What Tarot Can Do For You by Barbara Moore
Review by Joan Cole

It’s rather difficult to follow Lee Bursten in reviewing this book, because I agree with him in all the points he has made about it.  Barbara Moore, the Tarot Acquisition Specialist at Llewellyn, has written a fast-paced survey of the wide variety of the possible ways of utilizing tarot.  At the same time, you could look at it as a detailed catalog of the various tarot offerings in Llewellyn’s catalog, including the Special Topics in Tarot Series.  The biggest flaw of the book is that it does not mention the many commendable books or decks that have been published by other publishers.  I run a Tarot Study Group in a local bookstore and every meeting we have new people who have almost no knowledge of tarot – I plan to recommend this book as one option for getting up to speed with lots of different things you can do with Tarot beyond divination.  I think it is a much less threatening “first book” than one that seems to demand a large commitment to learning individual card meanings before getting down to practical work.

What does the book cover?

The Tarot Deck – The structure and history of Tarot in just eight pages.

Divination – Moore discusses the Celtic Cross, three card spreads, creating your own spreads and one card readings.  She takes the reader through several sample readings to illustrate the process.  She brings up the topics of significators, reversed cards, different systems of meanings, the intuitive approach to coming up with a meaning, developing your own in-depth meanings, the reading process, and rituals you might use in the process of doing a reading.  She illustrates a very straightforward, empowerment-based approach, and the tone is confidence-building.

Problem Solving – This brief section presents examples of advice individuals can find in the cards beyond specific meanings – “tapping into the energy and power contained in the image and translating into your own life.”  It demonstrates techniques for facilitating dialogue, building a game plan, and helping yourself to see things from another person’s point of view.

Meditation – Moore briefly introduces guided and self-directed meditation and gives an example of going within a card.

Journaling – Moore describes and gives examples of a variety of tarot journaling exercises, including dream interpretation.

Magic – This chapter is a brief introduction and example of tarot spellwork.

Self-Improvement – Here is a grab bag of other techniques.  The numerology technique of finding your Life Card and Year Card is illustrated, the Fool’s Journey is briefly summarized and the Alternate Major Arcana Spread is demonstrated.

Selecting a Deck – This chapter describes some considerations in selecting a tarot deck and describes each of the available Llewellyn decks.

Appendices:  Card meanings (in six pages), a glossary, and a selected bibliography


If you can get past the favoritism shown to the Llewellyn catalogue, this is a very nice overview of the tarot scene for someone who wants to know what all the fuss is about.  It provides just enough information on any topic to get your feet wet and decide if you want to explore the topic in more depth.

Joan Cole is a stay-at-home mom and former geek.   She has been studying Tarot off and on since the early 1980's.  You can see her deck collection here.

Review © 2004 Joan Cole
Page © 2004 Diane Wilkes