In this blog, I will be sharing my Tarot reference recommendations for advanced Tarot Readers, and I want to talk about what a depth year is and how I plan to spend mine in 2021. This year I have decided to have a depth year where I really strip everything back and dive deep into the topics and practices that I want to learn more about and where I want to deepen my connection or improve my skills. The first year I got into tarot, I was in a mass consumption phase. I bought lots of decks and read every tarot book I could get my hands on. I would fly through the books and immediately pick up another one. I couldn’t get enough. I did this for about a year and a half. I was shoving all that knowledge into my brain. And I did this for multiple divination systems because my curiosity was endless.
Around the 2 year mark I switched to trying to read more intuitively and record my own thoughts on the cards and establish my own meanings and associations with the cards. Now as I approach my 3 year tarot anniversary in April I feel led to dive deeper with the decks I own and the books I have already breezed through. I want to solidify the information in a concrete way so that I never forget this information. In order to do that I need to stop buying new decks and books so I can really sit with a select few and marinate in the wisdom from the selection I’ve chosen to dive back into.
I think the main reason I feel led to do this in 2021 is that the Universal Tarot Card for 2021 for everyone is the Hierophant and my personal Tarot Year Card is The Hanged Man. Both of these cards call you to go inward and meditate, study and contemplate what is important in life and to question what the larger meaning is.
Light Seers Tarot
The Hierophant is calling me to study spiritual concepts more, and The Hanged Man calls me to look from a higher perspective on these issues to see from a new angle. Both cards are tied to enlightenment. And I feel led to dive deep into spiritual systems, symbols, practices and rituals in order to fully experience this enlightenment phase. Jupiter just entered Aquarius in my 12th house so it is understandable why I feel drawn to expand my inner consciousness and connection to the universe.
Next year will be my Death card year, so I need to prepare for the death and rebirth process that is coming and be ready to shift those perspectives smoothly for that process to be as successful as it can be. I am a life path 4, so the Emperor card is my birth card, and the Death card is my teacher card. Like most life path 4’s I fear change because it is unknown, and we like structure and security. But I also tend to embrace the biggest changes in life once I realize there is no way around it. So, there is a period of time when I resist that change or at least brace myself reluctantly for the impact of it. But then I jump fully into the deep end when the opportunity comes even when others advise me to take it easy at first. I’m an all or nothing type of personality. I love remaking myself and transforming internally and externally. I guess I really have a love/hate relationship with change. Which is why it makes sense that the Death card is my teacher card.
Let me share with you the decks I have chosen that I will be working more deeply with in 2021.
Bonestone and Earthflesh Tarot and Oracle of Echoes
First on my list is the Bonestone and Earthflesh Tarot – I didn’t receive this deck until October 2020 so it is still new to me, and I want to spend quality time with this deck and the lengthy guidebook. I waited for over 2 years for this deck to be completed, and I feel there is a lot to discover still with this deck. I’ll also be working with the Oracle of Echoes deck as a pair to the Bonestone because Ana Tourian is the artist for both decks. I’ve just started ancestral work and healing in mid 2020, and this deck was the deck that resonated the most with that type of healing so I want to continue that path with these unique and powerful cards.
Way Home Tarot and Postcards From the Liminal Space
Next up is The Way Home Tarot and Postcards from the Liminal Space (shown above) – I’ve had these decks for about 8 months so they are also still new to me, and I think there is a lot for me to learn with these decks. I want to revisit WTF is Tarot with my Way Home Tarot deck to see how reading with the deck deepens the lessons from that book. I didn’t have this deck when I first read this book. The second version of the Liminal Space will be coming out soon, and I will add that deck to this pairing as well.
Chakra Wisdom Tarot
I want to revisit the Wisdom Chakra Tarot (shown aboe). I didn’t have a lot of time to devote to this deck when I first got it because I kept getting new decks in that pulled my focus, and I didn’t click with this one right away so I put it away and never got it back out. Now that I am reducing the number of new decks for 2021, I will finally have time to read the guidebook and learn the system to see if it does work for me. I already have set a goal to learn more about the chakra system this year, so this deck will hopefully help me explore the chakras this year. Each card is paired with a chakra. This will be great to read with my Chakra Reading Oracle Cards, which give suggestions on how to work with the specific chakras.
Light Seers Tarot and Sacred Creators Oracle
I will always continue to work with the Light Seers Tarot as my main deck because it is my soul deck, and the guidebook is fantastic for the indie version. I plan to work more closely with Chris Anne’s other deck the Sacred Creators Oracle along with the Light Seers Deck. I use these for most of my readings for others.
Rider Waite Smith Original Tarot
I’m also going back to my Rider Waite Smith Original Tarot deck for indepth tarot study when I dig back into Tarot Wisdom and 78 Degrees of Wisdom. The only book I plan on buying in 2021 is A. E. Waite’s book on the tarot to get his original thoughts on the tarot system when creating the cards. I want to hear from him directly on his insights into the cards and why certain images were chosen. That book is The Pictorial Key to the Tarot.
I also picked out a few oracle decks to work with more in 2021.
Black Moon Astrology Cards
Astrology is a topic I want to learn more about this year, so I picked the Black Moon Astrology Cards to work with this year. They have been extremely accurate so far, and this guidebook is packed with tons of astrological information tied to each card. I feel like there is so much to uncover by using these cards more. I love pulling a year ahead spread with these astrology cards to see what astrological energies will be prominent in each month of the year. I also pull a card for each of the astrological houses to get an indepth read on themes that are playing out in those areas. Plus, you learn more about the astrological houses, planets and energies when using these cards. I’m always excited to get this deck out.
The Wild Unknown Archetypes
I have a few books on Jung that I will be reading this year that I have already purchased, and I have chosen the Wild Unknown Archetypes deck to work with alongside those books. My psychological nature pulls me to want to work with archetypes at a deeper level. These cards will help me delve into shadow work more this year too. Pluto will be moving into my 12th Astrological House in 2023, and I was given some great advice by an astrologer to go ahead and do as much shadow work as I can now while Pluto is still in my 11th House to help that transit not be as rough as it can be.
This is the year that I want to master Lenormand as well. So I will continue on that journey, and runes are calling me to bring them out more often in my readings. Now is the perfect time to revisit those.
REFERENCES FOR ADVANCED LEVEL TAROT READERS
For my depth year in 2021 I will be diving back into each of these selections. Like I said I read these books really quickly the first go around, and there is so much to digest from each that I am feeling drawn back in to do an indepth study of these works that I consider tarot textbooks.
Tarot Wisdom is written by Rachel Pollack who also wrote 78 Degrees of Wisdom, which you may recall is on my short list for beginner references for those who are new to tarot. I chose Tarot Wisdom for Advanced readers because Pollack includes a thorough history of each card and walks you through the changes in the card images across centuries and cultures.
Her descriptions of the meanings, historical associations and symbology provides deep analysis of each tarot card. She even provides images from 6 decks throughout the book, so you can see the evolution of the cards across time and cultures. The decks she compares across time are the Golden Dawn Tarot, Marseille, Rider Waite Smith, Sola-Busca, the Visconti which is the oldest known tarot deck and Rachel’s own tarot deck called Shining Tribe. Through these comparisons, you can see each of the artist’s interpretations of the cards from different cultures, countries, time periods and genres.
This book would be attractive mostly to those who want to do a deep study in tarot. It isn’t a light read at 480 pages. I even took breaks while reading this book since it was quite heavy on the descriptions. I like that she includes a short spread for each of the Major Arcana cards to help you explore the themes of that card. I’m one of those people that love to pull tarot spreads as I read to immerse myself in the root meanings of a card. So spreads on specific cards and important questions to ask related to the lessons from the archetypes really appeals to me. I often create spreads myself for deep study of a particular card to learn more from that perspective. There were some spreads of Rachel’s that I tweaked or expanded to dive even deeper if the card had a particular relevance to me. Don’t hesitate to experiment when you read these selections. If you feel inspired to complete a creative exercise to learn more about that material go for it. I always look at this type of study as interactive and immersive.
I create spreads on the material, take notes, journal my own insights as I read and create index cards to familiarize myself with the material, and here lately I have been creating a tarot database to track the wealth of information out there on each card. This helps to make the information more accessible when you want to use it practically in your daily life. If I pull a reversal of a card and am perplexed about the message I now pull up my digital database I have created and instantly I can find all the notes from all these sources I have cataloged in one space. It is game changing!
Rachel says this book comes from a series of day long workshops she taught called Tarot Intensive. She revisits what early cartomancers thought about the cards and the meanings they used. For each card in the tarot, she shows the Kabbalistic meanings, astrological associations, variations in the card images over time, and variations in the card meanings over the past few centuries. She blends her knowledge of philosophy, psychology, religion, and the occult to gives us a comprehensive look at each card and how it has been shaped over time.
She provides life examples, stories from her classes and even mythological associations to the cards to help bring the card to life and make them more accessible and relatable for modern times. I wish I could take Rachel’s intensive tarot workshops, but I do feel like I was there after reading this book. Her wisdom dances off the pages and into my brain where I contemplate her insights for days after devouring each chapter. Rachel is revered in the tarot community for a reason! I highly recommend this book along with her book 78 Degrees of Wisdom.
My next pick is the book Tarot and Astrology: Enhance Your Readings with the Wisdom of the Zodiac by Corrine Kenner - Last year I read this book in 2 days because I was so excited to get the book as a Christmas gift. I just devoured it. But I need to go back and spend plenty of time on it to truly understand the zodiac associations with each tarot card. There is a lot of detail in this book, and it will take several read throughs before the information sticks I am sure.
Tarot and Astrology helps you master the connection between the two divinatory systems of astrology and tarot as an integrated whole. This helps you add depth to your tarot readings and vice versa. You can even use tarot to understand your birth chart more fully. And knowing astrology helps you to interpret the meanings of the cards and assign court cards to people based on zodiac signs. The more I learn about astrology the more I see it throughout the tarot.
Corrine gives you the correspondence between the planets and the Major Arcana cards, and she covers the 12 signs of the zodiac and shows you which cards represent them. Then she walks you through the Minor Arcana and their astrological associations. This book helps you match which tarot cards represent your month of birth. This is important to learn because I have noticed how often my sun, moon and ascendant sign cards come up in my tarot readings along with my birth tarot card. These show important life lessons that you will encounter repeatedly in your life. Corrine walks you through all 78 tarot cards and gives you the astrological associations. For example, The Star is Aquarius and The Seven of Pentacles is Saturn in Taurus, so the minors get really specific. She even gives you the Golden Dawn card titles and meanings, so for the 7 of Pentacles this meaning is Lord of Success Unfulfilled because he delays gratification and reward until they have been earned.
Corrine provides meanings for each card in the tarot and gives a time table for each. Using the 7 of Pentacles again, we see it falls in the third decan of Taurus, which usually falls between May 11 and 20th when the Sun is between 20 and 30 degrees of Taurus. So if you want to work with timing in your readings, this book helps narrow down specific dates and timelines. Just specify your intention to use the date assigned to each card before you shuffle and pull. It is always important to set specific intentions first to assure accurate readings. This book is great to use along with your tarot deck and your birth chart. My advice is to download your birth chart or print it out as you read this book because you will learn a lot about yourself and your lifepath as you go.
This book also covers some basics in astrology regarding reading and interpreting your own birth chart, the details of the 12 astrological houses, and sample chart readings to help you understand how to dissect your own chart. She even walks you through a tarot natal chart spread where you pull the tarot cards associated with the major planets and place them around your chart to get a better feel for the energies in your chart and where they fall in your astrological houses. Corrine provides great sample readings of celebrities for the spreads she provides. She even uses Prince William’s natal chart to give a thorough walk through to help you master the astrological basics.
This is advanced reading because it requires an interest in both tarot and astrology, and I hear from many readers that astrology is not that easy to pick up. I am very drawn to astrology so I feel like it does come naturally for me. It probably is due to the similarities I see between zodiac signs and psychological personality types and profiles. I feel like astrology and psychology go really well together. I even read another astrology book last year written by a psychotherapist of 30 years. It is called Use Your Planets Wisely: Master Your Ultimate Cosmic Potential with Psychological Astrology by Jennifer Freed, Ph.D. MFT if you are interested in the link between astrology and psychology. So far, astrology has been the most accurate form of divination I have found. 2020 helped me see just how accurate astrology can be.
I saved the biggest book for last. It is of course, Holistic Tarot by Benebel Wen. I will admit that I was intimidated by the size of this book at its whooping 875 pages. It is a beast! You could work out with this book it weighs so much. Although I will say if that page number intimidates you, just know that there is a sizable appendix with all the handouts and charts she provides that she also covers in the middle of the book. If you take out the appendix, index and notes section it knocks about 200 pages off so the meat of the book is really just 691 pages. That’s better right? It’s really not that bad.
At the beginning of quarantine in March 2020, I knew that this was the perfect time to tackle this reading challenge. When the book arrived, I asked my husband how long he thought it would take me to read it. He joked that he thought it would be 5 years. Well, I am happy to say that I read it in 2.5 weeks, which actually surprised me. I gave myself a goal of 2 months to get the book completed. But Benebel’s style of writing is very natural and fast-paced. I whipped right through it. I read most of it straight through even though you don’t have to, but I did leave the card meanings for last because that is the part I am most familiar with. I think I highlighted 60% of the book. Now that it has been a full year since I read it, I am ready to go back over it to start solidifying the material.
Benebel covers just about everything you could think of related to tarot. She provides a short history of tarot, gives theories on how she thinks the tarot works, gives elemental dignities for the cards, and teaches how to use the tarot to build resilience. She even covers subjects such as how to set up a tarot business legally, ethical codes for reading for others, the professional practice of tarot, topics to stay away from when reading professionally, dealing with difficult questions and when to refer clients to other needed services like mental health or medical professionals.
Unique chapters and spreads include details on the First operation method, combination spreads, the essential keys spread, the 6 points spread, fixed term analysis spread and the opening of the key from the Golden Dawn Society, which is a bit complicated but I appreciated the walk through of it. She includes some massive spreads with 15-18 cards, and the Grand Tableau Tarot spread where she teaches you to use this Lenormand based spread with tarot cards. It is a 36 card spread. This was the first spread I tried, and I loved it.
Benebel provides thorough walk throughs of just about every tarot spread you could think of with ample sample readings to help you follow along. She also provides a wealth of handouts, charts and logs for you to put her teachings to practical use, and you can easily find those in the appendix when you need to use them instead of trying to remember where they were located in the book. I know some people say they think this book is overated, but I am really glad I read it and have it in my collection to reference any time I need to. And surprisingly it was only $19, which I thought was an amazing price considering the size and amount of paper used to print the book. This is a tarot reference book that will stay on my shelf for the rest of my life. I know that it will be one I continue to reach for to brush up on my tarot knowledge, card meanings and ideas for new spreads to work through. If I ever teach tarot I can see this being a source I would use often. I highly recommend Holistic Tarot if you are up for the challenge. And if you are in a part of the world that is still under lockdown for the Covid 19 pandemic this is a perfect time to dive into this behemoth. I don’t think you will regret it.
It is nowhere as intimidating as you think it will be. Much of the book consists of the sample readings, card meanings and handouts. Once you read the history of the tarot, you breeze through the rest of the chapters. I am actually glad I saved this to read after the majority of the other tarot books because my confidence as a reader increased after reading Holistic Tarot because I saw just how much I knew about tarot as I was reading each chapter.
I created a 5 card tarot spread to help you delve deep into an area of study this year, if you are wanting to commit to a depth year as well. Here is the Depth Year Spread I created for you. This would work well with tarot or oracle.
If you decide to throw this spread for yourself, I would love to see the photo of your spread. Please tag me on Instagram @healingthrutarot and please use the hashtag #healingthrutarotdepthyearspread
Books and Decks shown in this blog or recommended are below: click on title to go to the product. Some of these are amazon affiliate links and it helps me out if you use these links. Thanks for your support.
The Bonestone and Earthflesh tarot and Postcards from the Liminal Space are sold out.
Decks shown in this blog: Light Seers Tarot, Sacred Creators Oracle, Bonestone and Earthflesh Tarot, Oracle of Echoes, Way Home Tarot, Postcards from the Liminal Space, Chakra Wisdom Tarot, The Wild Unknown Archetypes, Rider Waite Smith Original Tarot, Black Moon Astrology Cards
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