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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

REVIEW: The Back in Time Tarot Book


The Back in Time Tarot Book
Picture the Past, Experience the Cards, Understand the Present

by Janet Boyer
Paperback: 272 pages
Hampton Roads Pub Co (October 17, 2008)
ISBN-10: 1571745874
ISBN-13: 978-1571745873
Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 7 x 1 inches

 TOP LINE (formerly Bottom Line)

Janet Boyer has a well-earned reputation for translating original, unusual ideas into print and ebook form. The Back in Time Tarot Book is another illustration of this. My favorite part of the book is Chapter 3: Personal Experiences, in which Boyer and other Tarot celebrities (Mary K. Greer, Lon Milo DuQuette, Joan Bunning, Zach Wong, and Boyer herself, to name just a few) explore a situation or event from their past using the Back In Time (BIT) method.

What I like most about the BIT method is that we are choosing or drawing cards to represent past experiences or well-known stories or historical events -- situations to which we already know the ending. We move away from the "fortune telling" aspect of reading the cards, where we interpret a reading as best we can and then have to wait to see if we are "accurate." Instead, with the BIT method, we are remembering something from the past and choosing cards that remind us of various aspects of that situation, including the outcome, which we already know. As a beneficial byproduct, we gain insight into how we might interpret certain cards in future readings.

As someone who collects and uses a vast multitude of decks, I am probably going to find it more difficult than some to create a BIT snapshot, simply because I flit about from deck to deck, and have not memorized or internalized all of the images on all of the cards in any one deck. Having said that, I think perhaps I can do a successful BIT snapshot using the Rider-Waite-Smith, which is the foundation for many of the decks I use. Or I might even work from a broader perspective, as did Teresa Michelsen in the snapshot she wrote for this book.

I like that Boyer offers an alternative to her "standard" BIT method. She writes: "I have a spin on the BIT Method called retro-divination, where cards are selected facedown, at random, rather than consciously. You formulate the components of your snapshot using the BIT Method, but leave it up to the Universe to select the cards for you." I'm looking forward to trying that!

In my opinion, Tarot readers at any level of competence can enjoy this book. Even if you do nothing but read it, it's worth the price to get a sneak peek into the thoughts and feelings of some of the world's most respected tarot readers and psychics. The book becomes even more valuable if you actually use the BIT Method to examine incidents or familiar stories from your own life.


"Using her BIT (Back in Time) Tarot method of working with the Tarot, Janet Boyer helps readers gain insight and understanding of their present--and ultimately their futures--by exploring their past. Gone are arcane and hard-to-understand explanations of Tarot symbols. Instead, Boyer offers an intuitive approach that allows readers to "feel the truth" of the cards as they relate to the specific parts of their lives. In a nutshell, the BIT Method:

•    Asks readers to think about a specific memory, story, news item, book, movie, etc.
•    Break up that memory or incident into components
•    Connect the components of the memory/experience with specific, consciously chosen Tarot cards

Janet Boyer
Boyer presents Back in Time (BIT) Snapshots from her colleagues, some of Tarot's best-known writers and deck artists who relate their own experiences with the BIT Method that range from comical to mysterious to sobering."


Janet Boyer is a professional Tarot reader, teacher, expert, and deck creator as well as an author, reviewer, blogger and aspiring novelist. Visit her at her website -- http://JanetBoyer.com -- featuring over 900 pages of free content, including articles and reviews.


In The Back in Time Tarot Book, Hampton Roads Publishing Company has produced a quality 272-page paperback that is well organized and easy to read. The Foreword (by Monte Farber) is followed by a Preface, Acknowledgments, and Introduction.

Part I: Getting Started contains a chapter on Getting to Know the Tarot and one on How To Use The BIT Method. In Part II, we are given Personal Experiences (Chapter 3); Literature, TV, and Movies (Chapter 4); Headlines and History (Chapter 5); and Odds and Ends (Chapter 6).

The Appendix contains the cards of the Universal Waite Tarot in black and white, followed by an extensive Bibliography, Additional Recommended Books, Tarot Decks Referenced in This Book, information about contributing authors and artists, and an Index.


Each personalized BIT snapshot in the book is followed by a Commentary written by Boyer in which she discusses the snapshot, the cards referenced, and her own thoughts on the reading.  In these commentaries, she also cites additional sources such as Jung and Tarot by Sallie Nichols (Weiser Books) and the DruidCraft Tarot companion book by Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm (St. Martin's Press).

After each Commentary, Boyer provides a section titled "Your Turn" in which she uses the snapshot as a springboard to suggest possible BIT snapshots we might want to write. For example, in connection with Lisa Hunt's contribution on Overcoming Writer's/Artist's Block, Boyer makes the following suggestions:
  • "Consider a time when you were at point A of a project or circumstance, but you longed to get to Z. Select cards to represent your thoughts, feelings, and actions along the way.
  • Think of a surprising event when a person, team, or animal surmounted an incredible challenge. Illustrate what happened using the cards of your choice.
  • Recall a famous artist, writer, or musician. Which cards would you pick to represent their style, impact, and body of work?"

Contributors use various different decks for their snapshots. For example, Lisa Hunt uses the Fantastical Creatures Tarot (U.S. Games), which she illustrated. Riccardo Minetti uses the Etruscan Tarot (Lo Scarabeo). Mary K. Greer uses the Rider-Waite Tarot (U.S. Games). Teresa Michelsen did not have a particular deck in mind when she created her BIT snapshot.

In the Odds and Ends chapter, Boyer offers Tarot card associations for
  • U.S. States (Missouri = Knight of Pentacles)
  • Songs from the 1980s (The Emperor = "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" by Tears for Fears)
  • Holidays, Dates, and Celebrations (The Star = Christmas).

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.

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~ Zanna