Tarot Celebrations: Honoring the Inner Voice by Geraldine Amaral and Nancy Brady Cunningham  Review by Mary Jane Bolle

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Tarot Celebrations: Honoring the Inner Voice by Geraldine Amaral and Nancy Brady Cunningham is the type of book I scoured bookstores and libraries for (unsuccessfully) in the early 1990's, when I was first learning tarot. I wanted a manual that could feed my heart, soul, and mind all at once. When I picked up a copy of Tarot Celebrations at Geraldine's book signing, I realized I had finally found the volume of my imagination.

Tarot, for those not familiar, can be described as an ancient, sophisticated tool for tracking the soul on it journey through life somewhat akin to a modern-day satellite navigation system. When shuffled and dealt into a "spread," Tarot's 78 cards, containing symbols imbedded in pictures, function as a screen, telling where you are, what is around you, and where you are headed. Twenty-two "Major Arcana" cards ("arcana" means "secret") offer a long-range view; 56 "Minor Arcana" cards describe more immediate circumstances.

The challenge in tarot is learning how to interpret the symbols initially, and then using them as jumping-off points to access internal wisdom and the "collective" unconscious" beyond. Most manuals teach tarot by encouraging students to memorize the meaning of the cards. Tarot Celebrations sidesteps memorization and aims to satisfy the soul with a deeper level of understanding by including rituals for experiencing each of the 22 Major Arcana. Reinforcing the concepts are quotes from more than 65 of history's great thinkers, ranging from Heraclitus to Maya Angelou and Joseph Campbell to Miss Piggy.

Most manuals teach tarot by assuming two or more players. Tarot Celebrations serves the heart because it is more pragmatic. It includes along with group techniques, devices that can be used alone to cope with life's large and small dramas. These include such medicines and salves as: the tarot journal, a daily card, personal spreads, meditation techniques and psychological insights.

Tarot Celebrations, unlike many other guides, stimulates the intellect because it explores ideas and offers explanation. The authors weave into their lessons theories of Swiss psychologist Carl Jung about how the unconscious functions. Jung's theories suggest that non-threatening symbols imbedded in the tarot pictures on the cards can coax old patterns, fears, and shadow-side traits form deeper parts of the mind, giving us the opportunity to gently face and heal these parts of ourselves.

Finally, for skeptics who need to know why a tarot reading is often uncannily accurate as both a mirror and an oracle, the book offers an hypothesis: As we touch and shuffle the deck, our energy field organizes the cards into patterns that reflect back our particular situation. If we draw at random, these same energy patterns, cause us to be attracted to a particular card or its symbols, as in a Rorschach ink blot exercise.

Because it addresses some of our deeper human needs, is thoroughly researched, and is impeccably written and edited, Tarot Celebrations could become a seminal work in its field. I recommend it especially for anyone wanting an accelerated course in learning tarot.

Tarot Celebrations: Honoring the Inner Voice
Geraldine Amaral and Nancy Brady Cunningham
Publisher:  Samuel Weiser
ISBN#: 1578630142

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