Beginner's Guide to Tarot - Juliet Sharman-Burke and Giovanni Caselli
“The tarot images work on an unconscious level; they are like mirrors reflecting knowledge buried in the deepest realms of the mind. That dark, unconscious part of the mind contains knowledge that the conscious mind is unaware of, and the tarot acts as a bridge between the two, using the archetypal nature of the imagery to feed information from unconscious to conscious mind.” – From the book

My first introduction to the Sharman-Caselli Tarot deck was through the innovative Tarot Workbook by Juliet Sharman-Burke. Using large, uncolored imagery from the Sharman-Caselli deck, readers are invited to color in the images according to their own associations, as well as record relevant symbols that seem to stand out and journal spontaneous associations.

I then moved on to My Tarot, which is an actual uncolored version of the Sharman-Caselli deck. Because I have carpal tunnel syndrome, I chose not to keep that deck, but I was hooked enough on the imagery to look for a bona fide version of this particular Tarot deck.

I stumbled onto The Tarot Box published by Barnes and Noble, which happily included the Sharman-Caselli deck—but it was only a mini-version, with cards measuring approximately 3 ¼ x 2 inches. Surely, I thought, there must be a full-size version of this deck!

So as I searched, I found the Beginner’s Guide to Tarot—which contains a full-size version of the Sharman-Caselli deck. YAY! Mission accomplished!

While I was thrilled to (finally) get my hands on these 4 ¾ x 2 ¾ inch cards, I was surprised to find a first-rate 192-page companion book accompanying the Sharman-Caselli deck!

I often get emails requesting recommendations for book and deck sets geared towards absolute beginners. Unfortunately, there’s not many out there. Now, I can confidently recommend the Beginner’s Guide to Tarot deck and book set.

For those unfamiliar with this particular deck, the Sharman-Caselli Tarot is a full-color deck based on the Rider-Waite tradition. Besides the lovely coloring, what I like most about this deck is the incredible amount of movement and expression among the figures.

For example, The Chariot careens right towards the viewer (look out!), and the guy in the Lovers card scratches his chin in what appears to be indecision (or maybe he’s afraid to say the wrong thing and tick off one of the ladies beside him!).

If you like no-frills card backings, these are absent of any symbols or artwork—but plain it is not with a vibrant magenta hue with a thin silver inner border!

One unusual aspect of the glossy soft cover Beginner’s Guide to Tarot is the “packaging”: the companion book covers are stiff, and the end part extends beyond the book itself, loosely wrapping itself around toward the front. What I ended up doing was cut the back cover right along the crease, making it a (now) perfect book for reading and storing on the shelf (it would have been difficult to do either with the unusual packaging.)

The companion book features an abundance of useful information, including a solid introduction to Tarot and bi-color reproduction of each card with diagrams pointing out relevant symbols and their meanings. Also provided are each card’s theme, elemental association, explanation of the imagery and a thorough treatment of the divinatory meaning.

In my estimation, the Beginner’s Guide to Tarot is not only a fantastic set for those new to Tarot, but also contains a great reading deck based on RWS imagery. The Sharman-Caselli deck imagery teems with life and an array of possibilities, while the companion book is both engaging and instructive. Highly recommended!

Below are 12 images from this deck:

Images © Giovanni Caselli 2001. Text © Juliet Sharman-Burke 2001. Edition © Eddison Sadd Editions 2001.

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