Tarot Life Lessons:  Living Wisdom from The Major Arcana, by Julia Gordon-Bramer
Destiny Books, 9781644118177, 216 pages, November 2023

In Tarot Life Lessons: Living Wisdom from The Major Arcana, Julia Gordon-Bramer endeavors to “heal the world”1 with her personal stories and those of her clients from 40 years of tarot card readings.

Gordon-Bramer picked up her first tarot deck at 16 and began her journey, and along the way, she became an award-winning author and poet, professor, and host of her own radio show turned podcast called Mystic Fix.  She currently lives in St. Louis, MO.  You can learn more about Gordon-Bramer on her website.

In the book’s introduction, Gordon-Bramer shares:

“The tarot is a tool to awaken and tame the subconscious, to help us grow our strengths and make changes when we identify our weaknesses. It’s a way to conquer problems and move on from painful situations and the baggage we carry through life.”2

Within this book, Gordon-Bramer shares stories from readings she has done in regard to the Major Arcana, the first 22 cards in most tarot decks. She references the Universal Rider-Waite tarot and features drawings of cards from this deck in this book. These major arcana cards “represent the key players and milestones in life, the sacred adventure from birth to death. Those are my primary focus in this book.”3 Each chapter features one of the cards from the magical 22 cards. Gordon-Bramer shares these stories in card order from The Fool to the World.

“My tarot cards became a life decoder and a compass to navigate  and reduce the chance of bad luck.”4

In the first chapter, Gordon-Bramer kicks off her story with the first card in the Major Arcana, the Fool. Here, she shares her own spiritual journey, including her fascination with the famous poet Sylvia Plath, who had her own tarot deck.  She conveys more about who she is, creating a bond with the readers, to set the stage for her trip through the rest of the cards.

My favorite card in the tarot deck is the Star card, so I was curious about Gordon-Bramer’s notes on this one. She shares a story about working at a renaissance festival with her son and the clients who came her way.  She worked with a young couple, a man who aspired to be a recording artist and another man who was a skeptic. To his comments, the author said:

“Tarot is about showing you where your energy is going. It gives you tools to understand yourself and guidance to make the changes you want.”5

Each chapter includes a highlighted section on a special TIP. For instance, in the chapter on the Fool, she provides suggestions for buying your first tarot deck. In the chapter on the Star, she addresses the question “Is Tarot Evil?”:

“Tarot does not call spirits, good or evil, into play. . . The idea behind the tarot is that we all have access to that knowledge and power because we are all one, of one spirit (which I call God). . . As a reminder, what the tarot shows us about the future is not fixed. We always have the power to change our path through the decisions that we make.”6

My favorite chapter in the book is the chapter on the Devil card. Gordon-Bramer weaves a story about two women who immigrated from Columbia to St. Louis and were seeking love and money.  When the Devil card popped into a reading for one of the ladies, the woman panicked.  Gordon-Bramer told her:

“Relax, this isn’t about being evil; It’s about being indulgent. The Devil is about  living large: good food, drink, pretty clothes, expensive cars, sex, vacations, sleeping late . . . you get the picture.”7

These ladies visited the author many times over the years and through her readings, Gordon-Bramer was able to support the women as they navigated their lives. 

The cover is beautiful, printed in a soft gray with pastel type and extra varnish on the three tarot cards featured on the front. On the back, the Gordon-Bramer’s photo is highlighted with varnish also! The book is a nice size, perfect for tucking into a handbag or backpack. In addition to a Table of Contents, Gordon-Bramer also puts the name of each chapter’s card at the top of each page.  This makes it very easy to navigate the book and find a chapter or passage. 

In the back of the book, she adds a list of resources, including her favorite tarot decks for client readings. She also features an extensive index for finding specific stories or tips within these pages. 

This book would be great for the experienced tarot reader, one who wants to add an additional layer to their readings. Gordon-Bramer combines client histories with her own tarot symbolism to add to your knowledge base. I can also see that this book will add to my own journey with the cards, as I refer to her stories when I pull a specific Major Arcana card for myself.

The last tip in Tarot Life Lessons was an important one. She shares how to use tarot cards for creativity:

“I know many creative people who pull a card for inspiration or to help them take a project in a new direction. We come to the tarot to find language for the impenetrable emotions and  things we don’t have language for. As they say: a picture says 1000 words. Let the tarot show you your next steps in life and how you might create it.8