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The Cards You’re Dealt, by Theresa Reed

The Cards You’re Dealt: How to Deal When Life Gets Real, by Theresa Reed
Red Wheel Weiser, 9781578638031, 240 pages, October 2023

After following Theresa Reed, AKA “The Tarot Lady” for a number of years, I was thrilled to see The Cards You’re Dealt! The title was intriguing and her reputation as both reader and teacher is stellar.  This book did not disappoint. From the first page of her preface on “The Death Cards,” I was drawn in, knowing that along with knowledge I would receive keys to healing as well. Reed’s introduction sets the tone and lights the way for the book, explaining how to use the book, what it covers, and tips to make the most of it.

Reed has over thirty years’ experience reading tarot for clients and is widely known as an expert, speaker, and teacher in tarot.  She is host of an online podcast on tarot called Tarot Bytes, as well as Astrology Bytes which features short pieces on astrology.  She has written four other books, as well as co-authored a book with Shaheen Miro. (One of my favorite books by Reed is her book Astrology for Real Life.) Her website is https://www.thetarotlady.com/, and she currently resides in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

This book interested me because of the wide range of questions I get from clients regarding their lives. When I skimmed the table of contents, I knew that Reed was sharing great information for handling the sensitive subjects of life. Reed shares:

“As I said before, the topic is heavy, but this book is full of hope…. This book is balm for the soul when you’re overwhelmed and need to find solace, healing, and compassion for yourself or others.”1

The book is structured in an easy-to-navigate style with a complete table of contents that takes you through the basics of tarot to the Major and Minor Arcana and on to a wide array of tarot spreads.  In the section on tarot basics, Reed covers a brief history, how to buy your first deck, what’s inside a deck, myths and misconceptions, and how to do a reading. I particularly love her sections called “Words to the Wise” and “Some Tarot Do’s and Don’ts”. Here’s one of my favorites:

“Do not worry about being wrong or right. This desire will create rigidity or trepidation in your readings. There will always be times when you see clearly and other times when the messages are murky. Do your best.”2

Many people who want a tarot reading struggle with asking the “right” question.  Reed has several ideas, including ways to reframe a question to allow the divination tool to share more helpful guidance. 

Next, Reed shares information and interpretations for the Major Arcana followed by the Minor Arcana cards.  She uses the Rider-Waite-Smith cards for her guide and references the traditional symbolism for each card. Although she references her more than thirty years reading with the cards, she asks everyone to trust their own wisdom when interpreting the cards. Early in the book, she references that it is personal preference whether you read reversals or not. Yet, she includes reversed meanings for each card, as well as a journaling prompt and a practice prompt, which asks for a comparison of the card message to personal experience.

She also gives what she calls a “Pro Tip” for each Major Arcana card and the King cards in the Minor Arcana. This tip takes the overall message from that card and creates a suggestion for the reader to use to improve reading skill, intuition and overall divination abilities.  Here’s an example of the Pro Tip from the Chariot:

“The only way to get good at Tarot is constant practice period, not just reading your own daily card, but also reading for as many folks as you can. The more people you read for, the more likely you’ll encounter various situations that will stretch your intuitive muscles and tarot interpretations!3

For the Minor Arcana, Reed does a complete review of the four suits, the court cards, and the numbers (from Ace to 10). She also includes a practice exercise and a pro tip in this section, which precedes the individual card meanings.

Then, in Part Two, Reed adds seven different sections on various life topics, including extensive information on losses. Here, it gets really interesting, as Reed takes you through various spreads for guidance. My favorite spread was the Recovery Spread. Reed shares how to use just three cards to provide guidance for someone who may be recovering from surgery, illness or chemotherapy.  Here is the simple layout from page 116:

Card 1: Present moment
Card 2: What do I need right now?
Card 3: How can I continue to support my healing?

She gives an example from her client files and the reader can easily see how the spread works for this issue. 

I decided to try it myself, as I was recovering from a brief illness.  The cards I drew were: 

1. The Tower: Yes, there’s some chaos and upheaval
2. King of Pentacles: A need to balance a time to rest with anything that needs to be done right now. Use your good judgment to plan the next few days, so you can rest.
3. Knight of Wands: Focus your energy where it is really needed and don’t waste it on burning out!

Sage advice for me, as a person who is always moving!

I also enjoyed her spread on Meeting My Guardian Angel and the section “Creating Spreads Through Conversation”.  Rarely do all readings fit a prescribed tarot spread. Here, Reed gives a way to talk with the person and create questions for the cards in the moment. In this instance, the information relates most to those who are in the last stages of life. The way in which Reed discusses death and dying and working with this type of client is very reverent and compassionate.  The information is invaluable to readers. The information she shares on grief is also presented in a kind, helpful manner.

Reed writes in a very conversational style, almost as if you are receiving a reading from her. The book is very easy to navigate, and includes resources on grief, death and mental health, as well as recommended reading on tarot, grief, dying, Buddhism, and yoga at the back of the book. 

This book would be a great reference book for someone with a few years’ experience reading tarot, as well as seasoned professionals.  With Reed’s guide and earnest practice, even a new reader could really improve their skills with the tips, card meanings and spreads in this resource.

Taking a prominent place in my office, Reed’s book will help me with readings for life’s hard questions and provide guidance for situations that challenge people. Along with the cherished decks I use for client readings, Reed will whisper encouragement to me as a reader, as I do my important work. 

As she says on the title page, Reed shares that The Cards You’re Dealt is:

“A tarot guide that’s not about predicting the future but about dealing with and healing from the tough stuff we all face everyday: loss, illness, challenging relationships.”4

Twist Your Fate, Theresa Reed

Twist Your Fate: Manifest Success with Astrology and Tarot, by Theresa Reed
Weiser Books, 1578637686, 272 pages, August 2022

Astrology and tarot go hand-in-hand if you ask me, but prior to Twist Your Fate: Manifest Success with Astrology and Tarot by Theresa Reed, I had never seen a book that combined the two. Twist Your Fate does a wonderful job of synthesizing the intricacies of these two mystical systems into easy to practice exercises and inquiries that are sure to have a lasting impact on one’s spiritual journey. Beginners and experts alike have something to gain from this book, which is bound to call in the magic that happens when you align will with the forces at play.

Reed, also known as The Tarot Lady, has formerly published books on both tarot and astrology, including Tarot No Questions Asked: The Art of Intuitive Reading and Astrology for Real Life: A Workbook for Beginners, making her the perfect writer to introduce readers to the dual-system of using astrology and tarot in combination. Her other works include Tarot for Troubled Times, The Tarot Coloring Book, and Create Your Own Tarot Cards for those who are inclined to get creative with the tarot.

It often seems the amount of studying and dedication that goes into learning tarot and astrology make people pick one or the other to focus on. It’s common for expert astrologers to only have a basic knowledge of the tarot, and vice versa with skilled tarot readers only knowing their Sun sign. Plus, even for those who are drawn to both, there’s little information about how to use the two in combination. But with Twist Your Fate, Reed helps readers go beyond the either/or and do a deep-dive into both astrology and tarot before integrating the two together, opening a whole new world of possibilities.

Divided into four parts, Reed leads readers through lessons on astrology, tarot, listening to their intuition, and bringing it all together in the end. The longest section of the book is the first one, humorously named “Part One: Cover Your Ass-trology”. I was pleasantly surprised with the range of astrology topics Reed included: the midheaven, nodes, transits, retrogrades, influence of the moon, and even vocation and life calling. She did a wonderful job of making these astrological concepts approachable, and it’s for this reason this has become the book I would recommend to beginners to astrology above all other books on the topic.

Even if the astrological terms or process of reading the chart feels intimidating, Reed’s gently direct approach helps readers to gain their own footing. She provides her own interpretations for all the different astrological placements, feeding reader’s insight about their own chart, but also leaves plenty of room for everyone to connect with the chart in their own way and form interpretations from within. Throughout the chapters there are plenty of “astrocises” which are exercises intended to help the reader examine their chart further to facilitate integration of the chapter topic.

These astrocises are quite creative and are good for creatively engaging with one’s astrological chart. I’ve been a professional astrologer for many years, and sometimes I’m tempted to gloss over others’ interpretations of the houses, signs, or different planetary energies. But Reed caught my attention and kept it through and through. Even though the astrological topics covered are something I am quite familiar with, her approach was novel and engaging. The way she presents the material was an invitation for me to do a check in and truly deep dive into my astrological chart, which I honestly hadn’t done for quite some time. As I worked through the astrocises, certain patterns coming up for me right now were illuminated, and I felt like I gained a better perspective about the blessings and challenges emerging in my life at this time.

Then the tarot section was just pure gold because Reed has been reading cards for over 30 years! She shares her interpretation of the 22nd Major Arcana cards and the 56 Minor Arcana cards – both upright and reversed. Additionally included is the numerology and planetary correspondence of each card. The images used are the traditional Rider-Waite-Smith deck, which I think helps readers, especially beginners, to see all the subtleties of the cards since it’s a very popular deck that many other decks are based on.

My favorite chapter in the tarot section was “Taking Your Cards to Work” where Reed guides readers through asking the right questions and using spreads to get the most out of one’s reading. Some of the spreads she shares are The Astrological Wheel, The Horseshoe Spread, and The Options Spread, which I found to be great for decision-making! A real perk of the chapter is how Reed uses sample readings so the reader gains an understanding of how she puts it all together to come to an interpretation of the cards. Plus, along the way there’s plenty of “tarotcises” that once again facilitate an opportunity to connect with the lessons of the chapter.

“I have always said that astrology creates the map; Tarot shows you the detours. But there is one more crucial element – your intuition.”1

Before the culminating section, Reed binds astrology and tarot together with insight on how to discover, develop, and trust one’s intuition. This section is essential for all readers, as astrology and tarot both ask you to learn to have confidence in the answers you receive, both from your chart, cards, and most of all, from within. I appreciate that in this section Reed doesn’t sugarcoat the intuitive journey though, making it all “love and light”, rather she provides advice about what to do if your intuition is wrong or if there’s no meaningful insight coming through in a reading. This section definitely helps readers to feel better about the bumps in the road on their intuitive journey, while providing guidance and advice about how to make it a bit smoother.

The final section invites the reader to grab their chart, get their cards, and use their intuition to divine insight into a present situation. Reed aptly calls it an “astro-tarot-intui-cise”2 To be honest, I haven’t worked my way up to this fully comprehensive spread yet! I wouldn’t say I’m intimidated, as Reed has prepared me well, but I feel like this is going to be a meaningful reading, so I want to give it the time and space it deserves to truly delve into the reading. I like knowing I can pull out the “big guns” aka this thorough reading when it’s needed most, and I’m trusting the time to use it will present itself sometime down the line!

All in all, Twist Your Fate is a fantastic resource for deepening one’s connection to astrology, tarot, and intuition. Reed’s experience and wisdom shines through the text as she guides readers on the journey of learning how to manifest success, which many agree is no easy feat! Without even realizing it’s happening, readers will start to gain confidence in themselves as they reveal new facets of their astrological make-up and gain the ability to interpret what life presents through a lens of empowerment, rather than discouragement. The tools taught in this book are sure to have life-long value, especially the more you practice and trust the messages you receive.

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.