Italian publisher Lo Scarabeo started its Tarot Encyclopedia adventure in 2015. With the help of crowdfunding and several renowned tarot authors three books were in the making. Tarot Fundamentals reached the shelves in Q1 of 2016, covered in the High Priestess of Erik C Dunne’s Tarot illuminati. Book 2, the red Tarot Experience, got delivered on my doorstep at the brink of 2017. So, what can you expect from this, yet again, huge hardcover?
The set-up & look/feel of the second book in the Lo Scarabeo sequence is in many ways the same, so to get an idea about appearance, quality and authors I advice you to read the Tarot Fundamentals review first.
Tarot Experience goes further where Fundamentals stopped. The blue book focused a lot on every simple card and was ideal for beginners. It also gave intermediate readers a possibility to freshen up their knowledge or to gain a new perspective on the tarot card meanings. Tarot Experience is really about…well: ‘the experience’ with the cards. To connect on a deeper level and to start working with those cards in a more advanced way.
It is indeed an ideal step up for intermediate readers who haven’t tried to leave their first deck alone and start to work with another. And if you are a reader who (constantly) wonders “this standard spread isn’t working for me, how to create one of my own?” you are going to be very happy. But…advanced readers also work on their experience with tarot on a daily basis. They try different things, practice new systems. Even the ones (or maybe exactly the ones) who have called themselves a reader for decades.
Whichever you are, my dear TQS-reader: this book is multi-leveled and will most likely have something for everyone. You can see it as an intermediate book, but with content that could fit different knowledge levels.
Relationship with tarot
The topics that play a large role in Tarot Experience are ‘Working with multiple decks’ ‘Which things to do with tarot that are beyond a reading’ and ‘The art of creating spreads’ . While that isn’t everything – spells, how to read for strangers etc get page-space as well – these were really what set the book apart. As well as the fact that there is still a ‘meanings’ section. This time one that is very thematic and has a bit of a psychological/personal growth feel to it. Tarot Experience is all about finding out which extra’s in using tarot decks catches your fancy. It’s about your relationship with tarot, other than what tarot IS, as Fundamentals showed.
A complaint with the first edition was the fact there were so many typo’s and mistakes, but while my eye fell on a few (with a book as thick as this one, it is almost impossible to score 100%), this edition is definitely much cleaner. Since Sasha Graham is still editor and the authors of book 1 returned for book 2, the style is basically the same. That also means the book reads pretty easily for everyone used to reading their tarot stuff in English. The only chapter I had issues with was the Introducton. It felt stiff and harder to read. Perhaps because it tried to avoid he,she or you.
I liked the fact that not only WCS decks were being used, but that the Tarot de Marseille decks out of the Lo Scarabeo kitchen were shown as well in the chapter on ‘multiple decks’ (however, meanings focus largely on WCS again). What is really a huge plus for Tarot Experience is the fact that many of the topics featured in the book do not have an already available library. Where Tarot Fundamentals will always have to fight with other very good beginner’s books, an Intermediate reader is sometimes lost and has to turn to Google or questions on Facebook.
Sure, there are chapters that do have a counterpart already (Cleansing and Reading for others is usually written about in many books, although Tarot Experience does take the latter further and tells you how to approach fear, disbelief and personal differences), but a very big part of the book does not. So not only will you get answers to a lot of (unspoken) questions but also a new perspective on things you might have read or heard before.
This all makes Tarot Experience a great part of a tarot trifecta, with Fundamentals being the fundament of the Tarot Encyclopedia and Compendium (3rd) being the book end with specializations and modalities to come.
The role of Tarot Experience? For me it seems the guide in the journey of going deeper with tarot. In *experiencing* what is possible and also how to tackle issues you encounter as a (professional) reader. And it’s a guide that comes in a full color hardcover package, easily written with an extreme amount of examples and pictures.
In order for me to get this review out in a fashionable time (I got the book quite late), I wasn’t able to dive as much into the material as I would have liked, so I will have to revisit certain chapters. My guess is though, that even if I had been able to thoroughly test out every single tip, I will have to come back to it. And will do so again in the future.
Tarot Experience has a vast amount of ready knowledge, regardless of level reader. And while not a typical encyclopedia item, I do think Lo Scarabeo scored once again in making a book that could be called worthy of the word ‘reference’. So far, this one is my fave.
Oh…and soon, an interview with Sasha Graham and Andrea Chiarvesio about the 3rd book and their upcoming KS campaign!
NB. Pictures from the KS updates by Lo Scarabeo. My camera isn’t working. Sorry!