Book review: Wild Card by Jen Cownie and Fiona Lensvelt

As pretty as that image is above, I promise the actual book is ten times prettier! All the gold bits are gilt, so it shines in your hand. The blues are so vivid they practically glow. It's a really attractive package.

And luckily, the internals are just as lovely as the externals. It starts with a brief introduction, talking about what Tarot is and isn't. The second chapter answers some common questions about the Tarot. Notably, this chapter discusses reversals; neither author use reversed cards, instead using a card's position in a spread as a way of knowing how the card's energy is manifesting. This is the only mention of reversals in the book, there are no keywords or meanings with the cards.

This is followed by a brief discussion of the make up of a deck, the suits and majors and a (very) brief mention of the numerolgy of a deck. This is the first time I've seen it mentioned anywhere that for Cups and Pentacles, higher numbers are better, while for Swords and Wands it's the other way around; I'd sort of known that but not articulated it before, and this really made it make sense to me. The actual quote, which I've copied into my journal for reference, is If it's round, then go for your life, try to catch them all, etc. If it's pointy – approach with caution.

From there the book moves into the suits, in the order of Cups, Pentacles, Wands and Swords. Each chapter opens with a short discussion of that suit's overarching meanings, then goes through the cards one by one. Each card gets two or three pages, with keywords, an illustration of the card (from the RWS deck; the illustrations are black and white and not the best quality, but they're clear enough to read) a nice long description of possible meanings, and a few questions that may help you narrow down what the card is trying to tell you. Court cards are included in these chapters, but there's also a separate chapter after the Swords that talks about the Courts more specifically and gives some hints about how to read them. I've gone back to this chapter three or four times already, it's really useful!

The following chapter is Majors. It's interesting to read them in this direction, as most LWBs start with Majors and move into Minors, but the authors are right that it's easier to grasp the smaller moments represented by the Minors than it is the Majors. The layout is the same for the Majors and they get about the same amount of space.

The next chapter is about spreads. It does point out that you, the reader, are free to read in an unstructured manner, but a spread can make things easier. It gives a nice range of two and three card spreads, the ubiquitous Celtic Cross, and some advice on creating your own spreads as well.

Practical Magic, the next chapter, has some tips and tricks for getting started and for keeping your practise up. Finally, there are some popular decks, some suggestions for other books to read, and a table with keywords for each card for quick reference. There's also an index of some of the pop culture references made in the book; it's nice to see these acknowledged, but the list doesn't say where in the book they were referenced, so it's not always helpful – if I don't recognise the reference to The Never Ending Story, then knowing that there was a reference won't help me. It's lovely to see the range of mentions, though!

I love the chatty, friendly tone used throughout this book, and the down to earth advice. I'd love to have a reading or a chat with the authors sometime! I think it'd be really fun. This is a great book; this and an RWS deck or clone deck would make a fantastic gift for someone interested in starting with tarot, or the book on its own would be a gift for someone who's started but not yet confident. (The authors support owning as many decks as you like, by the way, and buying your own {while also accepting gifts, because fun!}) I'm definitely keeping this book near at hand for reference. I'm very happy with it.

Wild Card is published by Bluebird, part of Pan Macmillan, and is available now wherever tarot supplies are sold.

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Kerrie Mercel

Currently Kerrie Mercel, inspirational speaker, author & facilitator for the health and wellness industry. Kerrie enjoys working with professional business women helping them to find the power to live life on their terms.