Friday, June 24, 2016

Booknote: The Creative Tarot

Jessa Crispin, The Creative Tarot: a Modern Guide to an Inspired Life. New York: Touchstone Books, 2016.  ISBN: 9781501120237.

Genre: nonfiction
Subgenre: creativity, inspiration, Tarot, advice, spirituality
Format: trade paperback
Source: Initially, the Berea branch of the Madison County (KY) Public Library. I have since bought a personal copy. 

This is probably the best book on Tarot I have read so far. Though it is a book for creative types, anyone who is learning to read Tarot cards and starting their journey can get much benefit from this book. If you are a Tarot veteran, you can still get valuable insights from the book. However, you do not have to be a Tarot cards reader to use this book. If you are a writer, an artist, painter, etc., you can use the images and symbols of the Tarot for inspiration in your creative work.

Tarot cards are often seen as esoteric and mystical, which to many people means they are inaccessible and strange. The author does a great job of demystifying the cards they can be more approachable. The strength in the book is that she has made the card meanings more relevant and accessible to modern readers. As I read through the book, I found that I could relate better to the meanings and understand the basics better. I say I can relate better because as a writer and blogger I found much inspiration in the his book.

The book is arranged in a way similar to other Tarot guides. You get the following components:

  • A brief introduction.
  • Some history of the Tarot. Yet this is not just some standard history. Crispin looks at Tarot and artists, plus she tells her own history with Tarot. 
  • A description and profile of each card in a Tarot deck. This is the bulk of the book. Unlike other Tarot book where a section like this can be seriously dry reading, Crispin makes the reading here light and very accessible. 
  • A section on spreads. She provides five simple spreads to help with creativity issues like getting through a creative block. She explains the spread briefly and then provides a sample spread reading to illustrate the lesson. 
  • A section on how to do a Tarot reading. This includes tips on how to pick out a deck, setting things up, and reading for others among a variety of topics. 
  • A short conclusion. 
 Let me add also a bit more detail on the card entries. Each card entry in this book features:

  • An illustration of the card. This is basically Rider Waite Smith images, which is considered a classic standard. Odds are good many people starting with Tarot picked up an RWS deck to start out. However, many decks draw from RWS or are derived from it. If you are using something other than an RWS deck, you will probably be OK. 
  •  A description of the image and symbols in the each card. This includes the basic meaning of a card. 
  • Further information on the card. This is includes expanding on the meaning. It also features stories and anecdotes about famous artists and how they dealt with the creative process. Much of the strength of the book is looking at those stories and seeing how Tarot can offer insights into creativity using those real life examples. Remembering these stories can also help Tarot students better remember some of the card meanings; this is something I find useful as I am learning Tarot. 
  • A small selection of recommended materials about the sample artists. This could be a book, a film, a work of art, a piece of music, etc. 
Overall, this is a very clear and accessible book. For Tarot learners seeking a learning tool that is easy to read and mostly free of jargon or vague meanings, this is a great choice. On the other hand, if you are just a creative type seeking inspiration, this may be a book for you as well. You don't even have to get a Tarot deck; reading the stories and how they connect to Tarot can provide plenty of ideas to get your creativity going. For me, this book serves me well both as a write and as Tarot learner. If I have to have one book on Tarot so far, this is definitely it. Crispin's work is bright and open. You feel that you can learn Tarot, and it is a book you can refer to as much as needed. Though I initially borrowed this from my local public library, I went out and bought a copy for myself. I highly recommend this one, and it makes a good selection for libraries, especially if they do not have a whole lot on Tarot.

5 out of 5 stars.

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Additional reading note:

Possible book for further reading listed in Crispin's book:

The Tarot: History, Symbolism, and Divination by Robert Michael Place. ISBN: 9781585423491.

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This book qualifies for the following 2016 Reading Challenges:

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