"True Love Tarot: The Lover's Guide to
Dating, Mating and Relating"
by Amy Zerner and Monte Farber, St. Martin's Press
Tarot Deck & Book Set
ISBN 0-312-33756-6 $29.95 US, $39.95 Cdn
A Review (c) Cheryl Lynne Bradley 2006
Just in time for Valentine's Day, St. Martin's Press has released the latest book and deck collaboration from husband and wife team Monte Farber and Amy Zerner, True Love Tarot. This new set is designed to help us understand the complexities of our most intimate relationships by working to develop our own self-counselling skills. All long time readers know that the major theme addressed in reading professionally is the issue of love and relationship. We all know how necessary it is to give strong guidance and good information when dealing with people and their most vulnerable and fragile intimacies. This deck and book would be an excellent tool to utilize in this regard.
The artwork that Amy Zerner has created for True Love Tarot is an impressive display of mixed media work. Collage, tapestry, embroidery and decoupage all seem to be utilized in the creation of this unique and lovely deck. It is like being lost with Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings as some of the images have a hazy chalklike effect in their colouring and outlining. The accompanying book contains images larger than the card size which only helps the reader appreciate the intricacies and style of the artwork.
The names of the suits have been changed to Shells (Cups/Water), Wings (Swords/Air), Gems (Coins/Pentacles/Earth) and Roses (Wands/Fire). The Minor Arcana are depicted with a title and an appropriately numbered array of images, Shells are Sea Shell, Wings are Butterflies, Gems are Gemstones and Roses are, of course, Roses. Love is often pledged or promised with gems and roses. The Sea Shells are a wonderful variety of varying shapes and sizes, perhaps to remind us all that love is as timeless as the ocean we can hear when we put one to our ear. The Butterflies are gloriously beautiful and we all know how love can lift us higher and give us wings. Each card of the Minor Gems has a different cut gemstone image in the appropriate number which is identified on the card but not in the accompanying guide. The Roses have a stunning 3-D effect and seem to float right off the face of the card - every card has a different type of rose depicted.
There is a wonderful innovation in this deck which I think would make it very appealing for beginning readers and that more experienced readers would appreciate. While the cardback is the same colour for the entire deck, the faces of the Major Arcana's are coloured a soft purple, the Suit of Roses faces are a soft pink, the Suit of Butterflies a soft blue, the Suit of Shells is a misty soft green and the Suit of Gems is a burnished soft yellow. It certainly makes for a pretty card layout and immediately gives you an impression of what the reading could entail. It would also facilitate recognition and learning for beginners and some of us are just very responsive to colour in deck. There is a wonderful gentle prettiness and softness in this deck, which doesn't surprise me considering that love and relationship is the theme.
Every card is given a word or catch phrase easily associated with relationships. The World is Consummation, The Lovers is Attraction while The Moon is Fear. This is another engaging feature of this deck which would make it appealing to new readers. We all realize how important it is to have a key word or phrase to associate with a card and it is one of the most important learning steps in entering your relationship with the Tarot. This feature also helps to identify common themes and issues in a reading quickly. The Major Arcana and Court Card art are quite unique, both unusual and original. Strength is depicted with a tiger and I find The Hanged Man quite captivating - crazy quilted and hanging by a thread. Some of the images require study and are moody and oblique, layered with symbolism and mood. The Court Cards have an interesting variety of people depicted ranging from Elizabethan, Flapper, Renaissance, Egyptian, African, Creole and pre-revolutionary France (to name a few).
Another interesting feature which I found quite appealing is in the book. Quite often we are asking Yes or No questions in a reading, this is the first book on Tarot that I have ever seen that gives a Yes or No definition for each and every card both for Upright and Reversal interpretations. There is an excellent section in the beginning of the book addressing, and giving many examples of, how to properly word a relationship question. A couple of examples are "Tell me what I need to know about my love life" or "Give me a message about trying to save this relationship". There is also another excellent section in the back of the book titles "Spells For True Love" which include ones on overcoming loneliness, overcoming obsession and ending fights. The book finishes with a very clever section on the ABC's of love. There are some real pearls of wisdom shared here. One thing lacking is new and original layouts to utilize with the deck, but then I guess we all have many of them at our disposal already.
Since Valentine's Day is represented by the 9 of Cups, I will share a pearl from the 9 of Shells. The answer is a resounding "Yes!" and you are assured that you will find true love if by magic. The reversed meaning tells us that "Yes" we have our wish but warns us to be careful what we wish for and how we wish for it. Sound advice.
A fresh and novel approach to Tarot and the whole issue of addressing relationships in a reading, this deck and book set is a wonderful collaboration. This project is a true sharing of the wisdom of a couple with a successful 27 year relationship. Anyone with an appreciation of mixed media or who just likes an unusual, but still functional, deck would enjoy this one immensely and the book is its' most darling companion. Well done Amy and Monte!