Author: Janina Renee
Trade Paperback, 416 pages
Publication date: September 2001
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Additional books by this author
Janina Renee is well known in the Neo-Pagan community for her book, Tarot Spells, on using the Tarot in magick. She has written a new introductory book on the Tarot, Tarot for a New Generation, aimed at the needs of teens and young adults.
My first book on the Tarot -- and for a long time, my only book on the Tarot -- was Eden Gray's A Complete Guide to the Tarot. While this book served me well, I remember my early frustration with its often quite limited description of the cards and scanty information on card interpretations. In Tarot for a New Generation, Janina presents a wealth of useful information that would have made learning the Tarot much easier for me had I somehow been able to obtain a copy back in 1972.
Tarot for a New Generation is divided into two major parts: background and card interpretations. The first five chapters (about a quarter of the book) cover the basics of what the Tarot is, its history, choosing decks, caring for decks, how to select a significator if one chooses to use one, how to select a tarot layout, dealing with reversed cards and card gender issues, and suggestions for using non-standard decks. The fourth chapter breaks from tradition and gives detailed sample readings before going through all the card interpretations. This works much better than one might think because it shows the new student of the Tarot that the card interpretations later in the book aren't holy writ. The last chapter in this section talks about other uses for the Tarot. In addition to the obvious uses for meditation, visualization, and magick, Renee shows how the Tarot can be used as a memory aid and to help overcome certain learning disabilities.
The meat of the book, however, is in the last six chapters which provide a detailed examination of each card in the deck and suggest possible ways each card could be interpreted in various situations. The Major Arcana, the Court Cards, and the numbered cards of each suit are given a chapter of their own. In another break from more traditional introductory books, illustrations are not from the Rider-Waite-Smith deck. Each card interpretation is illustrated with a picture of the card under discussion in three different decks: the Legend deck (a King Arthur themed deck), the World Spirit deck (a multi-racial, multi-cultural deck), and the Universal Tarot (a modern variant of the Waite deck). Given the wide variety of Tarot decks available now, illustrations from three quite different decks should make it much easier for beginners to see the common themes in cards that are found in the majority of decks.
Each card is given a three or four page description. Unlike many books which give detailed interpretation suggestions, Tarot for a New Generation does not use a set of standard question areas (for example: health, wealth, romance, work, play) and provide interpretation suggestions for each of those areas for each card. Instead, Renee bases the categories of interpretation on each card. For example, the interpretation suggestions for The Emperor cover areas such as authority, blessing, father figures, intellect, parenting issues, responsibility, success, and patriarchy while those for the Five of Cups cover areas such as activity, loss and regret, relationships, and survival issues. While this may not be as organized as it would be if specific categories were used, I think it gives a better feel for the each card. This is one of the few introductory books which treats the court cards as fully as the other cards in the deck -- a major point in its favor given the interpretation problems many novices have with these sixteen cards.
Tarot for a New Generation is an excellent introduction to the Tarot, especially for teens and young adults. Older adults could use this book to learn the Tarot as well as it is a well-written, gentle introduction to the art. However, older adult novices may find many of the youth-oriented card interpretations a bit frustrating. If so, they might want to supplement it with a book with interpretations more oriented toward adults. (This reviewer would suggest Power Tarot by Trish MacGregor and Phyllis Vega.) In Tarot for a New Generation, Janina Renee has written one of the best introductions to the Tarot in years and the only one I know of aimed at the needs of young adults. It would make an excellent gift for any teen or young adult developing an interest in the Tarot.
Reviewed by Randall
Additional Books by Janina Renee