The Tarot Spellcaster by Terry Donaldson                                              Review by Michele Jackson

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

Having been out of the country for about six months, I was pleasantly surprised at the number of new tarot decks and books that had been published in my absence. I could not buy them all, but I did pick up a few. One of the prettier ones I bought was The Tarot Spellcaster. This hard-cover book is one of what is turning into a class of books on metaphysical subjects done in the U.K., with beautiful layouts and photography. 

The book seems to be aimed at beginners with little or no experience working with magic. It begins with a brief history of the cards that replays the refuted  theories of the great library of Alexandria and the Gypsies.  Donaldson does follow up those theories with verified facts, but even mentioning those theories when he most likely knows better indicates to me that Donaldson has aimed this book at the casual reader. A short description of magic follows, with a brief discussion of ethics.
Preparations for magical work is next with recommendations on appropriate clothing, tools and setting up an altar. A candle dressing method is described, as well as a method for consecrating your tarot deck with oil. The book is designed to be used with any deck. 

The next section is called a "Spellfinder." It is a chart broken down into categories with appropriate spells listed under each. The Categories are:

Health and Happiness Success Problems
New Horizons Protection Love
Hidden Knowledge Self-Development Wealth

Each category is further broken down into subcategories. For example "Self-Development" is divided into Self-Esteem, Creativity, Insight, and Positive Characteristics. Most spells appear in more than one category as they are multipurpose. 

The book has 41 spells. There is a spell for each of the Major Arcana and 19 combination spells that use from three to nine cards. Most of the Major Arcana spells are used for what you would expect from knowing the meaning of the card. The Empress Spell has as its Magical Intention: To ease the heart of sadness, regrets, and disillusionment; to create complimentary energies for becoming pregnant; to feel young and revitalized; to ignite the flame of personal creativity; to receive an abundance of love. The Death Spell has as its Magical Intention: To clear away negative and unwanted influences, people and conditions; to set yourself free from old restraints so you can move onto new things; to send messages of love and remembrance to the departed spirits of loved ones. There are a couple of unexpected Magical Intentions as well. In the Tower Spell, Donaldson chooses to focus on a positive view of the card. Its Magical Intention is: To establish new projects on a solid foundation; to protect financial assets; to safeguard loved ones and loving relationships; for increased health and safety; for success in martial arts and victory in battle.

The ingredients required to do the spells should be easy to acquire. You will most likely already have several of the objects in your home - knives, glasses, envelopes, and salt. Generally the spells require candles, and altar cloths of specific colors, essential oils, and an essential oil burner, and fairly common objects such as parchment and pen, coins, various colored cords, seashells, tobacco, and chocolate. Some items are a little less common, like an egg cup or a small birthday cake with candles, but all of the items should be easily obtainable in your local shopping area. Substitutions are allowed. If you wanted to work all of the spells in the book, you would need a fairly large collection of essential oils. Some, like Rose and Jasmine, are fairly expensive. Again, you can substitute another floral oil for these, but to acquire all the oils at once could set you back a bit. You would also need candles and cloths in approximately ten different colors, but you can use the cloths again and again. 

There is a diagram of the altar layout and there is a photograph of an altar as well, though yours may look different due to the objects you use. The photographs are beautiful . The altar surfaces are beautifully carved or decorated, oils are in small, pretty bottles, the cards used are from colorful decks like the Morgan-Greer, and Marseilles, or beautifully rendered decks like the Visconti-Sforza and Dragon Tarot. The lighting is perfect, the candles are lit and everything is placed just so. You would be hard-pressed to set such a mood at home. However, the beautiful layouts do spark the imagination and show you what is possible. 

The spells themselves are simple and anyone should be able to perform them, regardless of magical experience. They generally consist of setting up the altar with the objects, tools and candles placed in various directions, lighting the candle and the oil burner, reciting a brief statement and doing a brief visualization. If you had no experience working with magic, you would most likely find these spells a painless introduction to spell work. If you have experience with spells, you will probably find these useful as a starting off point, but most likely will embellish them to make them your own. The spells  are very short and generally do not explain why the colors, oils or objects were chosen, or what they are supposed to represent or do. The spells are designed for someone who is not familiar with magical correspondences and who wants step-by-step instructions. I would think not knowing why the items chosen were chosen or what they mean  would reduce the efficacy of the spell, but this book seems designed for a popular audience. It reassures the reader on the first page that "None of the spells in this book require you to believe in anything that you have not personally experienced. Nor do you have to accept the existence of the supernatural." It also mentions  Archangels, and has a description of how to invoke your Guardian Angel. This should be reassuring to those who are Christian, Jewish or Moslem. The spells draw from a variety of magical traditions - from Ceremonial Magick to Hoodoo.

There are spells for every occasion. Of course you have the usual love spells, protective spells and prosperity spells, but there are also spells for passing a driving test and for interview success. Overall I think this book will appeal to a wide range of tarot readers. Those with no magical experience will find this an easy way to get started. Those who have experience will find the beautifully photographed altar layouts and simple spell ideas a useful aid to creativity in designing your own spells and altars.


Tarot Spellcaster
Author: Terry Donaldson
Publisher: Barron's
ISBN#: 0-7641-5402-8

Page 74Excerpt:

The Moon hovers high in the night sky, and can alter how we perceive things. Everything appears different at night, and it can be difficult to see the truth of what is happening. Connected with Pisces, the Moon is linked with the subconscious, and represents intuition, imagination, and sensitivity.



  1. Plain altar surface
  2. Two dark blue candles
  3. Rosemary essential oil
  4. The Moon card
  5. Fennel leaves
  6. Fireproof surface or censer
  7. Silver coin


To uncover deceptions and get to the bottom of a mystery; to protect yourself agianst being misled; to protect you and your family against illness or psychological problems; to combat gossip and rumors; to create an attractive, mysterious presence; to attract a potential lover.


Dress both candles with oil, then place one in the east and one in the west of the altar. Light them and recite:

Here I stand, invoking the presence of the Moon. Let the mists of illusion be cleared from my mind, and let me perceive the true nature of the events about which I inquire. So mote it be.

Lay the Moon card between the candles and concentrate on it. Allow it to come to life, and see yourself in it. When you are firmly inside the image, conjure the presence of your guardian angel. Let this angel take you on a journey. Be attentive to the things you are shown. The farther you travel on this journey, the more you will benefit. When the time is right, burn the fennel leaves on a fireproof surface or in a censer. When the flames have dies down but the smoke is still rising, place the silver coin on the bed of leaves, visualizing a silvery Moon shining around you as you do so. Repeat this spell during the following tow days using all the original ingredients, but new fennel leaves. When you have finished, scatter the burned leaves on the ground outside, preferably at a crossroads. Keep the coin safe, and whenever you feel the need, you can hold the coin as an amulet to re-ignite the Moon's astral presence. When you do so it will give you a sense of mystery that others will recognize and find fascinating.

The Tarot Spellcaster, pg. 74

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

Other Tarot books by Terry Donaldson are Step-by-Step Tarot and The Dragon Tarot

Review copyright 2001 Michele Jackson

Excerpts and images copyright 2001 Quatro Inc.










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