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Tarot for a New Generation

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Learning the 78 cards of the Tarot can seem intimidating and even overwhelming to the novice reader, but don't be daunted--with practice, you can read the cards yourself, and have fun reading for your friends! You don't need to call a psychic hotline or get an automated online reading to find out what the Tarot has to say about your life.

Tarot for a New Generation includes in-depth interpretations for each card and explains how different qualities of the card can manifest in ...

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Learning the 78 cards of the Tarot can seem intimidating and even overwhelming to the novice reader, but don't be daunted--with practice, you can read the cards yourself, and have fun reading for your friends! You don't need to call a psychic hotline or get an automated online reading to find out what the Tarot has to say about your life.

Tarot for a New Generation includes in-depth interpretations for each card and explains how different qualities of the card can manifest in your life or apply to various situations. For example, the Lovers card clearly signifies love and romance, but what does it mean in a reading when you've asked a question about job possibilities?

This practical guidebook contains Tarot spreads designed to answer queries about romance, school, career, health, family relationships, and more.

In addition to teaching you how to read the Tarot for prediction and advice, Tarot for a New Generation shows you how to broaden your Tarot studies and deepen your connection to your deck by using the cards in different ways. Activate the power of the cards to create your own luck and pursue your dreams through visualization exercises, Tarot spells, and special techniques for gaining advice. Let the Tarot help you probe the meaning of your experiences, and forge stronger connections with other people in your life. For high school and college students, imaginative interactions with Tarot images can aid your studies and memory, and generate inspired ideas for art and writing projects. You can even use Tarot imagery techniques to help manage learning disabilities.

Tarot for a New Generation illustrates how Tarot cards speak not in words, but in pictures composed of timeless archetypal symbols. As you set out upon your Tarot journey, let this book be your guide to strange and wonderful places you might not have otherwise discovered.

In the following excerpt, author Janina Renée describes the Thirteen Moons spread, which offers you an overview of the coming year. It is a wonderful spread to try on your birthday, on New Year's Eve, or any other special day.

Thirteen Moons Spread

Lay out thirteen cards, with the intention that each card will represent one of the year's full moons. A full moon represents the culmination or fulfillment of some matter, so you would get out your calendar, find the date of each full moon, and interpret the corresponding cards as representing things that will have materialized or influences that will be strongly felt around those particular dates. Because of the way that the thirteen moons of the year are squeezed into our twelve-month solar calendar, in most years there is one month that will contain two full moons (but it is a different month each year). The second full moon of that month is sometimes referred to as the "blue moon." Take note of which of your thirteen cards represents that blue moon, because it might have a special, magical quality to it. An additional advantage of using this spread is that it helps you become more aware of the lunar cycles.

Winner of the 2001 Coalition of Visionary Resources (COVR) Award for Best General Interest Book

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Adults/High School-If your teens are asking for Silver Ravenwolf's books, this title is certain to be the one most checked out in your games section. It provides an interpretation of the images on the traditional tarot deck more closely related to the concerns of young adults than the standard titles. Its take on the suite of coins, for example, is more likely to focus on conserving resources and preparing to make money, or on the course of a first job, than on where one may be falling on the continuum of an established career, the usual adult concern. The cards in the cups suite tend to be more cautiously optimistic than the usual deck about love and romance, and acknowledge that the primary emotional relationships in a teen's life are more likely to be with parents and siblings. Although the explanations are geared to a younger audience, they are faithful to the more traditional ones of the tarot cards, and readers who move from this book to others on the subject won't be left lost or confused.-Sheryl Fowler, Chantilly Regional Library, VA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780738701608
  • Publisher: Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.
  • Publication date: 9/1/2001
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 7.58 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Meet the Author

Janina Renée is a scholar of folklore, psychology, medical anthropology, the material culture of magic, ritual studies, history, and literature. Her books include Tarot Spells, Tarot Your Everyday Guide (winner of 2001 Coalition of Visionary Resources award for best Self Help book), Tarot for a New Generation (2002 COVR winner, best General Interest Title), and By Candlelight: Rites for Celebration, Blessing and Prayer (2005 COVR runner-up, Spirituality). Janina continues to work on multiple books, with ongoing research projects exploring the ways folk magic and medicinal techniques can apply to modern problems, including the modulation of Asperger’s Syndrome and other neuro-sensory processing problems.

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Read an Excerpt

The Tarot is a collection of picture cards that is often described as a "text." Like a book, it can be read. Yet the Tarot is a book like no other, for though it is at least five hundred years old, it is an interactive medium. You can read the Tarot in order to gain information about the past, present, and future, as well as to study its philosophy and symbolism. As you get to know the cards, you can imagine them communicating with you, relating their ancient wisdom, and also sharing some special messages, just for you. Over time, you will see a story unfolding. By responding to the cards' predictions (sometimes taking action to avoid or alter things you don't like) and using their advice to bring positive new influences into your life, you will find that you are writing yourself into a neverending story. If you start reading for other people, you will also get to see how their stories compare to your own story and how, in revealing the challenges that we share, the cards demonstrate that we are all interconnected. As you test your readings against your own life experience and against your friends' experiences, you will also discover new insights into the individual cards. In so doing, you can build upon their meanings in ways that are important to you, your times, and your culture.

The Structure of the Tarot Deck

good story consists of chapters that are full of ups and downs, surprises, and conflicts, and in the Tarot, these adventures come to life in all the different cards, with their colorful illustrations and many levels of meaning. Most Tarot card decks consist of two sections: the Major Arcana and Minor (or "lesser") Arcana. The word Arcana (which is plural) means a collection of "secrets" and refers to the hidden wisdom within each card, as well as the belief that the Tarot encapsulates the teachings of the ancient world's mystery schools. (The singular form of the word is Arcanum.)

Major Arcana consists of twenty-one numbered cards, plus the Fool card (which many Tarot philosophers have labeled "Zero"). The Major Arcana cards are sometimes referred to as the "trumps," and they comprise the main body or core of the Tarot. Over the centuries, the content of their twenty-two symbolic illustrations has become fairly standardized, though some decks have some changes or added embellishments. In the card interpretation chapters in this book, I discuss some of the differences between older and modern versions; however, you'll find that the differences in illustrations usually don't alter the cards' most basic symbols, whose fundamental meanings continue to be relevant to human experience. Tarot experts like to point out that, taken in order, these cards represent the individual's journey through life, with (0) the Fool card representing the state of starting out innocent and inexperienced, (1) the Magician emphasizing the need to make use of our personal gifts and resources, (2) the High Priestess teaching that we must open ourselves to intuition, and so on. This journey relates to the process of "individuation," which is about achieving a strong sense of your Self and your life's purpose, being able to understand the significance of your actions and your life's events, and being able to appreciate your place in the spiritual order that underlies and binds all existence.

Minor Arcana consists of fifty-six cards; it is unclear whether they developed along with the Major Arcana as part of the Tarot, or whether they started as a separate system that afterward was incorporated into the Tarot. The four suits of the Minor Arcana resemble the suits of ordinary playing cards. In addition to having cards numbered from one to ten, these Tarot suits are similar to those in ordinary decks of playing cards because they have court cards—with Kings, Queens, Knights, and Pages. In fact, fortunetelling systems have also been developed for ordinary cards, though they and the Tarot sometimes have overlapping interpretations, with the Cups corresponding to Hearts, the Wands to Diamonds, the Pentacles to Clubs, and the Swords to Spades. It is possible to read the Tarot using only the Major Arcana cards, but the Minor Arcana is useful because its cards' meanings pertain more to the experiences of everyday life. The Major and Minor Arcana work harmoniously together to demonstrate how our greater spiritual and developmental issues influence our common problems and concerns.

cards in the Minor Arcana are divided into four suits of fourteen cards each; they are often referred to as the "pip" cards. In the system that is most commonly used, these suits are designated as Wands, Swords, Cups, and Pentacles. The symbols of these suits correspond to the magical elements of the ancient alchemists, with Wands usually representing the element of Fire, Swords representing Air, Cups as Water, and Pentacles as Earth. (Note that when I discuss these suits and their elements, I capitalize them in order to distinguish them in their role as Tarot archetypes from references to ordinary cups, swords, fire, earth, and so on.) Corresponding to Earth, the Pentacles deal with material world concerns, the Cups as Water relate to emotional issues, the Swords as Air signify mental qualities and conflicts, and the Wands as Fire denote inspiration and the ways that ideas are put into action. There are a few decks that use different correspondences, such as the Shapeshifter Tarot and the The Celtic Dragon Tarot, which associate the Fire element with Swords and the Air element with Wands. Some of the other decks, especially reproductions of older decks, use different designations for the suits, with Clubs, Staves, Sceptres, Batons, or Rods used as alternative names for the Wands, while Coins or Disks may be used instead of the Pentacles. Some of the modern decks that are designed around special concepts have renamed the cards so that, for example, in the Native American Tarot Deck, by Magda and J. A. Gonzalez, Wands are Pipes, Cups are Vessels, Swords are Blades, and Pentacles are Shields. Older versions of the Minor Arcana simply portray numbered groupings of their suit symbols, such as groups of swords, cups, and so on, but many of the more modern decks use pictures that portray situations and events relating to the cards' popular meanings.

is important to know the numerological principles in order to understand the meaning of both the Major and Minor Arcana cards. I will have more to say about the numerical associations of the cards in chapter 3, which deals with some fine points of interpretation, and in the chapters about the cards themselves.

History of the Tarot

is not within the scope of this book to provide an in-depth discussion of all the theories regarding the origins of the Tarot, but following is a brief rundown of its history.

exact beginning of the Tarot is not known, because there are no direct links to lead us back to the original source; however, the earliest Tarot decks we know about emerged during the Renaissance. One of the oldest specimens of the Tarot consists of seventeen cards that reside in the Biliotheque Nationale in Paris; Stuart Kaplan believes that this set of cards is probably of fifteenth-century Venetian origin.1 These cards have no numbers or labels, but they include such familiar figures as the Lovers, the Hanged Man, the Hermit, the Valet (Page) of Swords, and so on. Other decks that have been preserved in museums also date from the fifteenth century. One of these, the Tarocchi of Mantegna, which dates from around 1470, has many additional cards, including representations of figures from classical mythology such as the Muses and the planets. Others, such as the Tarocchi of Venice and the Visconti-Sforza decks, are similar to modern decks in that they have the same number of Major and Minor Arcana cards. By the 1700s, Tarot designs had become more standardized, with designs in the family of decks related to the Tarot of Marseilles, some of which are still reproduced. Their illustrations are often crude but brightly colored. They had no special illustrations for the pip cards, only pictures of arrangements of the Swords, Wands, Cups, and Coins.

some of these earlier decks have been preserved, we unfortunately do not know who originally designed them. The use of allegory, which represents cosmic forces, human character traits, and other abstract concepts in picture images—usually personified in human form—was an essential part of ancient, medieval, and Renaissance artwork. The people of these earlier societies were also very comfortable with allegorical thinking, picturing concepts like love, hope, or charity, for example, as living entities who were active in their daily lives. Because allegorical images were so common, the idea of portraying a whole system of philosophy through card pictures may have been a very natural development.

the use of allegorical figures to represent philosophical truths was so integral to the cultural expression of the people of the past, they were used not merely in high art and religion, but also in popular literature, entertainment, and civic ceremonies. The most spectacular of these were the "triumphs," which were lavish processions and pageants featuring costumed people who posed as living tableaux while they rode through the streets in chariots (and later on parade floats).2 They represented allegorical figures such as Victory, Strength, Eros, Temperance, the Sun, the Moon, and so on. This custom was started by the Etruscans (an early Italian tribe) and taken up by the Romans to reward their victorious generals; it was later copied by Italian and then other European nobles. Triumphs also captured the imagination of Renaissance artists such as Andrea Mantegna, who spent seven years painting The Triumphs of Caesar. (Note: Stuart Kaplan argues that Andrea Mantegna did not actually design the Mantegna deck;3 otherwise, we would have a possible link between the cards and a painter of triumphs.) Artists also had a hand in staging the triumphs. As Robert Payne has noted, "The greatest painters of the time were employed to design the triumphs, and their range was extraordinary."4 For these reasons, some scholars have suggested that the Tarot cards' designs derived from these triumphs. In fact, the earliest Tarot cards were known as "Triumphs" (in Italian, Trionfi). It was not until the sixteenth century that they came to be called Tarocchi, translated into the French as "Tarot." The popularity of triumph-type processions spread across Europe. Thus, the pageants that celebrated the installation of London's Lord Mayors on October 29 featured some of the characters we know from the cards: Death, Fortune, Justice, and Temperance, as well as some of the characters included in the Tarot of Mantegna, such as Philosophy, Poetry, Fame, Charity, Hope, and Faith—among many other allegorical personifications.5 Allegorical figures also found their way into printed matter, such as the widely read emblem books of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries; their pages resembled Tarot cards, featuring virtues and vices illustrated in human form, as well as characters from classical mythology.

the evident connection with the triumphs, many Tarot users believe that the cards must have different origins—though they disagree about the Tarot's beginnings. In its motifs they see survivals of the mystical traditions of such varied cultures as ancient Egypt, India, China, Korea, Persia, and that of the Gypsies, as well as Hermetic, Cabalistic, Gnostic, Neoplatonist, Catharist, Knights Templar, and Albigensian philosophical teachings. Many of the influential thinkers of the Renaissance were familiar with these and earlier metaphysical teachings. In fact, in the periods that extended from classical times into the Renaissance, a number of mystery schools (which were associations of scholars dedicated to exploring and developing distinct systems of mystical knowledge) flourished in Europe, Asia Minor, and North Africa, and their members traveled widely, corresponded with each other, and sometimes tried to reconcile each others' systems. They certainly had the opportunity to spread the idea of the Tarot, if indeed it originated with or was further developed by one of these groups. Perhaps some of them influenced the selection of cards that we know today (since there were so many other allegorical figures they could have chosen from). It does seem that the contributions of different groups have resulted in the Tarot's being a synthesis of different wisdom traditions.

as there are disagreements over the origin of the Tarot, there are also varying opinions on the meaning of its name. The word Tarot is closely tied to the history of cards and the design features of cards, for the words tarocchi and tarocchino, which are used in Italian Tarot decks, are also the names of card games; Parisian playing card makers of the late sixteenth century called themselves Tarotiers; the word tarotée is applied to thecriss-cross designs on the back of early cards; and spiral dot patterns on the margins of some playing cards were called tares, while the cards featuring such designs were called tarots or tarotées.6 Some students of Tarot have suggested more exotic roots for the word: in her book Tarot Handbook, cross-cultural anthropologist Angeles Arrien cites different theories, including some that assert (1) the name is derived from the Egyptian Ta-rosh, meaning "the royal way," (2) it might be related to rota, the Latin word for "wheel," or (3) it might have Cabalistic associations related to Torah, the word for "the law." She also mentions that the word "tar" means "a deck of cards" in the Gypsy language, and derives from the Sanskrit word taru.7 Personally, I favor the possible Latin association because the Rota Fortuna is pictured as one of the cards, Fortuna is the goddess-presence behind the Tarot, and the old Roman cult of Fortuna had a practice of inscribing fortunes on tablets. However, Tarot may well be one of those words that caught on because of several different traditions coming together, thus making it all the more meaningful.

've heard the word "Tarot" pronounced several different ways, though because it is a French word, people usually don't enunciate the last "t." It is most commonly pronounced [Ta-roh'] or [Tair'-oh], the first being a more European pronunciation, the latter the Americanized version.

the meaning of the word Tarot and the origins of the cards, the Tarot recaptured the imaginations of scholars in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and led to the abundance of designs that are available today. The designs and interpretations of many of the more modern Tarot decks have been influenced by the Golden Dawn Society, a Victorian magical order that was established around 1887. Among its associates who advanced their theories on the Tarot's meanings were Samuel MacGregor Mathers, Aleister Crowley, Arthur Edward Waite, Papus, and Paul Foster Case. Around 1910, Waite conceived and commissioned a deck that was illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith and printed by the Rider company (therefore known as the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot deck or variations thereof). Waite and Smith made the Major Arcana cards more elaborate by incorporating many additional symbols into their graphic design. They also came up with picture concepts to illustrate the Minor Arcana cards, and thereby fixed their own set of meanings to these cards. The Rider-Waite-Smith deck became very popular, and its illustrations and interpretations became the standard on which many or most of the newer Tarot versions have been based.

Crowley also designed a Tarot deck, the Crowley Thoth Tarot Deck (often referred to as the Thoth deck), but his illustrations and concepts for the Major Arcana made some departures from tradition. In collaboration with the artist, Lady Frieda Harris, Crowley also used elaborate symbolic detailing in his reconceptualized images.

Contemporary Decks

recent years, the Tarot has blossomed into many versions from an extremely wide diversity of sources. Some of them are modeled after the early Renaissance versions, while others take some interesting new directions.Decks have been designed to reflect all kinds of personal tastes and interests. For example, people attracted to Celtic lore may enjoy the Legend: The Arthurian Tarot deck by Anna-Marie Ferguson, which is illustrated with haunting images from the old legends, or the The Sacred Circle Tarot, a collaboration by Anna Franklin and Paul Mason that combines scenes from Celtic pagan culture with natural world emblems such as plants and animals, and uses specific sites in the British Isles as background. The Mythic Tarot, by Juliet Sharman-Burke and Tricia Newell, uses scenes and characters from Greek mythology. Those attracted to African traditions may be interested in The Tarot of the Orishas by Zolrak and Durkon, which uses images from the Afro-Brazilian Candomblé religion, while people with affinities for American Indian cultures may want to look into the Native American Tarot Deck by Magda and J. A. Gonzalez. Multicultural and feminist images are portrayed in the Motherpeace Tarot Deck by Vicki Noble and Karen Vogel; the Barbara Walker deck also has a feminist orientation and draws from ancient mythologies. (Both of these decks are also interesting because they associate new images with the individual Minor Arcana cards.) There are special theme decks, such as the Tarot of the Cat People by Karen Kuykendall, which has inserted a cat into each card illustration, or The Celtic Dragon Tarot, by D. J. Conway and Lisa Hunt, which features dragons in each card. And some decks emphasize magical traditions, such as The Witches Tarot Deck by Ellen Cannon Reed and Martin Cannon, which unites Pagan and Cabbalistic symbolism, or the Shapeshifter Tarot by D. J. Conway, Sirona Knight, and Lisa Hunt, which contains eighty-one cards that blend human figures with animal spirits and other shamanic imagery. Numerous other beautiful and delightful card decks are currently available, but, unfortunately, too many to describe here.

so many new Tarot design varieties, we have the luxury of being able to seek out decks that have a strong personal appeal; this is something that was not really possible prior to the seventies and eighties. You may have to conduct a long search of catalogs, bookshops, and websites before you find the Tarot deck you like the best, but the quest is part of the fun. Don't worry about whether you'll know the right deck when you see it, because when you do find it, you will probably experience an instant attraction. In the meantime, you can still get fine results by practicing with other decks that are available. However, I do think it is helpful for beginners to work with one of the decks that include illustrations for the Minor Arcana cards, because the pictures help you to remember and assist in interpreting their meanings.

most Tarot decks and systems are fairly compatible, with the differences in meaning being only minor, sometimes you may encounter cases where a system, deck, manual, or interpreter does seem to have some significant differences. Chapter 3, which expounds on some of the fine points of reading and interpretation, includes some thoughts on how to deal with different decks and systems of interpretation.

though there are many fascinating and exquisite new renditions of the Tarot deck, there is undoubtedly room for many more artists and creative people to come up with additional versions. Furthermore, since any given Tarot card has many levels of interpretation and is able to apply to many different areas of life, there is no reason why inspired artists couldn't come up with hundreds of different picture concepts to convey the different shades of meaning of these cards. In fact, I hope that more will, because having alternative takes on the cards can help us avoid dogmatic attitudes and the habit of thinking inside conceptual boxes. If you are interested in art or design, let this inspire you to think about alternative picture images as you use your own deck. Such exercises will help you achieve new insights and make the sort of connections that enable you to see how the energies of the Tarot operate in your own life.

Caring for your Cards

you acquire a pack of Tarot cards, you will probably spend some time thumbing through your new deck, looking it over. This begins the process of imprinting the cards with your own energy nature, creating a bond between you and your cards. However, there are additional things you can do for them. For example, to perform a small ceremony of attunement, rub your hands together briskly and imagine golden energy building in the friction between them. Then, place the deck between your two palms and imagine the cards being suffused with this sparkling energy as you warm them with your hands. You can also say a silent blessing prayer, such as, "May these cards be blessed as they warm to my body and spirit. May they always speak truly and wisely for the good of all around me." (Before you do this, it is helpful to put them in numerical order—such as the order they came in—as this order has its own integrity.) You do not need to repeat this ritual every time you take out your cards, but there may be occasions when your intuition tells you that it would be good to give them a little recharging.

readers wrap their cards in silk when not in use. Black silk is traditional because its impenetrable color is believed to keep out unwanted vibratory influences. However, you can use any color that appeals to you. I am a great believer in the intuitive correctness of individuals' responses to colors and other things that "feel right" to them, and the color that you prefer can help attune your cards to your personal energy patterns and other psychic needs. I used to keep my own cards in emerald green silk, but now I have several decorative pouches of various types of cloth, and all work very well. Certain types of camera cases, makeup cases, and small evening bags make good storage cases for the cards, too, and are easy to carry in your purse or briefcase. Other readers store their cards in decorative tin or wooden boxes, as well as many other types of containers.

Tarot readers are very fussy about their cards, and don't allow other people to handle them. Some will allow others to handle them, but they feel a need to "clear" or "cleanse" the cards afterward, to dispel any vibrations that the other person or people have left behind. Some clear the deck after every reading, whether someone else touched the cards or not. Cleansing the deck does not mean that the other person is a bad or psychically unclean person. Rather, it is a way to reattune the cards' energies to your personal vibratory state. Cleansing is also something that you can do if you've done a reading for yourself to enquire about a disturbing matter, or if you've had an unsettling experience (for example, if a family fight has left you in a nervous state) and you don't want to transmit bad energy to your cards. One of the simplest ways to clear a deck is by reshuffling it. For this purpose, some readers shuffle more vigorously than they would otherwise, using a snapping motion. Putting the cards back into some kind of order also helps restore their normal state. And you can always refresh and recharge your cards by using the hand warming and golden energy visualization mentioned previously.

I don't mind other people handling my cards, and I have never really sensed any trouble with other peoples' vibrations lingering in my cards, even when I've been reading for large numbers of strangers. It seems that whatever vibrations there are may get bumped out by the next person or issue to come along. Also, I think that when you use the same cards regularly over a long period of time, your own energy patterns become so ingrained that they are not easily jarred by someone else's. Therefore, I feel that the act of cleansing has more value as a ritual for maintaining a respectful, mindful relationship with your cards.

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Table of Contents

Introduction ix
Part 1 Background and Basics
1. A Closer Look at the Cards 3
2. Ready to Read 13
3. Pointers on Reading and Interpretation 33
4. Sample Readings 51
5. Other Uses for the Tarot 61
Part 2 Card Interpretations
6. The Major Arcana 75
7. The Wands 157
8. The Cups 187
9. The Swords 219
10. The Pentacles 251
11. The Court Cards 283
Appendix A Significator Cards 341
Appendix B The Use of Color 346
Appendix C Reading for Advice 348
Notes 350
Glossary 357
Bibliography 365
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2005

    I Love it!

    I think this book is so detailed and intricate on interpretation. I thought I new all of the basic major arcana meanings, but I realized that after reading this wonderful book, that I was wrong and that all 78 cards have a WIDE variety of meanings. I highly recommend this book to all, novices and experts alike.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2004


    I really loved this book. I have been trying to study Tarot for years but never really understood it. This book gave a great explination for all of the cards. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn the art if the Tarot.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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