As much as I love tarot—and I do—there are just some times when I need to put down those cards for a while. You know exactly what I’m talking about; you may be at a point in your tarot practice where you’re stuck in that proverbial rut and it seems like the only way out is to leave the cards alone for a while.

But after you’ve taken the break that you need, or before you get to your breaking point, you’ll want to pick up “The Tarot Activity Book”, flip through it, and get ready to be shaken up. It’s got a whole host of activities for you to work through and try.
One of the reasons this book is a great find is because of the “curse of knowledge”. If you’ve been doing tarot for a while, you already know what the cards mean to you. Sure, you’ll tweak your knowledge as time goes on, but likely you know how you feel about each card. This book was designed for people who have no understanding of tarot at all, so the questions in each exercise will force you to re-evaluate what you know, think, and feel about the cards. Your subconscious mind will get a complete work-out here.

As you pick the cards for each exercise, you’ll do it solely on the appearance of the card, but I agree with Matzner when he says that tarotists will get even more out of the exercises because of their knowledge of tarot. The author does provide a list of some basic tarot books for reference in the introduction, however, for those newbies who would like to know more; most of these were already on my bookshelf, so I take that as a good sign.

Matzner’s background as a licensed clinical counselor really makes this book an excellent addition to any tarot bookshelf. He has been using these techniques with his own clients, and has found them to be extremely effective. Consequently, many of the activities are dealing with psychological/counseling topics. If you’ve done any kind of “shadow” work with the tarot, or if you’re ready to do so, this book is an excellent place to start.
Tactile learners and people who enjoy doing crafts will have a field day with this work. One idea that wasn’t mentioned, however, is scanning the tarot deck of your choice to use as you go through these exercises. Crafts are not my forte, and I’d rather not have to buy seven copies of the miniature RWS because I kept messing up. Also, if you like tarot journaling, many of the activities have at least a small written portion. So you’ll want to have a journal you can dedicate to these exercises as well.

The only possible drawback for this book for me is that there are no illustrations, but it’s easy to make a case for why they aren’t present: If you give people a picture, they’ll use it as a “diagram” and follow it in hopes of doing the activity “the right way”. So the lack of imagery forces the reader to use their own creativity and imagination. 

The Tarot Activity Book in some ways reminds me of The Science Tarot. The latter was billed as a self-development tool and while Matzner’s book certainly is that, it’s also a great way to look at the tarot from a different perspective.

~review by John Marani
(previously published in the ATA Quarterly Journal, summer 2013 issue)

Creator: Andy Matzner