REVIEW: Tarot for Life by Paul Quinn

tarot-for-life_bk-coverTarot for Life: Reading the Cards for Everyday Guidance and Growth
By Paul Quinn
Quest Books (June 2009)
ISBN: 978-0-8356-0879-4

There are Tarot books that are deep and mysterious—that make you study hard to learn the veiled depths. Paul Quinn’s Tarot for Life is not one of them. Instead he laces arcane knowledge with day-to-day practicalities. Rather than meditations or deep soul exploring, he gives his reader a hands-on approach to these seventy-eight cards.
Quinn makes it personal. In a way, I can see a similarity between his book and that of Rachel Pollack’s with the stories for each card. But where Pollack’s stories were more about her own reactions and responses to the cards, Quinn lets you take a peek into what it is like to be a professional consultant. You meet different clients with nearly every card although Quinn is not shy about sharing his own stories.
In the Ace of Cups, you see how the querent’s view of a reading is made very real. Quinn’s clients return to him to share why a reading was right or how time revealed what they refused to see. I particularly enjoyed the Five of Wands story where Quinn shared how his client moved cards to pull her strengths together. It was an insightful reaction on her part that was led by Quinn.

So many Tarot books seem to feel a need to be arcane. By that I mean secretive. But not Quinn’s book. With each card you get practical information on how to apply that card to the here and now. Of course, he wins my heart by giving me a quote for each card. I happen to be a collector of quotes so this appealed to me. Some of the quotes didn’t seem to quite fit the card until you read the story and the affirmations that go with each one.

Quinn uses this multi-layered approach to synthesize the card for his reader. He gives you a quote then follows that with card information. Next you have the story plus the attributes. All of those are in pithy bites that are not too much. If you apply your own personal experiences, you can come away with new thoughts on things you may think you already understand.

And do not expect to already know everything you need to know. I’ve been reading and studying the Tarot since 1980. I came away with useful things for my own work with Tarot.

Now don’t get me wrong. Sometimes Quinn missed the boat for me. When I came to the Seven of Wands, I thought Quinn might be losing his touch for me. I did not get the quote he used.

The best lightning rod for protection is your own spine. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

His explanation about self-protection made sense, but his story for the Seven of Wands fell flat for me. I needed more information on how that particular tale fit this card. But the attributes helped me garner a bit more from that card.

Another small quibble is that I would have liked the questions for reflection that graced the Major Arcana to have been carried through to the Minor Arcana. Still, perhaps a good exercise for studying with this book would be for the reader to come up with her own questions for each of the pip cards.

The last section of this book is devoted to reading the cards for your self. Quinn offers up some interesting thoughts on why to read for others along with solid advice on how to keep your readings simple and concise. I particularly liked that he opined on when not to read for others. I think that is where many readers make basic mistakes. There are times to say no.

Tarot for Life: Reading the Cards for Everyday Guidance and Growth is definitely a book for those who want a more practical approach to the Tarot. This is not a hands-off book. You will find yourself nodding in agreement a lot, I think. And when you find yourself shaking your head in disagreement, maybe it is time to grab your own Tarot journal and come up with a story that suits the card better for you.

Keep Watching: I’ll have an interview with Paul up that will include your chance to win a copy of this book for yourself.

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2 thoughts on “REVIEW: Tarot for Life by Paul Quinn”

  1. I purchased that book recently and have just started reading it. Your assessment is right on from what I can see so far. He’s a good writer and I like that he shares those anecdotes because it “brings the cards to life”.

  2. “And do not expect to already know everything you need to know. I’ve been reading and studying the Tarot since 1980. I came away with useful things for my own work with Tarot.”

    Arwen, I couldn’t agree more with you here…I always tell my beginning students and long timers alike, that if you EVER think you know everything there is to know about the everchanging world of this beautiful art, then you know NOTHING.
    Every reading is an experience for the querant AND the reader…I think thats a notion that needs to be kept in mind as Tarot grows…..I subline the Cincinnati Tarot Guild as “Tarot Communicative Arts & Sciences” – *communicative* being the operative word because esoteric communication is what draws our querants to the table…we teach them to *listen* and *see* what they normally cannot….by an even exchange, we learn more and more each time we read with different people, situation/circumstances/ and we gain our own insights with each person.

    Great review

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