Order a Reading from Me

Order a Reading from Me
Please send relevant information to zannastarr@gmail.com.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

REVIEW: The Tarot Playbook


The Tarot Playbook:
78 Novel Ways to Connect with Your Cards
by Lynda Cowles
Paperback: 176 pages / Size:  6 x 9
78 color images
Schiffer Publishing (April 28, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0764339885
ISBN-13: 978-0764339882


"Do you wish you understood your Tarot cards better? The Tarot Playbook can help. Effortlessly bond with your cards by playing your way through its combination of games, activities, and what-if readings. Practice the ancient art of Taroga. Predict the weather. Try your hand at genetic engineering! With The Tarot Playbook you can explore your deck’s distinctive personality, broaden your reading skills, and mine your imagination and intuition – all without the pressure of “serious” study. Connect with each and every Tarot deck you own – yes, even those buried at the back of the drawer. Never again struggle with a new deck that doesn’t speak your language. With its humorous style and pick ‘n’ mix structure, this is one companion book you’ll want to use with every deck you acquire."


Lynda Cowles is:
(a) the clever and entertaining proprietor of Archer Tarot
(b) manager of an online Tarot store
(c) internationally acclaimed writer of Tarot books
(d) a million laughs
(e) all of the above

If you chose (e), congratulations! Now hie thee over to Archer Tarot and take a look at such wonders as The Typeface Tarot (free download for home printing!) and Tarot Stripped Bare (featuring the International Icon Tarot by Robin Ator).

Of herself, Lynda writes: "I’ve been hanging out with tarot cards since 2003 when, for my first reading, I attempted a 12-card horoscope spread with reversals. It didn’t go well." A self-professed Sagittarian, Lynda enjoys partaking in serious debates with her tarot peers on deep subjects such as which deck to buy next. . . and eating Doritos.


This 176-page paperback book measures 6 by 9 inches. Pages are printed on very nice glossy white stock. Chapter titles and subtitles are printed in a delightful, whimsical type called Fontdinerdotcom. Body text is printed in clear, clean Book Antiqua.

The Introduction includes subsections with such compelling titles as "Why Your Deck Wants You to Read This Book" and "Playing With Difficult Decks." We then move on to:
  • Part One - First Contact: 24 Ways to Get Acquainted With Your Cards
  • Part Two - Stepping Out: 14 Ways to Mingle With the Minors
  • Part Three - Friends in High Places: 16 Ways to Click With the Courts
  • Part Four - Just My Archetype: 22 Ways to Make It With the Majors
  • Part Five - Forever Friends: 2 Small Ways to Show You Care

A section called "Playlists" directs us to specific pages of the book that can help us connect with non-scenic pips. In a section titled "Card Index," we are told to draw a card at random, then consult the index to "discover what you and your cards will be doing next."

Stunning color photographs serve as illustrations for this book. They appear on the title pages for Parts One through Five as well as on each two-page spread devoted to each card. 


Somehow I wasn't a bit surprised when I found out that Lynda Cowles is a Sagittarius. It takes one to know one. Not that I'm anywhere near as clever and funny as she is, but her writing immediately struck a chord with me. After I read two pages, I exclaimed, "This is fantastic!"

For example, I love the author's remarks under the subtitle "Keeping a Journal" in the Introduction. She lists the reasons why we might want to keep a journal about our interactions with a deck, then advises: "Well, don't. Nothing sucks the fun out quicker than paperwork. Resist the temptation to buy a beautiful, hand-stitched hardback journal filled with creamy white pages. . . After all, would you take notes when you were spending time with your human friends?"

This delightful irreverent tone raises the fun factor for every page in the book. Each double-page spread has its own title printed above the name of the card. For example, for the 2 of Wands, the title is "A Rose By Any Other." Our activity is to come up with a new name for the deck. Cowles explains: "The Tarot of the Inflated Ego might be fine for black tie functions and the taxman, but your new pal deserves something far more warm and fuzzy..." She goes on to suggest that you refer to your deck by its new name whenever you are with other Tarotists -- "to see how many of them pretend to know what you're talking about."

For another activity, Cowles tells us to "Shuffle the court cards together until they complain about the lack of personal space."

For the King of Wands, Cowles encourages us to give adverbs their due: "We all know it's not what you do, it's the way that you do it, which is to say, there's a world of difference between a warrior resting wearily and a warrior resting permanently."

For this activity, we are to draw three cards to represent the subject, verb, and adverb of a sentence. Detailed instructions include:
1. Shuffle the Minor Arcana cards languorously.
2. Decisively cut the cards. . .
3. Turn over the top card of each pile mysteriously. . .
4. Observe the first card maniacally. . .
5. Behold the second card ponderously. . .
6. Heroically study the third card. . .
7. Read your sentence melodically. . .


I love the inventive, unexpected activities provided by Lynda Cowles in this book. Her descriptions and instructions are laugh-out-loud funny.

This book does not tell you how to interpret the cards. There are no spreads or sample readings. Well, that's not entirely true. For The Emperor we are given a 5-card spread we can use to explore our relationship with the deck.

Although a beginner might get some of the humor, I personally recommend this for more experienced Tarotists, who will appreciate the tongue-in-cheek comments. (Example: "Based on appearances alone, pick the card you find least attractive and place it to the very left of the cards. Don't worry, it's just a bit of cardboard, it can't take it personally. Probably.")

Reading this book is like spending time with a zany, whip-smart friend who keeps coming up with priceless Tarot-related jokes, jabs, and gems.

After reading this review, you may be wondering if this book could have any value for THE SERIOUS TAROTIST. In response, I offer what I think is a very appropriate comment by Lynda Cowles:  
"Silliness is close to godliness, as they say, and the idea behind all these missions implausible is for you to step outside your comfort zone to see your cards in a different light."

Makes sense to me!


In accordance with the FTC Guidelines for blogging and endorsements, I hereby disclose that this product was provided by the publisher for free. Other than the occasional review copy, I receive no monetary or in-kind compensation for my reviews.  The substance of my reviews is not influenced by whether I do or do not receive a review copy.


  1. Connecting with your cards is one of the most important things you can do as a reader. I've purchased and read the book you've reviewed and it's a wonderful source of Tarot-related information. Great writeup!


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