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Tarot Reflections

 April 15 , 2004

Tarot Psychology: The Elemental Array
Valerie Sim, CTGM

Ruth Ann & Wald Amberstone are co-founders of The Tarot School which they began in 1995. Together they teach, write, speak and publish about Tarot on all levels from divination to psychology to esotericism and magical practice. They are perpetual pioneers of new Tarot techniques and remain lifelong Tarot students.

They are authors of The Tarot School Correspondence Course which has been enjoyed by students all over the world since 1998. Their recently published book, Tarot Tips: 78 Practical Techniques to Enhance Your Tarot Reading Skills is part of Llewellyn's "Special Topics in Tarot" series for readers and teachers.

Wald and Ruth Ann have also organized successful Tarot events including the 2002 New York Tarot Festival and the annual Readers Studio which began in 2003. In addition to the Amberstones, this years Readers Studio will feature Valerie Sim, ATA's VP of Communications, and former VP of Media, Mark McElroy. A few seats are still available. For more information, go to


Tarot Psychology: The Elemental Array
Part of the Tarot School Intensive Series
By Wald and Ruth Ann Amberstone

This is a collection of four double-sided cassette tapes, eight hours of material. In a statement on the back of the box the Tarot School introduces the tape set in this way: “The Elemental Array is the second part of the great magical psychology of Tarot. Using just the four Aces of a Tarot deck, you can learn at a glance the whole range of any person's likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, habits and predilections, and general patterns of thought, feeling and behavior. It shows you exactly why individual people act, feel and believe as they do. With great speed and simplicity, it paints a complex portrait of personality.”

As readers, we are used to obtaining specifics from the Tarot via good questions and suitable spreads, but the above statements promise a tremendous amount of information to be received in only four cards. Does the Elemental Array really yield all those results? After listening to all of the tapes I have to answer, “Yes, it does.”

Tape one starts with a brief discussion of the nature of magic. Wald Amberstone likens a vision of one's magical self to “seeking the Unicorn.” He tells us that though many people have glimpsed a brief flash of their own magical animal, no one has ever been allowed to see and study the whole animal in an up close and personal way. But, he further informs us, working with practical magic like the Elemental Array allows the student of the Tarot glimpses that they may never have thought possible.

He promises us that working with the techniques described in this set, the student will easily and almost instantly know the subject's strengths, weaknesses, beliefs, challenges and fears. He also tells us that often the array will yield even more specific information that will provide clues to a deeper understanding of the subject's problem areas, sometimes even pathologies. Possible therapies can be suggested, and the Array can point out potential for growth and/or greatness, and strategies for personal evolution. Wow! Want to know more?

I will not give away the store by telling you the specific “how-to”s of the Elemental Array, but I will let you know a little bit about how the information is presented and studied.

The first tape starts the presentation of the Array with a discussion of the various card positions. We find out that the first and last cards specifically define the personal universe of the subject. We discover that the various positions also let you know where the subject is strong, and where they are weak; they indicate the energy level of the person and their place of vulnerability; they indicate comfort zones, that which is trusted and that to which the subject is merely resigned.

Next we are told in detail how to spot the potential trauma inherent in the last card according to its suit. The detail accessible via this small portion of the Array utterly amazed me. You will learn to recognize the personality who has probably always felt unloved, the one who tends to feel habitually excluded and the one who lives in a state of perpetual anxiety. Hypersensitivity shows up, likely problems with authority figures can be glimpsed, and you can even learn to recognize the person who was once a child who felt a lack of nurturing from their mother!

Tape two introduces us to the qabalistic order inherent in the card positions. By being compared and analyzed as the familiar hierarchies in the modern business world, you will come to recognize the familiar faces of the work force, middle management, the VPs and the CEO. You will meet the leader, the thinker, the healer and the laborer. You will learn which card indicates that which is perfect for the subject and that which is cherished. Another card position will illustrate how each suit asks a characteristic question. Yet another one tells how the subject tends to view and approach reality.

On the third tape we learn how spacing within the Array is uniquely important. You will learn the differences between the integrated spread and the split spread and how the spacing within each adds further nuances to the overall interpretation. Suit anxieties and phobias (and yes, there is a difference) are discussed in detail. There is an entire segment on perceiving how one deals with gain and with loss during the course of life and in anticipating, and often fearing, death.

I could go on and on, but I am confident that this will be enough to let you visualize the depth and breadth of analysis available via a proper use of the Elemental Array. Suffice it to say that there is far more material included in the series that I have not even mentioned.

After listening to his set I know I will be using the methods described often as a natural and simple adjunct to many of my readings. The most exciting part about the Array is that using it tells you not only about the person for whom you are reading in a general way, but that it greatly enhances and clarifies subsequent readings done for the subject at the same time. It is a great tool. I can't recommend this tape set highly enough.

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