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Textbook of the Tarot by Janet Berres 
Review by Michele Jackson

This book is a straightforward, easy to understand book for the Rider Waite (Waite-Smith) Tarot deck. The author states that it is "...meant as a jumping off point for you to question, analyze and develop your own system that works for you." The book begins with an introduction to Tarot cards. The history is slightly off (it is now thought that playing cards predate Tarot and the Fool probably did not become the Joker), but Berres refers you to some excellent books on the history of Tarot for further information. She also sets straight some common misconceptions about the cards, such as wrapping them in silk or that you have to be psychic to read the cards. Berres has a common sense, practical approach to card reading that is refreshing.

The section  on the Major Arcana shows a full-sized black and white image of the card from the Waite-Smith deck. The corresponding planet is given, along with a few key words. This is followed by a more detailed explanation of the card's meaning. The meanings given are based on the traditional, but we also get glimmers of Berres' personal interpretations (The Tower as migraine headaches). Some cards are described in combinations with others for a more detailed meaning. For example, Berres states that when the Lovers is "Next to the Moon card or 5 or 7 of Swords, a secret love affair is indicated. Near a work card (3 of Pentacles or 8 of Pentacles or in the #6 position of the Horoscope Wheel Spread) a love affair with a co-worker is very possible." The section on the Minor Arcana begins with some general information on the suits, the court cards and the Aces. Each Minor Arcana card is treated in the same manner as the Majors except there are no astrological correspondences or keywords given. The descriptions of the court cards are rather short, providing a brief description of the physical characteristics of the card and a short description of temperament.  Again, always practical, Berres recommends you use the current hair color whether natural or out of the bottle. There are no meanings given for reversed cards.

The last section contains several spreads and some miscellaneous information. There are six spreads, including the Celtic Cross, The Astrology Wheel Spread, The Health Spread, The Tree of Life Spread, The Pyramid Spread, and The Three Months Spread. Berres provides some information about what type of situations each spread is useful for, along with some specific advice on interpreting the spreads, such as how to interpret time in the Celtic Cross. The spreads are followed by sections on numbers, colors and symbols in relation to the cards. There is also information on creating and keeping a Tarot Journal, and some final comments.

I recommend this book for just about anyone who reads the cards. Beginners will appreciate the book's brevity. It is 106 pages long and can be comfortably read in an afternoon. More experienced readers will probably find Berres practical advice both refreshing and useful.


VIII of Swords

In the 8 of Swords card, a woman tied in ropes is surrounded by eight swords; the swords do not completely encircle her, nor are the ropes tight.

When this card comes up you are feeling trapped in a situation, whether in reality you are or not. There are restrictions through a person or an idea and the responsibilities can lay heavy. The querent has to remember that the reflective period this card brings can be most liberating - the looking inward unites the conscious and subconscious mind.

Healthwise, this is a good card to lose weight with, or to go on a restricted diet. It can also mean having tests done in a hospital or an overnight stay in one. Near the legal card (Justice) this card could mean having legal restrictions on you. Most times, whatever these restrictions are, they are self imposed and can be changed through one's own efforts.

Textbook of the Tarot pg. 61

Textbook of the Tarot
Author: Janet Berres
ISBN #: 0966063406

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

Review Copyright 1997 Michele Jackson
Page Copyright 2000 Diane Wilkes