By Sheri Harshberger
The Back in Time Tarot Book by Janet Boyer
Published by Hampton Roads Publishing Company
I am not really into Tarot books. There are very few that can hold my interest for more than the time it takes me to peruse the pages and confirm that there is nothing new or of interest to me. I mean, how many books do I need telling me the meanings of the cards? Or explore yet again the Celtic Cross spread?
Well, imagine my pleasant surprise when I managed to get a hold of Janet Boyer's The Back in Time Tarot Book, recently published by Hampton Roads Publishing Company. In the 200+ pages there were NO card meanings (more about this later). NO Celtic Cross spread. The book (very practically!) includes a minimal section that orients the reader to Tarot decks in general, there are suggestions on what decks to use, and there is an Appendix showing the cards of the Universal Waite so that a reader who is unfamiliar with the deck can check out the cards without a deck in front of them. However, the meat of the book is devoted to case studies in which Janet’s Back In Time (BIT) method of reading is employed. This method can be used by both advanced and beginning Tarot readers. I believe it can give a new reader a significant advantage if they are willing to put in the work to use this method.
The BIT method consists of taking a mental snapshot of a situation that has occurred in the past, writing down the components of that situation, and then picking cards from the deck that the reader feels represents (either in feeling or in visual imagery) the situation. Choices may be driven by the conscious mind or the subconscious one. The reader then goes through the cards and writes about the cards and the situation. One thing that is particularly interesting is that the reader doesn't have to stick with one deck either...cards from different decks may be used together in the reading. It's like you are creating your own Tarot.
There are thirty-four case studies, split into four categories that literally cover any conceivable situation that I could think of. Janet Boyer participates in some of them, but also has invited several of the Tarot community’s leading luminaries to participate also, including Mary K. Greer, Mark McElroy, Nina Lee Braden, Joan Bunning, Lon Milo DuQuette, and many more. After each participant has written about their particular scenario and cards, Janet provides an extensive commentary followed by a section called "Your Turn" in which you are invited to think and participate from your own perspective in the particular scenario presented.
The formatting of the case studies in the book lends itself as an excellent model for journaling, so those hesitant to take up journaling for want of something to say... here you go!
This is powerful stuff. Some very interesting results manifest as one works through the cards. One of the most common questions I read or hear from readers at all levels is "how does this card relate to me in this position?" Many readers may know a card meaning, but can't relate that meaning or the images to the context of the reading they are doing. Using this method answers those questions.
I am also impressed that this book has been made available as an ebook for Kindle users! So if you don't have the space for the paperback book, you can download it to your Kindle!
Some people may not like the book because it doesn't have card meanings or spreads as such... unlike the majority of Tarot books available, it is not intended to be used as a reference for meanings, nor to be passively absorbed through reading only. It is intended to convey a technique of card reading that the reader actually has to actively participate in. This book has a lot to offer if you take the time to work with it. I recommend it for anyone.