Book Review: Bringing the Tarot to Life

27 May 2017

A few months ago I received a preview copy of a new book by retired-theatre director and Tarot enthusiast Scott Martin called 'Bringing the Tarot to Life'. It's just been published by Llewellyn, so this is the perfect time to tell you about it!  

Bringing the Tarot to Life by Scott Martin 

The book is aimed at everyone from beginner to more experienced cartomancers. At the time of reading, I was literally a complete Tarot novice, and feeling quite overwhelmed by the symbolism and detail of the traditional decks. The book's blurb made me think this would be a great way to get to understand the cards and to work with them more intuitively. 
Remembering that the Tarot began its life as a game liberates us to explore it, to experiment, to play with it.
Split into three sections, it covers journaling exercises, theatre games and finally, standard meanings of the individual cards. It seeks to bring the right- and left-brain together to understand the Tarot, which it describes as being 'about us and everyone else who ever lived'. The reference cards are the Llewellyn Classic Tarot and anyone familiar with the Rider-Waite deck will recognise the imagery and symbolism. 

The Journaling section has some really great (and fun!) ideas and could be useful to anyone studying Tarot. As a beginner and a solo learner, I found that many of the games in section two were too complicated for my level of knowledge and, frankly, I wouldn't bother to do all of them on my own, however, they would be perfect for group study practice (especially if you have an extrovert group who will really get into it!). The exercises are fun and imaginative and indeed quite theatrical. 

The reference section is good and clearly written, as well as being up to date in terms of social context. I'm not sure there would be enough detail within this section to  get the most out of the exercises without some further knowledge or reference materials, but provided some of the participants have knowledge of Tarot, it's a great refresher.  

I would consider this a perfect book for a Tarot study group where there is already a knowledge of the card meanings and archetypes. If you're a total beginner,* studying alone you might want to do some research and rope some friends in to play along. If you want to use Tarot to help with creative writing, poetry and acting projects, then I'd say it's worth reading.

'Bringing the Tarot to Life' is available in paperback or Kindle edition from Amazon UK (affiliate), where you can also download a sample, you should also find it widely available in good book shops. 
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*If this is you, I'd recommend reading this book before moving onto Bringing the Tarot to Life. 

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