Table of Contents


Tarot Reflections

September 1, 2004

Review: Essence of the Tarot
Tracy Hite, ATA Treasurer, Networks Manager

Tracy began her own Tarot journey while recovering from her first son's birth on New Year's Eve, 1996. She tried to study on her own for nearly a year, picking up what she could from books and websites, but she had a lot of trouble piecing everything together. Through membership in  the American Tarot Association, she met the contacts and gained the expertise needed to gain her certification as a Certified Tarot Master.

Tracy is honored to serve as Manager for both the Free Reading Network and the Free Tarot Network. She also volunteers as Treasurer of the ATA and webmaster of the Comparative Tarot site.


Once I got past the (thankfully) brief discussion of tarot history in the first chapter, I found it an enjoyable read. “As the cards themselves can be,” Skinner states, “their beginnings are elusive. Most agree, however, that the Tarot was created in an ancient era, a time that pre-dates the birth of Christ.” Apparently I’m in the minority, then, because I don’t agree with the Egyptian Mysteries origin as Skinner does. Other theories are even more briefly mentioned, but this one’s clearly the winner in her book. She also touches on her version of how tarot works and introduces us to a few basic spreads before getting to the essence itself, her card-by-card explorations of the Major Arcana.

Subtitled “Modern Reflections on Ancient Wisdom”, Essence of the Tarot goes through the 22 Trumps twice, once discussing the ancient or more traditional meanings, then again relating them to current-day people and events.

 Essence of the Tarot
by Megan Skinner
ISBN 1-56414-748-7
published by New Page Books

Each Ancient Wisdom starts with a black & white image from the Universal Waite deck. An astrological ruler (planet, sign or element) and a Path on the Tree of Life is included, and a literary quote expressing that card’s nature. The Serenity Prayer is a wonderful introduction to the Hanged Man’s sense of surrender for the higher good. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” The discussions in this section rely heavily on Skinner’s astrological associations for the cards. I know very little about the signs and planets, but she relates them to each other in plain language that was easy enough for me to follow. The Ancient Wisdoms each conclude with suggested advice to offer in divinations.

The second half of this book – and by far the most interesting to me – is filled with Skinner’s Modern Reflections on the Majors. What experienced reader couldn’t help but think of the Tower during the attacks on September 11, 2001? For newer tarotists just beginning their studies, these sorts of real-world links are invaluable. Skinner captures the Star’s sense of hope in Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” and John Lennon’s “Imagine”. Temperance is tied to Thelonious Monk, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Bill Gates. Skinner’s Modern Reflections also include personal stories, relating the Majors to her own life and the lives of some of her clients.

Aimed at beginning readers, Essence of the Tarot leaves a lot of ground uncovered, but whets the appetite for more.


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Tarot Reflections is a publication of the American Tarot Association - Copyright (C) 2004
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