The Instant Tarot Reader                                                                Review by Michele Jackson

If you would like to purchase the book/deck set, click here.

This deck/book set consists of the Zerner-Farber tarot deck and a hardcover book. Since you can read reviews of the Zerner-Farber deck elsewhere on my site (here and here), in this review, I will focus on the book, The Instant Tarot Reader. It is a hardcover book, which is a nice touch. The book is of a type familiar to astrologers known as a "cookbook." A cookbook saves you from having to memorize the many things you have to keep track of and interpret in an astrological chart. For example, Sun in Gemini in the11th house means something different than Sun in Gemini in the12th house. A cookbook provides specific meanings for Sun in Gemini in each of the 12 houses. This book does the same thing for tarot and the Celtic Cross Spread. It provides a separate meaning for each card in each position of the Celtic Cross Spread.  

The book begins with an index which gives the pages on which each card appears. This is followed by the introduction. The Introduction provides some background information on tarot and tells the reader that by using this book he or she does "...not have to spend months or years finding a great teacher and learning how to make practical use of the tarot's ancient truths. When you have the Instant Tarot Reader, you have your own personal expert tarot reader on call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week...You don't have to memorize anything!"   Tarot for dilettantes. The next section is titled "How to Use This Book." It describes a three-step process for using the set:

1. Select the question that is right for you 

2. Relax and repeat your question to yourself as you shuffle the deck and pick the cards

3. Look up the meaning of each card selected

The next section, "Suggested Questions to Ask Your Tarot Cards," has suggested questions and tells you which position of the Celtic Cross addresses them. For example, "If your question is What aspect of my life shall I mediate on today? Your answer is 6 - What Crowns You for the card you have chosen."   It uses the same approach for three card spreads like the Past, Present, Future Spread (Cards five, two and seven from the Celtic Cross) and the Mind, Body, Spirit Spread. This section also describes each position of the Celtic Cross spread. The next section provides meanings for each card in the deck in each position of the Celtic Cross Spread. Each card has a keyword, and the meanings expand upon the keywords. They are mostly traditional, though there are some idiosyncratic meanings thrown in as well. The theory is that the Nine of Swords in the "What Blocks You" position means something different than the Nine of Swords in the "Your Hopes and Fears" position. Frankly, I disagree. The Nine of Swords means pretty much the same thing, no matter where it appears in the spread. The book merely changes the wording of the meaning slightly to fit the position. An excerpt is provided below. You be the judge.

A good astrologer knows what Sun in Gemini means and what each house represents and is therefore able to form a meaning in each case. This is even truer in tarot. Cookbooks are popular in astrology because there are a lot of things to keep track of in a chart. Planets, signs, houses and the aspects between them all come into play. In tarot, you have only the card and its position. Then there is the biggest problem confronting readers that cookbooks do not address - synthesis. Synthesis is bringing the many elements in a chart or spread together into a cohesive whole. You can look up the Nine of Swords in any position, but the cookbook won't tell you how it relates to the Six of Cups in the next position.  Each card is described in a vacuum. That makes this book no better than any other tarot book for the beginner, in my opinion. The slight word changes resulting from the position changes could be figured out by an eight year old. You are better off buying the Enchanted Tarot Book and using your own head to apply the much more detailed meanings provided there. Another problem with books of this type is the danger of becoming book dependent. You never learn the card meanings because it is so easy just to look them up. 

The packaging is a two-piece affair with an inner box that has a well for the deck. A "Quick Read Guide" is on the back of this inner box. The outer box is a partial slip sleeve that holds the inner box and the hardcover book. You will need to obtain a bag or box for the deck, because the only way to keep the cards in the well once the shrink wrap is removed is to lay the set on its side, and once the cards get fatter from use, even that may not work. Some may think this set would be good for beginners. I disagree. If you are going to learn tarot, you are going to have to learn what the cards mean. There is no way around it. This set is better suited for those who don't want to learn tarot.  It could be used as entertainment at a slumber party, or to liven up a boring evening. No study or knowledge required. Get a quick reading, and then move on next week to Runes in Ten Minutes. The only reason I could see someone really interested in tarot using this book would be as a quick reference for the Zerner-Farber or Enchanted tarot decks, or to get a quick second opinion. Those are the folks to whom I recommend this set. Aside from its use as a quick reference, it provides little or no real advantage over the little booklet that comes with the deck, and it is a poor substitute for the much better book written for the Enchanted Tarot deck.   

If you would like to purchase the book/deck set, click here.

Excerpt
Nine of Swords
Nightmare
1 - You
You need to realize that fears, if not confronted and understood, can lead to obsession, compulsion, paranoia, or physical illness. We all have a dark side which must be acknowledged. Avoid being a martyr. Get enough sleep.
2 - What surrounds you
You are surrounded by what seems a nightmarish situation. Fears, if not confronted and understood, can lead to obsession, compulsion, paranoia, or physical illness. Protect yourself from negative forces. Get enough sleep.
3 - What blocks you
A nightmarish situation blocks progress. Fears, if not confronted and understood, can lead to obsession, compulsion, paranoia, or physical illness. Protect yourself from negative forces. Get enough sleep.
4 - Your foundation
Critical to your situation is your ability to deal with a nightmarish situation. Fears, if not confronted and understood, can lead to obsession, paranoia, compulsion, or physical illness. Protect yourself from negative forces. 
5 - What is behind you
Past fears, obsessions, and compulsions are affecting the present situation. If they were confronted and understood, they will now manifest as bad memories, anxiety and nightmares. if not take action to do so today.
6 - What crowns you
It would be good to deal with fear, obsession and nightmares. As you go to sleep, visualize yourself safe in the arms of the one who loves you most. Ask how to deal with your problem. You will be answered.
7 - What is before you
You may soon encounter, in yourself or another, a situation where fears must be confronted and understood or turn into obsession, compulsion, paranoia or physical illness. Avoid becoming a martyr. Get enough sleep.
8 - Your persona
Present yourself as in the grip of a nightmarish situation. Show you are in the process of confronting it and all fears so as to avoid being a martyr to obsession, compulsion, paranoia or physical illness. Get enough sleep.
9 - How others see you
Others see you in the grip of a nightmarish situation. Many see you as confronting it and all fears so as to avoid becoming a martyr to obsession, compulsion, paranoia or physical illness. Others fear to be with you.
10 - Your hopes and fears
You hope you can deal with obsession, compulsion, paranoia or physical illness without becoming a martyr to them, but fear you may not be able to. Your dark side is a part of you. Accept it. You may fear being afraid. Learn how to deal with panic attacks.
11 - The outcome
You may encounter, in yourself or another, a situation where fears must be confronted and understood or they will turn into obsession, compulsion, paranoia or physical illness. Avoid becoming a martyr. Get enough sleep.
The Instant Tarot Reader
Author/Creator: Amy Zerner and Monte Farber
ISBN: 0-312-19981-8
Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Text Copyright 1997 Monte Farber



This page is Copyright 2000 by Michele Jackson