A Kaleidoscope of Day Dreams: A Spiritual Journey Through the TAROT by Amber McCarroll; Illustrated by Veronica Pignatta
Review by Diane Wilkes

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

This quirky little book first came to my attention a year or so ago through Michele Jackson, who gifted me with it. It's yet another tarot journal, despite its fancy name, but it does include 22 unique tarot card images by the book's illustrator, Veronica Pignatta. They are a bit like something Brian Froud or Edward Gorey might have created while still in grade school--not particularly refined, but charmingly bizarre and magickal.

This 112-page book is described on the back flap as "a personal workshop for your journey within." I would add that it is a quite personal, but not particularly guided journey, as the author clearly believes that verbal minimalism is the soul of such a journey. Each of the Majors is briefly addressed in the Introduction, then given its own section that includes one of Pignatta's images (as conceived by the author), two poems by McCarroll (one significantly shorter than the other), a two paragraph description of the card, and an "aromatherapy suggestion." There is also a space on the back of the card image for some notes by the reader taking this "journey within."  The author offers some suggestions for journaling, but nothing extensive or dramatically different from others who have gone before her.

McCarroll is of the belief that working with the tarot images can help us "reclaim our disowned selves" from  dysfunctional family influences and distorted media manipulation. Her card descriptions give us a clue as to her own family influences and perceptions of the media. She suggests in the introduction that we can understand our mothers and fathers through meditations on the Empress and Emperor respectively--and the first stanza of the first poem for the Empress is "The volcano of your hot tongue/Can bury a city alive/Yet the gentleness after your storm/Makes us glad that we survived." Nice Mom, huh? The Emperor card shows him physically silencing a lamb and the short poem is as follows: His cage clothes him in security/Afraid of his own great worth/He builds his tributes with stones/While like G-d, the children wait for love. Ouch! Clearly, McCarroll did a little family therapy of her own with her work with the tarot.  

McCarroll's opinion of advertising and "the media" is akin to Carrie Nation's regarding alcohol. Even if one agrees with the author, words like "The media...needs to consider its impact and must use the power it possesses wisely, so it can help to heal" seem hopelessly simplistic and naїve. In a book as short and to-the-point as this one, these kind of comments take on the weight of a diatribe. The reader would be better served by more information about the tarot and less of the author's personal and political opinions.

The book's illustrations are its finest gift to the owner. They are striking and whimsical, cute, but never cuddly, and often thought-provoking. The Fool balances himself on an egg, and his "coat of many colors" evokes the Dolly Parton song of the same name. The lantern that guides the Hermit wears the face of a harvest moon. Death shows that there are even forces behind the forces that we cannot see, allowing us to embrace transformation as we do the dance of life. Interestingly, the illustrator (Veronica Pignatta) is best known for her work as a ceramic artist.

The essential oils matched to the individual cards are unique and don't always make sense to me in terms of their characteristics. They are not based on traditional magical attributions at all. Juniper, long associated with the Sun and Leo, is the "aromatherapy suggestion" for Death. Strength (numbered XI) on the other hand, is assigned Clary Sage (which is a dream-inducing soporofic), Cypress and Lemongrass and the Sun's scents are the very feminine Rose (!) and the earthy Benzoin. (Interestingly, in one of McCarroll's poems for Death, she talks about reaching "the sun." Intentional or synchronous? I vote for synchronicity. You be the judge.).

Despite the aforementioned minor quibbles I have with this book, I'd rate it as nice-to-own-but-hardly-essential". The author has an interesting mind and offers the potential reader a pleasant book with which to journal . I am not sure I would call it a workshop--that term is a bit grandiose for the contents of this rather slight book. A Kaleidoscope of Day Dreams is, sadly, out-of-print. Amazon does offer a few used copies of it, with prices ranging from the reasonable to the absurd. How apropos!

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

A Kaleidoscope of Day Dreams: A Spiritual Journey Through the TAROT by Amber McCarroll; Illustrated by Veronica Pignatta
Publisher: JJ Publishing
ISBN#: 0966776798


Death. The sands of time represent Alpha and Omega. The scorpion represents divine magic, the triumph of life over death. The full circle of the Fool's symbol encompasses the birth, life, and death imagery that is joined together by fine strings. Who makes the choices of life and death: do we decide or does fate dictate?

As emotional power is mastered, and we replace our fears with faith and trust, the scorpion will rise up and become an Eagle, inspired by the transformation to soar to heights undreamed of.

Aromatherapy suggestion: Juniper, 2 drops (neat) on hands. Rub in palms and wrists, inhale from hands.

If the butterfly only lives for a day
And can make it enough
The time we have to metamorphose
Should allow us to reach the sun.

Excerpt 1998 JJ Publishing
Review and page 2004 Diane Wilkes