There are some tarot books that you know right away that there’s an agenda, a “do this my way” that permeates the work almost as early as the introduction. So I was really pleased to find that in Tarot Spreads and Layouts, beginner and intermediate readers won’t be subjected to that mentality.

The first section of the book, “The Ground Rules”, lays out a number of guidelines for tarot readers that I found very useful, both in the practical and the esoteric sense. Fiorini talks about the importance of forming the question, which is something that many tarot books take for granted. From the more spiritual side of tarot reading, it addresses questions of intuition in a positive way, with the understanding that the tarot student may just be touching the edges of his/her intuition at the moment. Finally, I loved this quote: “If it matters to you, you can ask it of the tarot.” In other words, no question is too mundane for the tarot’s wisdom.

I also especially liked the “No-No’s” portion of this first section, which addresses scrying, “What if” and “Will I ever…” queries, and long-term questions in an accessible way. Fiori’s style speaks to the reader as a friend; “You may do these things if you choose, but you really shouldn’t,” is a gentle, direct way of making the point without sounding imposing. 

Its flexibility pleased me immensely. It allowed for room for different types of tarot readers, so novice readers won’t feel judged or “less than” for reading a certain way or not. For example, if you read reversals, this book will work for you. If you choose not to, that’s fine, too. If you’re someplace in the middle, you don’t feel like an outsider.

The same holds true for using significators. Fiorini presents the facts as well as the pros and cons of using them. Again, the guiding “Please be aware of this” message comes through clearly.

When it comes to the spreads, I really like the balanced, simple spreads that Fiorini included here. For example, one of the two-card spreads is called the “Helper/Hindrance” layout. This is a fantastic spread for beginners, not just because it is only two cards, but because it encourages the reader to reflect honestly on areas where  s/he may be able to improve.

While new spreads are here,  many of the standard small spreads that readers are used to seeing—a one-card “Give it to me straight” spread, a three-card past-present-future spread, and a seven-card Chakra layout—are also included. There are no layouts listed that are more than eight cards in the book, which was completely appropriate for the level of reader for which the book was designed.

For those readers who are more comfortable with the cards, the author includes a small section after every spread that gives guidance if more guidance is desired.  Also, all of the layouts include questions to consider when using them, which I think will do a lot to stimulate the thought process of the novice or intermediate reader.

Overall, the more I read, the more obvious it became that a lot of thought went into this work. Fiorini has provided an excellent resource for the beginner and for intermediate tarot readers. But don’t let the title fool you; more advanced readers looking to broaden their spread repertoire, especially for their personal use, will also find value here.

~review by John Marani

Author: Jeanne Fiorini
Schiffer Publishing, 2011
pp. 128, $14.99

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