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Saturday, September 30, 2017

REVIEW: Tarot Plain & Simple by Leanna Greenaway


Tarot Plain & Simple
The Only Book You’ll Ever Need
Copyright 2005, 2017 by Leanna Greenaway
Hampton Roads Publishing, Inc. (October 1, 2017)
Distributed by Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC
ISBN: 9781571747709
Book (Paperback)
5 1/2 x 8 / 176 pages / Line art

TOP LINE (formerly Bottom Line)

Seasoned Tarot readers may well question the need for “yet another Tarot book,” and indeed, Tarot Plain & Simple does cover much of the same territory as countless other books on the subject.

However, I like the way Leanna Greenaway breaks up the text for each card into “Traditional Meaning” and “Modern Meaning,” followed by Reversed Meanings and Key Points. Occasionally there is a “Tip” as well, and these are quite helpful. She does a great job with the Court Cards, offering possible interpretations of them as a “Personality” as well as a “Situation.”

The use of subheads enhances the value of this book as a quick reference for any particular card. Another plus with this book is the presentation of exercises that encourage the reader to explore how combinations of cards can be read, in addition to giving meanings for each individual card.

I can highly recommend Tarot Plain & Simple by Leanna Greenaway for beginning Tarot students (it would make a great textbook for a class) and yes, even if you have been reading the cards for a while, you can find some useful, thought-provoking information in this book. I feel that Greenaway has achieved her stated goal of encouraging the reader “to learn, use, and enjoy the Tarot.”


Tarot is a popular form of divination that has been used for centuries. By following the guidelines set out in this book, you will come to understand how easy it is to master the art of reading cards. Many people struggle with the many different tarot books available today—they can be difficult for the novice to follow, and many present differing interpretations of the cards. This guide brings tarot into the 21st century, making the card meanings relevant and easy to understand and follow.

Tarot Plain & Simple offers modern and up-to-date interpretations for all 78 cards. Once you know these basics, you'll be able to easily branch out into more advanced and complex tarot books. Throughout this plain and simple book, the author discusses various card groups for interpretation, focusing mainly on the Celtic cross spread.


Leanna Greenaway
Leanna Greenaway has her own monthly column in Take a Break’s Fate & Fortune magazine. As their resident witch, she answers reader's questions and offers quick and easy spells to combat problems. She is the author of Practical Spellcraft and Wicca Plain & Simple and the cofounder of the Psychic Study Centre. She lives in the south of England. You can visit her website here: http://www.leannagreenaway.co.uk/


Measuring 5 1/2 inches wide by 8 inches high, Tarot Plain & Simple is 176 pages long. Illustrations are black-and-white line art with Tarot card images derived from the Waite Deck created by Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC. Text is black printed on white paper. Font size and style are easy to read. White space is used liberally, adding to the pleasant reading experience.

In Chapter 1 – First Steps on the Path of Tarot – Greenaway discusses her approach to the study of Tarot (“modern and up-to-date translations for all seventy-eight cards”). Contrary to some Tarot teachers, who insist that your first deck should be a gift from someone else, Greenaway’s view is that choosing your own deck is preferable. She provides very specific instructions for storing the cards (wooden box, wrapped in silk). She then proceeds to discuss what it means to be “psychic” and how the Tarot “is the key to unlocking the psyche.”

Other topics covered in this first chapter are “How Does the Tarot Work?” and “Upright and Reversed Cards.” Also included are “A Few Tips to Help You Along the Way,” including such advice as “Only read for the same person once in three months. Too many readings may confuse the querent” and “Always keep a list of useful phone numbers on your table – therapists, doctors, prevention hotline numbers. With the best will in the world, you will not be able to help everyone – nor should you try…”

Chapter 2 covers “Basic Card Facts.” The Major Arcana and four suits are covered in chapters 3-7. Chapter 8 is titled “Reading the Cards for Others,” and the last chapter is “Answers to the Exercises.”

For the Majors and Pips, Greenaway provides the following:

  • Card number
  • Traditional Meaning
  • Modern Meaning
  • Reversed
  • Key Points

For each Court card, we are given:

  • Card number
  • Traditional Meaning
  • Modern Meaning
  • Personality
  • As a Situation
  • Reversed
  • Key Points

Occasionally, a “Tip” appears at the end of the other subheads for a particular card.

EXERCISES (ten in all) appear at the end of some of the card descriptions. These are intended to be performed as you go through the book, reading each page in order (as recommended by Greenaway). The exercises focus primarily on reading a set of cards in a group. For example, following the write-up on the Justice card, Exercise Two gives examples of how to read Strength + The Empress and The High Priestess + Justice. The exercise then asks the reader/student to describe how they would interpret other combinations (The High Priestess + The Empress; The Hierophant + The Fool; Strength + The Lovers). Answers to these exercises appear at the end of the book.

In the chapter titled “Reading the Cards for Others,” Greenaway offers a Basic 9 Card Spread and “The Sun Dial,” a spread that provides a general 12-month reading.


“If you are female and reading for clients in your home, never let a stranger into your home without someone being there. However “spiritual” you may feel about reading the Tarot, it is just common sense to take social precautions.”

“Sometimes clients visit Tarot readers because they have problems that make them unhappy. They are looking for answers. Your main goal is to guide these people and to lighten their load. Always bring about a positive outcome without making things up.”

“A good approach at the beginning of the reading is to tell the querent that the Tarot cards show overall situations and that they do not always give dates and times. This means that the querent may not understand everything that is contained in the reading, but assure her that it will make sense later. Tell her to keep an open mind because some of the things that appear in the cards may take six to twelve months or even longer to come about.”


Two things struck me immediately when I saw the cover of this book:


The title is the same as a book I own by Anthony Louis (Tarot Plain and Simple, Llewellyn Publications, Third Printing, 1997)

As far as I know, it’s perfectly fine (i.e., legal) for this book by Greenaway to have the same title as the book by Louis. It could be confusing for some of us, so I think I would prefer a different title, but as an author myself, I know how difficult it can be to come up with a title that no one has ever used before. (An earlier edition of Greenaway’s book was published as Simply Tarot.)


The subtitle “The Only Book You’ll Ever Need” reminds me of the first book on astrology that I ever owned: The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need by Joanna Martine Woolfolk (Taylor Trade Publishing, Copyright 1982, 1990, 2001, 2006, 2008 by Joanna Martine Woolfolk).

As for “The Only Book You’ll Ever Need” designation, I didn’t care much for its use on the Woolfolk astrology book, and I’m not wild about it on Greenaway’s book either. It’s not a big deal at all, just my personal resistance to a claim that I feel would be difficult or impossible to live up to. I still own the Woolfolk book (I even teach a class with it), but is it the “only book” I ever needed in my study of astrology? No.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Situation and Advice Spread with The Playing Card Oracles

I was in the mood to do a reading with two decks – not two different decks, but two copies of the same deck. One reason I like to do this occasionally is that the same card can show up more than once, which can give an interesting slant to the reading.

For this reading I am using the Playing Card Oracles Divination Deck by Ana Cortez and C.J. Freeman (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.) To see my review of this fascinating deck, click HERE.

I have this deck in two different sizes, so I am using the larger size for the odd-numbered card positions in the spread below, and the smaller deck for the even-numbered positions. (Keep reading. I promise it will all make sense.) 😊

I am using a spread created by “Lunakasha” and posted on _Aeclectic Tarot. _



Positional definitions:
1. Current situation……… 2. Advice
3. Internal Obstacles/Fears……. 4. Advice
5. Subconscious Desires/Hopes……. 6. Advice
7. External Obstacles/Challenges……. 8. Advice
9. Outcome……. 10. Advice

I am using my larger deck for the odd-numbered card positions (1,3,5,7,9), representing the current issue for that position. The smaller deck is used for the even-numbered card positions (2,4,6,8,10), representing advice on how to deal with that particular issue.

1. Current situation……… 2. Advice

GAWAIN (9 of Diamonds) …….. LIVIA (Queen of Diamonds / 12)

My first reaction when I saw these two cards was that they could be mother and son. Gawain (9 of Diamonds) typically symbolizes a “changing dynamic” or “energy that is here and then gone.” He rides into a situation, fixes things to his satisfaction, then rides off again. Here he represents the “Current situation,” which suggests to me a situation that is in flux, that changes often with ups and downs, with wrongs that are made right and errors that are corrected. But things are not settled, by any means. In the role of “Advice,” Livia (Queen of Diamonds) is known as one who is “hospitable and kind” as well as honest and trustworthy. She seems like a very steady influence, someone who doesn’t get all bent out of shape or out of sorts, and that is the energy that will be useful in dealing with a fluctuating situation.

3. Internal Obstacles/Fears……. 4. Advice

MARDOC THE HEARTLESS (King of Spades / 13) …….. EAST WIND (4 of Clubs)

Internal Obstacles and Fears are represented by Mardoc (King of Spades), known for being stubborn, skeptical, cold, and unforgiving. These traits can act as obstacles in any situation, especially if they are rooted deep within us. If this is the case, the East Wind advises us to think carefully, be patient, and take slow, deliberate action.

5. Subconscious Desires/Hopes……. 6. Advice

LEAH (Queen of Clubs / 12) …….. ETHRA (Ace of Clubs)

Leah (Queen of Clubs) is a very appropriate card to represent “Subconscious Desires/Hopes”, as she is known to be an intuitive, imaginative dreamer and visionary. She is certainly in tune with her deepest desires and the thoughts of her unconscious mind, but if she dwells too long in those realms, she can become delusional. During the fluctuating situation represented by Gawain (9 of Diamonds), it might be all too easy for Leah to lose touch with what is realistic or practical. Ethra (Ace of Clubs) also represents a connection to another, invisible world, where dreams, ideas, and creative impulses exist. Ethra is a moth, a creature who “lives between imagination and reality,” and we might deduce that Ethra’s advice here would be to explore and understand our subconscious desires and hopes, while at the same time making sure we take care of what is needed or desired in the physical, material world.

7. External Obstacles/Challenges……. 8. Advice

FORTUNA (10 of Clubs) …….. SOUTH WIND (4 of Diamonds)

As an External Obstacle/Challenge, Fortuna (10 of Clubs) is described as “here and gone” (very much like Gawain, the 9 of Diamonds)! Amusing and light-hearted, Fortuna is also known to be fickle and flighty. It appears that the fluctuating nature of our original Current Situation is only made more changeable by external influences. What advice, then, will the South Wind (4 of Diamonds) impart? Good question! The South Wind is viewed as the source of mischief and mayhem, unplanned circumstances, confusion, and misunderstanding. Perhaps the advice is to expect those things, and try to “roll with the punches” and maintain a sense of humor.

9. Outcome……. 10. Advice


The Outcome seems rather glorious as we behold the Swords of Enchantment (7 of Clubs) whose motto is “Believe in me.” Another motto assigned to this card is “Positive thoughts attract positive circumstance at the moment we need it most.” Having faith in a shining, magical outcome will go a long way in making that outcome a reality. The Advice here seems appropriate, as the Bridge (6 of Clubs) refers to “safe crossing over troubled waters” as well as “newfound perspectives and newfound hopes.” The card points to surmounting and overcoming obstacles and finding peace of mind.

Looking at all of this, I get a sense of a tumultuous, changing, fluctuating situation that is exacerbated by internal “bad attitudes” and a tendency to focus too much on fantasies. External influences aren’t much help, and it may seem to those involved that everything is going to crash and burn. However, if they can remain steady and hospitable (Leah), patient and thoughtful (East Wind), and if they can maintain a sense of humor as they roll with the punches (South Wind), a magnificent Outcome is a strong possibility.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

"Tarot Magic" with the Wonderland Tarot

Today, in honor of Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee, I am using The Wonderland Tarot, created by Chris and Morgana Abbey (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.) to do a series of two-card readings based on the spread “Tarot Magic” featured in the Complete Book of Tarot Spreads by Evelin Burger and Johannes Fiebig (Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.)

I am going to explore four basic areas of life:

  • Myself
  • Home and Family
  • Relationships with Others
  • Career or Vocation

The positional definitions for the two cards in the Tarot Magic spread are:
(1) Choose this card. It represents your conscious attitude.
(2) Pull this card. It represents your unconscious attitude.

The process for this is to pull two cards from the deck, turn them up, and select the one that draws me the most concerning the subject in question. Make a note of that card. Then, return the cards to the pack, shuffle, and draw one card. This will represent my unconscious attitude about the subject. I will be using this process to pull a pair of cards for each of the areas of life listed above.


First two cards: SEVEN OF HATS (Cups) and JUDGEMENT. Of these two, the one that draws me most with respect to my conscious view of “Myself” is the Seven of Hats. I identify with the wide array of possible choices, dreams, and visions available to the rabbit on the card. I do see myself as someone who has many options, interests, and abilities – lots of ways to look at things, lots of opportunities.

I return both cards to the deck and shuffle. Then I pull a card to represent my unconscious view of Myself. Oh look, it’s THE EMPEROR as portrayed by The Cheshire Cat. This is too perfect, really. Very funny and astute. For one thing, The Cheshire Cat is my favorite character in Wonderland. Of course my subconscious would truly love to believe that I am The Emperor of my own life, wise and confident, stable, a born leader. I also would like to be able to master teleportation like The Cheshire Cat!


First two cards: THREE OF FLAMINGOS (Swords) and SIX OF PEPPERMILLS (Wands). Well, I do have to take into consideration that I am on my third marriage (THREE of Swords), and the separation and pain aspects of the Three of Flamingos most certainly apply to some of that. However, if I focus on the here and now, the Six of Peppermills is closer to how I view “home and family” consciously. Everything does feel quite successful these days, with expectations rewarded. So Six of Peppermills it is.

Let’s see how I view “home and family” unconsciously… THE HERMIT. I like the fact that once again, I have pulled a Major Arcana card to represent my unconscious perspective. I tend to think of the subconscious or unconscious as being close to those deeper universal truths and lessons that the Majors so often represent. I am a bit of a recluse who enjoys staying at home, occupying myself with my favorite studies, entertainments, and activities. As the eldest of three children, I can also see myself, to some degree, as a “teacher” or one who guides or leads my younger siblings in many ways.


First two cards: NINE OF OYSTERS (Pentacles) and TWO OF FLAMINGOS (Swords). When it comes to relationships with others, I am drawn more toward the idea of balance and harmony suggested by the Two, plus the mental compatibility we might infer from the suit of Flamingos (Swords). I’ll take the Two of Flamingos here.

Unconscious view: TEN OF OYSTERS (Pentacles). At an unconscious level, I see relationships with others as something that fills my life with feelings of prosperity and security, a larger “family” that includes many actual family members.


First two cards: SEVEN OF HATS and THE STAR. The Seven of Hats resonates with me here for the same reasons it drew me in the “Myself” position – many options, opportunities, interests, and abilities are involved in my career/vocation choices. At the same time, however, The Star – wishes and dreams – seems relevant. From a young age, I knew I wanted to be a writer. That was my dream or wish all my life. I envisioned that being my only career, for life, and yes, I imagined myself as becoming a “star” in that field. But that is simply not how things worked out, for many different reasons. Even so, I am going with The Star for this one.

Unconscious view: THE STAR. Well, that settles that!

I have to say that I did not experience any shocks or unexpected developments concerning my unconscious views of these four areas of life. This has been a fun and informative reading for me. I hope you enjoyed following along!