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Book review: Learning The Tarot by Joan Bunning

Let me start by pointing out who might not benefit from this book so much. This doesn’t mean that you won’t find anything useful in it, just that you might know most of the things already written here.

If what you want to learn more on different tarot spreads – this book might not be for you. But if you want to learn tarot using one simple spread, the Celtic Cross – then it is worth the few dollars and more. It is a great resource that every tarot “newbie” should have on their bookshelves and keep referring back to it again and again.

Title: Learning The Tarot

Author: Joan Bunning

Publisher: Weiser Books

Who is this book for: New to tarot and want to start with a solid, basic foundation. The Raider Waite deck is best to use with this book.

Rating: 4/5

To learn what others say about the book, read the official blurb here.

My personal review

Another thing worth mentioning upfront is that the book is free on Joan Dunning’s website. You can actually read the articles online. So if you want to save money, then head over to her site and simply read away…

Having said that…

I found that with this book in my hands, I can study any time I want, day or night, without being glued to my monitor all the time. And there is something to be said about holding a book, flipping the pages, marking up important parts that you simply can’t do with an e-book or with online articles.

Learning The Basics

Many newcomers to tarot start with the Raider Waite deck, so this book is perfect because you don’t have to go out and buy another deck just to be able to follow along (as it is the case with the Tarot Plain and Simple by Anthony Louis which is a great beginner book, but it uses the Robin Wood tarot – a deck that not everyone might have as started set).

Learning the Tarot is also favored by many newcomers to tarot because of the many action keywords it contains. Sure, going intuitive with tarot (as you are learning in The Complete Tarot Reader by Teresa Michelsen) is a great way, but you have to crawl before you are walking and running.

You have to take those first baby steps, and this is where the keywords are so crucial to your learning experience. Once you’ve done enough readings and in the meantime have memorized the action keywords, you will find those new connections in your brain your own, or you’ll be ready to buy more advanced books that help you there.

Eventually, unless you decide to stop with tarot or simply stay at a very basic level, you will move on to reading intuitively anyway. That happens usually without you even realizing that you’re at another, higher level.

What You Will Learn

This book is a course made of 19 lessons that start with basic material which builds upon what was already learned and gets more advanced in the process.

As I mentioned before, it uses the Raider Waite (RW) tarot deck because most people when taking up learning tarot, buy this very deck as their first (I know, I did the same and I still use this deck now and then to read cards.)

The book goes first through an overview of the major and minor arcana, and then it goes right into teaching you how to have a daily reading. This is very effective in learning tarot because it puts you into the habit of actually doing it on a daily basis.

This in turn helps you connect with your inner guide, which I find any good tarot reader should experience.

But don’t think that it is hard to start. To do your daily reading, all you do is take one card from the deck and focus on its meaning. The book tells you exactly how to go about it.

Once you’re beyond getting familiar with your deck using the daily readings, you are ready to learn how to interpret the cards.

First Joan teaches you how to interpret single cards, then it goes into reading a pair of cards. I particularly liked how she gave interpretations of the various positions of two cards each in the Celtic Cross. I think this is where I really got in love with this particular tarot spread and have been using it as one of my favorites ever since.

The book then goes briefly over the reversed cards, and then it moves on to creating the actual story. This is where you learn how to put together an entire story for your reading that makes sense. Joan agrees that story telling is an art, but it’s crucial to learning the tarot.

Note: The fact is that we learn best through listening to stories. We’ve just been conditioned this way since we were kids. I mean just think about it, what will you recall faster, a short circular by the HR department with few facts about a colleague getting a promotion, or an emotional story about how nervous John was feeling when he got called into a meting at 5 pm with the boss…the initial fears and worries before the meeting, and the feeling of elation and joy when John realized that he’s not fired, but he is in fact getting more money, that will help him and his family afford that long needed vacation – to Disneyland maybe.

This is the power of a story. It grabs you by the throat and never lets you go until you find out everything – and learn in the process.

Final Words

This is one of the best educations on tarot that you can get, period. If you only start with one book on learning the tarot, start with this one. It gives you a great foundation which to build upon. You simply need this knowledge to get good at reading tarot cards.

About the author

Joan Bunning received her B.A. in Social Psychology from Cornell University and has worked as a writer, editor and computer programmer.

Since 1995, her “”Learning the Tarot”" website has helped thousands of people worldwide discover the personal value of the tarot.  Her site offers her beginner tarot course, sample readings and descriptions of over 400 different tarot decks and divination tools.

She lives in Virginia with her husband, two sons and two dogs.

Where to get the book

If you don’t have the book yet, click the link below to get it now from Amazon:

Learning the tarot by Joan Bunning

If you already have it, leave your comments below. I’d love to hear from what you honestly thought of the book!

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