Monday, April 10, 2017

Book Review: Going Beyond the Little White Book

Learning to read the tarot can be a daunting task. A traditional deck contains 78 cards, each one with incredible depth and breadth of meaning - where do you even begin? There are numerous theories regarding the "best" approach, and ultimately each seeker must find her or his own way. What is often indispensable (however one chooses to dive in to the universe of tarot) is a good reference text that goes beyond what any "little white book" could ever provide...something both esoteric and practical; something that offers a clear framework while encouraging intuitive development; something that provides a substantial launch pad of sorts, and yet leaves space for unique growth and exploration to occur.

Liz Worth's book,* Going Beyond the Little White Book: A Contemporary Guide to Tarot, successfully manages to deliver that alchemical combination in a thorough, easy-to-read, and very relatable package.

Following a brief introduction, the book is divided into three central sections:

  • a short but fundamental "How to Use This Book" prologue, 
  • the Major Arcana, and 
  • the Minor Arcana (broken down into suits)
I highly appreciate the manner in which Ms. Worth sets the stage for the reader: learning the tarot is a  long-term process that requires patience, commitment, and an open heart. No matter how long you have been reading, there is always more to uncover; we are all eternal students. And while on one hand she has created a profound and beautifully structured guide for use with any deck, she is very clear that the content she has developed is far from exhaustive: this book provides a (very comprehensive!) home base as each reader develops a unique and personal relationship with the cards. With her work Ms. Worth is offering up the sort of resource that she would have wanted as a new tarot student, and yet her holistic and detailed approach offers wisdom, insights, and food-for-thought even for established readers.

An average of four pages of text is awarded to every card in the deck, and each entry features the following sub-sections:

  • An "intention" that matches the energy of the card
  • A card-appropriate mantra that can serve as a focal point for study or meditation
  • A thorough overview of the card's energy and meaning
  • Suggestions for how to understand the card as a "challenge"
  • Examples of the card's connections to the two most popular areas of life: career and romance (both "light" and "shadow" aspects)
  • A list of questions to consider (I am a huge fan of using guiding questions to connect a card's meaning to personal experience, so I particularly love this element)
If you enjoy reading reversals, or if you are interested in exploring them, you will be quite satisfied with what you find here. While Ms. Worth mentions in her prologue that due to space constraints she has chosen not to include the meanings of reversed cards, she discusses how to understand cards when they fall in "challenged positions," which is one of the most common ways to understand a reversal. However by discussing them as "challenged" as opposed to "reversed," Ms. Worth offers the full scope of a card's potential meaning without showing preference for a particular reading style: some people don't use reversals, but all readers consider the shadow aspects of cards. Whether intentional or not, this approach is quite effective.

I do want to mention that while Ms. Worth has created a valuable resource that supports the use of any deck a reader prefers to work with (no card images are included in the book in order to encourage this), the card meanings do favor the Rider-Waite-Smith system as opposed to, say, the traditional Marseille (that said, there are some who apply the RWS method of reading to Marseille decks, and if you are one of those, then have at it!).

When all is said and done, the practical approach and natural voice that Ms. Worth weaves so fluidly together with her substantial experience in card reading makes for a very engaging and worthwhile read, no matter how many years you've been shuffling.

The down-n-dirty details of Going Beyond the Little White Book:

  • Author: Liz Worth
  • Author's website:
  • Format: ebook ($8.28) and paperback versions ($24.95) are available 
  • Page count: 354
  • ISBN: 9781483458557
  • To purchase, click here.

*I received Going Beyond the Little White Book from the author for review. That said, the content in this post accurately reflects my true thoughts and opinions on the title.

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