Authors: Amber K & Azrael Arynn K
Trade Paperback, 272 pages
Publication date: May 2002
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In Heart of Tarot, Amber K and Azrael Arynn K offer a new method of Tarot reading that does not require strong psychic ability or memorizing card meanings. This intuitive approach, called Gestalt Tarot, was developed by one of Amber's early teachers, John McClimans. In this approach, the cards do not have set meanings. Instead, it relies on the subconcious of the person asking the question to provide the meaning. It works something like those cards with ink blots that one sees psychologists in old movies holding up and asking their patients, "What do you see in this card?"
The first section of the book discusses the Tarot and its history and introduces the Gestalt Tarot system. Where a traditional Tarot book would list the meaning of the cards, Heart of Tarot provides examples of interpretations that might come up in a Gestalt reading and asks the reader to list additional possibilities. It quickly becomes obvious that this method of Tarot reading requires cards with a well-illustrated minor arcana. Decks that only show a number of cups, wands, coins, or swords for their pip cards are not really appropriate for this type of reading. The last chapter of this section describes some card layouts which work well for a Gestalt reading.
The second section talks about the mechanics of Gestalt readings, both when reading for oneself and when reading for others. Two long sample readings (about 20 pages each) make the process of a Gestalt reading very clear. This section of the book is full of practical advice and warnings of pitfalls to avoid. It makes the Gestalt system seem very easy. However, while easy, the Gestalt Tarot system still takes practice to master.
The final section of the book contains information which, while written from the point of view of the Gestalt Tarot reader, would be useful for most Tarot readers regardless of the system they use. The authors discuss the skills and talents needed to be a professional Tarot reader as well as how to deal with clients who "present special challenges," including those who more properly might be called "troublemakers." This section includes a chapter full of ideas for teaching classes on Tarot reading and a short chapter on Tarot magick.
Two appendixes round out the book. The first talks about what "Gestalt psychology" is. The second provides a step-by-step summary guide of a Gestalt Tarot reading.
It's not often that a book presents a completely different way of reading the Tarot, so Heart of Tarot is a bit hard to judge. Only time will tell if the Gestalt Tarot system will catch on. However, I can say that the authors at least present their new system well. Both this book and the Gestalt system should be a boon to people who would like to read the Tarot but do not consider themselves psychic and who have trouble memorizing card meanings - quite a few people in my personal experience. To those people, I suggest buying a copy of this book as soon as you can. To others interested in the Tarot, I suggest at least looking at this book. Even if you are psychic enough to get your own TV show and have all the major interpretive systems memorized, you may encounter people for whom a Gestalt style reading would simply work better.
Reviewed by Randall