Review by Bonnie Cehovet
“The Tarot Playbook” is a 176 page book that focuses on getting to know your cards. Through a series of 78 activities the reader is encouraged to let go and allow their deck(s) to speak to them. Cowles blogs at Archer Tarot, runs an online Tarot store, and studies ways of using the Tarot in interesting ways (not just for readings). The tone of this book is that the reader should “play” with their decks, rather than working with them. As a Capricorn, this is hard for me to adjust to. I do, however, feel that it has its place in the Tarot world.
The presentation of this 6” by 9” book is definitely up to Schiffer’s standards – beautiful color, intriguing change of fonts (chapter titles/subtitles are in the whimsical fontdinerdotcom font, the main text is in Book Antigua) with color photo’s for each of the 78 cards. It is a very classy, beautiful book!
The book is broken into five parts:
Part One – First Contact: 24 Ways to get Acquainted With Your Cards
Part Two – Stepping Out: 14 Ways To Mingle With the Minors
Pat Three – Friends In High Places: 16 Ways to Click With the Court Cards
Part Four – Just My Archetype: 22 Ways to Make It With the Majors
Part Five – Forever Friends: 2 Small Ways to Show You Care
In each part the reader experiences a combination of games, activities, and what-if readings. In this manner the reader comes to understand the unique personality that their deck holds, and how they can best honor it and work with it. The writing is good, but the presentation is very tongue in cheek, light, and at times flippant. This may not work for everybody, but it doesn’t hurt to take a test drive. The book is set up so that the reader can turn to any chapter, any card, and simply dive in.
In her introduction, Cowles eschews the intensive study approach to working with a new deck. In its place, she recommends playing with your deck – taking it with you everywhere you go, set it on the sofa when you watch TV, sleep with it under your pillow. She goes on to say that journaling is not the thing to do, that it will get in the way, and suck the fun out of the learning process. To each his/her own. Some of us will choose to keep journals, and that is fine too,
The Fool gifts the reader with a deliberately silly ceremony to anchor open heart and a willingness to act like a fool. The Magician has the reader putting their deck down, then answering twenty questions about it. The High Priestess works with – excuse me, plays with – the concept of favorite and least favorite cards.
Taroga is an exercise that mixes Tarot and yoga. It somewhat resembles what a reader would do if they walked their client through taking the positions of the figure(s) featured in the cards that they were either attempting to understand, or attempting to draw energy from, with the exception that the poses int his case would resemble yoga poses.
The Tower has the reader doing Cryptarotography – creating a hieroglyph for each Tarot card – what Cowles terms the reader’s own “Rosetta Stone” for their deck.
The 10 of Wands deals with “wishful thinking”, the Ace of Cups deals with moods and feelings, the 4 of Cups with the hats that we all wear. The King of Pentacles has you buying your deck a gift.
At the end of the book are several different “Playlists” – Things To Do With Non-Scenic Pips, Things To Do In A Hurry, Things To Do With Friends, and Sensible Things To Do With Serious Decks. There is also a card index, where each card is listed by page and activity.
Everyone can find something to do in this book, whether as an individual or as a group activity. We can disagree with this and that, but there are also things that we can agree on. A good way to expand your Tarot vision.
© Bonnie Cehovet
Bonnie Cehovet is Certified Tarot Grand Master, a professional Tarot reader with over ten years experience, a Reiki Master/Teacher and a writer. Bonnie has served in various capacities with the American Tarot Association, is co-founder of the World Tarot Network, and Vice President (as well as Director of Certification) for the American Board For Tarot Certification. She has had articles appear in the 2004 and 2005 Llewellyn Tarot Reader.