Back in Time Tarot Book: Picture the Past, Experience the Cards, Understand the Present

Back in Time Tarot Book: Picture the Past, Experience the Cards, Understand the Present

by Janet Boyer


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781571745873
Publisher: Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc.
Publication date: 11/14/2008
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 823,924
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Janet Boyer is an Top 100 Reviewer, columnist for Tarot World Magazine, editor of the 2009 Articles and Spreads Book, and an editor at

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The Back in Time Tarot Book

Picture the Past, Experience the Cards, Understand the Present

By Janet Boyer

Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc.

Copyright © 2008 Janet Boyer
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-61283-030-8


Getting to Know the Tarot

An Overview of Tarot Structure

For those of you completely new to Tarot, let me briefly explain Tarot structure. A typical Tarot deck contains seventy-eight cards. The Major Arcana (also known as Trumps) are twenty-two cards typically numbered from 0 to 21 and named to match the imagery they depict. Cards from the Majors include the Fool, the Magician, the Lovers, the Hermit, the Wheel of Fortune, the Moon, the Sun, and the World. Some deck creators rename the Trumps; for example, the Oracle Tarot substitutes a card called Tradition for the Hierophant and one called Bondage for the Devil.

The Minor Arcana consist of forty cards that are much like a deck of playing cards because they're organized in four suits numbered from ace to ten.

Wands, the suit usually associated with the element fire, may also be called staves, rods, batons, or clubs.

Cups, usually associated with the element water, may also be called chalices, vessels, cauldrons, or hearts.

Swords, usually associated with the element air, may also be called blades or spades.

Pentacles, usually associated with the element earth, may also be called coins, stones, crystals, disks, or diamonds.

Some deck designers get quite creative in naming the suits, especially with theme decks. For example, the suits in the Halloween Tarot are imps (fire), bats (air), ghosts (water), and pumpkins (earth). Another example is the Osho Zen Tarot, which names the earth suit rainbows and the air suit clouds. In the True Love Tarot deck, the fire suit is roses, the water suit shells, the air suit wings, and the earth suit gems.

The sixteen court cards (four for each suit) are often called pages, knights, queens, and kings. Some decks, such as the Quest Tarot, use attributions such as sons, daughters, mothers, and fathers. The World Spirit Tarot labels them seers, seekers, sibyls, and sages. The Druid Craft Tarot and other decks have princesses, princes, queens, and kings. The Oracle Tarot forgoes court cards altogether.

Choosing a Tarot Deck

These days, there are literally thousands of Tarot decks on the market. Some chain bookstores carry Tarot decks, as do independent metaphysical bookstores. Most decks stocked at brick-and-mortar bookstores are sealed, preventing you from seeing the actual cards before you buy them. In this case, or if you live in a rural area like mine with nary a New Age bookstore in sight, you may have to rely on the Internet for previewing cards and acquiring Tarot decks. Web sites that provide deck reviews accompanied by card images (such as my own Web site, can be especially valuable when you are searching for a Tarot deck. happens to be my favorite place on the Net to shop for both Tarot decks and books.

For the Back in Time (BIT) Method, you'll want to use a deck that has an illustrated Minor Arcana. This means that the numbered cards of each suit depict people and scenes rather than just suit symbols, such as actual cups or swords.

Artist Pamela Colman Smith, under the direction of Arthur E. Waite, had an uncanny knack for capturing ambiguous situations and emotion when drawing the images for the Rider-Waite Tarot. Rider and Sons was the company that originally published the deck in 1909, which is why the deck is referred to as the Rider-Waite. In homage to the previously oft-forgotten artist, many Tarotists now refer to the Rider-Waite deck as the RiderWaite-Smith Tarot, or RWS for short. Because the Rider-Waite is one of the most influential deck designs in the world of Tarot, many artists and deck creators understandably use Rider-Waite imagery as a basis for their own designs. For example, just as the Rider-Waite shows the Magician standing before a table lined with symbols of the four elements, one arm raised with a finger pointing skyward and the other hand pointing downward, many deck artists portray similar imagery. Decks illustrated in the spirit of the Rider-Waite are often called Rider-Waite clones because of the card-for-card resemblance. Two fine Rider-Waite—inspired decks are the lively Sharman Caselli Tarot, conceived by Juliet Sharman-Burke and illustrated by Giovanni Caselli, and the gorgeous, gilt-edged Golden Tarot by Kat Black.

Interestingly, there are also several versions of the Rider-Waite deck; the differences between them are mostly based on coloring. For example, Frankie Albano colored the Albano-Waite Tarot, while Mary HansonRoberts colored the Universal Waite Tarot. With its soft tones, the Universal Waite deck happens to be my personal favorite and the deck I used in most of my BIT Snapshots. Because of the ambiguity of the scenes and animated countenances of the figures, any version of the Rider-Waite deck that you're drawn to would be a good choice to use with the BIT Method, as would any of the Rider-Waite—inspired (or clone) decks.

Many other decks use images that bear little resemblance to RiderWaite imagery, instead drawing inspiration from a wide variety of cultures, religious paths, esoteric traditions, mythology, pastimes, art movements, works of literature, and even movies, rock music, or comic books. As long as a deck speaks to you and depicts imagery that you can easily connect to memories and events, it would be a fine deck to use with the BIT Method.

In addition to the Sharman-Caselli Tarot, Universal Waite Tarot, and the Golden Tarot, a few of my favorite decks that work well with the BIT Method include the Lisa Hunt Fairytale Tarot, Victorian Romantic Tarot, and Pictorial Key Tarot.

For other good choices that have the added bonus of benign renderings of the Devil and Death cards, here are some other favorites (for more information, see "Tarot Decks Referenced in This Book" in the bibliography):

* Baroque Bohemian Cats' Tarot

* Bright Idea Deck

* DruidCraft Tarot,

* Gilded Tarot

* Halloween Tarot

* Housewives Tarot

* Hudes Tarot

* Mystic Faerie Tarot

* Oracle Tarot

* Vanessa Tarot

* Whimsical Tarot

* WorldTree Tarot

The BIT Snapshots presented in The Back in Time Tarot Book use cards from more than forty decks. To see the actual cards used for each BIT Snapshot, please visit and click on the "BIT Book" tab or the book's cover image.

Reversed and Combined Cards

In addition to deriving meaning from upright cards, some Tarot enthusiasts read reversed cards, often interpreting upside-down images as:

* Opposite of the upright meaning

* The upright meaning taken to an extreme

* An obstruction

* Negativity

* Waning influence

* In potential or about to come on the scene

* The same as the upright meaning but with less impact

I've chosen not to use reversals to create BIT Snapshots in this book as a matter of practicality and simplicity. Although addressing reversals in a comprehensive manner is beyond the scope of this book, I recommend The Complete Book of Tarot Reversals, by Mary K. Greer, or Learning Tarot Reversals, by Joan Bunning, if you'd like to explore the use of reversed cards.

Sometimes the nuance of a situation or person is better captured using two or more cards in concert. For example, although someone may choose the Lovers card alone to represent a marriage, I may choose, because of my personal associations, the Hierophant (a clergyman) plus the Two of Cups (romance) to represent a church ceremony, or the Two of Cups, Three of Cups (celebration), and Four of Wands (a pastoral scene) to represent an outdoor ceremony with lots of friends and family. For a marriage in front of a justice of the peace, I might choose the Two of Cups and Justice (often a card showing the "scales of justice," representing the legal system). The Two of Cups, the High Priestess, and the Four of Wands might reflect a pagan ceremony. The Knight of Cups (a proposal), the Eight of Wands (speed), and the Lovers (contracts or marriage) could depict an elopement. The keywords in parentheses in these examples are my own associations, and I include them to give you examples of how you can use card combinations to represent a component of the past if one card doesn't seem sufficient. A few of the BIT Snapshots use card combinations to represent one aspect of a memory or story, but the majority pair only one card per component.

The Light/Shadow Continuum

In Back in Time Tarot, I've decided to approach the cards on a light/dark continuum. Seemingly positive cards can have a dark side, and seemingly difficult cards can have a bright side. For example, the Nine of Cups can indicate merriment or even wish fulfillment, but on the other end of the continuum, it can indicate drunkenness or gluttony.

Another example is the Three of Swords. Although this card often depicts a heart impaled by three blades, often seen as indicating heartache or failed romance, the image can also represent a much-needed release of pent-up emotions (including grief ). The Rider-Waite image might even remind someone of the Three Musketeers, friends who stick together through both good times and extraordinary challenges. The BIT Method can help you realize where you see specific cards of your own preferred Tarot deck (or decks) falling on the light/shadow continuum.


How to Use the BIT Method

What You'll Need

You need only two items to do the Back in Time (BIT) Method: the Tarot deck of your choice and a mental "snapshot," such as a memory or scenario from pop culture. If you grew up in the 1970s, as I did, you may remember those instant cameras that snapped a scene and spit out a picture that developed right before your eyes. Just as those cameras captured a moment in time, your mind can freeze any memory, movie, story, conversation, or historical event so you can re-create it using Tarot cards.

I recommend that you also pick up a notebook or journal to record your back-in-time scenario and the cards you choose to create your BIT Snapshot. By recording your correlations between past situations and Tarot cards, you will create a treasure trove that you can mine for future readings or simply use for expanding your self-awareness. The BIT Method is simple enough to perform in your head, but because you're unlikely to be able to recall all of the associations you make with the cards over time, I recommend recording scenarios and card associations in a BIT Method journal. (This journal could be an actual journal, a blank tablet, index cards, or loose-leaf pages placed in a folder or three-ring binder.) If you prefer journaling on a computer, you can record your BIT Snapshots by using a word-processing program or even in a personal online blog.

The original snapshot that you use can be an event from the distant past, if you'd like—such as the first Christmas you can remember—but you can also use a snapshot of something that happened to you five minutes ago. Events can range from momentous occasions, like graduating from high school, to more mundane situations, like taking your car to the mechanic for an inspection. Snapshots can also be situations that you've witnessed, such as an amusing exchange between a department-store clerk and a shopper or a current event that has just scrolled across the ticker on a twenty-four-hour news channel. You can use a historical event as a snapshot, or, if you're a fan of celebrity gossip, you could even use scenarios found in your favorite pop-culture magazine or tabloid. Your snapshot could even be a dream you had one night or a favorite movie, book, or song. The possibilities are only as limited as your imagination.

What to Do

There are two basic ways you can approach creating a BIT Snapshot.

In the first option, write down a list of the individual components of the snapshot. (Don't feel obligated to include every little detail as a component; the BIT Method is intended to be fun, exciting, and illuminating, not overwhelming or tedious.) Then sort through your Tarot deck to find cards that you feel best represent the components. Select your cards one by one, recording each one beside the component on your list as you go. You can choose your cards based on gut feelings, emotional reactions to the card images, the resemblance of figures on cards to people or situations—whatever works for you. For example, if you were working with a memory of the first time you attended a circus, the lion on the Strength card might remind you of the female lion tamer who happened to throw you a rose after her performance. So you choose the Strength card to represent that particular moment from your experience.

The other way to choose cards is to hold the entire snapshot in your mind's eye instead of writing down its individual components. Then look through the Tarot deck and pick the cards that seem to "speak" to you about the situation in general. Set your chosen cards apart from the rest of the deck and record your reason—even if it is "just a feeling"—for selecting each one. My husband, Ron, prefers to use this method when creating his BIT Snapshots; he forgoes writing down the actual components but holds the memory, movie, or situation in his mind's eye as he's looking through a Tarot deck. In one instance, he created a BIT Snapshot of a pivotal day when he and I, just friends at the time, connected deeply at a golf outing. That event signaled the rapid evolution from us being "just friends" to something else. The day before the outing, Ron's dad had written him an enigmatic note saying, "Look for her, son. She's there." As my husband went through the Tarot to capture the event in a BIT Snapshot, he chose the King of Swords to represent his dad, because the man shown on this card of his Tarot deck physically resembled his father.

Your level of experience with the Tarot will likely determine how you select your corresponding cards. If you're familiar with all seventy-eight cards of the Tarot and already associate a certain meaning with each card, you might find that a particular card automatically springs to mind for each element. Then again, it may not. You may find yourself shuffling through your deck and coming across a card that may not be one that you thought you'd choose for a particular component, but which seems like the perfect fit because of some type of unconscious personal association. That's the beauty of the BIT Method—it prompts you to unearth associations from the unconscious and bring them into the light of your conscious mind. (For this reason, the BIT Method works especially well for decoding puzzling dreams.)

Because I've studied and used the Tarot for years, I have dozens of associations stored in my particular "Fool's pouch." While I often dig around in there when doing readings or contemplating the Tarot, I remain open to intuition for fresh interpretations or use the BIT Method to generate new ones.

A Sample Bit Snapshot

I'm going to walk you through the creation of a BIT Snapshot to give you an idea of how I often perform the BIT Method.

Recently, my husband and I took our son to see a live Sesame Street production. We also did other things throughout the day. Here are a few components of the day that I zeroed in on to create my BIT Snapshot: buying the production tickets online, going to the actual show, going to a restaurant afterward, and going to Wal-Mart. (Of course, I could have chosen the characters from the show, the meal itself, or even the drive home to pair with Tarot cards.) What follows is a BIT Snapshot, showing the components I chose and explanations on the Tarot card selections. For this BIT Snapshot, I used the Pictorial Key Tarot by Davide Corsi.

Buying Tickets, Six of Pentacles: In many decks, the Six of Pentacles shows a figure giving coins to individuals. Some artists portray the giver as a wealthy man holding a scale and the receivers as mendicants on the street. Based on imagery alone, there is some exchange of money or goods implied for the Six of Pentacles. Some of the personal associations I have for this card are based on motifs of giving and receiving, including going into debt, "robbing Peter to pay Paul," charity work, donations, receiving help in a time of need, obtaining loans, and so on. I also associate this card with buying on credit or with credit cards in general. Because I ordered the tickets online, I had to use a credit card. Therefore, the Six of Pentacles came to mind when I was thinking of the actual purchase.


Excerpted from The Back in Time Tarot Book by Janet Boyer. Copyright © 2008 Janet Boyer. Excerpted by permission of Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Foreword — Monte Farber,




Part I: Getting Started,

Chapter 1: Getting to Know the Tarot,

Chapter 2: How to Use the Bit Method,

Part II: The Bit Method in Action,

Chapter 3: Personal Experiences,

Chapter 4: Literature, TV, and Movies,

Chapter 5: Headlines and History,

Chapter 6: Odds and Ends,

Appendix: The Cards of the Universal Waite,


About the Contributing Authors and Artists,


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The Back in Time Tarot Book: Picture the Past, Experience the Cards, Understand the Present 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
biunicorn on LibraryThing 5 months ago
The Back in Time Tarot BookPicture the Past, Experience the Cards, Understand the Presentby Janet Boyer It was a total pleasure to review this 233 page unique how-to using the tarot to examine the past picking out essential elements represented by different cards to gain deeper understanding of self, and also I found i gained a better understanding of the lesson I was trying to learn at the time. Sometimes I can look back at certain places in my life and know I took away something important from it, but haven't always been sure what it was, ya know, still kinda fuzzy. I could tell with this method of refocusing on the past that I could fine tune the info so it actually made sense and gained a whole lot of clarity, and besides that my inner child had a blast fitting the cards in to the proper places like a puzzle. The pictures of the cards at the back of the book were very useful. I also enjoyed the way the author took well known stories and broke them down using her "BIT Method". My favorite was the layout she did for the story Cinderella, it was perfect, and gave me clear insight on how we grow and how this enlightened buddy can help. I would recommend this comprehensive and extraordinary guide to those drawn to the tarot for self-discovery. Thanks Janet, for this much needed tool. Love & Light, Riki Frahmann
Miela on LibraryThing 5 months ago
As someone who has tried to read Tarot, but who failed due to an inability to remember all of the cards' meanings, I was skeptical about whether or not this book could help me much. To my delight, I found that I was mistaken. Boyer's work provides a method that is easy and user-driven, and shows a number of interesting readings that I found useful in understanding the method.I'm looking forward to being able to use her method to help me become better acquainted with the Tarot!
brbenjamin on LibraryThing 5 months ago
When it comes to tarot books they are often largely the same. If you are looking for a serious study, card by card , meaning by meaning.. You are better off looking elsewhere.What tarot does do, is work best the more you interact with it. There are many ways to do this, tell a story, meditate etc etc etc. What this book brings is a fresh way to interact with your tarot. Some say there are two types of tarot users, those that use their innate spiritual awareness, and those that also talk to the cards. By talking to the cards the cards will talk back. Simply reading cards is a very good way to interact with your deck. The BIT (Back in time) method adds a way to choose past moments, snapshots of our lives; or as the author uses imagery or "memories" from TV, film and anything in life.In the end this book teaches a valuable lesson, to truly get in touch with the tarot we need to do more than simply learn meanings, perform readings and "play" with them. The BIT method will not be for everyone. I think the book was far too long for example. But I can see that this is a valuable way to learn the cards intuitively, so that they work their way into your psyche. To truly know the tarot, this is something that must be done, and utilizing as many ways as you can, will help.As this is essentially a book about a "new" way to interact with tarot, the ideas would work with anyone, with any level of experience. Although I can see that this would be especially great for someone who has never used tarot at all.
aethercowboy on LibraryThing 5 months ago
One of my good friends from college told me once about his great, get-rich-quick scheme. It went as such: (1) Write a self-help book, e.g. "Better Living Through the Power of Positive Thinking." (2) Capture the religious crowd by recasting the book, e.g. "Better Living Through the Power of Prayer." (3) Capture the new age crowd by, once again, recasting the book, e.g. "Better Living Through the Power of the Moon."I'll be the first to admit: I must have missed the point of Boyer's BIT method. From my understanding, it was effectively, using the Tarot as a visual aid when recollecting special memories (or fictions, or world events), and gaining new insight into them through the magic(k) of the Tarot. The book is meant to be useful by someone who has never before picked up a Tarot deck. Taking this into consideration, I don't see the point of using a Tarot, when just about any other collection of physical objects with any sense of meaning could be used, ranging from a deck of playing cards, a chess set, a list of movies or songs, or even characters from a television show or movie.It's effectively using a metaphor to better understand an event, and you don't need a Tarot deck to do that. Heck, you don't even need any physical props if you have a good enough imagination.I mentioned my friend from college because I was reminded of this when reading the book. You could have used Jungian archetypes instead of the Tarot, if targeting this book towards the psychology crowd, or you could have used Bible characters when targeting the religious. Heck, you could have even gone the "pop culture philosophy" route and made them characters from Harry Potter. Yeah, I really missed the point on this one, though I did give it a chance. About the only thing I really thought was interesting were the pictures of Tarot cards in the back.You can claim that I'm not open-minded, and you may be right. I don't open my mind up to just any philosophy, just like I don't open up my computer to just any web page or application. Some programs will slow your computer down, while others will damage the core software running your computer. So, with my brain, just like with my computer, I am careful about what I blindly click on and follow through. In fact, I never do that. So, yeah, call me closed-minded if you like, but don't complain to me about what I charge for fixing your computer when it starts to get bogged down with needless fluff and bloatware.
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