“What’s in the Cards for You? is like a Whitman’s Sampler of Tarot applications…with a twist. Instead of it telling you what Tarot can do, you’ll determine for yourself what you can do with Tarot. By completing a series of thirty fast, fun, hands-on experiments, you’ll conduct a personal investigation into whether Tarot works for you.” –Mark McElroy
The Tarot has long been shrouded in mystery. Some people lump this “wicked pack of cards” with crystal balls, purple turbans, and carnival fortune-tellers. Others fear the Tarot, thinking it’s a tool of the “devil” that has the ability to foretell the future (which, of course, includes impending disaster.)
In his book What’s in the Cards for You? Mark McElroy demystifies the Tarot once again, inviting the skeptical and the curious to venture on a first-person voyage of personal discovery. Rather than telling you what to think about the Tarot, McElroy has created 30 fun exercises so the Tarot can be tested on your own terms.
This book contains 30 different self-guided experiments to be conducted over the course of 30 days. Engage the cards, record your experience, and then evaluate the effectiveness of each exercise. McElroy acknowledges that not all of the experiments will appeal to everyone. Yet, personal preference for certain exercises contain clues as to what you enjoy most about Tarot—but more about that later.
Chapter 2 is the foundation of What’s in the Cards for You?, because McElroy shows you how to tap into your innate power of association which will allow you to generate meaning for any Tarot card—even if you’ve never touched a deck before! He has also created a “secret weapon” template (which you can use in the book or download from his website) so you can decipher card meanings for yourself. The “secret weapon” is a clever tool for generating insights and creating applications for each and every Tarot card. As one familiar with the Tarot, I was surprised and delighted at how many new meanings rose to the surface after using the “Answering Mining” template.
One of my favorite exercises in the book is Day Three: Suit Yourself. McElroy invites you to rate your satisfaction with life—on a scale from 1 to 10—in four different areas, and then write your score in the blank (ignoring, at first, the words that came after the blank):
Material and Physical Satisfaction: ______of Coins
Emotional and Spiritual Satisfaction:______of Cups
Mental and Intellectual Satisfaction:______ of Swords
Creative and Occupational Satisfaction: ______ of Wands
Then, you find the corresponding card in the Tarot deck. Going by the personal meaning you attribute to the card image, you then convert the illustration on the card into a “tip”. For example, my score for Mental and Intellectual Satisfaction was 10. I laughed out loud when I saw the 10 of Swords, which shows a man with 10 swords, plunged into his body. I immediately saw the message as “You’re too much in your head! Calm down that mind of yourself because your over-active mental energy is affecting your physically!”
Although this knowledge came as no surprise, it was interesting to me that the corresponding Tarot card accurately reflected one of my banes.
Another exercise I enjoyed is from Day Twenty-Three: Creating Compassion. Likening the Tarot to a mandala, McElroy demonstrates how you can take any individual that you don’t get along with, understand, or are irritated by and see them through the “lens” of 3 Tarot cards. By doing so—with the help of his pointed questions—you can literally shift your perspective to one that is more compassionate and centering.
A few of my other favorites include Deal Me a Story, Answering the Big Questions, Breakfast with da Vinci, and Exploring Past Lives.
In the last chapter which asks What’s Next?, you’re invited to look back through the 30 experiments and identify the 5 you enjoyed most, and which day the experiments occurred. (Believe me…it’s hard narrowing it down to just 5!) McElroy has created a chart so you can highlight your favorite days, and then see which of six application/s you most prefer: Psychological, Creative, Educational, Predictive, Magickal, and Planning.
For me, my least favorite experiments had to do with Predictive Applications. My favorites were the Psychological and Creative exercises. McElroy then breaks down each of the six applications should you want to study the Tarot further—and aren’t sure where to start.
If you wondering if this book has any value to those familiar with the Tarot (including Tarot readers) the answer is yes. I admit to having misgivings when I saw the title of this book, wondering if it would be a re-hash of the guidebook that accompanies the Bright Idea Deck (also created by McElroy). I am pleased to say that What’s in the Cards for You? is not a re-hash of McElroy’s previous works (I own them all), and presents fresh applications for the Tarot—including practical tips on how to put your own unique spin on the cards and using the Tarot for meditation, creativity, visualization, dream interpretation, and much more.
Those new to the Tarot will be introduced to this enchanting symbolic world by the most adept, down-to-earth, and rascally of teachers.
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