Let’s Recommend: “Tarot: The Open Reading”

I’m pretty sure you could fill a modest public library with nothing but books on the Tarot, and new books on the subject come out monthly. In my humble opinion, most of them are fairly derivative and not very interesting. One notable exception to this is the late Yoav Ben-Dov’s book Tarot: The Open Reading.

Cover of "Tarot: The Open Reading"

Written as a companion to Ben-Dov’s deck, the CBD Tarot de Marseille, this book is an exceptional introduction to the traditional, Marseille Tarot. It’s also a good introduction to the looser, more intuitive style of Tarot reading which some of the more “Hermetically-inclined” readers may have struggled with.

There’s a long and growing debate between people who assigned fixed or “traditional” meanings to Tarot cards, and those who prefer to “let the cards speak” in the moment. I’ll save wading into that blood-drenched kiddie pool for another post, but I will say that if you begin your Tarot career in the fixed meanings prison, it can be frustratingly hard to break out of it later on.

Once “Death = Transformation” gets in your head, it tends to lock the door and throw away the key.

Tarot: The Open Reading is like a hacksaw slipped into a birthday cake. There are excellent write-ups of all the cards, giving you “fixed meanings” galore, but the way they are presented, and the way the tie directly into the images on the cards, lets you cut through the bars and get out into the open.

And, as the title of the book implies, the “open reading” is the whole point. It’s all about knowing the question, looking at the cards on the table, and seeing the answer unfold like a stage performance.

This book, and Ben-Dov’s approach, has probably influenced my own Tarot practice more than any others I’ve read in recent years. It’s helped me shed a few of my more annoying Tarot reading “bad habits,” and I keep going back to it. I read and re-read his text, and find myself still having “Aha!” moments when I least expect them.

If you don’t have it already, I highly recommend buying a Marseille deck, picking up this book, and taking them both for a spin.

If you would like a Tarot or natal astrology reading, please visit my Consultations page. I would be happy to help.