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The Art of Aliveness, by Flora Bowley

The Art of Aliveness: A Creative Return to What Matters Most, by Flora Bowley
Hierophant Publishing, 1950253104, 224 pages, March 2021

How often do we really pause to think about what truly makes us feel alive? Have you ever thought there could be ways to feel more inspiration, creativity, and joie de vivre? Well that’s exactly what Flora Bowley offers in her book The Art of Aliveness: A Creative Return to What Matters Most. This spectacular process-oriented book is a guide to rediscovering one’s zest for life.

Flora Bowley is a woman of many talents: artist, healer, yoga instructor, and author (her previous books include Brave Intuitive Painting and Creative Revolution). These different pursuits lend to her creative lifestyle, which she has learned to navigate intuitively. According to her website, her aim is to create “a new holistic movement in the intuitive art world.”1 She purses this passion by leading in-person workshops and online painting courses, along with pursuing the other avenues her creativity inspires her to follow.

“Aliveness means reaching into the vast depths of our full human experience, not shying away from what we find there, and being brave enough to say, “I can be with what is, and I can choose again. I can create beauty out of sorrow and find meaning in the madness. I can be the alchemist of my own life no matter what cards I’ve been dealt.””2

I absolutely loved the book and had many “aha” moments reading it. First of all, Bowley is so honest about her journey. The ups and downs, she is willing to share her story with authenticity. This aspect made me greatly respect her, because it’s certainly not easy to lay it all out for others to know about. Her life is pretty epic though, and simply reading it brought me so much motivation to take new risks and follow my intuition more often.

Some of the really neat things Bowley has done in her life discussed in the book are volunteering in New Orleans after the destruction of Hurricane Katrina, attending Burning Man and awakening to new parts of herself, and even changing her name legally to reflect this emerging identity. How badass are all these things? She reminded me that it’s okay to live outside the box and do things that I’m feeling called to do without having to justify them to other people or be worried about what they will think.

This honesty in Bowley’s writing created a connection with her that made me feel like I could trust her and she wasn’t trying to push anything on me. This whole book is an invitation to open up to the richness of life. She even writes about how in her journey of teaching intuitive painting, she realized the difference between sharing a creative philosophy and teaching a creative lifestyle. While her creative philosophy absolutely can be seen woven into all areas of her life, this book intended to help the reader develop their own creative lifestyle.

All the chapters in the book are a life lesson about living creatively. At the start of the chapter, Bowley includes anecdotes from her own life. Many of these describe how she came to the wisdom that she’s sharing. Then at the end of the chapters, there is a section called “Try This On” where Bowley offers a practice for the reader to do. Most were easy to incorporate into life, such as “The next time you feel a strong emotion, or if you’re feeling one now, notice if you are pushing it down or allowing it to run the show.”3 These practices helped me be more aware of my intuition, feelings, and creative process.

Furthermore, Bowley’s visual description of elements of painting became a symbolic imagery for me to envision when reading. The abstract concept of adding contrast to life came alive on canvas as she described popping yellow paint burst from a deeper blue. Never having painted much, this perspective opened new doors to perception for me, which made me actually want to try my hand at putting the brush to canvas. (Okay, maybe I’ll start with finger paints for now, but it’s still invigorating!)

“Contrasts brings together two or more strikingly different things, creating a dynamic relationship in juxtaposition or close association. In other words, contrast happens when two very different worlds collide, kiss, or simply exist side by side. I hunt for opportunities to create contrast because I know that tension between elements creates energy, a spark, nuance.”4

She also has so many suggestions from her workshops that I really thought were engaging in helping creators acknowledge feelings in a new way. For instance, one thing she’s done with participants is having them give away their half finished painting. Some were sentimental about it, others were happy to be relieved of it, but either way it is an exercise in letting go. From there, the painters were supposed to build on what the other had started. This made me start thinking more about my attachment to things and how I could also include more collaboration.

Reading Bowley’s story made me start thinking about my life as a big canvas, filled with colors and shapes, rather than my normal way of seeing it filled with people, activities, and commitments. Thinking about each of these elements in my life through an artistic perspective got me wondering what the current canvas of my life looked like and how I might bright out something new in what I was working with.

Overall, The Art of Aliveness is filled with wisdom and personal insight in which Bowley draws on her creative process to offer insight on how to reconnect with the inherent beauty in life. I feel like anyone looking to reawaken their creative spirit would benefit from reading this book. As already mentioned, simply hearing her personal story was an inspiration to follow my dreams. Her painting expertise is an added bonus that is sure to motivate other creators to make meaning of their life’s journey through artistry.

Interview with Intuitive Author Natalia Clarke

“Natalia Clarke is a transpersonal psychotherapist, writer, poet, nature lover and intuitive practitioner. Her interests lie in human psyche, transformation, nature spirituality, spiritual self-awareness, earth-based spiritual practice, Scotland and UK travel. She is a fiction and non-fiction writer and a poet with a passion for nature, Scotland, emotions and magic. She writes about intuitive living, magical practice, nature spirituality and soul relationship with the land.”1

After reading Natalia’s most recently book, Intuitive Magic Practice, I experienced an huge shift that reconnected me to my intuition. Her gentle guidance and experience-based wisdom brought me right back into center, and since then I’ve been prioritizing maintaining receptivity to my inner voice. As much of the book is written from her perspective as both a psychotherapist and experienced intuitive practitioner, I wanted to find out a bit more of Natalia’s thoughts and insights. I had a few questions on mind about Natalia’s practice and advice, and I was absolutely delighted when she agreed to do an interview for Musing Mystical.

What are some of your earlier memories of feeling connected to your spiritual self?

Ever since I was very young, I felt like I was a part of nature. Whenever I was in the forest, I became a tree; when I was swimming, I was a part of it. When I laid on the ground or walked barefoot, I felt at home. It is that feeling of belonging to the wild and natural that felt like nothing else; expansive and joyous, which we now might call a spiritual experience. 

One of my earliest memories is running through summer rain with my mother, barefoot and soaked through. I still remember the feeling of warm rain on my body and that felt very otherworldly to me and completely natural. Other instances I recollect are fishing on a river in remote places in early hours of the morning with my father. The silence felt incredible with spirit all around. 

How does your intuition speak to you?

Often my experiencing intuition at play would be either auditory, visionary or a feeling/sensation in my energy feel or in the body. Auditory can be a sound, a birdsong, a whoosh of wind. Sounds would be followed by an image or a color, for example. With all of that there will be a feeling that speaks through me and I feel it physically. It is not necessarily an emotion, but a sense, a nudge and then a narrative would unfold through words or a poem would be put together (I write poetry intuitively). It depends what intuition is there to serve. This is how it is with magic or a message coming through that relates either to myself or someone else, or a project of some sort. In life I do check-ins with myself on how things feel whenever I need guidance or help deciding or starting something. 

Do you have a practice for when you start feeling disconnected from your intuition?

Intuition is not something one connects to once you learn to live and function that way naturally through practice. Intuition will always be there whether we are aware of it or not. Sometimes we are aware but ignore it and other times we might not be aware, because we are not used to operating via our emotional/psychic system and use our habitual ‘mind’ modes of living.

What I have learnt is that intuition is always there, it has always been there, and it can be used as a skill, a tool to navigate your world, including practicing magic.  Once allowed it speaks to you rather than you speak to it, if it makes sense, so I cannot say one disconnects from it rather there are periods of silence, rest when you don’t experience a message, a sign, a voice. In those periods I don’t do anything. I wait when it comes. I speak about doing things when I am called in my book. I am what I call a Witch-in-waiting, waiting to serve once I am spoken to, directed, but this is another topic on how traditional witchcraft might work.

What role do you feel creativity has in intuitive magic?

Creativity is a big part of magic generally, but particularly in intuitive form of practice. It is that playful part of you, an artist in you that gets engaged and the whole thing comes alive be it a spell, a ritual, an offering. Creativity can be introduced with incorporating drawings, words (poems, devotionals, incantations, and spells) or making something – an altar set-up or a spell preparation and choosing your objects. Creativity brings intuitive magic to life and makes it colorful and meaningful and individual to you. 

How do you prioritize self-care in your life?

The answer is intuitively. Either my intuition, my body, my emotional or a mental state would always tell me when I need to slow down and by this point in my life it can come with very specific instructions on what I need to do and how to take care of myself in that moment. I never not listen, and I just follow the message.

It can be via my physical body manifesting some symptoms and slowing me down (this one is often when things get bad, which is not often these days). It can be a dream with a clear message or a voice saying, ‘not today’ (auditory). Restlessness often tells me I need to stop too. Generally having your self-awareness switched on (mindfulness is another way of describing it) at all times, which comes naturally over time with practice, will be helpful. 

How does nature support you in your spiritual practice?

Nature is everything to me. Everything in nature makes sense. I make sense, my life does, my relationships do, and it provides deep meaning for me. I was born to witness nature, that’s my reason for being here, I often think. This might be a cliché, but I can not survive without it and often experience feelings of profound grief when I either have to leave wilderness or when I don’t have any nature around me. I become numb, disconnected, and bereft. I am sensitive to the sounds of trees being cut and would spend days in a state of anxiety. 

What advice do you have for those hoping to reconnect to their intuition?

My advice would be to give it a try. Trust that you know the answers you seek, and you have always known. You cannot fail and can only learn and grow. Treat it with curiosity. It wants you to hear yourself and give yourself a chance. Intuition is of you and about you. It is centered in the heart of things and waiting to help. 

How do you feel psychology and magic can support one another?

The main thing is awareness. As it is with psychology of making unconscious conscious it is with magic when we are aware of intuition and let it speak, it helps us know ourselves better, what we do and why, it helps us see the patterns of our defenses and behavior. It is being present with intention. Why do we do what we do? Both psychology and magic provide deep understanding and acceptance of ourselves (strengths and limitations, all of it) and every witch must know her own depth and weaknesses and, therefore, embracing the whole. Psychological work is about ‘making whole’, coming back home to yourself once you learn things and choose not to judge and instead become curious and accepting of all that you are. 

Has your intuition ever guided you to do something that was totally different than what your mind was saying?

This is very often the case due to our conditioning; I believe. It is also the reason why people dismiss intuition so quickly, as the mind can be a powerful master. Our thought patterns can be so ingrained in our psyche that it feels impossible and even fooling to even consider operating in any other way. The mind will always seek to take over, because that is what we are used to, trained into doing.

However, mind is only as powerful as we give it credit and it is in many ways automatic. It doesn’t have the ability to discern like heart/intuition can. The mind only does what it knows to do repeatedly and that is where training yourself into feeling and sensing comes in rather than continuing to use thinking/mind alone. This is a big topic with a lot of psychology behind it and an interesting area to explore for all of us to understand mind vs heart, thinking vs feeling, logical vs spontaneous and creative.

What I did over time when studying and practicing was pay attention, not automatically dismissing ‘other ways’ and potentially changing the course of acting based on something different. It can be useful to learn to use both, they both have value, but when one is in power and control all the time and the other is silenced, it is difficult. A lot of work needs to be done to understand how the mind works and allow the intuitive side to participate too before they can be brought together to serve the same purpose – helping us live a fulfilling life. 

Why do you think creating a spiritual practice based upon intuition, as opposed to set rules or ritual, is so refreshing to one’s spirit? 

It is honoring what you already know, what your soul always knew, and spirit always supported. It is different and refreshing because it promotes giving yourself a chance to play a part and if rituals and rules can support and include it then it is even better. It is inclusive, as I know sometimes, we might feel we must follow, we should do this and that because it is the rule and someone else said this and that. We might not want to be seen differently or daring or ‘out of the circle’, so to speak, which links in with how we learn to behave psychologically as children, for example. It takes practice and experience and enjoying the journey of exploring both – the traditional and unique and making the whole thing your own. 

What is your favorite thing about writing a book?

I love the intuitive element to writing. Sometimes you think you go one way and then it takes you in another. Ideas flash and exploration begins. Characters or concepts take on a life of their own and, as a writer, you follow. I like how alive and immersive the process is. It is an interesting way of expressing yourself and sharing experiences. When I write I have no concept of time and space, nothing else exists and I love that. When writing this book, I felt joy being able to share my ways of practicing and show the element of exploration, curiosity, and play that can go into it.  

What is the most challenging part of being an author?

Writing is hard work and a balancing act of so many things. The challenge is to convey the message you intended and be sure and satisfied that you expressed and said all that was relevant and important and hope the audience would find it inspiring, helpful, and interesting. Writing is challenging, but also a rewarding creative and often spiritual experience like no other. 

Can you tell us a bit more about your next book, Baba Yaga, coming in December 2021?

This book was written completely intuitively, which makes it one of those glorious projects for me as a writer. I wrote it via listening to the deity. She spoke through me, which was challenging, as she speaks in codes and symbols and a different language all together. I enjoyed the challenge of translating the message and putting it across in a way she would approve of. In many ways I had no choice in this, as I was asked to do it by her and hope it comes across as material that you would not find in fairy tales or traditional sources. This book is about what Baba Yaga wanted to say herself rather than what has been told about her since the beginning of time. It is a devotional and personal understanding of the deity in a book that suggests a way of working with her.

A channeled Baba Yaga book? Wowza! This sounds amazing. I look forward to reading this one as well! If you would like to stay in touch with Natalia, you can follow her blog: https://rawnaturespirit.com/. Intuitive Magic Practice will be released on May 1, 2021; you can purchase a copy here.

Intuitive Magic Practice, by Natalia Clarke

Pagan Portals – Intuitive Magic Practice, by Natalia Clarke
Moon Books, 1789046157, 120 pages, May 2021

Intuitive Magic Practice, part of the Pagan Portals series, by Natalia Clarke makes me want to breathe a long, deep sigh of relief. Things have been a bit hectic in my world recently, and I’ve felt the disconnection that stems from being out of touch with my inner voice. Reading this book has shifted me back into my more natural, receptive state of being in the most delightful way.

Clarke has combined her experience as a transpersonal psychotherapist with wisdom as a spiritual guide to offer readers insight on how to create an intuitive magic practice. Throughout the book, her gentle, calming tone invites a sense of fluidity, harmony, and personal energetic resonance to emerge.

In no way is this book one in which the author holds the knowledge, prompting a hierarchy between author and reader. Rather, Clarke develops a relationship with the reader that’s guided by feelings of goodwill and trust. Much of the imparted content to the reader stems from her own personal experience, and she writes this book as though she might be telling a friend about her experiences with magic and developing intuition in her own life. I enjoyed her anecdotes and the lens it provided me into seeing how she developed her own spiritual perspective.

I really liked reading about the importance of nature in Clarke’s spirituality and connection to her intuition. There is so much beauty in the natural world, along with lessons of tending, growing, and slowing down to enjoy the moment. Since her writing does not stem from any one belief system or practice, I noticed how nature seemed to be the greatest influence that gave shape to Clarke’s experiences.

However, there’s so much that Intuitive Magic Practice covers. Each chapter highlights a method of connecting to one’s intuition and offers ways to become receptive to the guidance of one’s inner knowing. Receptivity is key here, as Clarke’s writing calls the reader to settle in, move at their own pace, and gently open to the promptings that want to be acknowledged.

Some topics covered in the book are dreamwork, journaling, breathing exercises, creating sacred space, creative imagination, moon cycles, and more. Clarke also shares spells, information on candle magic, and guidance on how to select ritual tools. Through it all, she emphasizes that there is no one size fits all model for one’s magical practice; there is also no need to force something when the energy is not there.

“This way there is a natural flow, no force, no attachment to an outcome, no artificial influences of any kind and it always works. One might say I flow with intuitive energy if and when it comes in. If I am not called or specific energies are not present, I do not do anything.”1

Clarke also includes information on the Triple Goddess aspects, working with the elements, and tips for intuitively crafting one’s own magical practice such as writing spells, casting a circle, and creating rituals. Again though, this all arises from a place of moving with the flow, rather than planning, specifying, and dictating how the process should look. She even contrasts intuitive magic to ritual magic to help readers get a better sense of this method in relation to others.

My favorite chapter of Intuitive Magical Practice was “Intuition, Divine Feminine and Sacred Self-care.” While this book has valuable information for all readers, Clarke does note in the introduction it is more geared towards a female audience. All I can say is this chapter was all I needed to be reminded of and more right now.

As I move through a phase of transition, stemming from immense burn-out in my last job that lead me to severely disconnect from my own internal guidance, I desperately needed the reminder that listening to my intuition, caring for my body, and moving in alignment with the energy is a practice of sacred self-care.

“What do I mean by sacred self care? This links in with self-awareness, which can grow through listening to yourself with complete trust and seeing powerful results in your way of being with yourself and the world. It means giving yourself what your inner voice asks of you or points you towards; giving yourself what you need in the moment by listening to your intuition; treating yourself with compassion, love and respect, as you would any divine energy.”2

It’s interesting too how Clarke reminded me of the importance of moving according to where the energy is and how things are flowing. To be honest, this book has been sitting on my shelf for about two weeks now, and I had procrastinated delving into my new book. I tried to read it a week ago, but after a few pages it was sidetracked. Then, suddenly, this morning, all my energy was focused on reading this book and sinking in to receive it’s message. I am so glad that I trusted the timing of my feelings and didn’t read it in a mindset that wasn’t ready to embrace all the wisdom in this book.

For the past few months, I’ve forgotten that it’s okay to live according to your intuition and trust the timing of when things unfold, but reading Clarke’s words reassured me that it’s okay to move in rhythm that feels right for you. It was particularly inspiring to read how she doesn’t do spellwork unless she feels called. Living a magical lifestyle doesn’t have to be doing spells with each moon cycle, or constantly keeping up with a specific practice “just because you’re supposed to.” It can be just as powerful when your practice is fluid and guided by intuition. This is such a deeply refreshing approach to magic.

I’ll admit I moved quite quickly through the book, soaking it all in as I sat outside in the sunshine, feeling the fresh air gently flow around me. However, this is also a book that can be savored and referred back to over time. While I did finish it quickly, I now am ready to go back through it and practice some of the exercises, which Clarke offers plenty of through the book.

There is one method of connecting to intuition Clarke writes about that I had never heard of before, which I am particularly excited to try out: intuitive drawing. This approach can help to facilitate a dialogue with the subconscious and allow feelings, sensations, and thoughts to arise from deep within. Sometimes I feel like I get trapped in my words, and I am eager to see what comes out when I choose drawing as a form of communication with my inner guidance.

All in all, Clarke’s gentle and uplifting approach to an intuitive magic practice is something of great value to those who are seeking a more natural approach to working with energy. I highly recommend Intuitive Magic Practice to those who are seeking to tune back into their inner voice in a way that feels authentic and true to who they are. This book is a wonderful reminder that there is no right or wrong way, and that healing comes from remembering the sacred connection to our inner guidance. As you read Clarke’s wisdom, I’m sure you’ll feel right at home within yourself, comforted by the words that it’s okay to embrace your intuition and let your energy flow in a way that feels harmonious.

The Call of Intuition, by Kris Franken

The Call of Intuition: How to Recognize & Honor Your Intuition, Instinct & Insight, by Kris Franken
Llewellyn Publications, 978-0738765938, 256 pages, 2020

Trying to find that elusive unicorn called work-life balance has many of us burning out and not able to focus on the task at hand. Attempting to find time for ourselves, while also taking care of others, and in some cases juggling a job has many of us cut off from ourselves and our intuition. Finding a pathway back to ourselves in terms of honoring our vast inner worlds is precisely what Kris Franken sets out to do in her beautiful book The Call of Intuition: How to Recognize & Honor Your Intuition, Instinct & Insight. In this book, Franken sets out workable sections on how to reconnect with our inner selves, and it couldn’t come at a better time.

With the turmoil society is in right now where many people feeling cut off and alone due to the pandemic, this book is a breath of fresh air. Not only does Franken reiterate what we all know intrinsically in terms of being always connected to our inner guidance, she shows us how to access that well of guidance through basic exercises designed to strengthen our link to ourselves. Woven through the chapters that are simply and directly named for what they offer (“Breathe,” “Surrender,” “Connect,” etc) are wonderful self-practices in the guise of prompts designed to provoke a deeper awareness that reflects back to the chapter topic. The first one, titled Self Aware Soul Prompt, took me to a place of deep calm and serenity that I greatly needed. It also reminded me that I need to take responsibility for my own empowerment, which surprised me because I totally thought I was doing that. Guess not!

The book is written simply and is a pleasure to read. Not that it’s an easy read: whenever you deal with personal transformation books there is always an element of difficulty in that you are called to face some aspects of yourself that you thought you’d dealt with. This isn’t to say that there is an abundance of Shadow Work here; while there may be a call to do that later on your own, this book is more about re-establishing contact between you and your higher self while leaving space for miracles to occur.

Franken doesn’t make the reader wait to get into the meaty stuff. In chapter two, she deftly explains the three inner guides that influence and inform each person: instinct, intuition, and insight. This forms the basis of the rest of the book and the detail she goes into about each one of these guides is beneficial for even the most seasoned and self-aware reader. Personally, I love it when the writer tells me exactly what they mean when they use specific words, as I feel it gives me another facet to a topic I might already know something about. Take intuition and insight for example. I would have thought that these two things would be quite similar based on my personal experience. Franken explains insight as “when you receive new information that merges with what you already know and provides a new understanding or a fresh perspective.” 1 Something I now have in conjunction to these two ideas, thanks to her explanation.

The second part of the book deals with the “how-to” of reconnecting and is the real reason why you pick this book up. While the first part provides a deep understanding of intuition, insight, and instinct, the second part provides six ways to fortify the bond with self through practical, hands-on, and playful approaches. Franken encourages the reader to think of this entire section as fluid and not treat it as a solid six-step program to follow diligently. I like that she goes out of her way to state that — quite often authors mean for this to be apparent, but it isn’t always that clear. In this case, the way the book is written invites the reader to jump around and try things at their own discretion. Perfect for someone like me who gets distracted by shiny things!

I especially enjoyed the section on surrendering, as I have a difficult time letting go and releasing things that no longer serve me. Part of this is because doing so invites real and drastic change into my life, and that is sometimes daunting and scary to consider. I know — why is this my favorite part if it causes so much discomfort? It’s precisely the discomfort that attracts me. Honestly, Franken’s writing makes me feel safe to move forward with this work despite the amount of fear I feel while contemplating the changes that need to be made. Empowerment: it’s already working!

If you are looking for a book that clearly lays out the basic principles behind acknowledging and accessing your inner guidance system, pick this book up. Ditto if you already have that knowledge but are looking for ways to strengthen the bonds already in place. There really isn’t anyone I can think of who wouldn’t benefit from reading The Call of Intuition, as it’s full of wonderful insight and anecdotes that resonate with their honesty and relevance. Franken has written a beautiful book that will lead you back to your center, if you are willing to take some time and reinvest it in yourself.

Tarot No Questions Asked, by Theresa Reed

Tarot No Questions Asked: Mastering the Art of Intuitive Reading, by Theresa Reed
Weiser Books, 9781578637133, 304 pages, September 2020

Theresa Reed is clearly on a roll! Tarot No Questions Asked: Mastering the Art of Intuitive Reading, published in September 2020, is her third book published in a fourteen month period. Tarot for Troubled Times: Confront Your Shadow, Heal Your Self & Transform the World, co-authored with Shaheen Miro, was published in July 2019, and Astrology for Real Life: A Workbook for Beginners (A No B.S. Guide for the Astro-Curious) in October 2019. I enjoyed this third book so much I ordered the first two immediately after starting to read it!

Here’s why I loved Reed’s book. First, I vibe with her attitude of empowering others. She wants her readers to benefit from all her experience and generously offers the nuggets of her experience. Second, she expresses herself clearly and simply, without oversimplifying or underestimating the reader. Third, she gives you clear directions throughout. (To begin, she instructs you to get a deck and a journal or two and to journal daily.) Finally, her style of writing makes her easy to read. She uses short sentences — often, very short. She does not hold back on her personal anecdotes. And she lets her sense of humor shine.  All this makes her very easy and very entertaining to read. 

The book is divided mainly into three parts. Part 1: Tarot Basics covers the 78 cards. I like how she discusses each card – what it is and what it is not — and then offers three additional exercises that really teaches the meaning of the card: (1) embodiment practice, (2) a question to ponder, and a (3) Tarotcise (a tarot exercise). For example, for the major arcana card Death (my favorite, apt since I have my Sun in Scorpio), she gives two examples where other cards meant death, while Death card itself primarily means change or transformation. For the embodiment practice for the major arcana card The Star, she invites you to not complain for 30 days. “Sounds easy? It’s not! But it will change your world, I promise. Pick a day and start.”1 (I’m going to start today!) The question to ponder for the major arcana card Judgement is “What makes you feel reborn?”2

The Tarotcize for the major arcana card The Fool is as follows:

“Sit with the Fool card for a few minutes. Which symbols stands out? Take out your journal and begin to riff on that symbol. Make a note of anything that comes to mind. Let your words flow without stopping to edit. Just write what you feel. Put this away and then reflect on your words on a later date. What did you uncover? What kind of connection did you make to this card?”3

I found that if I do the journaling, the fruits of the practice are obvious and convincing. 

These three exercises tailored to each card can really help seep the cards’ meaning into the reader’s body and consciousness. At least, for me, they really did that in such a profound way that learning about the cards for the past several years on my own had not done. The power of a good book by a good teacher!

The same format of explication applies to the 56 cards of the minor arcana cards. In addition, her description of the arc of the progression in the suit cards, from Ace to King, is helpful to show you how one leads to the other. For the Six of Wands, she writes “[a]fter the battle, the victory parade!”4 For the Seven of Wants: “[a]fter the sweet victory dance of the Six of Wands, we now see that the win was short lived.”5

Though I enjoyed Part 1, what makes me heartily recommend this book to others is Part 2: Intuition Basics and Part 3: Road Testing Your Skills. That’s where she distills four decades of her own experience into less than 120 pages. “[I]ntuitive tarot reading” means “you’re relying on your intuition – not the guidebook or manual that came with your tarot deck – to interpret the cards lying in front of you.”6 Intuition for her is “when you understanding something immediately, without any facts, logic, or reasoning”7 and it is like a muscle: “[t]he more you exercise, the stronger it gets!”8  She says something simple but crucial to her method: “A quiet mind hears better. Period.”9 That means the techniques for quieting the mind are essential. That led to the delightful surprise of a five page summary on how to do that. I’ll leave each reader to discover it  —  let me say that with my background of three decades of spiritual practices of various sorts, I loved her summary! 

Part 3 is the how-to section and includes Preparations (setting and intention matters!), three kinds of spreads (one card, Past Present Future, Celtic Cross), Methodology. This part includes her tips on details: Numbers, Timing, Significators, Missing Suits, etc. Reed succinctly offers her insights that she has earned through a lifetime of study and practice in some FAQ-type tidbits. Just the titles alone make me laugh: “That Reading Was Boring AF!,” “That Reading as Totally Wrong!,”  “Can I Ask the Question Again If I didn’t like the Outcome?”10 The book ends with a chapter on “Going Pro” that provides a pretty sweet blueprint for doing just that. 

To put my learning to the test, I did a few readings. I told my friends I’m trying out a new method of reading more from my intuition and impression of the cards than relying on a particular interpretation of the cards. I did a Celtic Cross reading for a friend regarding a worrisome work situation. Simply having read this book gave me a greater sense of confidence in my own interpretation and flow; I spoke what leapt out to me in the imagery as much as “the meaning” of the card.

When the Hierophant appeared in the spread as card 8 (environment, surroundings, and other influences), I said, someone with authority may be able to provide guidance that could resolve the situation. My friend brightened up and said, in fact, she had reached out to someone in such a position and was hoping that her boss would take that person’s input seriously. That gave my friend a sense of confidence that her reaching out to that person had been a good idea and that she could participate more assertively in the resolution of a sticky situation. I felt as though Theresa, through her book, had offered a transmission of her own confidence and years of practice. 

For its breadth and depth, I would say that Tarot No Questions Asked is good for anyone from beginner to experienced. For the beginner because it is easy and entertaining to read, while it can also be truly be a treasure trove of information. For the experienced as well because I deeply respect the depth of “living the tarot” that Reed provides through her embodiment exercises and Tarotcize suggestions. Though her ideas are described simply, they invite practices that can continue to deepen and enrich your readings for a lifetime.