Easy Tarot is a set consisting of a book by Josephine Ellershaw, The Gilded Tarot deck by Ciro Marchetti, and a layout sheet.


The layout sheet is made of glossy paper so is less likely to tear easily. For the beginner, this sheet is a handy tool since it offers mini tips for the “Celtic Cross” layout, giving a title to each position as well as a few key words. This offers the absolute beginner a chance to lay out the cards and have a quick reference so there is less fumbling to find information in the book. But Ellenshaw seems to have some problems with it – as you will see.


The cards are striking, with a black back and bold bright primary colors, the images stand out vibrantly. The design is decorative and artistic with colors used to represent the direction and element and pictures drawn in a pseudo-Renaissance style. However gold is used in accord with cups and water while swords are blue and air which the colors do not coordinate with most accepted associations.  For the court cards it looks like one face was drawn for the king, queen, page and knight with each suit decorated differently. They are beautiful but except for color and position there is little variance among the court cards. I found the blatant gender bias in these cards annoying. The women are all sensual and partially, if not completely, nude. Men, on the other hand, are all portrayed as scholarly and serious as well as fully clothed.


The book presents a thorough but traditional and gender-biased look at the tarot, and the writing is neither poetic nor inspiring. For example, she says “The image of this card portrays far more than mere words could hope to convey (p. 119)” when describing the Lovers card. Since that is essentially the entire POINT of the Tarot the same could be said of every single card in the deck – why is the Lovers singled out? Moreover, the picture is of a man and woman implying that this is the correct combination for love. An additional indicator of this old-fashioned viewpoint is in her definition of the Strength card: “this card can also symbolize feminine charms to which men succumb (p. 122).)


When describing how to lay out the cards to do a reading, she is straightforward, but her tone is rigid and she is strict about everything being laid out in a particular way and always with a cloth (making the provided layout sheet worthless). Her shuffling and cutting is another area where she is very firm and strict. This reviewer feels that leaves little room for intuition and chokes off any instinct for working with the cards. The spreads are typical and offer nothing new. Ironically, although she includes a version of the “Celtic Cross” layout, she doesn’t seem to like it, which conflicts with the layout sheet that is included with the set. 


Overall Ellerworth is too linear and inflexible in both her steps for learning tarot and doing tarot readings. Her rigidness and regimented process leaves out the key part of tarot – intuition. I just can’t recommend this set.


0 broomstick out of 5


~review by Eileen Troemel

Author: Josephine Ellershaw

Gilded Tarot deck by Ciro Marchetti

Llewellyn Worldwide, 2007