Book Review – Instant Tarot: Your Complete Guide to Reading the Cards by Monte Farber and Amy Zerner

November 1st, 2017


Instant Tarot: Your Complete Guide to Reading the Cards by Monte Farber and Amy Zerner, published in 2017 by Weiser Books, Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC, Newburyport, MA 01950, soft cover, 259 pages. Instant Tarot is published as a paperback, with a color cover printed on typical soft-cover stock, measuring 8 ½ by 5 ½ inches. The interior pages consist of black and white card images and nicely-sized typeface printed on white paper.

Instant Tarot is different from most of the how-to-read-the-Tarot books available to students and enthusiasts of the Tarot. This book uses a system for understanding and interpreting the cards in a traditional Tarot deck that is based on the card positions of the Celtic Cross spread. This system is generally described in the Introduction and the Frequently Asked Questions About Tarot Readings sections at the beginning of this book, written by the authors, and in more detail in the Three Step Process following the Introduction. The Celtic Cross spread is also explained, and each card position of the Celtic Cross spread is given a keyword or key phrase and a description. A sample reading is offered showing actual card images in the eleven positions of the spread, along with the seeker’s question and interpretations of each card in the spread.

Like other books that focus on understanding and exploring the cards of the Tarot, the main part of this book showcases the individual Major and Minor Arcana cards, beginning with an image of the card (based on a traditional Rider Waite deck), the name and number of the card, and a keyword. But the similarities end here. Instead of upright and reversed meanings, explanations of symbolism, and lists of correspondences, the reader is given eleven interpretations of each card based on the meanings of the eleven card positions of the Celtic Cross spread as explained in the beginning of the book.

Instant Tarot provides interpretations for every card in a traditional Tarot deck in every position of a Celtic Cross spread. If you would like to become comfortable with the Celtic Cross spread, this book is for you. Each of the card positions in this spread are explained via each of the cards in the deck, offering an in-depth tutorial for what for some Tarot readers is an intimidating spread. If you feel frustrated by card descriptions that seem difficult to adjust to the focus or style of your readings, the multiple focuses offered in Instant Tarot could allow you to see each card in a fresh new way. If you understand the cards themselves but are having trouble telling the story of a spread, the multiple interpretations could help lace together the meanings of the cards. The book is easy to use, the cards in the sample spreads are all cross-referenced with their individual descriptive sections, and the instructions for use of the system are clear and easy to understand.

Also included in Instant Tarot are some suggestions for performing one-card and three-card readings using this Celtic Cross system, as well as some suggested questions for one-card and three-card readings that are easily personalized or adjusted by the reader.

This book is well-named for it does provide a system that allows a novice to provide an instant reading. Instant Tarot does not offer a detailed history of the Tarot, or detailed description of the meanings of the individual cards, and it does not make reference to the multiple disciplines, such as astrology, numerology, or suits and the elements, that are some of the foundations of those card meanings. If you are looking for that kind of background information, you will not find it here.

What the system found within the pages of Instant Tarot does provide, however, is a method for creating smoothly flowing interpretations of the multiple card positions within a classic Celtic Cross spread. For many aspiring readers, it is the combining of the cards and their meanings into a coherent story that is the true challenge of a Tarot reading. If this is your challenge, Instant Tarot could be the answer you are looking for.


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About the Author:

Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot reader and teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher.  Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journey To Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog,, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.

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Thoughts While Reading The Complete Lenormand Oracle Handbook




One of the books on my summer reading list is The Complete Lenormand Oracle Handbook: Reading the Language and Symbols of the Cards, by Caitlín Matthews. I don’t have a set of Lenormand Cards – but I’m not letting that stop me from learning as much as I can about them. As with all divinatory cards, I am fascinated by the variety and beauty of the many sets of Lenormand cards available in occult shops, online or from private seller.

I think what appeals to me about the Lenormand is the combination of pictures, numbers and playing card symbolism. In divinatory terms, there’s a lot to work with. Since I don’t have a set of cards yet and have therefore never used a set of Lenormand cards, I can’t say anything about them but I have gazed on their images online and they are incredibly intriguing! I have seen enough sets to know which one – or ones – I would buy if I were in the position to do so. But being the witch that I am, I have learned that these kind of divination tools tend to come to you, rather than you seek them out. When I see the set I want, I’ll know it.

But while I am enjoying Caitlín Matthew’s informative and well-written book, this article is not about Lenormand cards per se. It about her assertion about reading Tarot cards versus Lenormand Cards. Having never read Lenormand Cards, I can’t say anything about that. I have no reason to doubt what she says. However, about reading the Tarot, she writes,

In tarot, cards are laid out in predecided or named positions. Take a spread like the ten-card Celtic Cross. Every position has a different meaning, as introduced by diviners as they lay cards down … Each position is an essential part of the reading and helps define or frame how the card laid upon each place is to be read.” (10)

She goes on to say, “Lenormand cards work by proximity to each other, creating meaning through juxtaposition. This is a more linguistic method. Just as we use different combinations of the alphabet to create words, so, too, do Lenormand cards work together to create different meanings, as we will see …” (10)

Of course, I don’t yet have a set of Lenormand cards, so I can’t say if using them is a “more linguistic” method or not. But I have been reading Tarot cards and studying the Tarot for over thirty years now and while some spreads are just as she describes – putting a card on a certain position and reading it against what that position is supposed to mean – other spreads do require the cards to be read together, as card combinations. So in that sense, the Tarot can be also be a linguistic method – quite honestly, I never thought of it as anything else.

On the subject of card combinations, I did learn quite a bit from her explanation of how to read the placement of cards – the first card as the subject and the second card as modifier. When there are more cards, the way the modifiers are worked out – left or right of a middle subject card – changes, but this is basically it. Now – maybe I’m just being cantankerous but I don’t see why this method can’t be used with a set of Tarot cards. Or a deck of playing cards, for that matter. When you’re a skilled reader, I would think you would be able to read most anything. I do not even pretend to play the part of a skilled reader – I am merely an interested amateur – a kitchen witch who has an interest in all the arts.

Once I did visit a skilled reader. It was many years ago in Topanga Canyon, California. She used an ordinary deck of Rider-Waite cards but she laid them out three in a row, read those three as a combination, then laid out three more, read those three, and so on. She laid the cards out very fast and read them very fast. She used maybe half the deck. One of the things I remember her telling me was that I was not with “the man I was supposed to be with” – I was with the father of my son – and my “soulmate” would be coming to me soon. Whoever that soulmate was, he has come and gone, because, as I said – that was many years ago. But my point is, the way she read the cards was more like setting out a Grand Tableau –she probably used around than 36 cards. Of course, at that time I had neither heard of the Lenormand Oracle or the Grand Tableau. But now – reading about it and thinking back – I wonder if she was blending the two systems for a better reading. Who knows?

In my Tarot notebook, I have notes about card combinations, some from books I have read and some printed off the internet. I have quite a lot from a now-defunct website called – I searched for it the other day and it was gone – but websites come and websites go. It seems that most of the information I have saved refers to the court cards – I suppose that would make sense, since it’s easier to modify concepts concerning people. And most questions people ask concern other people! For instance, a queen with the seven of swords – it could be a light-handed woman or a woman who is a victim of theft, depending on the placement of the cards.

Someday I will have a set of Lenormand cards and I will continue my education with this divinatory system. Until then, I will practice my skills using Tarot cards, playing cards, and whatever else I have. As I was told as a child, “Practice makes perfect.” I don’t know if I’ll ever be perfect, but I know I will never stop practicing.

You can find out more about The Complete Lenormand Oracle by clicking HERE.

To read more on the author of the book, Caitlin Matthews, click HERE.

Brightest Blessings!


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