Thursday, November 14, 2013

Book Review- The Tarot Activity Book

There are many tarot readers who prefer to work with the psychological aspect of the cards, using them as a guide to delve the depths of the psyche and map the road to self knowledge.  Even the traditional "tall dark stranger" type of reader can be of the most service to their client, and themselves, by learning to use the archetypal patterns and energies ever present in tarot cards to open dialogue between the reader and the deepest parts of themselves.

The Tarot Activity Book by Andy Matzner is filled with activities and prompts to help the reader connect the cards with self exploration and explore them in a non-occult manner.  The publishers' summary specifically markets the book to art teachers and mental health professionals as well as tarot readers.

You all know I love a good quote, and this book is full of them.  Andy Matzner is a social worker, psychotherapist, life coach, and professor, so he certainly boasts the experience to bring such a book into being.  The language is simple and plain, which makes the book accessible to everyone, and the author is a proponent of keeping a journal to track the exercises and record your experiences.  This, in fact, is not so much a book to be read and absorbed, but a book to be experienced and worked through.  There are 271 pages of activities to experience and record and each of them.  There are also tactile crafts to do with the cards, and I suggest making a copy of your deck of choice on your printer so as to be able to throw yourself into the experience without worry of replacing a deck.

There are no explanations of the cards, which allows you as the reader to lean deeply on either your previous understanding of the cards or the way the images speak to you.  There are no rules in this book but to honor yourself and be prepared to be honest with yourself.

An example of the activities in the book is Strength/Weakness.


To understand that your greatest strength can also cause distress if you are not careful.


Think about the personal quality or characteristic that you are most proud of.  Or the one that people consistently have complimented you on.  What is it about you that truly makes you unique, or has served you well in life?  Could it be your dependability?  Or that you're a great listener?  Incredibly creative?  Deeply compassionate?

But there is always a shadow side side to a person's strength.  For example, a creative person might find it easier to focus on his art and not bother learning about the business side of things.  Or a compassionate person might find it hard to cut off a dysfunctional friendship.  Or someone who loves helping others might spend all of her energy giving her time away and be left with none for herself.

Your challenge is twofold.  First, to make sure that you acknowledge and honor your greatest strength.  Second, to recognize that if you're not careful, it can become a liability.


Go through your tarot deck and search for a card that you feel represents your greatest strength.  Using that card as inspiration, please answer the following questions in your journal:

  1. What is your greatest strength?  How do you know?
  2. How has your greatest strength positively impacted your life?
  3. Is there some aspect of your greatest strength that could be detrimental to your well-being?  How so?
  4. Can you remember a specific experience where this positive aspect of yourself actually ended up backfiring?
  5. What are some things you could do to prevent your greatest strength from becoming a liability?
You will know if this kind of introspection suits you, although I feel we can all use some of this from time to time.  When I do not know the answers to questions like this, I find that a good time to pull out cards for a conversation, too.  Most of the activities require that you choose the card that best expresses the energy you are dealing with, but they can also be easily adapted into spreads which help to recognize the answers.

I feel it should be said that I feel strongly that people who are not trained for it should not be counseling others, and it is unethical at best and damaging, not to mention, illegal at worst.  I also want to emphasize the fact that for me, this kind of inner dialogue is crucial, but that tarot is also valuable as a divination tool, and as my area of expertise is in using the cards to answer specific questions, I would not feel comfortable taking clients into some of these exercises.  That does not stop me from finding them invaluable for myself, though.

If you are looking for new things to do with your tarot deck, or if you are interested in administering self therapy at your own pace using tarot cards, you will enjoy this book.  If you are looking for occult roots or to learn traditional tarot, this book does not contain what you seek.


  1. Great Review. although it's not a book that I would purchase.
    I like the idea to work creatively with tarot. I sometimes make mandala's or use cards as a journal prompt. Perhaps I prefer the book of Corinne Kenner: Tarot Journaling

    1. Not all books are for all people, unless you are building a comprehensive library. Tarot Journaling is a good book that has sadly gone out of print, but the focus of the two is not quite the same. I'm glad you found a book that speaks to you!

  2. Great review! I really like Andy's blog: where he shares a lot of cool Tarot card activities. He seems like a really sweet guy.

    1. Oh thank you for sharing that, Shonna! I can add him to my blog roll and visit the site. Andy does come across as genuine and caring.