Friday, May 26, 2017

Booknote: Tarot Court Cards for Beginners

Leeza Robertson, Tarot Court Cards for Beginners: Bring Clarity to your Readings. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Worldwide, 2017. ISBN: 9780738750163.

Worldcat record here.
Publisher information here.

Genre: nonfiction
Subgenre: Tarot, divination, spirituality, reference
Format: e-book galley
Source: NetGalley

I recently read this as a bit of a mistake. I requested a book from the publisher via NetGalley, and in place of the book they advertised, it had the file for this one. On a happy note, the publisher eventually fixed the issue. I got to read the other book too, but in the meantime I gave this one a try. I found it to be pretty good for what it does: give you some help in understanding the Tarot court cards. 

Before, I go on, let me provided a bit from the book's description:

"Tarot expert Leeza Robertson has discovered that for a majority of tarot readers, the court cards are the most challenging cards to work with. But once you become familiar with  these enigmatic figures, you can turn them into friends and allies that provide powerful insights and advice. With stories, explanations, simple exercises, and meditations, this book explores the many facets of pages, knights, kings, and queens to help beginning and novice readers deepen their journey through the tarot."

I can agree with that. I often struggle with the court cards because I can't quite decide if they refer to a person (someone else or me) or if they refer to some other issue or trait. A nice thing I like when I use Lyle's book to check on meanings is that Lyle gives an additional meaning option for looking at court cards in abstract terms. Personally, I tend to find that a bit more helpful in my daily Tarot meditations. Robertson's book provides a new way to look at these cards.

The book is arranged into 6 major parts. Here is a basic outline of the organization:

  • Brief history of Tarot, includes terminology, and a bit on the Emperor and Empress and their role.
  • The Pages, Princesses, and Children. There is then a chapter for Knights and  Princes, The Queens, and the Kings. Each of these chapters includes: 
    • History, myth, and legend.
    • Material on the court cards as a person, archetypal influence, and as messenger. 
    • Each chapter then ends with exercises and spreads you can try out. 
    • On the court card chapters, Robertson writes, "each of these chapters end with two connection exercises. One is a journal or meditation exercises and the other is a spread specific to the cards in general" (3).
  • Sixth chapter is "bringing the kingdoms together." This has four exercises to try out to help you bring it all together. 
  • The book then ends with  a section on recommended reading. 
Robertson explains that this is a book for beginners:

"Before that, let's get something clear: this book is designed with a beginner in mind, and even though I do offer some beyond beginner tips and exercises, this is really for those of you struggling to make sense of these sixteen cards. That said, this book is meant  to work with Rider-Waite-Smith-inspired tarot decks as I will be looking at them as the primary source of understanding. There are also sections in this book dedicated to members of the royal court from Thoth-influenced decks. So no matter what sort of deck you hold in your hands, your members of court will be mentioned" (2).

The author uses these decks used for illustration: Llewellyn's Classic Tarot, the Gaian Tarot, and the Tarot of the Hidden Realm. This is so you can see the same card as expressed in different ways by different authors and artists. In addition, the inclusion of various exercises and writing prompts helps to make the book more practical.

Overall, the book is easy to read and very accessible. Robertson's framing of the court cards as part  of larger stories can be helpful if you are trying to grasp the meanings of the court cards. The book provides plenty of opportunities to study and reflect on what you learn to help reinforce the learning process. This was one I really liked, and I think Tarot learners who are beginners will find it helpful.

4 out of 5 stars.

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Additional reading notes:

On that whole Emperor and Empress thing. Robertson proposes we see the court as part of a story and Tarot as a land with a ruler and local governors/kings:

"The best way to go from here is to understand that the tarot itself is a vast and wondrous land. It  is so vast that the Emperor who controls all of it cannot rule it on his own. He just can not rule it on his own. He just cannot be in all places at once so he keeps the regional aristocracy in power to maintain the kingdoms. The kingdom of wands in the east, the kingdom of cups in the south, the kingdom of pentacles in the west and the kingdom of swords in the north. But it is the emperor and he alone who gets the final say on things within the land of tarot, for his power is absolute" (11)

Another way to look at it:

"Another way to think of this tarot empire is to view the emperor and empress as the whole package, a complete and total ruling couple, and the kings and queens of the suits as parts of their personality. The cups, emotional; the wands, active; the swords, intellectual processing; and pentacles, physical resources. In this scenario, the royal families of the minor arcana become inner archetypes of the emperor and empress" (12).

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This book qualifies for the following 2017 Reading Challenges:

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