I just had an email correspondence with Janet Boyer, the author of: Naked Tarot: Sassy, Stripped-Down Advice.
Throughout our exchange, I felt like there were a few choice bits of insight that she offered. What specifically interested me most was Question 7: Her insight concerning advice for coming up with your own spreads for Tarot.
1) I noticed you use a variety of associations with the Tarot, including Disney Characters, and Animal Totems. Can you go over what your process was for selecting those, and why you felt qualified to make those correlations or suggestions?
I love correspondences, and I think they expand the original system they’re connected to. I’ve been a Disney movie lover for many years, especially the last two decades. I’ve always wanted to do a Disney Tarot so when I was thinking of Correspondences I knew two things right off the bat: 1. I didn’t want to repeat the same ol’ connections (Kabbalistic Paths, Astrology, Runes, etc.) 2. I wanted to include Disney Totems! I’ve also used Animal Totemism as part of spiritual path for many years, and have a collection of 50 or more books on writing (I study the craft, especially for fiction). So I wanted to include those, as well. I am well-qualified to write about Tarot—so if I understand that archetypal system, why not include other systems, healing modalities or pop culture interests…especially when they’re understood and well-researched.
2) How did you decide which additional systems based or cultural references to include in your analysis sheet of each card?
Some Tarot Readers are healers and therapists, so I wanted to include three other systems I’ve studied for years: Flower Essences, Crystals/Stones and Aromatherapy. I studied many texts for these systems, as well as for the other Correspondences—including re-watching many Disney movies and consulting with my in-house expert (our son, Noah). I’ve been enthralled with myth, legend, saints and spirits for decades, too, so the Mystical Messenger Correspondence seemed like a great fit. So if someone wanted to expand their knowledge of one of those systems, especially with relation to Tarot, the Correspondences are a jumping off point. And, if they’re intrigued enough, they may want to learn more and expand their healing or self-improvement tool-kit (especially since I listed my resources in an extensive Bibliography at the end of the book). For the Personifications and Embodiments section, as well as Recommended Resources, I included TV shows, movies, art pieces, characters and songs that sprung to mind as examples of each card’s energy.
3) "A Factory that Manufactures Custom Pets" How did you come up with that, and what sort of response did you hope to evoke?
Ah, the Writing Prompt for the 8 of Coins card! You know, the prompts came to me almost immediately as I was in the process of writing the book. I wanted them to be fun, thought-provoking and unusual. It was a very organic process (unlike the Correspondences, which were research-intensive and mentally taxing). In all likelihood, one of my cats were in the vicinity—and I thought of how the 8 of Coins can indicate an assembly line approach to a project.
4) It seems to me that the real value in this work is that it serves as a compendium of experience and information which introduces people to the 78 cards while offering perspectives for how they can integrate those insights into their own practice.
How did you balance being Specific vs. Generally Accessible with your associative interpretations?
I consider myself a Renaissance Soul with many interests. I’m not “just” a Tarot expert. In fact, I majored in Theology in college (with a double Minor in Psychology and English Literature) and am a former ordained, practicing Pentecostal pastor (who used the “gift of prophecy”). Then, I was an interior designer with a successful business. Then, I went on to become the New Age Editor at BellaOnline, the 2nd largest women’s site on the web; when I took over that Channel, it zoomed to the Top 5 visited areas on the site within a few months. Then, I became a reviewer of Mind/Body/Spirit books and decks, becoming one of Amazon.com’s Hall of Fame Reviewers. Then, I went on to specialize in Tarot.
I wrote some books then teamed up with my husband to create Tarot Decks (Snowland Deck and Coffee Tarot). All the while, homeschooling our son (who will be graduating this year). I say all this to say that I’m an avid learner and teacher. And I feel the best teachers don’t just offer dry prose or dusty esoterica that has little to no modern relevance, but only mental masturbation. So I mix scholasticism with pop culture, perennial wisdom with contemporary living. The specific and the general. Too much of the specific, and you get the yawn-inducing “facts” with little real-world relevance that people tend to choke on. Too much generalization, and you get superficial breezes—someone talking out of their ass without much to bite into, digest and nourish. With my Renaissance Soul bent, I hope I fired with both lasers and buckshot—to reach as wide an audience as possible.
5) I felt inspired by your career section. I like how you drew upon the wisdom and work of others. Can you tell me some of the work of your peers in the Tarot Community that you admire?
Mark McElroy: It’s a pity that (it appears) he’s no longer writing Tarot books. His work was groundbreaking and underappreciated. His Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Tarot was one of the best tomes on the topic (and is, sadly, out of print now). His What’s in the Cards for You? is absolutely brilliant, as is his Bright Idea Deck.
I’m also impressed with Jessi Huntenburg, a soulful blogger, Tarot reader and pouch maker.
Theresa Reed, aka The Tarot Lady, continues to inspire me with her work ethic, smarts and inclusivity. I love her weekly #TarotRap chats Tuesday on Twitter.
6)What is some of the artwork outside of the Tarot Community that inspires you most?
I’m inspired by the blank page more than anything. What hasn’t been done before? That’s where I want to be…and where I thrive. I find nature—trees, flowers and animals—incredibly inspiring…but more for soulful living than creation. I love artists that are different—that buck the status quo, but not just for the sake of stirring the pot or getting attention. People who know the rules, but bend them successfully—the great ones that force us to stop, and contemplate. The poet e.e. cummings comes to mind, as does painter Salvador Dali—two of my favorites.
7) I loved the Card Layout section. I feel like it is important that people make up their own spreads, because I feel like it forces us to ask questions about the issues in our lives in a way which considers the consequences of our decisions in a broad perspective.
Do you have any suggestions for how people can approach issues in their own lives, in order to come up with their own spreads?
For one, never ask Yes/No questions of the Tarot. You may as well flip a coin to for that kind of thing. Instead, phrase questions starting with phrases “What do I need to know about _____”, or “How can I best _____” or “What practical step do I need to take to _____” and so on. I feel it’s important not to use Tarot flippantly, “throwing cards” everyday “just to see” what they have to say. Rather, I suggest writing out the concern or problem, in depth. Then, take a good, hard look at what the real issues are. What is it really that you want to know? Is it in your control to affect or change? If not, then ask how you can best deal with it. I believe in using Tarot to empower, not to provide superficial or voyeuristic foretelling tidbits.
8) You say Naked Tarot is not a superficial experience, but what is deep for me is my own practice. I see that your affirmations and card layouts are provoking. I also see how you include a writing prompt and that your questions will cause people to look deeply into their own lives, and learn the practice of Tarot. The question that comes to mind here is -- How do you suggest people start to own their practice?
The practice of learning Tarot? Well, I first came to the cards, I was very disappointed with the first book I bought. It was a thick, boring-as-hell book—one that almost every Tarot reader says is “the” best on the topic. OMFG. I almost gave up! I’ll still think this writer is overrated and mind-numbingly boring. My first deck was the Inner Child Cards by Isha Lerner; I loved fairy tales—and it’s a lovely, colorful deck—so it seemed like a perfect fit. In fact, it’s a very difficult deck to understand and use if you’re new to Tarot.
Finally, I just started playing with the cards. I noticed that the images reminded me of TV shows/episodes, movies, songs, current events, history, etc. While in the bathtub (!), the idea for my Back in Time (BIT) Tarot Method came to me (and is the topic of my first book). I share this method in Naked Tarot, as well as my 7 Clue Method for learning the cards. (My husband says that he thinks the latter is all a person needs to learn Tarot. What high praise!). You can learn, and practice, my BIT Tarot Method on my blog.
Deconstruct your own memories or favorite pop culture experiences (start simple), associate them with Tarot cards and then write down your associations and reasons in a journal—every day—will not only help you learn the cards, it will also help you to go deeper and bond with any Tarot deck. Coming up with my own ways to learn Tarot—and seeing gaps in the market (and creating innovations to fill them)—was my own 8 of Coins process for mastering the cards.
Interesting thing to note about Janet - she was on Coast to Coast in 2013.
JANET BOYER (Pennsylvania, USA) is the author of Back in Time Tarot, Tarot in Reverse and the upcoming Naked Tarot: Sassy, Stipped-Down Advice. She’s penned over a dozen eBooks, and is working on her 4 th book, 365 Tarot: Daily Insights (Dodona Books). With her husband, artist Ron Boyer, she’s co-created the Snowland Deck and the Coffee Tarot. Janet is an Amazon.com Hall of Fame Reviewer, and her reviews and articles have been widely published in both print and online. Also a popular radio guest and Tarot teacher, she specializes in bringing down the mystical and esoteric to street level—the place where we all work, play and love.