Tarot For Life

Tarot for Life –
Reading the Cards for Everyday Guidance and Growth

Author: Paul Quinn
Quest Books
ISBN #978-0-8356-0879-4

“… Paul Quinn transforms the Tarot from fortune-telling into the ultimate self-help tool for intuitive guidance, empowerment and well-being. Discover how you can use the Tarot as a vibrant way to access inner wisdom and gain meaningful, practical nsights into your relationships, career, family and personal development. … No one better shows how to use Tarot as it was designed to be used – for conversation with your Higher Self. This book is a delightful way to grow to your fullest potential. …” Sonia Choquette, Ph.D.

In her foreword, Rachel Pollack notes that Quinn’s approach to the Tarot involves the esoteric and the mystical, along with Jungian psychological theory. She also notes that he never uses any of this to impress – rather, he uses it to help the reader see who they are, and how they can cope with their life. I love the mystical and the esoteric – and the archetypes certainly exemplify Jungian psychological theory. The manner in which the cards were presented was something that impressed me, and something that I wish I had had available when I was beginning to study the Tarot.

I was especially excited to see Quinn base his presentation of the Major Arcana on the Tarot septenary (also known as the 3X7 theory), and his nod to one of my favorite people – Christine Payne-Towler – for her historical research into this subject. Nods also go to Rachel Pollack for her concepts on the trump number reductions, and to Mary Greer for giving her permission to share many of her collaborative card reading techniques. You know right from the start that this is going to be one great book!

Quinn sees the use of the Tarot as one way of letting both our inner and outer universes know that we are listening. He also talks about that guiding force that leads us to communicating with Life through the symbolic language of dreams, images, and coincidence. As Quinn puts it, the cards tell us what we are otherwise too distracted to hear. (Been there, done that, designed the tee shirt!)

From the book: “Know Thyself “ is not a private indulgence, it is a global imperative. Our world is in need of radical awakening and transformation, a process that accelerates as we look honestly at the beliefs and motives that drive our actions, observe how those actions play out on the personal as well as collective levels, and learn to make more loving choices. Until we recognize our creative purpose and power – with or without the aid of the Tarot – we weaken under the limitations of conditioned responses, the manipulation of an anxiety-driven media, the bullying of dogmas, and the mind-numbing complacency of escapist lifestyles.”

Before you even begin to read the book Quinn suggests that one card be drawn, to represent why you were led to pick the book up n the first place. Well, I skim books from back to front before I read them, so I had to go back and draw this card. From the Alchemical Tarot Renewed (by Robert Place) I drew Knight of Swords. Place talks about this Knight slaying evil and righting wrongs, but he also talks about the quality of being judgmental. In reality I felt that this book gave me power – a deeper understanding of the septenary, and a better understanding of the vertical as well as horizontal relationships between the cards using this theory.

In the beginning of the book Quinn talks about taking the Tarot beyond fortune telling. In his “treasure box” he lists the following:

* a lifelong key to unlock your Inner Wisdom
* a catalyst for your creativity and inspiration
* flashcards for your intuitive development
* a set of visual affirmations
* a meditation focuser
* a decision-making aid
* a dream interpreter
* a perspective enhancer
* an emotional compass
* a metaphysics teacher
* a spiritual advisor
* a tool for self-understanding

Quinn also lists six principles that underlie the Tarot:

1. As Above, So Below
2. The Law of Attraction
3. Synchronicity
4. The Self and Individuation
5. Integration of Opposites
6. Masculine and Feminine

In his chapter on the structure of the Tarot, Quinn introduces the concept of the septenary – three rows of seven cards each (I – VII, VIII – XIV, XV – XXI), with the Fool centered above them. Quinn has entitled these rows The Essentials for the Journey (I – VII), The Inward Path (VIII – XIV), and The Heat Is On (XV – XXI).

The Minor Arcana are defined traditionally:

Wands/Fire – desire, vision, ambition, challenge
Cups/Water – feeling, merging, imagination, depth
Swords/Air – intellect, clarity, conflict, judgment
Pentacles/Earth – physicality, stability, security, money

The Court Cards are defined as sixteen different types and personalities. Pages are the parts of us that are curious, Knights embody the warrior archetype. Queens represent the soul of their particular element, while Kings carry an external focus of doing.

In discussing how to use this book, Quinn addresses reversed cards, shadow aspects, and just when the cards are there to give advice. In his presentation of the cards, the deck used is the Rider-Waite. The card presentation begins with a short quote and a black and white scan. There is a discussion of the quality of the card, of where it lies on its line of seven cards, how it relates to the cards around it, the mystical symbols on the card (I wish I had access to this information much earlier in my studies!), a small story (from Quinn’s life experience, or from the life experience of one of his students or clients), a list of card attributes, and a list of question for rflection.

From the book – The Fool:

Quote: “First you jump off the cliff and you build your wings on the way down.” Ray Bradbury.


* Keywords: Innocence, Lightness, Trust
* Being: Curious, open, childlike, spontaneous, lighthearted, adventurous, innocent, naïve, playful, arbitrary, unencumbered, noncommittal
* Doing: Simplifying, taking a leap of faith, acting on a whim, improvising, traveling, taking life as it comes, enjoying the moment, just passing through, asking “Why not?”
* Shadow: Delayed maturation, irresponsibility, gullibility, absent-mindedness, recklessness, defenselessness, intolerance for detail or complexity.
* Reversed: Cautious, risk averse, denying the Inner Child, taking yourself or a situation seriously.
* Possible Advice (Reversed): “Look before you leap, or you may go off the deep end.” “Stop wandering. It’s time to commit.”

Questions For Reflection:

* What risks have you taken without a safety net?
* Where would you leap if you took a leap of faith?
* When have others discouraged your Fool qualities?
* What would you like to experience for the first time?
* When do you express Fool playfulness and spontaneity?
* Where in your life could you use some Fool energy?

At the end of the book there is a chapter entitled “Intimate Conversations: Reading For Yourself”. There are some very good insights here, including when “not” to read for yourself. (When you are feeling spacey, when you are feeling down on yourself, and when you become obsessed.)

A sample interpretation is given using the Celtic Cross spread, with templates given for a seven card Chakra spread, a three card Solution spread, a one card Yes/No spread, a seven card Exploring Options spread, a three card Life Journey spread, two card spreads for Let Go/Grow and Gift, as well as a three card Past Life spread. Tips are also given for creating your own spread.

Quinn also goes into phrasing questions in the best possible manner, reading for others, and when “not” to read for others (or for yourself).

There are appendices at the back of the book for Major Arcana attributions for Soul Task, Shadow/Excess and Deficiency/Blockage (reversed), and number meanings, Astrolgoical and Planetary Correspondences, and the Chakras.

I found this book to be easy to follow, containing an enormous wealth of information, and well enhanced with Quinn’s own life experiences, as well as those of his students and clients. I feel that this is an essential book for any Tarot library, for any level of Tarot student.

© May 2009

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