Tarot Spreads & Layouts:
A User's Manual for Beginning and Intermediate Readers
by Jeanne Fiorini
BASIC INFORMATION / APPEARANCE, SIZE, QUALITY / ART
This slim, well-made paperback book measures 6 x 9 inches. It has a rather unexciting glossy gray cover depicting card layouts in red, green, blue, and purple. Included in the 126 pages are:
- Section I: The Ground Rules
- Section II: Simple and Effective Spreads and Layouts
I have been enjoying Jeanne Fiorini's articles/columns in the American Tarot Publication Tarot Reflections for a long time. I loved her recent "Reading for Readers in 2012" (in the January issue), in which she explored what we must bring to our clients (from our perspective as readers), what our clients need most from us, and a key thought for readers to keep in the forefront during 2012.
Naturally, I was predisposed to like Jeanne's book Tarot Spreads & Layouts: A User's Manual for Beginning and Intermediate Readers. And guess what? I do like it. Very much! Let me tell you why.
I'll start with the layout and organization. From its detailed Table of Contents to its handy, dandy Quick & Easy Tarot Card Reference Guide and List of Resources, this book is a pleasure to read and study. Text is broken up by boxes and subheads, and there is plenty of white space around and within the various segments. After reading it once all the way through, you can actually go back and review the material by reading only the text boxes labeled "Important" that are sprinkled throughout the book.
- Importance of Intention
- Beliefs Inform the Question
- What Are You Looking For?
- Don't Save it For a Rainy Day
- Size Doesn't Matter
- Who is Right and What is True
- What if Nobody Answers When You Knock on the Door?
Jeanne Fiorini's views on many Tarot issues happen to be the same as mine, which of course makes the book even more appealing to me. For example, she writes that spreads with a huge number of cards "aren't always the best choice. . . because they provide much more input than is required." She goes on to say that "all those images and all those card meanings and all that information can be overwhelming, and in truth, are unnecessary." (Yes, I realize that many Tarot readers disagree!)
I love the way Fiorini stresses the importance of "formulating a clear and concise question." She does not advocate pulling cards randomly from the pack in moments of uncertainty. (Again, I do realize that quite a few Tarot readers swear by that method.) Before beginning the reading, Fiorini recommends that we "think very carefully about what we really need to know, what is possible to know, and what we'd like the cards to address."
We are advised to keep in mind that interpretations of the cards depend to a large degree upon the reader's (or client's) ingrained perceptions, beliefs, and world views.
Fiorini also covers the use of a significator in readings, reversals, and the absence of an element in a reading.
I also like that Fiorini recommends a balance between knowledge and intuition when reading the cards. One of the "Important" text boxes reads: "In any and all layouts illustrated herein, remember to ask yourself: Does intuition provide any insight beyond the meanings of the images and the surface definition of the cards?"
In Section II, we are given a variety of layouts using from 1 to 5 cards. For each of these, Fiorini provides suggested lines of questioning and Guidelines for Expansion of the Layout.
- Where, if at all, do cards of strength and power appear?
- Where, if at all, do cards of frailty, caution, or fear appears?
- Is one of the aspects more intact than the others?
- Is one aspect noticeably weaker than the others?
- Is any one aspect calling out for attention?
- Do you see a harmony -- or a schism -- among the aspects?
- Is there a common theme among the three cards shown?
- Are differing needs expressed by different aspects?
- What might it imply that certain elements appear as indicators of certain aspects?
- Do reversed cards appear? If so, what does the reversed position depict or imply?
- Where, if at all, do Major Arcana cards appear, and what do they indicate to you?
In the book's Conclusion, we have a Reader's Check List that provides "the essential keys for getting the most from any Tarot layout." The Quick & Easy Tarot Card Reference Guide provides succinct, basic meanings for the cards. For example, The Hanged Man is "The need for patience; suspension of willpower; standing on the sidelines while matters unfold; unwillingness to accept responsibility" and the Six of Wands reads, "Success; reward for one's efforts; support of community; pride in one's accomplishments."
The insightful information, clear and engaging writing style, and logical organization of Tarot Spreads & Layouts combine to create a valuable reference book that I know I will consult regularly from this point forward.