Book review: Tarot Therapy
This could be the late-capitalism, feminist tarot book you never knew you needed. It's written by academic and black activist Leona Nichole Black, who has skillfully divided up the chapters into subjects such as love, purpose, change, truth and intuition and then written thought-provoking essays on the major arcana as they pertain to their designated chapter. For example, on healing, you'll find The Chariot, The Lovers and The Star. It's clever.
First impressions? It appears that it's very difficult to describe your talents as a tarot reader without coming across as a massive know it all, but once the credentials are out of the way, Black's discussions on how the tarot can be used as a form of therapy are engaging.
She admits, tarot is not a substitute for mental health treatments such as talking therapy or perhaps medication, but that using your deck to explore your whole range of feelings on a subject and tackle "your shadow side" using journaling and self-reflection can both have positive psychological wellbeing benefits and also bring you closer to understanding the depth of the archetypes of the major arcana.
Black writes: "Tarot is diagnostic but it is not healing on its own. It names, but it does not change. To use tarot in a therapeutic practice is to make it a guide and signpost in our efforts for recovery."
As you journey through the book and begin to understand the author's own pathway with the tarot from her own personal history and observations, you will find "tarot therapy reflection" pages dotted about, where you are asked to pull three cards from your own deck and write about how they answer posed questions. Typical questions could be "in what ways do I silence myself" and "in what areas of life might I be avoiding or struggling with feelings of lovelessness?".
I did buy this book thinking that there would be a big 'reveal' about using tarot for therapy, but I found that most aspects that Black discusses are incorporated into my practice already, in fact it's almost impossible to consult the tarot for your own readings (presuming you are not just asking 'will I get the job' type questions) without contemplating the archetypal and psychological significance of the cards' messages and how it applies to your own thinking on a subject. So there is no big secret to using tarot as therapy, but this is still a recommendation from me, because it's very well written, interesting and well paced.
Have you read this book? What did you think? Let me know in the comments.