Tuesday, April 30, 2013

REVIEW OF "The Tarot Activity Book" by Andy Matzner

[to order: amazon.com;
Beautiful Magical Tarot, the author's blog]

Something told me on seeing the title of this book that I would enjoy it. I have not been disappointed.

The author’s approach in this Tarot work book is gentle, caring, thorough, and knowledgeable. It consists of self-discovery and self-help exercises for personal growth and healing, and ideas for creative projects -- writing, visual, collage, and more -- all using Tarot in some way.

You truly do not need to have any prior knowledge of Tarot to find these exercises inspiring and useful. Nor do you have to learn any of the many meanings that have accrued to each of the 78 cards through the centuries. As the author stresses throughout, we already have the answers we seek somewhere within us. The Tarot images may simply help us to access them. I hasten to add that experienced readers (I’ve been a Tarot lover for almost 40 years) will also find a great deal to appreciate in these pages.

Reading this book straight through as I did was a challenge, but for good reasons. It offered approaches that I found myself wanting to try right then, and not wait until I was done with the book. (Especially once I got to the writing and art exercises in the latter part of the book!) Then there were all the psychological and spiritual insights the book offers that I found myself mulling over along the way. You could just dip back and forth in this book reading the exercises in whatever order pleases you, rather than reading it straight through as I did. Either way, it holds a feast of enticing possibilities.

“The Tarot Activity Book” has also re-vivified my use of the Tarot in my living space. E.g., placing card images from various decks around my rooms to remind or encourage me in some way. Right now I have four Queen of Swords cards displayed, from four very different decks, amplifying a personal issue. It’s been quite some time since I’ve done something like this and am delighted to have been inspired to do so.

Many exercises suggest thinking through an issue or question first and journaling about it, then consciously picking a Tarot card that in some way reflects that preparatory work. Based in my experience over the years with this, it is definitely a productive approach. However, maybe because of the many years I’ve been working with the Tarot, I prefer to pick a card at random first. That is, before I’ve examined an issue, before thinking or journaling about it. Then I use that random card as the jumping off point for my exploration of the issue. (I find that the randomness of this image I’m faced with often shakes something new out of the trees.) It is just this sort of tweaking of his exercises that the author supports. He even lists alternate ways of doing some of them himself. This recognition that each reader’s needs may vary permeates the book, helping to create a sense of safe space for exploring new territory. As well as encouraging the reader to listen to her/his own needs and creative urgings.

This next point is probably just a quirk of my own, but each time cutting, pasting, or painting of Tarot cards was suggested, I flinched. Maybe it’s the many years of collecting Tarot decks and becoming very attached to them, but I have never been able to do this. However, I do readily make color Xeroxes of the cards. Which I can then cut and paste and paint upon to my heart’s content -- a viable alternative for those of us who project maybe a bit too much life onto their cardboard cards.

And, yes, life. This book is filled with ways we can use The Tarot to explore and even heal our inner lives; lives which, of course, are contiguous with all of life outside ourselves. I recall a meaning I read somewhere for The Star card in The Tarot: that in healing ourselves we heal something of the collective, which contributes to healing the world.

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'til next time, keep enjoying The Tarot, in whatever ways it comes to you in your life,

[aka: Patricia Kelly]
****If you wish to copy or use any of my writing, please email me for permission (under "View my complete profile")**** SEE ALSO: Roswila's Dream & Poetry Realm for Tarot poetry; Roswila's Taiga Tarot for taiga (illustrated tanka); Trying to Hold A Box of Light for digital photos only.