I'm often questioned about books for beginning tarot readers and recently I've been asked to guest on the Spiritscast podcast in October with Feithline Stuart about learning the tarot so I began to gather up my list of terrific books that are great for anyone just starting out on their tarot journey. Among my favorites are... Mary K. Greer's "Tarot For Yourself", Joan Bunning's "Learning The Tarot" and Rachel Pollacks "Seventy-eight Degrees Of Wisdom" but recently I had the opportunity to read a great book for beginners and experienced alike called The Back In Time Tarot by Janet Boyer.
The Back In Time Tarot is an innovative approach to learning the tarot through experiencing it's wide range of meanings and not memorizing endless keywords and meanings that may or may not stick in our minds. No matter what our background in the tarot, novice or seasoned, the one thing that we all have in common is we all have a past and memories that we can all draw upon to assist us in building impressions and truly meaningful interpretations.
The BIT (Back In Time) method utilizes two things, a deck of cards and a snapshot, or memory, of an event, situation, person and even song that we can then describe through the use of tarot cards to capture that instant in time thus creating a lasting experience of the cards and their meanings. The combinations and experiences that we can identify becomes endless and when all is said and done you can easily find yourself, as I did, identifying tarot cards in everyday experiences. This is an absolutely wonderful technique for beginners to learn and all you need is your memory and a tarot notebook, you can even write down little tarot snapshots on a scrap of paper or even a restaurant napkin, the more you notice the more fun it becomes!
An example of a BIT snapshot from my memories would be my childhood years spending time with my grandfather. He was my first hero growing up and I have the most special memories of him coming to my elementary school every Tuesday for a lunch program that allowed grandparents to come in and eat lunch and spend time with their grand children each week. I can remember how proud I felt when he showed up and how special my grandfather made me feel to take time out each week to come eat lunch with me. There were only a handful of kids who's grandparents came and most of them only showed up every now and then but my grandfather was there every week like clockwork and it was truly a time I look back upon fondly.
Looking through my Robin Wood tarot deck, I chose the King of Pentacles to represent my grandfather. My grandfather farmed later in life, having some cattle, pigs and small farm animals and worked with his hands as a carpenter in his spare time. For many years he worked as a fire marshal for the local timber industry and like the King of Pentacles I saw him as kind, earthy and concerned with nature and the environment. My grandparents were wealthy but my grandfather was very down to earth and practical like the King and always made time for his family but never skimped on spending time or resources when it came to me.
I picked the Six of Wands from the Universal Waite Tarot to represent the memory of when grandpa showed up to eat lunch with me on Tuesdays. I can remember the exhilarating feeling of recognition and importance that I felt from my classmates that my grandpa came to spend that time with me when so many kids did not have the opportunity. I truly felt as I shone brightly in their eyes and the eyes of my beloved grandpa. Like the figure on the card riding his horse through the crowd of admirers, sitting up straight and proud, the attention was on me and my grandpa every Tuesday.
I selected the Six of Cups from the Universal Waite again to represent how I look back on those special memories, a time of innocence and nostalgia washes over me like the childhood figures presented on the card. They stand in a courtyard of flowers and warm memories and it's almost like it was yesterday that I am that age again and my grandpa had just visited me at school.
I also picked the Ten of Cups from the Robin Wood Tarot for this memory as well. In this card we can see a happy youth sitting on a grandfather's lap with contented domestic scenery and even a couple of dogs in the background. This was one of the happiest times in my life, a time where I was safe, secure and surrounded by those who loved me, it brings to mind how I wish my grandpa was still with me today
The possibilities are endless on how you can capture little snippets in time and turn them into terrific learning experiences that are fun and a great way to find the different ways to pair the Tarot with memories and situations from your past. The Back In Time Tarot takes a fresh new approach to interpreting tarot and I wholeheartedly encourage you to try the BIT method and see for yourself how you can incorporate your memories into snapshots reflected with the Tarot. What memories can you associate with the tarot today?
Author: Janet BoyerPublisher: Hampton Roads Pub Co (October 17, 2008)