Tarot for Self Discovery
by Nina Lee Braden
For anyone who wants to explore tarot as a tool for self-discovery, insight, or personal growth, this is the perfect book to do so with. It is highly imaginative, and I am honestly more impressed with author Nina Lee Braden's creative work than with any other tarot work I have come across in a long time.
It is presented so unpretentiously; I didn't expect it would pack the powerful punch it did for me, as I worked through numerous activities, closely following Braden's warm and clear instructions. Like many other Llewellyn titles, Tarot for Self Discovery
is accessible to everyone. This means it is easily understandable, without insulting the reader's intelligence; and it is clear and concise, without being a bit boring. It also has a good dose of personal experience, as Braden shares with us her own process of learning, and then of teaching. What a great teacher she must be to work with in person! Her exercises were sometimes created for her own needs, but were also developed for her students, or friends, as well.
Braden has organized her book into several sections. There is "Easy Tarot for Self-Discovery Exercises," which includes such titles as, "Who Am I?" "Happy Feet," and "My Tarot Neighborhood;" a section of intermediate exercises which delve a little more reflectively into our personal issues, and a unique section that addresses "Special Occasions and Situations," that might deal with our relationship with our fathers, what cars and driving mean to us (!), or healing from specific emotional wounds. Many of the exercises are named after Braden's own favorite songs, most of which will be quite familiar to us all. There is a great sense of lightness and humor to this book, which perhaps balances out the heavy work we can do with it.
Frankly, I like creating my own spreads and exercises, and have a hard time following directions to the tee, or using workbooks. I like to improvise too much, and go my own way. Braden implores us to follow her directions, and although she permits us to make a few minor changes here or there, we do need to finish each exercise for it to share its real potency. What I found while doing these exercises was that I was creating spontaneous magic with them. Really! And, in doing magic, the final steps are always significant.
How Braden created these exercises, I don't really know. That she intuitively designed exercises so unique and effective, while remaining lighthearted and fun . demonstrates her true understanding of tarot, and compassion for others.
Braden's exercises require that we choose cards face-up, consciously selecting cards in response to the questions or instructions given for each exercise. Yes, this is different. We're used to shuffling, cutting, and keeping the images hidden from us. After we have chosen a card (or cards), we respond based on the instructions in the exercise, meanwhile recording our responses in our tarot journal, or in a notebook, etc. From start to finish, these exercises are engaging, challenging, stimulating, cause us to be keenly introspective, and are highly successful. They enact changes, not only in perception or understanding, but also in actuality. This is why it feels so much like real magic.
People experienced with tarot will need to sort of put on hold their preconceived ideas about specific cards. But, being used to opening up intuitively, most readers should have no problem allowing themselves to respond to the cards without thinking about their meanings. Tarot beginners will enjoy learning what a broad range of possibilities tarot offers us, in learning about ourselves. I should make it clear that this book does not teach tarot card meanings, tarot spreads, or tarot divination. You won't read how to tell your future here. However, you will be taught how tarot can help you create the future you truly desire on the deepest level. It will help you put in motion the key actions you need to take to get going, with plans, projects, healing, recovery, relationships, personal gain, success, spirituality, or . simple self-discovery.
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Book review by Nellie Levine
Illumination Tarot has been publishing articles, reviews, tarot spreads, and personal reflections for tarot enthusiasts and followers of alternative spirituality online since 1999.
All writing, reviews, and photography © Nellie Levine - Illumination Tarot, unless otherwise noted. 1999-2022