Designed to bring about interaction, transformation, and empowerment, this twenty-one-pronged approach to tarot can help readers evolve new ways of connecting to the cards
by Mary K. Greer
21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card is a boon to every tarot reader who has ever sought more information on how to interpret any one of the 72 cards which constitute a standard deck. An amateur reader could not ask for a better introduction; a veteran reader still has plenty to learn with Greer’s thought-provoking exercises.
Greer instructs the reader to pull just one card in the beginning of this book — and that card will be used as the basis of the 21 lessons that follow. Since I own several decks, I thought about which one I would use and decided upon Kris Waldherr’s lovely The Lover’s Path Tarot Set. Greer instructed asking “What do I most need to look at in my life right now?” when choosing the card. The author suggested pulling three cards before choosing which to work with and I suppose I felt (overly) confident in my psychic abilities enough to select just one. Happily, it was the Queen of Coins which I immediately felt — or wished — had to do with an aspect of myself.
But let’s backtrack just a bit. Greer has close to four decades of experience in the tarot. The premise of this text is that just as the 26 letters of the alphabet can be combined to form billions of words, the author’s 21 methods can be used in any combination for gaining new insights and perspectives. The learning experience can be amazing, tarot readings can certainly gain an insight on mental and spiritual pathways.
Many of the exercises focus on really looking at the card. So many times in readings, cards are grouped together and details get glossed over. The author instructs us to study the background that the artist depicts or, if there is a figure illustrated, the pose of the person. The feelings the card evoke is also a lesson in and of itself. Most of the information gained will be experiential. There is a guided meditation that puts you right into the card! More traditional meanings are given as well. For instance, the queen “is the mature, authoritative yin or feminine energy that nurtures, supports, and manages. It is often associated with sympathy, understanding, and intuition. It shows mastery and expertise expressed on an inner or interpersonal level.”
Greer believes in what she calls R.I.T.E. — which stands for Reading Interactively for Transformation and Empowerment. Five characteristics of a R.I.T.E. reading environment are loving presence in a sacred space; curiosity; exploration; affirmation; and activation. Hidden away all the way in the back of the text is Appendix H: Traps and Solutions in R.I.T.E. This alone is worth the price of the book for professional readers. An example of a trap is “trying to ‘fix’ a person or situation.” The solution is “accept that you aren’t going to fix in one 15- to 90- minute session what has taken a person a lifetime to develop, and for which they may have already spent several years in therapy.”
This book can be useful for many years, which is about how long it would take if one was to take every card in a deck and carry out the suggested lessons. When you think about how one can own multiple decks, it seems like this could be a lifetime resource that would be very valuable indeed.
Review by Diane Saarinen
21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card
by Mary K. Greer
Llewellyn Publications, 2006
310 pp., $16.95