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Thursday, April 11, 2013

REVIEW: The Tarot Activity Book

About My Reviews

The Tarot Activity Book
by Andy Matzner
269 pages
Dimensions: 9 x 6 inches

TOP LINE (formerly Bottom Line)

I'll start by saying that I love the Dedication that Andy Matzner wrote:

"This book is dedicated to Pamela Colman Smith
Without whom, not"

Matzner continues to draw the reader into the book with a couple of compelling quotations:

"A book should serve as the axe for the frozen sea within us." ~ Franz Kafka

"At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want." ~ Lao Tzu

As I paged through the book, I placed little flags on pages with material that I found especially interesting, thought-provoking, entertaining, or revealing. I used a whole lot of flags! I have shared some of my favorites below, under "Details and Comments."

In my opinion, the Product Summary (below) hits all the important nails on the head. The Tarot Activity Book can be used by tarot experts or novices, for personal introspection and enlightenment, and/or as a therapeutic tool to augment other techniques used by professional counselors and art teachers.

It's serious; it's fun; it's educational; it's uplifting.

Matzner's conversational writing style, the outstanding content, and the clear, clean organization of this book make it a valuable addition to any tarot library.


"Whether beginner or advanced, if you have an interest in tarot you will find much to enjoy in this book. The nearly 100 activities and exercises will add another dimension to your experience with the cards. This book will also be useful if you are a mental health professional or art teacher who uses the expressive arts in your practice. Inside, you will discover a wealth of creative and therapeutic ideas regarding how to incorporate tarot into the work you do with clients or students."

Andy Matzner

Andy Matzner has been studying and reading Tarot since 2004. He is a licensed clinical social worker who also has a private psychotherapy and life coaching practice.

He first began using the tarot with clients and groups who were open to it, and one of the first things he realized was that the cards can make effective conversation prompts. He then discovered that basing arts and crafts projects around tarot cards "could not only be fun for participants, but also provide opportunities for self-exploration and personal growth, as people expanded and deepened their creative possibilities." At around the same time, Matzner noticed that using tarot cards as writing prompts "elicited heartfelt responses in ways that verbal prompting couldn't."

You can learn more about Andy Matzner at his website: www.AndyMatzner.com


The 269 pages of The Tarot Activity Book are organized as follows:
  • Introduction
  • Conversation Starters
  • Writing & Journaling
  • Arts & Crafts
  • Appendix: One for the Road
  • Acknowledgements
  • About the Author

The black text is printed on white paper using a very clean, clear layout, bullets, and plenty of white space for easy reading. There are no illustrations inside the book except for a photograph of Pixie Smith.

The 17-page Introduction contains the following subsections:
  • How This Book is Organized
  • Using This Book
  • The Power of Ritual and Why It Matters
  • The Structure of the Tarot Deck
  • Tools and Materials

In each of the main sections (Conversation Starters, Writing & Journaling, Arts & Crafts) we have a series of titled activities, for example:

Conversation Starters - 22 activities, including:
  • Relationships
  • The Hero's Path
  • Mood Cards

Writing & Journaling - 41 activities, including:
  • Personal Power
  • Survivor
  • Birthday Guests

Arts & Crafts - 33 activities, including:
  • Expressive Art
  • Totem Pole
  • The Portal

For each of these activities, the author provides subsections titled Objective, Background, and Process (occasionally followed by Options and/or Examples). The activity in the "One for the Road" segment is titled "Trust and Receive." It involves a therapeutic technique called the "ambiguous function assignment."


Some of my favorite quotations from the author's Introduction:
  • "My goal is to challenge you to think about tarot in a way that perhaps you are not used to . . . as the means to stimulate your creativity and imagination. . . The exercises and activities in this book also provide the opportunity for you to delve deeply into your psyche."
  • "What I found was what expressive art therapists have known for years: people love to be creative. After all, we are naturally artistic beings, although this impulse often gets pushed aside or even smothered as we grow older."
  • "You don't need any prior knowledge about tarot in order to use this book. Nor is a background in psychotherapy or the arts necessary."
  • "Many people continue to associate tarot with black magic or Satanism. . .Due to its cultural 'baggage' please be sensitive when sharing tarot with others. . . I have found that it helps to share the historical background and development of tarot."

Most of the activities and exercises ask us to choose a card or cards to represent certain things related to the activity or exercise. Occasionally, we are told to draw a card "at random."

Below are some of my favorites, described in brief summary form. This will show you a teeny, tiny tip of the marvelously huge iceberg created by Matzner with this book:

The Deal: Pick a card at random and ask "What do you offer me? What do you want from me in exchange?"

Negative/Positive: Choose a single card that does not resonate with you (your least favorite card). Fill in the following sentence: "One day in the future this card will have saved my life because..."

Facing Your Inner Critic: Choose a card that represents this "being" who tells you things that make you feel badly about yourself. Ask it the following questions (I am listing 3 of the 8 questions provided):
(1) Where did you come from?
(2) What do you want from me?
(3) How do you keep me stuck?

Tarot Haiku: Randomly pick a card from the deck and create a haiku based on that card. (If doing this in a group, have other participants guess which card you used as your inspiration.)

The Three Gifts: Choose a Major Arcana card at random. In a journal, describe the three gifts this card gives to you, as follows:
  • First Gift: help in creating something that will benefit your life
  • Second Gift: assistance in protecting something of value in your life
  • Third Gift: allowing you to change something in your life that isn't currently serving your best interests

Mix-and-Match Poetry: Pick ten cards at random. On index cards, write a single line of text for each tarot card. Arrange the index cards to create a poem.

Still-Life Study: Pick a card either at random or purposefully. Represent it artistically ten different ways, in any medium(s) you choose.


  1. Thanks for the helpful review, Zanna, sounds like one for my amazon wishlist :)
    Best wishes, Chloë

    1. You're welcome, Chloë. I am planning to demonstrate a couple of the activities here on the blog so people can see how they work for me. Thanks for stopping by!

    2. That sounds great! Will look forward to it :)


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