Can an ancient form of divination be reinterpreted for today’s modern woman? According to author Emmi Fredericks, yes. In her new book, The Smart Girl’s Guide to Tarot, she attempts to do just that, reframing the art of reading Tarot cards into a tool that allows any “smart girl” to be her own oracle of wisdom.
The book is light and breezy in style, offering up a funny and fresh examination of the meaning of each Tarot card, along with a modernized reinterpretation that gives advise of everything from dating to love to finances, career goals and life choices. The reader is given just enough information to understand the basics about Tarot, with the goal that she can then do her own readings for herself, or for friends.
The snappy illustrations by Meredith Green add to the book’s “mod chick” feel, making The Smart Girl’s Guide to the Tarot THE cool book to have at parties and get-togethers. Fredericks writes with a definite flair for what women today want and need to hear, and her instructions on how to see the card’s messages take some of the archaic stuffiness out of the normally quite serious practice of intuiting the meaning of each chosen card. She certainly adds zip to her descriptions of each card, with plenty of modern references that drive home her clarifications with an exclamation point!
But therein lies my problem with this book. Yes, it is fun and light and enjoyable, and you will no doubt even learn about the Tarot, and be intrigued enough by its divination abilities that you’ll be on eBay in no time, searching for the perfect deck. But if you really want to know about the history behind these cards, which revolves around attempts by heretics during the Dark and Middle Ages to shield their esoteric knowledge from the deadly Inquisitions, don’t look here. And if you want to really understand the deep and ancient symbolism of the oldest cards known to exist, those that have not been “re-interpreted” and redesigned for more modern audiences, this is not the book for you. And if you have a serious life problem that you are seeking answers to, this book can in no way replace some deep soul work done with a trusted intuitive. Sometimes, just making something new doesn’t make it better, and much can be lost in the reframing.
Yet, if you are, like many of us, a smart girl who just wants to have fun, and maybe learn a little bit about yourself and your options, then get out your deck and spread ‘em, and be your own mystic for less than the price of a one-hour reading at a local psychic. And don’t be surprised if you someday see A Smart Girl’s Guide to Kabbalah, or A Smart Girl’s Guide to Nordic Runes.