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10 thoughts on “Tarot for Every Day: Ideas and Activities for Bringing Tarot Wisdom into Your Daily Life

  1. says:

    I guess I should not have expected much from a book that even the author doesn't reference on their own bio site: but I had hoped that this book would have been a lot better than what it was. Maybe I should have paid more attention to the red flag on the front of the book - the foreword by Z Budapest (a TERF pagan author).

    In any case I assumed what the book would be like is basically a generic discussion about different types of things that one can do with tarot cards. From divinatory meanings of the cards, to the spreads one could use, as well as how Tarot cards can be used in spells or rituals, what different symbolism you can use from different decks, how Tarot Decks differ from deck to deck, and other alternatives to simple divination.

    I guess the book did cover some different aspects of how to use the cards outside of a divination sense, using the tarot cards as part of an art project like creating a page of words, drawings, and associations with the card pulled. But it wasn't nearly what I was expecting nor was it as broad as I was expecting in terms of the variety of activities and the different ways the Tarot can be used.

    I also assumed that the book would, well, take the principle that people use Tarot outside of a magical, witchcraft, occult, or pagan setting. There are plenty of people who use Tarot just as a divination sequence, and I wish the author would have written it that way rather than pushing the Goddess from page one (“To The Goddess of the sacred in the everyday” - literally on the back of the title page inside the book). The author continually discussed more pagan related themes throughout the book. In the beginning, it talks about setting up sacred space and magical themes and the end of the book talks about pagan holidays and the Wheel of the Year.

    For the sake of brevity, I am going to ignore the problematic foreword from Z Budapest. I'm reviewing Cait Johnson's material, not Z Budapest's. But needless to say it wasn't a good start for this book.

    There isn't a whole lot of good things that I can point out about this book. But some of the things that I liked I thought were pretty generic. The author does briefly discuss the context of certain cards that can be quite scary for many people to look at when it comes to the Tarot. The author presents it this way – that Tarot mirrors life in that not everything is sweet and fun times, but also talks about other potential meanings for some of the cards that aren't on the nose aggressive or otherwise scary. There was some conversation about how the cards could lend themselves to different meanings or different interpretations.

    There are a couple of places where the book describes some of the spreads that they'd use, and I thought those spreads were pretty unique and interesting in terms of their goals. But they were few and far between.

    Unfortunately for the book, there was a lot less content on the Tarot and more on problematic issues. Most of my review is going to try to address some of the many issues that were in this book. Some of them that occurred the most are what I'm highlighting here. But this is not a complete list of the total problems in this book that I found while attempting to read through it.

    The Omnipresent Goddess:

    As I mentioned in my beginning paragraphs, Cait Johnson constantly referred to this Goddess figure throughout the book. As if that is a wink and a nod to the reader that we should already know who the hell “the Goddess” is without the author actually specifying who this Goddess figure is.

    While I appreciate that this is part of the author's worldview as well as their belief system, such that the “[t]arot is an expression of the goddess energy that is beginning to reawaken in the world after centuries of suppression by the dominate patriarchal culture. And the Goddess way offers balance and healing for us as individuals and for the planet as a whole.” (p. xii) That doesn't mean the author gets off the hook for consistently throwing the Goddess at the audience of the book as if we agree. Not only does the author not explain their viewpoint or their belief system fully, they kind of leave it dangling all over the place and make judgment calls based on that belief system when it comes into play with the Tarot. If this book was meant to be a discussion about how the Tarot fits into the author's worldview, then it should not have been “sold” or “advertised” as a book that was meant to discuss how the Tarot can be used “for every day.”

    It's especially annoying when the author spends a lot of time discussing how this Goddess figure is supposed to some how teach the users of Tarot some lessons, and then turns around and says: “This, then, is a handbook designed with your needs in mind.” (p. xiii). That's not designing a handbook which is supposed to help both experienced and beginners with tarot learn more about the Tarot and learn more about the potential uses of the Tarot. It's selling a worldview about how the Tarot some how fixes all these issues by using this Goddess figure as the “voice” behind the Tarot.

    Let me be clear, it is totally fine that the author has a viewpoint about how the Tarot fits into the world, and that the Tarot is some kind of medium by which their deity interacts with them. But it's not okay to write a book that whose implication is for the masses, and then push your own religious beliefs about the Tarot as fact. Or at least push it that everyone has this belief, or that everyone reading this book would have this belief.

    The Misogyny & Cis Normativity:

    It goes without saying that because this book is so highly focused on a Goddess figure that this book is directed at a particular audience. It's clear from the language that the author used about women, what the author views women to be. That view is that women are any person that has or had the ability to menstruate, get pregnant, and have children. In fact, it's repeated over and over again throughout the book.

    The author spent so much time trying to push this idea that women are their uteruses, and if they don't have uteruses then they aren't women (by default). Their uterus ultimately defines them as women, for this author. It's ironic that the author blatantly ignored that this is a misogynistic viewpoint. It's almost as if the author has forgotten that women have many other organs, like their brains for example, because the author constantly referred to the uterus as if it were the primary organ. Society already views people with uteruses as walking uteruses solely, let us not pretend that this is any better because you're still pushing this idea that the uterus is the most valuable thing about them.

    In society today - there's this idea that people with uteruses are only tolerated because they have one job to do. And that is to pass on the genetic code to the next generation. They get born, grow up, and then are expected to birth more people. It doesn't matter who they are, what they like, what they think, how they feel, what they want in their lives, what matters is that they have a uterus to continue the human race. It's really sketchy that the author tried to sell me that their view is not misogynistic, that it's some how different from the “Patriarchal Society today” just because it's wrapped up in a new Pagan gift wrap.

    Don't use something that they didn't choose to have to say that is what makes them valuable or worth celebrating. Again, if what you view celebrating women to be, celebrating things like menstruation, pregnancy, or mourning the loss of the ability to have children while going through menopause (on page 145), you have some very seriously problematic views about women.

    This has other negative effects as well, because it says that women who never had uteruses to begin with are not women because they lack this organ. It also pushes that people who are not women who have uteruses to be women. It makes the concept of gender very specific and totally ignores people's feelings on the matter. This is fairly common with people in paganism and other occult practices to try to make gender or make identification of one's own body a this or that issue.

    Women do not have to menstruate to be women. Women do not have to have children to be “real women.” Women do not have to like to menstruate. Women do not need to “celebrate” their capabilities of having children. Women are not whether or not they have a particular organ.

    While I understand that the author wants to push women to the front of the conversation, to build them up, and to make them strong. This isn't the appropriate way of doing that, it's very exclusive. Since the author is all about making these rules about what a woman is or what a woman does, I doubt very much that many people would fit this author's definition of a woman.

    The Racism:

    There was definitely one thing that really bothered me in the way this author instructed people how to pick a deck. The author referred to various cultures as an “aesthetic.” Now I realize that the author in the following quote meant the Deck Art itself. However, it is very casual in it's racism. These cultures are human cultures with human beings who are not symbols, nor costumes, nor a “preferred art style.”

    It is very ignorant to offhandedly refer to human beings like that. It shows no respect, it shows no empathy for them. It also makes them out to be exotic flavors which thereby can be used in tools like the Tarot. “Let your personal aesthetic be your guide: find a deck that appeals to your senses, that looks juicy and beautiful to you. If you have an area of special interest – Native American medicine ways, pagan or Celtic traditions, specific art movements such as Art Noumea – there are decks with appropriate images that you may want to try.” (p.13-14)

    Comparing Indigenous American traditions and Celtic traditions to an art style is absolutely outrageous.

    In other places there is some level of antisemitism or the celebration of antisemitic symbols. For those who are not aware of the history of the Witch's Hat, there was such a thing as the Jewish Hat, which Jews in places in Europe were forced to wear by law. Which then became a negative symbol of the Jews, which lends itself to that negative stereotype that Witches get as well. The Witch Hat has some historical connections with the Jewish Hat.

    “Good for those days when you feel wimpy or nervous or afraid, Witch's Hat reminds you of the sisterhood of Wise Ones, those free-spirited maidens, radical mams, and feisty crones who weave a web of strength and wisdom.” (p. 24).

    This is not a symbol that we should take away from minority groups that are still to this day dealing with a lot of prevalent antisemitism. We should consider what and where these most “treasured” symbols are coming from, and why they are associated with Witchcraft. And whether or not these are things that should be continued in our practices moving forward. There's a lot of things about Witches in Mythology that lends itself to some form of racism, and those things should be addressed and questioned.

    Health Issues

    So this section is going to incorporate two things that I found very problematic with the book. The first is the author's hatred of doctors and medicine practices in favor of self healing visualizations through the Tarot. And the second is a more delicate matter that needs some time to be discussed. It's about the topic of Menstruation which the author really does talk about quite frequently. I need to be very clear here in my review, I understand the social issues with menstruation. A lot of people are made to feel ashamed for their menstrual cycle; it's looked at as something that “taints” a person. That is definitely a conversation that we should be having, and the author does talk about it briefly. But that being said, the way the author talks about menstrual blood and other related things is just not okay and doesn't sit well with me for a variety of reasons. But I wanted to be clear on that before I moved on with the topic at hand.

    The author has a section of their book which talked about health issues, and frankly, this is also a conversation that needs more time and more structure than a simple book review will ever give. Essentially the author tries to persuade people to use Tarot Card visualizations for healing rather than going to a doctor, unless it's “really serious.” Now the author does say things like not to have an attitude about blaming yourself for the problems that you have in your health. Which can be a good thing.

    But, most of the chapter is spent trying to convince the reader that this visualization healing method will fix you right up instead of going to a doctor and getting medicine. That going to a doctor is somehow showing weakness, and that weakness is a bad thing. That asking for help is somehow a bad thing. That recognizing that you do not know everything is somehow a bad thing. “Then there is the other common attitude: “I don't know what's wrong with me. I better go see a doctor. The doctor will know what to do. Then I can take some pills to fix it. Poor me.” This mindset takes away our sense of personal power and hands it over to the established medical professionals, with their emphasis on treating symptoms rather than the whole person. And it disconnects us from our inner selves: the body becoming a kind of machine with a part out of order that needs fixing.” (p. 95) The “unless it's really serious” part is definitely an after thought and frankly it feels like the editor put it into the book because the editor realized that it probably is not the best to offer medical advice in a Tarot Book.

    Let me be clear here, the author says things like getting a UT infection is really caused by your inner self being pissed off by something you're doing, not by a bacteria or a life style action that needs to be corrected. “For example, if recurring bladder infections are part of your life, forgive yourself and reach for lots of water, cranberry juice, and nourishing burdock seed tea, by all means – but also ask yourself what is literally pissing you off.” (p.96) Likewise in another area: “Do use the sense the Goddess gave you: if you have a bleeding ulcer and the cards are always coming up wands, don't dust your food with cayenne – look for the suppressed anger that may be eating you up inside.” (p. 96) It's almost as if the author doesn't even think about that people just sometimes have things happen to them and there's no inner reason for it. Accidents happen. Life happens.

    According to the author - these diseases or rather as the author puts it childishly “DIS-EASE” (p.94) is actually your inner voice, your higher self, or the goddess (I'm really not sure which because the author flips around who is speaking with you through the Tarot every time it's brought up) telling you something. That you're being almost punished because you didn't “listen.” It's begs the question why the “inner self” needs to put you through pain in order to get attention to things like “your suppressed anger.” Especially since the author pushed trying to listen to this deep or inner self so frequently.

    Health concerns are a very serious part of any one's life, not only for those who throw Tarot cards, but also for anyone outside of that group. This is not to gloss over the many issues with Health practitioners, especially against people who lack privileges that others are afforded. I am well aware that a lot of people don't have a lot of options to turn to when it comes to their health, but I truly think this kind of thing is majorly inappropriate. I do not think people should be persuaded not to go to the doctor because the doctor might prescribe some medicine. I do not think people should be made to feel that they did something wrong, and that's why they have gotten some kind of infection or have been having issues with their health.

    So now moving on to this other particular issue. The author wrote frequently about how to use your menstrual blood for things related to that Tarot. Whether it's to mark their “Moon Card” or as part of an art project for the Tarot card: “You may want to make your own version of the card (see Five Steps to tarot Creativity in chapter 5) and use some of your menstrual blood to color it. You may also want to mark the original card with some of your blood.” (p.139)

    My problem with this is not that menstruation is disgustingly inhuman or that there is something “tainted” about menstrual blood in terms of it's good or bad qualities. What my problem with this is, is that the author does not actually care that menses is a biowaste. Like any other biowaste product, it needs to be handled with some level of care. Especially if you use it for art projects, it should be sealed so that bacteria and other items do not grow on it. It's actually a really good way to spread other things as well, if you're not handling it as if it were a biowaste which it is.

    Furthermore, not everyone has a vested interest in trying to handle menstrual blood. For me personally, I don't like dealing with it from my own body. I do my absolute best in order to handle it like a biowaste, and make sure that I am cleaning up and not smearing it everywhere... like on my tarot cards. There is just no recognition of this, at all. In fact, the author even has in some of her menstrual visions that the author provides for you to do things like visualizing bleeding into a hole in the ground and then smearing it all over your body with you and your friends. That just is not okay with me for several reasons, one of which is that people shouldn't be just you know forced into a “Moon Cave” (p. 142) and forced to bleed into a hole. But the other is just that it doesn't show any concern about the very nature of biowaste.

    There are many other problems in this book, like levels of classism, using phrases like “our ancestors” or “tribal women” to try to give the material some kind of concrete historical setting without citations, to the cultural appropriation of smudging, to some concerns I have about the author talking about children and their sexualities and hunting down “evidence” of their puberty as well as the amount of constantly talking over the author's own self when it comes to what the Tarot “taps” into when you draw a card. Just because I haven't discussed it in this review here, doesn't mean that I'm turning a blind eye towards it or forgiving the author for other issues. The author has a massive amount of problems, and I have limited time in trying to address them all. It took me a year to finish this book from cover to cover because I had so many issues with this book.

    What I got from this book was a lot of the worldview that the author has, rather than a lot of conversation about the Tarot and how it can be used for other things. It almost seemed like the Tarot was just an excuse to write about what the Author feels should be going on in the world today. Needless to say, I think you'd be better googling tarot spreads and activities than using this as a handbook on Tarot.