making a distinction between fortune telling and divination? How might Chinese perspectives compare to or inform Western perspectives? This free video (or audio) lecture will examine the etymological origins of the words for “fortune telling” and “divination” in the Chinese language, apply medieval esoteric Taoist texts to tarot reading, and propose a theoretical framework through which to read tarot, as either a fortune teller or a diviner, though the two are not mutually exclusive. We will then run a comparative analysis of that with Western perspectives and examine Western esoteric texts on the subject.

The video lecture is about 34 minutes in length. Click on the below to begin watching. Although it is in video form, you can also listen to it as an audio.

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A $15 Online Tarot Course: Tarot as a Tool for Craft

$15 USD

An expansion on the talk I presented at the Theosophical Society of the East Bay, this is a video (or audio) course that covers how a practitioner of craft might use tarot, from triggering intuitive creativity for self-empowerment, divination, and amplifying psychic ability to communion with celestial contacts, mediumship, and summonings. This is an intermediate course that presumes proficiency with tarot. Subject matter also runs into esoteric and mystical applications of the tarot, so the tone of the course might not be right for everyone.

Also, just so you are aware: the tenor and value propositions of this course goes in a diametrically different direction from Holistic Tarot.

Video Lecture Screenshot
Video Lecture Screenshot

I’m really excited about this course and I hope you are, too. If you are a practitioner of craft, whether it’s just dabbling, still finding your path, you identify as a witch, magician, diviner, medium, psychic, or shaman, I just know that this course will deepen and enhance whatever amazing mojo you’ve already got going on.

This course is not about teaching tarot. I do not teach you tarot. In fact, I pretty much assume throughout the lecture that you already know a lot about tarot. Rather, this course is about deepening and broadening your relationship with your tarot deck so that you can get more metaphysical mileage out of it.

What Holistic Tarot taught was only the first of the five pillars that are discussed in this course. This course will deconstruct the form and mechanics of using tarot for:

  1. Intuitive Creativity to achieve self-empowerment;
  2. Divination to connect to what Paul Foster Case called the Cause of Causes—the Universal Intelligent Life Energy;
  3. Psychic Readings both to amplify your innate psychic ability and to use tarot as a training tool for strengthening your psychic ability;
  4. Celestial Contacts to connect with deities, angels, ascended masters, devas, or the metaphysical force affecting physical conditions; and
  5. Netherworld Contacts and using tarot for mediumship, ancestral connections, or connecting to entities of nether-worlds and other-worlds.
Workbook Page Spread Preview
Workbook Page Spread Preview

A workbook with exercises to help you learn and master the mechanics of such tarot operations will also be provided to supplement the video lecture.

Finally, you will have the opportunity to ask questions and the most frequently asked questions will be answered in a follow-up FAQ video that will be sent to you. There may be multiple FAQ videos delivered to you by e-mail from time to time thereafter, dependent on the inquiries that come in.

Deliverables

You will receive:

  • Online private access to a video lecture [length: 1 hour 15 minutes]
  • A PDF digital file of a 49-page workbook
  • Sub-folder files of supplemental reference material
  • Access to subsequent FAQ video(s) or e-mail(s) [TBD]

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Starlight Dragon Tarot: Deck Review

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I’ve spent this past Scorpio month tinkering with the Starlight Dragon Tarot by Nora Huszka and Steph Engert, which was perfect, since I get a Scorpio vibe from this deck. Here we have a 79-card tarot deck, though you can certainly use just the traditional 78, that summons into your life the bold spirit of dragons. It is a majestic yet cerebral deck to get your favorite tarot reader this holiday season and while I would consider it a more advanced deck to work with, any artist or writer friend of yours will pull boundless inspiration from the energy of the Starlight Dragon so for sure get it on your gift list!

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I’m reminded a bit of T.A. Touchkoff’s Russian Gypsy Fortunetelling Cards (Harper San Francisco, 1992) in terms of the square format and aligning the cards along four edges to form divinatory mosaics. However, the Starlight Dragon is unique in its own right and springs to life from its magnificent coloring. You’ll detect the bold signature of Huszka’s handiwork, and yet what we get from the Starlight Dragon, especially after having worked with Huszka’s Gypsy Palace Tarot, is a declaration of this artist’s incredible versatility.

Often when you examine multiple decks from the same artist, it can get difficult to tell one deck apart from the other because the artistic point of view is the same. Here we get a touch of Huszka’s penchant for bold coloring but she has challenged herself as an artist and creator to pull out from within an entirely different visual perspective and I commend her for that. Again, it speaks volumes of the artist’s versatility.

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The card back imagery is incredible. We see what appears to be a single double-headed dragon knotted in the formation of a lemniscate, depicting the colors representative of the spirit energy from the Majors and the four elemental energies of the Minors and peeking through the lemniscate are two dragon eyes. Along the four corners you’ve got glyphs representing the four phases of the moon. Every detail of Starlight Dragon Tarot is thoughtfully executed and done so with perspicacious precision.

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Event in Sonoma: Taoist Magic and Tarot Divination

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The first hour will be a talk on Taoist cosmology, the history of Fu talismans, the 13 principles of craft as derived from the Yellow Emperor’s Classics of the Esoteric Talisman, intersections of science and magic, and how practitioners use divination to know and then craft to change.

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The second hour will be a hands-on workshop where you will use tarot divination to help you design and craft a Fu sigil, working with Chinese oracle bone script. Fu sigil paper consecrated on 11/11, cut and prepared at 11:11 am, and then consecrated at 11:11 pm will be provided for your use. You can take some home with you to craft the sigil. It is recommended that the final sigil be crafted on the day after the workshop, on the full moon.

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I’ll bring my Jiao Bei divination moon blocks and set them out on the table top for anyone who seeks to use them for a personal divination. Free for your use at any time during the event. Please handle respectfully.

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Event Downloads:

The 13 Principles of Craft (PDF)

Tarot and Fu Sigil Crafting Workshop Handout (PDF)

Zip File of Oracle Bone Script and Sigil Images

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All attendees will also go home with a consecrated and blessed pocket gemstone, with the hopes that it helps you along in all your magical endeavors.

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For more detailed metaphysical correspondences of the gemstones per my perspective, check out this previously uploaded PDF for a glossary of gemstone correspondences. Find the entry for the stone you picked (or the stone that picked you…) in the PDF if the one-two word correspondence on the yellow card wasn’t clear.

Glossary of Gemstone Correspondences (PDF)

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Limited copies of Holistic Tarot and The Tao of Craft available for purchase for $20 each.

There will also be book signings if for some reason that interests you.