Tarot Beyond the Basics (Review)

In my other life, I read and review a LOT of books, which means I’m a member of NetGalley. When I saw this book come up in my radar, I couldn’t resist, and I requested a copy of this book. Thanks again to Llewelyn Worldwide for providing this galley free of charge, in exchange for my honest review.

I am so glad that I did.


Tarot Beyond the Basics: Gain a Deeper Understanding of the Meanings Behind the Cards by Anthony LouisTarot Beyond the Basics: Gain a Deeper Understanding of the Meanings Behind the Cards
by Anthony Louis
Coming: April 8, 2014

My Rating: ★★★★★

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Most tarot books are for beginners. Here, Anthony Louis, famous for Tarot Plain & Simple, shares decades of insights and information that can help you become an advanced practitioner. Not merely “more of the same,” Louis provides real world examples of how to use your intuition to improve your readings, how to understand tarot reversals and how to include the meanings of numbers, the elements, and the tarot’s court cards.

Louis reveals the common background of astrology and tarot, explaining astrology for tarot readers clearly and in a way that makes sense. Then he shows how to use the tarot with astrological concepts to give advanced readings that change people’s lives.


I had intended to write this review a month before the book’s release date, and here it is almost two months AFTER. Partially, this is due to my overstuffed schedule and ridiculously hectic life, but partially this is because Tarot Beyond the Basics was way more intense than I had expected it to be!

Research, organization, and information collecting are some of my favorite things, so when I saw how comprehensive and complete this book was, I just fell in love. Certainly, this means that there were some chapters I couldn’t delve very deeply into (I don’t know enough about astrology to get much out of those chapters — yet), but the rest of the book was just a joy to read.

As tarot readers we use the cards intuitively to trigger associations derived from our life history, the metaphorical meanings of our native language and culture, our own study and theoretical understanding of the cards, and our personal as well as the collective unconscious.

One thing I appreciate most about this book is that Louis doesn’t just go with what he knows — he references information, history, techniques, and anecdotes from all kinds of tarot (and other esoteric) authorities. His personal accounts, anecdotes, metaphors, and interpretations made this book so much fun to read.

There are whole chapters on different aspects of the tarot, including: astrology, numerology, intuition, shuffling, how different decks can affect a reading, the elements, sarcasm, and more! I can’t tell you how many passages I highlighted throughout this book — either because I just liked the quote, or I wanted to remember the techniques/information for later. I gained a much deeper and more complete understanding of the cards and I feel like I have a thick resource to refer to now!

…what if a tarot divination is valid only if the querent shuffles the deck with the sincere intent to receive a valid answer from the cards?

To date, Tarot Beyond the Basics is probably my favorite resource for tarot. You can bet I will be adding a physical copy to my shelves as soon as possible!

New Collage Cards!

I know…

I’ve been WAY too absent, but life has been so hectic I barely been able to keep myself together. I’ve even had a few things I’ve wanted to to readings about but right now I can’t even remember what they are — only that I know they are still unresolved. Ouch.

In any case…

I’ve been in a bit of an artistic groove lately, which as been quite satisfying. I’ve got some new ideas for backs and additional textures for my collage cards. We’re starting a whole new round soon, beginning with The Fool! I’m excited to get a whole new start on a new deck, now that I’ve had over a year to practice!

On that note…

I’ve finally gotten off my arse and added a BUNCH of new cards to my collage page. When studying the pips, instead of focusing on one card each night, we studied each number and attempted to make all four of that particular pip in one night. The first few were easy — I got all four aces and all four twos in one night, but as things continued, that got harder and harder to maintain.

I also missed a few nights, so I didn’t get to make the fives or tens (even though I had some ideas for a few of those already), but I’ve added the ones I did make for the threes, fours, sixes, sevens, eights, and nines!

So without further ado…

You can see them all on my collage-my-own-tarot page, but here are a few of my favorites.

Six of Pentacles - 02/21/14 Seven of Cups - 02/28/14 Nine of Swords - 03/14/14

Five Months Later

Last September, my longtime friend and tarot mentor gave me the ultimate birthday gift: a tarot reading. It was full of all kinds of advice and wisdom that I knew I needed to take to heart. She made some fantastic observations and some great suggestions, so in an effort to be mindful of this, I set the spread image as my computer’s desktop wallpaper.

…Five months later, I still haven’t acted on it.


So today I decided to read back through her email again (I do this periodically, to remind myself of all the richness within), and discovered that I’ve been making some strides toward these things in any case, without even realizing it!

It feels like there is the strong possibility that you could really come into your own this year, however: the Actress needs to remove her mask first and let herself be her self.

The Actress - Journey Oracle

The Actress – Journey Oracle

And right at this moment of typing that, I’m reminded of the connection you felt to the sigil for desire -Is there something you’ve buried, or hidden? Something you’ve neglected because it wasn’t “important” enough? It might be time to grab a shovel or a dust cloth and re-examine those things to see what latent potential they might have, even if the only purpose is to bring you joy.

The thing is, when you starve one area, the rest suffer too – much like the Actress who hides her true self behind her mask, denying who she really is in order to play a role. How soon before she forgets who she really is? I get the sense, though, from the overall tone of the rest of the reading, that this is a card of change (as all 5s are). I think the situation here is one that is about to change, or _can_ be changed.

There a few key things that stuck out to me this time:

  1. The idea hiding my true self behind a mask, and needing to change this.
  2. Starving in one area of my life (due to focusing heavily on another one).
  3. Pursuing passions that I may have neglected or dismissed as not important enough.

All three of these themes have been moving toward the front-and-center area of my life lately, mostly all due to the same project! This year, I teamed up with two of my best friends and started a whole new online project, which has yielded a variety of interesting results.

1. I started using a real-photo-of-me avatar on the website and various social media sites tied to it.
This is something I hadn’t really wanted to do, but felt it was appropriate and almost necessary, because of the goals of the project (and to maintain a sense of cohesion, since both of my partners use real-photo avatars). Though the avatar I had been using for a long time was an artistic representation of my actual face, using a real photo is quite different.

The avatar I switched to was also a deliberate choice. It shows me in my natural state: dorky. (Honestly, I think it’s impossible for me to make a normal face in photos — I just can’t do it!) My husband doesn’t like it because he says it doesn’t represent the real me, but I argued him down. This shows me as I am, in a very candid way. While it would have been easier to choose a photo that just makes me look attractive and nice and pretty (which is certainly what my husband would have preferred), I knew that just wasn’t the route I wanted or needed to go.

(After a few weeks of using this new avatar, I have to admit that I am getting tired of seeing my goofy face, but I think this is important because it’s almost forcing me to become comfortable with the essence of who I am — and showing that to the people I encounter.)

2. I realized that I had been severely starved in the creative area of my life, and now that its being fed, I feel better in the other areas of my life, too.
The project I embarked on pretty much fell into my lap from the universe, like it was this gift from my muse, all packaged and ready-to-use. It has served as a conduit for many of the things I used to enjoy doing: web design, programming, graphic design, and personal expression. Working on it — and with two people who understand and motivate me in just the right ways — has been fulfilling and satisfying in a way that I haven’t felt in many years.

Thanks to this, I might spend a bit less time with my husband, but it feels like a necessary compromise. I realized I was spending too much time focusing on Work and Husband and not enough time on Creative Me. It’s amazing how much better I feel when I get to express my creative side on a regular basis — and how much it feeds me with even more creative juices!

3. I’ve begun (or have made plans to begin) pursuing other neglected passions.
Working on this project with these two friends has not only fueled my creative passions in that particular area, but each of these women has individually inspired me to get off my duff and start working on other things I’ve been wanting to do as well!

One of them keeps bombarding me with her mixed media art projects (pictures and descriptions of her processes) and it just makes me anxious with the desire to get back into that as well — and to try out new media that I’ve been daydreaming about for YEARS!

The other continues to hint at creative writing ideas that both of us have. We often tell each other about how we want to write stories/novels, but we don’t work on them for various reasons. We have now made it a goal to encourage each other to do this and share our writing with each other as a means of accountability and motivation.

Tarot amazes me.

You’d think by now that I’d be used to the cards being accurate and telling it like it is. But every time, I’m still just blown away by how complete and deep their messages are. I am grateful for every single reading I get, and I love the way that the cards’ advice just works its way into my spirit and helps me grow.

Irmata, if you’re reading this: thank you, so much.

365 Tarot Spreads (Review)

In my other life, I read and review a LOT of books, which means I’m a member of NetGalley. When I saw this book come up in my radar, I couldn’t resist, and I requested a copy of this book. Thanks again to Llewelyn Worldwide for providing this galley free of charge, in exchange for my honest review.

This book was an excellent choice!


365 Tarot Spreads: Revealing the Magic in Each Day by Sasha Graham365 Tarot Spreads: Revealing the Magic in Each Day
by Sasha Graham
Coming: May 8, 2014

My Rating: ★★★★★
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For many cartomancers, tarot is a hallowed daily practice. Now you can navigate important life choices every day, all year with 365 Tarot Spreads. Featuring spreads for multi-cultural traditions, holidays, rituals, lore, and magic, this daily guide explores a tarot quest for every occasion and helps you discern answers to any question with interesting and magical results. Use 365 Tarot Spreads year after year with spreads falling on every possible calendar date. Each one is based on an important historical, magical, or fascinating occurrence on that particular date in history. This daily guide is concerned with the essential journey to find truth and answers, rooted in every spread with topics from love and money to career and life path. With an explanation of each spread and questions to focus on while reading, you’ll achieve your quest for answers every day.


My Thoughts on the Book

This book is exactly what the title says. It contains 365 different tarot spreads, each one assigned to a particular date, from January 1 through December 31 (including February 29). At first I was a little surprised that they were assigned to specific dates, but once I realized the depth and care taken for each choice, it all made sense.

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Daily Draw Stats for 2013

As a reminder from last year: I am a huge nerd and I am way too interested in statistics. I love compiling lists and spreadsheets and then collecting statistics from those lists and spreadsheets and then creating pretty-looking charts and graphs with the information. Since I’ve been tracking daily draws on a calendar since late 2011, I thought it would be a cool idea to compile some spreadsheets and charts and stuff, with which to see if any trends appeared.

Since I’d already created all of my spreadsheet and graph templates for the 2012 stats, collecting my information every day in 2013 was super easy! And at the end of the year, I had all my charts and graphs already made and waiting for me to put them in a post! Why did it take me so long to publish this post then? Well, you see. I am busy. And strangely, since there was actually less work involved this time, it didn’t seem quite as exciting. WEIRD.

First, some general observations

Page of Cups - 09/07/13

My collage version of the Page of Cups

  • Card drawn most frequently: Page of Cups
    • Drawn 12 times in 2013
    • Concentrated in September – December
    • Drawn mostly on Mondays, Wednesday, and Thursdays
  • Card drawn least in 2013: Four of Swords (I did not draw this card ONCE in 2013!)
  • There was not any card that appeared every single month.
  • There was not one card that appeared on every single day of the week at some point throughout the year.
  • There was not one weekday on which every single card of a particular suit was drawn at some point throughout the year.

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