Seeing the Signs

Book Review – The Tarot Companion: A Portable Guide for Reading the Cards for Yourself and Others by Liz Dean

OK – I am not a big fan of eBooks. I don’t have a tablet so I have to read them on my laptop and right there that causes certain problems. I have to sit at my desk – I have sit in my upright chair – I can’t be comfortable in my easy chair – I can’t read in bed – I most certainly can’t read in the tub – which I wouldn’t be able to do with a tablet, either. What can I say? I’m an old woman! A crone. I like books. Real books!

But sometimes books come your way and the only way you can access them is electronically and this is how it was with The Tarot Companion: A Portable Guide for Reading the Cards for Yourself and Others by Liz Dean, published by Fair Winds Press in 2018. So it’s hot off the presses, as the saying goes! I suppose it’s portable if you’re reading it on a tablet or a phone and you are actually carrying the text with you. And technically, I can take my laptop with me – it’s just seven years old now and really heavy so I generally don’t do that anymore. I thought of printing out this book – it’s 176 pages and I decided not to. I have to pay for my printing and that would have put me way over my monthly budget. But believe me – I am definitely going to look for this book in print. It’s a fabulous book. Meanwhile, I have it safely in a file on my laptop – it’s one of my favorite Tarot references!

The cards Ms. Dean features are the Universal Waite cards, which are a brighter, shinier conception of the classic Rider-Waite cards. They also tend to focus more on the main person in the card and not so much on the background imagery. They are a great set of cards for beginners and for anyone who wants to get back to basics with their divinatory skills. I love my Rider-Waite cards but I really like the Universal Waite deck and I’m thinking of picking up a set if I happen to see them on my travels – you know, if they come to me. Like Tarot cards do.

Like many books about reading the Tarot, she starts off with attuning your new deck and how to properly keep them and store them. Chapter one is all about the proper way of shuffling the cards and I was quite interested to see that she differentiated between shuffling the cards for yourself and for another person. She does the same with cutting the deck. She also says to always flip the cards sideways “left to right” (page 9). I admit that it took me years before I came upon this all on my own – I used to flip the cards this way, that way, upside down, whatever which way – it’s amazing I got any good readings at all!

One thing she acknowledges is that sometime you lay down the cards and you don’t get a clear reading at all. She says in that case, to shuffle and cut the cards and then read the cards again. I always felt like I was “cheating” if I did that but now I feel totally vindicated! But even then – sometimes the cards just aren’t telling you anything. One thing she says to look for – “Did the Ten of Wands come up?” She writes, “If so, this often means that there’s too much going on and it’s not the right time to read your cards. Wait a day or two and try again.” (page 9). This was the first time I had ever heard this. The Ten of Wands – with its picture of oppression – doesn’t strike me as a card of busyness – that would be more the Eight of Wands – too much information! Wands going everywhere like too many emails and too many texts! But I’ll keep what she says in mind.

Thinking it over – maybe the Ten of Wands – the man pushing all those Wands – is a card of too much going on – trying to keep all those wands in order and in one place and going forward! And it’s back-breaking! And perhaps heart-breaking too? So, yes – what Ms. Dean says makes total sense. Isn’t a new point of view so refreshing?

Unlike most books about the Tarot, Ms. Dean’s Card Layouts are in the beginning of the book as opposed to the rear of the book. She features a 3-card Layout – basically, Past, Present and Future – but she tells us how to tweak this layout to read for different life aspects, so that this one 3-Card Layout can be used in dozens of ways. Naturally, she presents the Celtic Cross layout – I do not believe that a book about the Tarot would be complete without the Celtic Cross. She also has a “The Week Ahead” layout to predict what the immediate seven days will bring you or your querent. She tends to focus on the immediate future, which makes sense. I have never understood looking beyond a few weeks. Anything could change and isn’t that the whole point? To see what’s ahead so you can make changes?

Chapter Two she introduces the Major Arcana. She presents each card, starting with The Fool and ending with The World, with the picture of the card on one side of the page and the text on the other. On my laptop, I have the picture and the text on the screen at the same time. She gives an “upright meaning” of two or three paragraphs, and then a more in depth look at how each particular card can affect the querent in the areas of career and money, relationships, and at home. Then she considers the “reversed meaning” of the card. Unlike many Tarot books, she doesn’t say that the reversed card is a “blockage” or it’s a “muted” meaning of the upright card. Nor does she have an upside-down view of the card, either. For instance, her analysis of the reversed Fool is this: “Is what you’re proposing – or a situation – a leap too far? The Fool reversed brings out his irresponsible side, as his mouth works ahead of his brain…” (page 17). I like that she tells it like it is. No sugar-coating.

The last thing she has for each card is a “Wisdom Message”. Each one is different for each card. Naturally, for the Fool it’s “Leap, but look first.” (page 17). For Strength, it’s “With strength, you can discover your higher purpose.” (page 33). The Moon card’s Wisdom Message is “Be guided by the messages from your unconscious.” (page 53).

It’s the same with the Minor Arcana, which she covers in Chapter Three. The descriptions of the cards are succinct, to the point, and spot-on. Unlike the Major Arcana, she does not have an in depth look at how the card affects career, money, relationships and home life – perhaps because each suit has a particular strength in each of these areas. But she does mention how, for instance, Aces affect a reading – she writes, “… one Ace brings a focus on the life area according to the suit, which can set the theme of the reading.” (page 63). She goes on to say what two Aces in a reading mean (an important partnership); three Aces (good news); four Aces (excitement, potential). (page 63). She does the same thing with the court cards. Two pages mean friendship but rivalry if they’re reversed; three pages mean lots of social activities; four pages mean a social group of young people. (page 111).

At the end of the book, there is an index to make looking up any card or concept a breeze. I cannot recommend this book highly enough; as I said earlier, as soon as I can find it in book form, I plan to purchase it. I want it on my actual hands and not just on my laptop. But until then, I will be referencing it as an eBook! This book is my new favorite Tarot book. Check out The Tarot Companion: A Portable Guide to Reading the Cards for Yourself and Others  Liz Dean today!

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Dean, Liz. The Tarot Companion: A Portable Guide to Reading the Cards for Yourself and Others. Beverly, MA: Fair Winds Press, 2018.


About the Author:

Polly MacDavid lives in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change, since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has three cats who all help her with her magic.

Her philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan and she is solitary.

She blogs at silverapplequeen.wordpress.com. She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.