The Secret Language of Tarot
by Ruth Ann and Wald Amberstone
Weiser Books, 2008
284 pp., $24.95
Many years ago – I’ve been reading tarot cards for some time now – I gave up my Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) cards, thinking they were something like “flash cards” for beginner readers and now I had graduated to tarot decks whose designs took more of an artistic license. But after reading The Secret Language of Tarot, I realized I was wrong. The RWS deck is so rich in imagery that one never quite “gets it” and one can work with the symbols for possibly his or her entire lifetime, continuing to learn.
“Castles, pillars, banners, crowns…All these things, natural and artificial alike, are real, and they exist in what we call the real world. These same things are also symbols, and they exist, among other places, in the symbolic universe of tarot. There they serve the purpose that all symbols serve, which is to explain us to ourselves,” the Amberstones write.
This book is about exploring these symbols found in the RWS tarot deck. Paths and mountains; moon and stars – these all have meanings which can apply to everyday situations. “Mountains test your strengths, reveal your weaknesses, protect and hide you, elevate, separate, and purify. They give you a locale for your sacred stories and fairy tales and a symbol for your purest endeavors, highest goals, and greatest efforts.” After reading passages like this, you can imagine how my own readings changed when I began counting how many mountains I could see in the cards!
The authors also include meditations to better explore each tarot card, as well as a number of unique spreads that are quite innovative. I especially enjoyed the Crossroads, Path and Mountain spread (now that I had a better grasp of what mountains conveyed) and look forward to doing what is described as a powerful reading to hear a particular angel’s message to the querent – one that requires a bit more preparation that other readings.
So! Having been properly inspired – and educated – by the Amberstones, the next step for me is to re-acquire a RSW deck to get to know all over again. This book is a lovely resource which I will be working with for some time to come.
Review by Diane Saarinen. Learn more about Diane, including how to contact her for a tarot reading, at http://freespiritdiane.gaia.com/