Tarot Stripped Bare DVD
Produced by D’Avekki Studios
“Have you ever wondered about Tarot? What is it? Does it work? Can it work for you?” So starts the blurb for this DVD, aimed at Tarot beginners. As we head towards Christmas, you may be wondering what tarot treats are available to spend your (or your other halfs) hard-earned cash on. However, if you already do readings for yourself and for friends, this DVD probably isn’t for you. It really is aimed at complete novices.
That being said, it is quite nicely done. Given it’s a British production, it’s not hugely glitzy, but it covers all the basics, and a bit beyond. The presenter is an enthusiastic, young blonde, who takes brief lessons from two professional readers. The whole thing comes across as obviously staged, but quite friendly, informative and positive.
There are three sections to the DVD, which cover the structure of a tarot deck, the Major Arcana, the different kinds of card in the Minor Arcana (pips and court cards, with an emphasis on the latter), some basic spreads (mainly one and three card spreads), how to read for yourself and how to read for others. Both the professional readers give sample readings for “real” querents, and there are “myth-busting” pages, giving tarot myths and then the “low-down”. It’s all quite down-to-earth and aimed to appeal to the non-esoteric market.
Finally, there are two additional areas which basically provide illustrated, navigable databases. The first has 10 spreads ranging from 3 to 8 cards, covering “Past/Present/Future”, “Problem/Advice/Outcome”, “The Week Ahead” (3 cards), “The Four Seasons” (4 cards), “A Personal Snapshot” (4 cards), “Which Way Now” (4 cards), “Birthday Spread” (5 cards), “Building Bridges” (5 cards), “Five Card Cross”, and “Life Guidance” (8 cards). The second database provides a very brief meaning for every card in the deck, and here you can navigate directly, or see all of each suit as a slideshow, and you can move through this at the speed of your choice.
Throughout, the deck used is the International Icon Tarot. It’s quite an interesting choice, given that the “people” don’t have faces, so you have to rely solely on context and body language to get a sense of the card’s “mood”. It actually tempted me to get the deck (tarot addict that I am), but I bravely resisted. Still, it was intriguing to see the deck in use, and how much people still got from it.
One of the things I especially liked was how they looked at court cards and spreads. Here there were some example readings done for/with the presenter, but with the professional reader swapping around cards to different positions to indicate how the position affects the interpretation. Similarly with the court cards, after doing a sample reading they then looked at how the interpretation might change if instead of, say, the Page of Pentacles, the same position was covered by the Queen of Swords. I thought this a particularly effective way of illustrating the points.
In terms of being an introduction to tarot, how does it compare to Joan Bunning’s book, as a for instance? Well, as you might expect, it’s a lot less detailed. However, for someone who finds learning easier from people than from books it’s definitely a good place to start.
Slight quibbles include the fact that you can’t fast forward through the main DVD sections at all, so it’s all or nothing each time you watch. That said, at least it is broken down into three sections. Given the total is only 42 minutes, there isn’t too much to wade through, but I would have liked the option to forward to a bit I wanted to see again. I also had some problems navigating the databases when I had it on my computer, but using a normal DVD player it worked fine.
A second quibble: although one of the myth-busting bits suggested you shouldn’t be afraid to ask querents questions during the readings, in fact the readers didn’t ask much more than “How was that for you?” Definitely not Mary K. Greer, Rachel Pollack or Joan Bunning-style readings. Still, in terms of reading for yourself the emphasis is on letting your eyes and your intuition guide you, and this is well illustrated by the presenter trying her “first” solo readings. I think it would be quite an empowering way to learn, and could imagine someone feeling confident to start doing readings just on the basis of this DVD.
So, if you know anyone who’s interested in starting to learn to use the tarot, this is a good introduction. It’s easy to navigate, and gives a good feel for what the tarot is and why you might want to use it, as well as the all-important how to do so.