Tarot for Self Discovery by Nina Lee Braden    
Review by Diane Wilkes

If you would like to purchase this book, click here.

As a long-time fan of Nina Lee Braden from her days as a tarot moderator on Genie™, it gives me great pleasure to introduce the few people out there still unaware of her work to Tarot for Self Discovery, her excellent new book. 

It is hard for authors to find something new to say about the tarot, but Nina Lee has done it with this collection of exercises designed for...self-discovery. If your interest in tarot is primarily divinatory, this might not be the book for you, but if you are interested in using the cards to learn about yourself or proactively devising solutions to issues in your life, Nina Lee's book offers a myriad of guided tarot activities that will help you to do just that.

After a short section on explaining the exercises and how best to work them, Braden launches right into them. Titles are sometimes self-explanatory (Who am I?, Tell Me a Story, Jump Start), and range from "Easy"  (which require little to no background in tarot and tend to be light-hearted) to "Intermediate" (which tend to be more intense and complex). Many of these exercises could be completed by individuals with minimal to no tarot experience, however.

Tarot for Self-Discovery also contains a section of exercises for special occasions and situations, though several of these seem to be rather universal (there are exercises for bone-weariness, prosperity and abundance issues, and procrastination, for example--and these things apply to my life more often than not, but perhaps this is more of a statement about me than the section!).

Braden provides several examples of these exercises being worked by herself and others, which is helpful on a modeling level, but also serve as a paradigm of the growth potential inherent in these tarot activities. 

Nina Lee knows that the greatest gift an instructor can bestow is in teaching students to do for themselves, and so she ends this slender book with directions on devising self-discovery exercises for yourself. This, in conjunction with the omnipresent commandment to take even a small concrete step towards the goal(s) you discover you have in doing these exercises, moves this book from the possibility of new age navel-gazing into a truly practical self-help book.

The book also contains three appendices: an introduction to chakras, a brief description of the Golden Dawn, and  a "Crash Course in Astrology," numbering six pages.

The introduction is written by Mary K. Greer, whose Tarot for Your Self is this book's spiritual godmother. Because of the potential for real growth that working these exercises present, Tarot for Self-Discovery is worthy of its progenitor.

I have worked many of these exercises, and have always learned something about myself or discovered I had answers within to issues that perplexed me on a conscious level. The only thing Nina Lee could do to enhance the book is to perform the concrete steps I've devised as a response to the exercises for me.   

Just kidding (mostly), but I highly recommend this book for those who are looking for ways to merge the tarot with self-help/self-discovery exercises.

If you would like to purchase this book, click here.

Excerpt:

Prosperity and Abundance

This exercise was adapted from a technique that I learned from Mary Greer called "Look at a Card." It is one of the most popular of the exercises I have written. I don't know if it is because prosperity and abundance are issues that so many people are preoccupied with.

Go through your deck, faceup, and choose a card which seems to you to represent prosperity, wealth, abundance, or plenty. You may choose to limit your search to just the Major Arcana or just the Pentacles, or to the Majors and to Pentacles. You may use the whole deck.

Name your deck and name your card in your Tarot journal. Look at the card. Describe briefly what you see on the card--images, symbols, objects. Look at the card again. Describe briefly how you feel when you look at the card. Do not try to read or interpret the card.

Look at the card again. What about the card specifically makes you think of plenty, prosperity, abundance, and wealth? Is there something unspecific about the card which also makes you think or feel this way? Some subtle impression of some kind of wealth? If so, what is it?

Make up a brief story about the card, something that could humorously appear in any finance periodical. For example, for the Three of Wands in the Robin Wood deck, you could say, "Entrepreneur expands fleet, sends out new ships to the Far East. Expected yield is risky but if he pulls it off, he'll quadruple his net wealth. When interviewed, Lord Flame said, "I felt that the timing was right, felt that I had to follow my dream, had to act upon my instincts. In the past, I've prospered by listening to my inner voice, so I'm not going to stop now."

Retell the story, only this time, with yourself as the central person in the story. Read the second version of the story carefully. What message does it give you about your attitudes towards prosperity? What ideas does it give you about improving your prosperity?

How can you improve your prosperity by using your Tarot card as a role model? Think of a concrete step that you can take within the next forty-eight hours, using your prosperity and abundance Tarot model. Tell us this step and resolve to do it.

Text © 2002 Llewellyn Worldwide
Review © 2002 Diane Wilkes