21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card - Mary K. Greer
“It’s often assumed that the answers are in the cards and that we, as readers, should point them out. But whose answers? And what if there are no answers in the cards, only questions? My philosophy is that there are usually multiple responses to any question and that all answers lie within the person seeking them.” – From the book

Mary K. Greer, author of popular books such as Tarot for Yourself and Understanding the Tarot Court, has developed a new “bag of tricks” for Tarot readers, with the intent to foster interactive, transformational, and empowering readings. In 21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card, Greer offers twenty-one stimulating, interactive techniques designed to engage powers of observation, interpretation, and intuition. While many of the techniques are geared towards in-person readings and receiving real-time feedback from the querent, Tarot readers who read via email or phone—as well as for themselves—will also discover exciting approaches to the cards.

With lucid explanations and examples, Greer invites readers to stretch, embody, synthesize, and play with Tarot images, themes, and symbols. Rather than consulting the Tarot as a cosmic 8-ball with definitive answers, the author’s approach coaxes additional questions from the cards, probing the psyche and revealing innate wisdom.

Among the techniques offered in 21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card are:

• Emotion
• Range
• Symbols
• Numbers
• Dignity and Theme
• Dialogs
• Myth and Archetypes

Each approach has two levels of use, called the apprentice and the adept. The apprentice exercises provide a quick overview of card messages. The adept level takes you more deeply into concepts with variations and intriguing activities.

At Step 1, we’re encouraged to shuffle a Tarot deck, asking, “What do I most need to look at in my life right now?” After drawing three cards, pick one. This will be the “chosen card” that you’ll explore using all twenty-one techniques. After doing 99% of the activities in the book, I can guarantee that if you do most of the exercises, your understanding of a card will expand exponentially. It would certainly take a good deal of time to put each of the 78 cards through its paces using the twenty-one techniques, but the process will yield immeasurable insights.

When I began reading 21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card, I selected the 7 of Cups as my “chosen” card. It seemed appropriate for me, especially since my Enneagram personality is Type 7, my numerological Life Path number is 7, and my Soul Number is 7—which means all of the Minor Arcana 7’s are relevant to me. In addition, astrologically speaking, I happen to have Venus in Scorpio, which is the attribution for this particular card. 7 of cups is also among my Soul Lessons and Opportunities Cards (consult Tarot for Yourself for more information).

I received great insights on the 7 of Cups (as well as myself), and especially enjoyed the exercises on Emotion (pg.15), Story (pg. 22), Number (pg. 33), Metaphor (pg. 67), and the 3 Card “Drawing” (pg. 173). The 3 Card “Drawing”, which is a technique featured in Llewellyn’s 2006 Tarot Reader, proved to be intriguing. I don’t enjoy drawing, but every time I do this particular exercise, I’m always glad I did. I drew the Queen of Cups, 6 of Cups (my Destiny card!), and 8 of Wands. By melding some components together per Greer’s suggestion (with a vast array of crayons on hand!), a Queenly godmother descends from the sky, walking on spiral steps made of the 8 wands. She offers the two children a huge bouquet of flowers, which they reach towards with smiling faces and outstretched hands. A house is in the background, a wading pool is in the foreground, and fluffy clouds, green grass, and a shining sun finish the scene.

Using the Emotion exercise, there were about 20 cards that I had difficulty ascribing information to, at first. But as I concentrated—trying to ascertain the one feeling evoked from the card—layers of emotion and psychological insight bubbled to the surface. Other books have suggested tapping into the emotion of a card, but they usually lump this in with other observational exercises. By forcing myself to isolate a sole emotion, I found new ways of looking at a card.

With 310 pages, 21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card features dozens of illustrations, including card images from 25 different decks such as the Stick Figure Tarot, Shining Tribe, Shapeshifter, Quest Tarot, Robin Wood Tarot, and Motherpeace. In addition to the in-depth exercises, there are nine appendices rich with referential and practical information. These appendices feature 40 elemental dignity combinations, number and rank keyword chart, traps and solutions when doing readings, an archetypal motifs chart and more. The archetypal motifs chart lacks information on the Sun card, which is an unfortunate publishing error.

If you’re interested in deepening your understanding of the Tarot, forming a personal bond with your deck, or enhancing your abilities as a reader, 21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card is an excellent experiential guide for connecting with the cards. Greer offers imaginative exercises with practical applications, and the activities in the book must be done (rather than thought about) for maximum benefit. This book belongs on the shelf of every Tarot reader, in my opinion.

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