by Stephanie Arwen Lynch
Recently I did a very non-scientific poll. I asked several online communities as well as email lists to tell me their top 5 must-have Tarot books. The top two didn't surprise me but the ones that fell into positions 3,4 and 5 certainly did. From the 92 respondents there were a total of 66 unique books in this poll.
Out of 92 respondents, the top book that Tarot readers, professional and amateur alike, had to have was "Tarot For Yourself" by Mary K Greer. This is the one I would have put at the top of my own list as well. When someone asks me what book I think they should get to learn the Tarot, I start out with TFY. Its workbook format lends itself to promoting an in-depth study of the Tarot. I still go back to it for refreshment of my own Tarot skills. Probably my favorite exercise is her "Enter The Card" meditation. And I still use her Body/Mind/Spirit spread frequently. At one point I journaled every day using this spread as my starting point. Because it also engages the reader in energy work, it appealed to the hands on part of me.
Book Two on our list of the Tarot Top Five was by Rachel Pollack. Her "Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom" is an accepted classic in the Tarot community. Pollack's no nonsense approach captured me at once. I remember reading this book front to back like a dime store novel. Her introduction to each card captivated me as well as let me truly delve into the nuances of the card. At one time this book was split into two volumes, but is now available in one edition. It is my firm belief that if you own only two books on the subject of Tarot, this must be one of them. Pollack's reputation as a teacher and workshop leader are confirmed by her delivery in this text.
Mary K. Greer came in the top five again with her "Tarot Reversals" book. Personally I do not read reversals as I get negative/positive out of every card. However I did learn many different ways of seeing the cards by reading this book. She lets the reader access the knowledge without being overbearing about things being done one way only. I appreciated her opening remarks about the twelve ways of reading reversals. It opened my own Tarot reading horizons to a much broader view. Greer's description of the reversed Queen of Wands as Anne Boleyn and upright as Boleyn's daughter, Elizabeth I, perfectly captured that Queen for me.
Our fourth entry on this list was the "Power Tarot: More Than 100 Spreads That Give Specific Answers to Your Most Important Questions" by Trish MacGregor and Phyllis Vega. MacGregor and Vega targeted a distinctive corner of the Tarot market. They offer up spreads on everything from buying a home to changing jobs to relationship ins and outs. I have turned to this book on numerous occasions. It is also one of the books I credit with giving me the courage to actually try to create spreads on my own.
Fifth and final on this list of the Top Tarot Five is a tie. The first is yet another Mary K. Greer work. "21 Ways To Read A Tarot Card" delivers techniques in the same manner as her Reversals book. This book is great to have on hand if you are a professional reader. Containing exercises to help the reader dive deeper into the cards, this book is destined to become yet another MKG classic as far as I am concerned. From acting to storytelling to drawing, Greer involves her reader creating a relationship between Tarotist and cards.
The other book tied for fifth place is "Tarot Plain And Simple" by Anthony Louis. He offers a brief history of the cards and then moves into various ways of interpreting spreads. Louis tackles such topics as choosing a deck as well. His discussion on the significance of colors in Tarot is just one of the many solid pieces of information his readers will find.
If you are on the hunt for Tarot books, try these out to get started. And if you are like me, and have been studying the Tarot for a while, see which ones were not on your shelf. Because of this poll, I purchased the Greer book on Reversals and have not been sorry!