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Book Review - Absolute Beginner's Guide to Tarot

Absolute Beginner's Guide to Tarot
by: Mark McElroy
ISBN 978-0789735157
9.1 x 7.1 inches, 376 pages, soft cover
Release Date: March 2006
Price $14.95 at Amazon
QUE Publishers

The Absolute Beginner Guide to Tarot
Business and Tarot expert, Mark McElroy offers a practical guide aimed to introduce newbies to the fascinating world of the Tarot. This is the perfect book for the new reader who wants to learn the tarot step by step in a practical, straight forward way. But the book is not only useful to neophytes - it also offers a keen multi-layered view of the Tarot through a practical lens: an approach that will be appreciated by even a seasoned Tarot expert.

The book begins with a realistic introduction to the history of the Tarot then leads into a very useful section on how to choose your Personal Tarot deck from the thousands that exist on the current market. He also points the way to trusted Tarot resources, by providing an overview of some popular web sites, books, forums, and courses that the serious Tarot student can check out.

His introduction to the Major and Minor Arcanas is very nicely done: simple yet insightful and laid out in an easy to scan way. Each interpretation is done in contemporary language that any teen to adult can understand. He devotes at least three pages to each of the 78 cards, including sections such as: Range of Meaning, Correspondences, Advice, Symbols and Insights, Questions to Ask, and Keywords. I especially liked the terms he used to distinguish upright and inverted cards, An upright card meaning is classified as the "Light" while the inverted meaning is the "Shadow". I also really enjoyed his Advice section for each card, which includes suggestions related to Relationships, Work, Spirituality, Personal Growth, and Fortune Telling.

For instance, his interpreted Major Arcana card, the Empress sparked advice related to Work: "Now is the time to get things done. Wrap up projects. Ask for resources. Meet deadlines. Move ahead. During this time of growth and expansion, be sure you have the skills and training you need. In the meantime, don't mistake a headlong rush for focused, verifiable progress" (p. 99).

Whereas, the same card suggested quite different advice related to Personal Growth: "Your attitudes towards women (and your insights into your own feminine qualities) are likely rooted in early experiences. How can you emulate the best female role models you've encountered? How can you transcend female influences that harm or hold you back?" (p. 101).

In the Questions to Ask section of the Empress interpretation, questions include:

"1. What would a concerned and capable mother do?
2. What can I do that would emphasize growth?
3. How can I celebrate my own sensuality and sexuality?" (p. 101).

The book is chock-full of wonderful insights like those briefly illustrated above. This is a book that should be on the shelf of any beginning or serious tarot enthusiast. It can be used with any tarot deck and will have you reading the cards like a pro in no time.


Mark holds a B.A. and M.A. in creative writing and composition from the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi. He has more than two decades of experience as a public speaker and corporate trainer. He has written, produced, and hosted classroom, video, and online training for some of America's biggest companies, including SkyTel, MCI, Office Depot, Staples, and many others. Today, he works as a writer, voice actor, and creativity consultant; samples of his work are available at www.madebymark.com/, www.tarottools.com, and www.tarotchannel.com..


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