Easy Tarot Kit - Josephine Ellershaw
“When the time comes and you have someone sitting in front of you for a reading, the bottom line is this—they don’t care how much technical knowledge you may have. They don’t want to be blinded by science or your amazing knowledge (however great it may be). What they want is an accurate reading…end of story.” – From the Easy Tarot Handbook

Using the popular Gilded Tarot by Ciro Marchetti, U.K. resident Josephine Ellershaw teaches Tarot newcomers how to learn the cards step-by-step using her own method she calls The Tarot Technique. Stressing the importance of maintaining a Tarot diary and getting to know the cards one at a time, Ms. Ellershaw leads readers by the hand in the Easy Tarot Kit, encouraging patience and focus along the journey.

Divided into twenty-two steps, the 223-page Easy Tarot Handbook bypasses the oft-customary history lesson, as well as complicated esoteric systems, in favor of simply—and thoroughly—explaining how to prepare, care and connect with the cards. Explaining, “one card does not a reading make”, Ms. Ellershaw reminds readers that the art of Tarot reading relies on associations among cards, where surrounding cards influence and inform the best interpretation for a card.

For example, Ms. Ellershaw relates a story where an inconsiderate reader told a woman that she’d be getting a divorce—based solely on the 3 of Swords absent of any supporting cards (i.e. the surrounding cards showed a happy marriage and home life). Confused and distraught, this woman turned to Ms. Ellershaw for guidance. Turns out that the original reader didn’t bother to take the time to find out the woman’s situation—for if she had, she would have soon realized that the husband was working away from home…and the couple missed each other terribly.

The Easy Tarot Handbook introduces each card from the Gilded Tarot one by one, beginning with the Minor Arcana, then the Court Cards and the Majors last. This refreshing departure from the norm (where the Majors are presented first and the Courts are lumped with the number cards) is sensible and accessible. Ms. Ellershaw emphasizes the importance of NOT reading for others “for practice” when first learning the Tarot, instead encouraging reading for yourself first.

Ms. Ellershaw addresses reading “awkward” cards that don’t seem to fit, as well as those that seem to induce a “blank”—prodding readers to look inward for the reasons some cards seem troubling. The Easy Tarot Handbook also covers ethics, health readings (she advises against them), charging (or bartering) for readings, reading for minors, why the cards remain may remain silent on pivotal issues (such as accidents) and more. The Easy Tarot Handbook also provides "cheat sheets" for the Majors and Minors (but not Court Cards).

I enjoyed Ms. Ellershaw’s treatment of the Courts (she points out that character and personality traits are more reliable than astrological Sun Sign associations or hair/eye/complexion data), as well as her systematic—but personable—approach to learning the cards. I also think it’s great that she emphasizes the power of thoughts and beliefs, and how hope can be found in every reading—no matter how dire the cards may look.

However, I feel that the spreads Ms. Ellershaw teaches and recommends—such as The Celtic Cross and a twenty-eight card Life Spread, may be too complicated for beginners. She also describes a complex method for reading timing in the Celtic Cross, and asserts that smaller spreads (such as 3-card spreads) are actually more difficult to learn than larger spreads. Granted, she does provide lucid explanations and sample readings, but I would think much of this might be overwhelming to new readers. (When I first learned the Tarot, I tried reading with The Celtic Cross and found it complex, vague and discouraging.)

Because the Easy Tarot kit is designed specifically for use with the Gilded Tarot, Marchetti’s deck must be one that appeals to you aesthetically and resonates with you intuitively—so keep this in mind if you want to learn the Tarot with one particular deck. While gorgeous, the Gilded Tarot doesn’t speak to me on any level (see my separate review of this deck).

Surprisingly, some of the card interpretations are superficial and brief. For each card, there is a description based on the Gilded Tarot image and then an interpretation. For example, here’s the interpretation for The Sun:

“The Sun is one of the most positive cards in the Tarot, for it brings happiness, success, and triumphs, excellent relationships, a happy marriage, contentment, prosperity, and good health. The Sun tends to shine favorable upon any situation. When this card is present, it is important to make the most of its favorable aspects.”

Ms. Ellershaw doesn’t cover reversed cards or the light/shadow of each card dynamic.

Another addition to the Easy Tarot kit: a large, glossy foldout designed for laying out the Celtic Cross spread plus Ms. Ellershaw’s 4-card “Readers Fan” (that she never quite gets around to explaining sufficiently.) Each rectangle is the size of the Gilded Tarot cards (approximately 4 ¾ x 2 ¾ inches) with all positions labeled (e.g. Card Position 8 Environmental Factors: How Others See You).

Engaging and down-to-Earth, the Easy Tarot Handbook by Josephine Ellershaw is a refreshing introduction to the Tarot. If you love the looks of the Gilded Tarot, and feel that you’d be able to connect to the images on an intuitive level, then you may very well want to try the Easy Tarot kit for learning the cards. If you enjoy getting to know the cards via a Tarot diary as Ms. Ellershaw recommends, I think Mary K. Greer’s 21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card would be an excellent addition to this kit. If you'd like a book on creating your own spreads using a central method, Joan Bunning's Learning Tarot Spreads would be a great adjunct to this kit, as well.

Below are 10 images from the Gilded Tarot. To see 10 more images, click here.

Gilded Tarot by Ciro Marchetti © 2004. Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. 2143 Wooddale Drive, Woodbury, MN 55125-2989..  All rights reserved. Used by permission of the publisher.

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