Your Tarot Guide: Learn to Navigate Life With the Help of the Cards, by Melinda Lee Holm and illustrated by Rohan Daniel Eason
CICO Books, 1800652607, 160 pages, October 2023
Does the world really need another guide to reading tarot? Well, if it’s Melinda Lee Holm’s Your Tarot Guide: Learn to Navigate Life With the Help of the Cards, then the answer is absolutely yes! This book is a fresh approach on helping novice and experienced readers use the cards to literally navigate life–imagine a guide to help you through the rough times, the murky times, the times when the path seems unclear.
Holm views the tarot as a “language and a tool,” and guides the reader into using it to navigate “life using tarot as a compass.”1 While applicable to all tarot decks, she uses her two decks, Elemental Power Tarot and Tarot of Tales, as the illustrations in this book. They were both illustrated by Rohan Daniel Eason, the illustrator of this book too! What I found interesting is that the imagery in these decks do not include human figures as Holm believes that tarot is for everyone.
Holms reminds the reader that the cards do not foretell the future but rather offer a way to move through your life toward the life you desire. There are no bad cards, she explains, there is only information and conversation, thus removing the fear of using tarot the wrong way or receiving bad messages. Phew! That is a weight off my shoulders, giving me more room to open up and discern the card’s symbolism and meaning instead of becoming bogged down with worry.
The start of the book provides a comprehensive section on tarot basics, where it comes from, how the cards function as a whole, and how to choose and care for your deck. There are accompanying exercises to help you “get acquainted with your new best friend.”2 I loved the friend description of the deck. Yes, a good friend will help guide you through the challenging times, celebrate the good times, be honest without being judgmental and always have your best interests at heart!
For those new to tarot, the descriptions of the major and minor arcana are easy to understand. There is a big, wonderful table that makes it easy to understand correspondences. The major arcana overview includes astrological associations, crystal connections, apothecary associations in the form of essences, herbs, and flowers, and also affirmations. The minor arcana descriptions have association with card numbers as well as elemental correspondences for example, swords/air.
I did the exercises in the beginning section and found them to be a fun, non-intimidating way to connect with the cards. Although I’ve been using tarot for over three decades I enjoyed taking the time to do the exercises such as associating people I knew or famous people, characters from books, etc. with each of the major arcana cards.
I agree with Holm’s recommendations for how to choose a tarot deck, namely use the one you’re drawn to and make sure it has a “tone” that resonates with you. Ensure the images are ones that you welcome into your life. And, use the same deck for a year to allow yourself to open to its messages. She provides marvelous rituals to opening up and caring for the deck as well as keeping a tarot journal – all things that I do. And I love anyone who recommends keeping selenite, one of my favorite mineral cleansers, with the deck. I wish I had this book when I first started using tarot as a guide.
Also, of particular help to the tarot reader is the questions that she answers that most of us have probably asked at some time or another while using tarot, such as what if someone touches my deck, what if I don’t get the answer I want, why am I getting bad news?
As a good guide, Melinda offers different tarot spreads ranging from a single card to an ambitious twelve card spread. For each spread she posed a different general question and the detailed question that each card would answer. The twelve-card spread was on the year ahead which is one that I have never done. For each group of three cards she referenced them to equinoxes and solstices. I will definitely put some quiet time aside at the end of December to do this spread.
The majority of the book is Holm’s take on the major and minor arcana. Readers can look up the card they’re curious about and find descriptions that are easily understandable and unintimidating. Both beginners and experienced readers will benefit from her descriptions of each card because Holm’s explanation brings unique insight.
For each of the Major Arcana she offers comments on the meaning of areas such as love and relationships, career and money, and challenge/reversal. She also associates each card with astrology, a Hebrew letter, a crystal, apothecary, and an affirmation. The first couple descriptions of each Major card vary, however. For The Fool she writes about Practicing Presence, for The Hermit about Seeds of Invention, and for The Moon about Reflections on Reflecting. The questions she poses for each card are not static but rather, prompt reflection.
For the Minor Arcana she describes what each of the four suits corresponds to and what they support. She offers general crystal associations and apothecary associations for each suit. The card descriptions are less probing than those of the Major Arcana but very clear and concise.
I’ve been working with Tarot for over three decades, but to be honest, I’ve always had trouble understanding the Court cards. Actually, I disliked it when I pulled one. I had never received a clear understanding in any guide I read about their meanings. Until now. Melinda descriptions were so relatable to me that now I actually want to draw Court cards!
Rohan Daniel Eason’s striking artwork fills the book. As I mentioned, he illustrated Melinda’s two tarot decks, Elemental Power Tarot and Tarot of Tales, and illustrations from each deck are offered for each of the 78 cards. Just like in those decks, illustrations for this book are the perfect companion to Holm’s text.
This book is filled with vivid imagery that keeps the reader visually engaged while flipping through it. The cover is framed by the tentacles of an octopus framing a rough sea with a pirate ship attempting to get through the storm. Birds serenely watch the scene, not phased by the storm, similar to how readers will feel about life when they read Holm’s take on the tarot. It’s wonderful to see how well the imagery and words bolster each on in this book.
Overall, I highly recommend Your Tarot Guide for all who are interested in tarot, novice and experienced. Holm’s expertise as an author and experience of creating her own tarot decks comes forth in this book to provide a guiding light for reading the cards. All that you need to navigate the wisdom of the tarot is held within these pages!
Anne Greco is a non-fiction writer who writes about her life experiences and travels with humor, keen observations, and the hope that her words will remind us that “we’re all just walking each other home.” Her book, Serendipity: Chance Pilgrimages, tells the story of Anne encountering her places of power. As she reconnects with herself at each site, Anne also develops a deeper understanding and appreciation of her connection to both the seen and unseen worlds. Learn more about her work here: http://annegrecowriter.com.