Tarot 1-2-3 Video Featuring Geraldine Amaral
Review by Diane Wilkes

Despite my penchant for all things tarot, I am not one of those people who purchased Miss Cleo's video when it was being hawked on television.  My built-in BS detector (and in this case, I don't mean Bruce Springsteen) goes on all-points-alert when I see commercials involving the tarot. So, I probably wouldn't have bought this had I seen the commercial for Tarot 1-2-3, which doesn't show excerpts from the actual video.

That is a shame, because this is an ideal tarot video for beginners, especially if you take into account its length (45 minutes). Geraldine Amaral, who scripts as well as stars in the video, is a wise and practical guide. Her approach is a far cry from treating the cards as psychic flash cards. 

The video focuses primarily on the Major Arcana, which Amaral defines as addressing the "spiritual/psychological"  issues in our lives, as opposed to the Minors, which concentrate on "the soap opera of our lives." The Aces and their suit/elements are discussed in some depth, and Geraldine suggests ways to use them, in concert with the Major Arcana, for readings.

Throughout the video, Amaral stresses the power of the tarot as a tool to access our own powers. As stated above, most of the time in the video is spent on an elucidation of the 22 Majors. After numerous keywords and/or key phrases are shown on the screen for each card, Geraldine answers a specific question provided, illustrating how the card would be used in reading. Following that, she talks about "Rituals of a Tarot Reading" and gives a five-card impromptu tarot reading using a Past, Present, Future, Challenge, and Advice Card spread. At the end of the video, students who attended one of Amaral's workshops offer positive comments about Amaral and the tarot, and Geraldine herself describes the video as merely a jumpstart for future explorations, suggesting the world wide web as an additional resource.

No mention is made of Tarot Passages, but this author forgives that glaring omission because the video is so well-done and impressive. I can definitely see using this video with my beginning students, pausing when a question is posed for each card so that participants can offer their possible responses before hearing Amaral's. (Of course, I'll assure my students that different answers invalidate neither the student's answer nor Geraldine's).

My answers are often different than Geraldine's. That's not a negative reflection on either of us. Speaking of reflection, however, I find her approach to the Moon unnecessarily one-dimensional--there is no mention of psychic ability, dreamwork, darkness before the dawn, hidden depths, so that the feminine/yin qualities of the Moon are perceived as negative--as opposed to the bright masculine/yang energies of the Sun card. Others might have issues with her method of rephrasing a querent's questions (I don't, but that seems to be a new ethical quandary in tarot--to rephrase or not to rephrase).

The video does not provide a foundation for the esoteric functions of tarot--there is no mention of the Kabbalah or astrological or numerological correspondences, for example. But let's get real! This is a 45 minute video! Amaral's approach is psychologically sound and eminently practical. There's no mumbo-jumbo or abuses of psychic didacticism to be found here, and Geraldine's fluid and genuine style are underpinned by an intimacy with the tarot that can not be faked. All of the information is delivered so smoothly that you can't help but be impressed with the way she articulates complex information, making it completely accessible.

A perfect example of this is her approach to the Devil card. First, we get the keywords:

-- Enslavement or bondage by false ideals and illusions
-- Spiritual lack or depravity
-- Personification of the shadow
-- Negative/destructive life patterns
-- Uncover and heal negative belief patterns

Then Amaral addresses the question, "Is the Devil card a bad omen?" Her (non-verbatim) response is as follows:

"While the imagery initially seems intimidating, I think it's one of the best cards you can get in a reading, because it's letting you know there's an area where you're stuck, some pattern you've bought into that is harming you in some way. It asks you to examine what patterns you need to heal."

Amaral then speaks about the shadow aspects of the card and lets you know that the first step in changing those patterns is acknowledging them. "It's a card that can help you get unstuck, not by applying blame to yourself or others, but by reflecting on what is "chaining" you to habits that no longer serve you."

Her approach de-fangs the initial fear the Devil card inspires in tarot novices without removing the dark aspects this card demands be explored. While it would be nice if the playful, Pan elements of the card were also addressed, Geraldine is punctilious about avoiding digressions. She is a consummate professional, which makes this video so effective and on-point.

The video itself is also quite well-done. The special effects are simple and expressive, with nice graphics that never overwhelm the content.

I recommend this video for beginners and tarot teachers, and anyone looking for a basic introduction to tarot that emphasizes a psychological/spiritual approach.

You can purchase this video from the author for $22.95 (including shipping). Destiny Productions (who are the producers of both the video and the commercial) bundles it with the Royal Tarot, a rather ugly RWS-knock-off with simple, Marseilles-style pip cards, and offers it for $26.95 (including shipping). I'm not sure how to order it through Destiny Productions, but I'm also not sure the Royal Tarot is worth $4.00, if you already have a tarot deck. And, the odds are pretty good that you do, or you wouldn't be on Tarot Passages reading this!

Review and page 2002 Diane Wilkes