Author: Nina Lee Braden
Trade Paperback, 153 pages
Publication date: July 2002
Price & More Info: Click Here
When I was on the old GEnie Online Service (back in the days before the Internet was easily available outside of colleges), many members would encourage fellow member Nina Lee Braden to write a book on the Tarot. She clearly loved the Tarot, gave truly excellent readings, knew what she was talking about, and had a friendly but clear writing style. It's only been ten years or so, but Nina Lee finally did write a tarot book. I'm happy to report that Tarot for Self Discovery was worth the long wait.
While most people think of divination when they think of the Tarot, the Tarot is actually a set of rich symbols that can be used for many purposes. Tarot for Self Discovery isn't about reading the Tarot. It's about using the Tarot to better understand yourself. The introduction is written by Mary K. Greer, whose book Tarot for Yourself first brought this method of using the Tarot to the attention of the general public in 1984.
This book is organized simply and directly. The first chapter explains what the book is about. The second chapter starts off the actual tarot exercises with easy and generally more light-hearted ones. The third chapter, the longest in the book, provides more complex exercises that hold more potential for personal growth and transformation than those in the second chapter. The fourth chapter provides special tarot exercises for special occasions such as difficult relationships, weddings, and saying goodbye. The fifth chapter provides examples of how others have worked through some of the exercises. This is a very useful chapter, especially if this book is your first exposure to using a tarot deck to explore your thoughts and feelings instead of for divination or meditation. The last chapter suggests ways to create your own tarot exercises. Three appendixes follow briefly discussing the chakras, astrology, and the Golden Dawn.
By now you are probably wondering just what a "tarot exercise" is. Generally they are an examination of some aspect of yourself and/or your life using the tarot deck as a focus. Nina Lee's exercises usually ask you to go through the deck slowly and select a card (or cards in some cases) that best represent something to you. You then examine the card or cards you selected for insights and record those insights in a journal. There are many variations on this theme in the approximately 50 exercises in this book, of course. This probably sounds dry and very boring from my description, but if you have any interest at all in finding out why you are what you are, these exercises are far from boring -- especially as the author goes out of her way to make each exercise different and interesting.
You do not need to be a Tarot expert to use this book, but some basic knowledge of the Tarot will help. You'll also probably want at least one Tarot deck you like with lots of pictorial symbolism on both the Major and Minor Arcana. Tarot decks which just use pips for the Minor Arcana will be much less useful in most of the exercises.
I highly recommend this book to Pagans and Magicians. "Know Yourself" is a central theme of many Pagan and Magical traditions. Books like Nina Lee's provide a practical way to learn about yourself with methods that many people find more interesting than some of the more traditional methods of self-examination. Unless you just can't stand the Tarot -- or have no interest in self discovery -- Tarot for Self Discovery is a worthwhile addition to your life (and to your bookshelf, of course).
Reviewed by Randall