Tuesday 5 August 2014

Review: The Big Book of Angel Tarot

This review of Big Book of Angel Tarotis a guest post by Rosie Taverner:

My First Tarot Deck by Rosie, aged 46 ¼.

Having had my tarot read properly on a handful of occasions, most recently by the excellent Cilla Conway, I am not a complete novice when it comes to recognising the cards and their meanings. I had never tried to use a tarot deck myself, though, out of a general feeling of incompetence, and when I downloaded an app that claimed to give me one Oracle card a day, this quickly confirmed my belief that I am *ahem* not magically inclined.

So it was something of a change of direction when I recently decided to acquire a tarot deck and explore the insights it could give me. Initially my purpose was not to use it for divination, but instead for ideas for personal growth. I had no real idea what kind of deck I should start with as most of my limited experience had been with other readers’ hardcore decks, which clearly spoke to them, but I knew would not speak to me. I needed something more accessible.

Fortunately, my witchy friends were able to suggest Doreen Virtue and  Radleigh Valentine’s Angel deck. This is a lovely deck and it quickly became mine. The four suits are earth, represented by fairies, air by unicorns, water by mermaids and fire by friendly dragons, while each of the twenty two major arcana depicts a named archangel. The artwork is beautiful and gentle and leads in to the key point of this deck, which is that is constantly positive, no matter what the situation, and, above all, safe. This is reflected in the change to the name of eight of the major arcana, to give them relentlessly positive spins. Death, for instance, in this deck is called Release, and the accompanying booklet has this to say:
“This card signifies that it’s time to move on because this project or phase of your life is now complete. There’s no benefit in remaining in this situation. Instead, shake off the old and welcome the new. You may experience a sense of relief at this ending, or there may be some sadness. Either way, it’s time to leave that which you’ve outgrown. Take your time adjusting to your change in this life. It’s not necessary to rush ahead. Be kind to yourself during this period of transition, and seek the support of friends and family. Additional meanings of this card: Inevitable positive changes. Facing your fears. Relationship transitions. Spiritual evolution.”
The other seven cards which are renamed to become more accessible are the Fool (now the Dreamer), the Hierophant (now Unity), the Hanged Man (now Awakening), Temperance (now Balance), the Devil (now Ego), the Tower (now Life Experience) and Judgement (now Renewal).

The substantial booklet that comes with the deck gives each card one or two pages to help interpret it, and very minimal instructions on how to put together a Three Card and Celtic Cross spread. My lack of confidence in trying either of these, despite feeling comfortable with the deck itself, coupled with the skeletal guidelines in the booklet, meant that I never did, and I stuck to single-card readings.

I was delighted, therefore, when the companion book to my deck was published. It is called The Big Book of Angel Tarotand is naturally by the same authors as the deck.

It starts by explaining the language of the Angel tarot and the progression of the twenty-two major cards, then the characteristics of the four suits. Fire represents passion and excitement, water means the emotional, deeper self, air represents the intellect, and earth refers to material needs and health. Then, interestingly because it was entirely news to me, there is an explanation of what the numbers of the minor cards mean, correlated to suit. For instance, Aces mean new beginnings, Twos mean relationships of any kind, Threes mean creativity and growth, and Fives mean change. Tens are true endings that lead to new beginnings, and can bring a sense of contentment as in the Ten of Water (contented and rewarding family life, emotional and material needs met) and Ten of Earth (happy family life, financial security, finding magic in the little things), while the Tens of Air (end of a difficult situation, expect things to get better now) and Fire (overwork, life out of balance, stress) may bring contentment more in the sense of relief that a difficult situation is now over. So the number of the minor card shows the general concept, refined by the suit, to give a more nuanced and personal reading.

Each card is given two or three pages in which its meanings are explored, along with its artwork and any symbolism contained within. Also each card gets a paragraph on its numerological and astrological significance.

Of greatest interest to me was the section on creating and reading spreads. There are detailed instructions on six different spreads: the Three Card, Celtic Cross, Loving Heart for relationships of any kind, Health, Career and Plan B (for when things are not going well, a spread to give insights into how to improve matters). So I put my big girl knickers on, took a deep breath and essayed my first spread. I chose a three card spread, with a question that should have been fairly easy for me to interpret the cards for - I asked about money. The three cards in this particular spread roughly correlate to the past, the present, and the outcome and they were respectively the Queen of Air, the Star and the Sun. These are all amazingly positive cards and, thus reassured, I asked the same question of the Angels, only with a Celtic Cross spread this time. None of those three cards was repeated in the new spread, but the same amazingly positive message came across, with a Nine of Water wish-coming-true outcome.

This made me curious; if all the cards in this deck are safe, positive and optimistic, how can it speak of bad situations? I tried a quick three-card spread to see what it would say about a very bad situation in my distant past. The first card was again the Queen of Air, a card which could, with some squinting and a considerable dose of charity, be taken to mean me. The second was the Hermit (self-discovery), and the third, the Ten of Earth (financial security, joyful contentment, everything feeling just right). At first baffling as applied to the awful situation I was thinking of, it made perfect sense if the Angels were telling me that I’d learned some useful stuff and life is good now.

To sum up, this is a great book and rapidly becoming very well thumbed as it teaches me what the cards mean and how to read spreads.

And it looks as if I can stop stressing about being skint.

The Big Book of Angel Tarotis published by Hay House

Links and previous related posts
Big Book of Angel Tarot: The Essential Guide to Symbols, Spreads and Accurate Readings

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