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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

REVIEW (by Zanna): Tarot Dynamics by Anna Burroughs Cook


Tarot Dynamics: Learn to Read Any Spread
by Anna Burroughs Cook
Cover and Book Design: Nadine May
Kima Global Publishers 
First Edition: March 2009
ISBN 978-0-9814278-2-9

Description from the publisher: "With five simple keywords, accompanied by definitions that apply to today's situations, Tarot-Dynamics brings the Tarot into the twenty-first century, enabling adept readers, intermediate students and teachers to quickly and easily blend the old with the new to round out the accuracy and scope of their readings. For beginning students Tarot-Dynamics makes learning the Tarot and unleashing their own psychic gifts easier and more enjoyable that you could ever imagine."

About the Author: "Anna Burroughs Cook has been reading and interpreting the Tarot for 30 years and has developed a wide base of clients across the United States . . . She has appeared on television and radio programs and taught private classes including Tarot and Psychic Development classes in Adult Education programs."

Layout and Design

The type style/size used in this book is clear and easy to read. This is important to me. I am immediately put off by books that have small type or use a clever (but difficult to read) font. Second, I love the way the pages in the book are designed so that I can place my own cards over the images provided. As a Note from the Publisher says: "This widens the scope of the book and reinforces your learning experience."

Here is a scan of one of the pages so you can see what I'm referring to.

See? You can place the appropriate card from your own deck on the page as you read the information about the card.

Tarot Dynamics is well organized. It begins with an Introduction (which includes several pages of information about reading the Tarot in general and reading the Tarot using the Tarot-Dynamics system), then moves on to six chapters that cover the Major Arcana, Court and Subject Cards, and the Suits, and six chapters containing reading tips and spreads.


For each card the book contains two pages of text: One page provides a key phrase or keywords for the card, a summary of the card's purpose and meaning, and a couple of paragraphs about how this purpose and meaning is affected by surrounding cards in a spread. The second page of text offers a Tip on how to understand the meaning of the card when it is reversed (upside down), a concise meaning for the card, and how this card might be interpreted "at your best" and "under more stressful conditions."

In the Tarot Dynamics system, each Major Arcana card is assigned a keyword, as is each suit in the deck. Notice in the illustration above, the keyword for The Magician is Self-Reliance.

The keywords for the suits are as follows:
  • Wands = Change
  • Cups = Emotions
  • Swords = Challenge
  • Pentacles = Ambition
Each number is also assigned a keyword. For example, Nines represent Understanding. Therefore the 9 of Wands = Changeable/Understanding; the 9 of Cups is Emotional/Understanding; the 9 of Swords is Challenging/Understanding; and the 9 of Pentacles is Ambitious/Understanding.

In addition, Anna Cook offers a keyword or keyphrase for each individual card. For example, the 9 of Wands means "victory after a struggle"; the 9 of Cups means "Desire. Be careful what you wish for"; the 9 of Swords means "Worry"; and the 9 of Pentacles means "whatever your situation, personal achievement is your best means of attaining genuine peace of mind."

Anna Cook numbers the cards consecutively all the way through the deck, starting with Card 1 (The Magician) and ending with Card 78 (the 10 of Pentacles). The Fool is card 22, rather than the more traditional Zero. Memorizing the names and numbers of all 78 cards is an essential step in mastering the Tarot Dynamics system. As Anna Cook puts it:
"Someway, somehow assigning a number to the name enabled the students to visualize the correct subject card, without first looking at the illustration. Never again, did they have to stop and think, 'oh gee, Six of Pentacles, is that the fellow holding the scales or standing by the bush?' Whether they heard or simply thought the number 74, the correct image of the correct subject card springs to mind just as easily as the images from the Major Arcana and Court Cards."
The descriptions of the meanings of the cards will sound familiar to intermediate or advanced Tarot students, but the numbering system and keyword system does offer a slightly different approach that many of us will find useful. I agree with the description provided by the publisher (above), and I recommend this book to Tarot enthusiasts at all levels.

I'm looking forward to Anna Cook's next book, Advanced Tarot Dynamics, which will present the Tarot as a dynamic medium towards uniting the Tarot, Numerology and Astrology. I am fascinated by the astrological connections in particular.

Related links:
Tarot Dynamics Web Site
Article by Anna Burroughs Cook at Tarot Elements Web Site
Interview with Anna Burroughs Cook by Bonnie Cehovet


  1. Thanks for this review Zanna, it has piqued my interest a bit more in this system.

    I found it interesting that she has assigned the titles to each suit as
    Wands = Change Cups = Emotions Swords = Challenge Pentacles = Ambition then each card a key word eg. Nines represent Understanding - 9 of Wands = Changeable/Understanding;

    I'm wondering how this enhances learning the suits say as opposed to a key word for each card we normally give, by that I mean we all develop key words for cards, so my 9 of Wands would be Courage, or strength/determination.

    I'm interested in how tarot dynamics works or enables one to remember the essence of each card by it's system that makes it easier to learn than a more traditional way of learning the tarot.

    I guess I'll have to get the book to find out. LOL

  2. Thanks, Helen. I think the keywords are especially helpful to those who are just starting out. If you have developed your own keywords for each card, you probably wouldn't want to substitute these (or maybe you would, if you weren't satisfied with your own system). In addition to the keywords I mentioned, Anna also gives a keyword or keyphrase for each individual card. For example, the 9 of Wands means "victory after a struggle."

  3. "For example, the 9 of Wands means "victory after a struggle."

    Now that makes a bit more sense to me. :o)

  4. I just added a bit about that into the review to give a more complete picture.

  5. Thank you Zanna for giving TD a "thumbs-up" and Thank-You Helen, for your question. Perhaps I can help. Using one keyword and phrase to describe the entire suit suit such as, Cups= Emotion= Everything that Gives Your Life Meaning enabled my students to grasp and identify with the individual definitions for each card in the suit more quickly, and with less confusion when they encountered the same card from a different Suit. That was often a problem before.

    Smiles and Thanks,


Thank you for leaving a comment. I love hearing from my readers!
~ Zanna