The publisher of my upcoming book, Llewellyn, was kind enough to send me several tarot and witchy books to review here on the blog! I decided to start with Tarot in Love: Consulting the Cards in Matters of the Heart by Elliot Adam, which will hit shelves on January 8th. I don’t actually do love-focused readings all that often–my readings tend to focus more on self-improvement, self-esteem, that sort of thing. But right off the bat, I appreciated Adam’s approach to reading tarot for love. “More than anything, tarot helps you see yourself,” he writes. Although you may be pulling cards to answer questions about your relationship or your desire for a relationship, ultimately you’ll receive insight for you and how you navigate your relationship (or your search for one). That shift in focus immediately piqued my interest in doing love-related tarot readings, because it aligns with the way I tend to read in the first place. And Adam’s book makes for a fantastic companion for love readings, because he provides a whole range of angles and nuances for each card, depending on what flavor of romance you’re sampling.
Clearly I’m a fan of this book and Adam’s writing, but let’s dive into the pros and cons in more detail, with a particular eye for reading this book as a spoonie witch!
As I’ve already mentioned, Adam really digs into each card’s potential significance for a host of romantic situations. For every card entry, he describes what it could mean if you’re in a new relationship, in a long-term partnership, and if you’re seeking romance. Additionally, you can find information about what a card might mean for desires and intimacy. Then he goes through the same series of approaches for the card’s reversal. And THEN there’s a passage for what the card may be teaching you, outside of (or in addition to) its romantic possibilities.
I adore this level of granularity. It’s not often that a tarot book provides eleven different facets of each card. And several times I found myself appreciating a new aspect of a card or a series of cards, something I’d never considered before. For example, Adam notes that cards that depict armored characters (such as the Chariot or many of the court cards) can point to someone more guarded, someone who might take additional time to open up to a loved one or a new flame. I’d never really thought about the significance of armor in the traditional tarot illustrations (though admittedly I don’t tend to use the original Rider-Waite deck much) and it’s a nuance that I will absolutely be carrying into my future readings.
Speaking of things I’d never considered, Adam includes a section on what it might mean if you encounter a cluster of same-numbered cards in a reading (for example, if you pull the four of Swords, the four of Wands, and the four of Cups in the same reading). I’ve read plenty of tarot books that discuss the significance of pulling several cards in the same suit (for instance, several cards in the Pentacles suit), but I’ve never seen the same attention paid to clusters of identical numbers. (In the previous example, Adam writes that multiple fours can be a call to focus on reestablishing stability on your life.) Again, this is an element I’d never given much thought to, and Adam’s insight is something I’m excited to incorporate.
From an accessibility standpoint, this book could make a great reference guide if you’re looking to do quick, low-energy tarot readings for love. Let’s say you’re just starting a new relationship and you want to do a reading for the future of the connection. If you’re low on spoons, you could pull a single card, find that card’s entry in the book, and read the brief paragraph on what that card means for your nascent relationship. If you’re up for a bit more detail, you could read the whole entry for the card to deepen your understanding of its many facets. Or if you’re feeling ambitious and have the energy and time, you could do one of the more involved spreads in the back of the book, taking the time to look up each card in the spread and what it could mean for you. I love how approachable the book makes these readings, allowing you to do a meaningful reading with insightful guidance no matter how much (or little) energy you’re able to give at the moment.
I really can’t think of many cons for this book, if I’m honest! The only caveat I would give is to treat Tarot in Love as a reference material, not necessarily a guide to read cover-to-cover. The intros for each section are worth looking through outside of a tarot reading. I guarantee you’ll find insight that you hadn’t considered before, as I did with the multiple-numbers-in-a-spread section. But beyond that, my suggestion would be to keep this book on hand and flip to the entries for the cards you’ve pulled in a love reading. Trying to read it cover-to-cover all in a row can get a bit information-overload-y. Which isn’t really a con–I truly love how much detail and nuance Adam packs into each card’s section! But they can start to blur together if you read too many of them one after the other, and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t usually struggle with focus or information processing.
Because I don’t usually dip into love readings, I decided to finish off this review by attempting the largest spread in the book. The Celtic lovers’ knot calls for eighteen cards, nine for you and nine for your partner. If I tried to do a detailed writeup of the whole reading, it would be a blog post unto itself. But I’ve included my scribbled notes below, and I’ve broken out one of the pairings (for cards 5 and 6) for a bit more detail. Also, I could not take a picture of this spread. It was too big. I actually ended up moving twice as I laid out cards–once from my spot on the couch where I usually do small spreads, then from the table to the floor because my table still wasn’t big enough for all the cards! And my floor is a bit, um, cluttered (thanks, chronic pain condition) so I didn’t want to curse you with visual evidence.
In this reading I referred to my partner as “E” to maintain their privacy. I am polyamorous, and while I’ve been with my spouse for seven years now, my relationship with E is newer–we’ve only been dating for a few months. I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to do a more nitty-gritty reading for us and our potential.
CELTIC LOVERS’ KNOT
- Me in the present: Temperance–I need to learn to balance (especially with having two partners!). I’m not perfect at it yet, but I’m on my way.
- E in the present: Five of Swords–They are isolated to some extent from a recent falling out (due to complicated family stuff, hiding aspects of identity, etc.)
- Currently on my mind: Two of Coins–I need to manage fluctuating circumstances, but I am working towards finding that balance (this reinforces what card 1 said!)
- Currently on E’s mind: Nine of Coins–They are learning to find joy in self-sufficiency and enjoying the abundance they’ve worked hard to cultivate. Again there’s synergy with card 2, though this is the positive side of independence and solitude.
- Present foundation: Four of Wands–I am celebrating accomplishments and stopping to enjoy the bounty. I’ve recently had successes and transitions, including but not limited to beginning my relationship with E, so my current space is growing out of joyful and proud roots.
- E’s present foundation: Four of Coins–They might be clinging to resources (perhaps particularly resources of affection and love, since they had to deny themself a lot of that pleasure up until recently). Also, though, there’s an aspect of knowing what to hold onto and honor in a positive way. Sidebar, we have two fours in this pairing, which the book notes can point to re-establishing stability, perhaps by developing new routines. E and I are both working to develop new routines with each other and with other partners, so this is bang on.
I used the Last Unicorn Tarot for my reading, because E and I share a love for stories and especially fantasy.
- My past: Three of Wands–I’ve achieved much, but I haven’t necessarily acknowledged a lot of those successes.This actually suggests progress to me, though, given that my present foundation is about celebrating accomplishments!
- E’s past: Four of Swords–They’ve needed a great deal of rest and time to recover from past traumas.
- My near future: Five of Wands–Conflict, likely internal. I’m guessing I’ll need to keep working on balancing all my plans against my body and mind’s needs.
- E’s near future: Queen of Wands–Actualizing goals, cultivating meaningful and nourishing connections.
- Me in the next several months: Three of Coins–Teamwork! This makes me think of me, E, and my spouse, becoming closer and developing a family unit.
- E in the next several months: The Fool–Beginning a new journey (which will evidently be successful, based on card 10!)
- People who affect me outside of the relationship: King of Wands–This is the card that often pops up as Spouse’s card! They affect my relationship positively, encouraging my romance with E and developing their own close friendship with E.
- People who affect E outside of the relationship: Six of Cups–I always think of this as the nostalgia card, so it could point to immediate family to some extent. But Six of Cups also always gives me a “let’s form new memories together” vibe, so it could also suggest E’s other partners as well.
- My feelings in the future: Knight of Cups–Capital-r Romantic!!
- E’s feelings in the future: King of Coins–They’ll have the ability to manage emotional and energetic resources, and thus will feel a sense of mastery in balancing their relationships, their career, etc.
- My outcome: The Emperor–This is kind of similar to card 16 for E–I’ll be able to provide structure and foundation for the relationship.
- E’s outcome: Six of Wands–Confidence, celebration, and support from others.
Thanks again to Llewellyn for sending me this ARC! For anyone who does a lot of romantic tarot readings, spoonie or no, I can absolutely recommend Tarot in Love. I’m definitely going to have to pick up Adam’s first book, Fearless Tarot, and give it a read as well!
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