Cover Image: The Contemplative Tarot

The Contemplative Tarot

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Member Reviews

I have a story to tell if people would allow me the indulgence (as usual). When I was a teenager, I got a deck of tarot cards for my birthday. Accompanying this gift was another present: a book on how to read the cards and tell fortunes. I was excited! Now I could see into the future and tell people what was going to happen to them, and maybe charge a pretty coin for the pleasure. Well, as it would happen, things didn’t turn out that way. I was terrible at telling people’s futures. I quickly realized that if I wanted to get any good at offering any divine interpretations, I would have to memorize what all 78 cards in the deck would mean to have any inkling of how to read into it. Suffice it to say, that deck quickly gathered dust — I think its fate was that it was consigned to being placed in one of my parents’ yard sales, though I’m not exactly sure. So you could imagine my skepticism when Brittany Muller’s The Contemplative Tarot crossed my writing desk. The book purports that reading the tarot deck can be a therapeutic experience and, what’s more, the tarot deck has links to Christianity. Imagine that. I just couldn’t believe it!

However, having now read this book, I can contend that it may prove to be very useful to some readers and may be a resource that they can consult again and again. The book looks at all 78 cards of the tarot deck and offers ways of looking at each card in a way that Christians can meditate on each. Thus, each chapter is broken down into a reproduction of an image of the card being talked about, an applicable Bible quote, Muller’s ruminations on what each card might mean, and a series of prompts for the reader to think about as they gaze at the card in their hands. The neat thing about The Contemplative Tarot is that you can read it in order — and it has the line of a narrative arc to it, almost making it a little novel in some ways — or you can simply shuffle the deck you have, pick a card, and then flip to the corresponding chapter to read more about it. Muller also offers a brief history of tarot at the beginning of the book, and while I had wished that this aspect might have been a little more drawn out for neophytes to tarot such as me, it was fascinating to learn of tarot’s origins in 15th century Italy as a card game, and how it evolved into first a divination tool of the occult in France and then England before becoming more of a therapeutic tool in the past decade of the 2000s.

I can’t comment on the therapeutic nature of the book in the sense that I no longer have a tarot deck to play with — so I’m not sure if Muller’s suggestions to pick a card and journal about it, or pick a card and then pray over it, actually have any currency or might work for people. However, I was impressed by the interpretations the author has for each of the cards — to summarize how 78 cards may correspond either to the Bible or historical figures such as Joan of Arc, St. Francis of Assisi, and John the Baptist was intriguing to me. This is the type of book that you can’t rush through and finish in one sitting — rather, The Contemplative Tarot asks you to sit with the book and think about your relationship with the images that are presented on each card. The author is a Catholic, so she writes from her personal experiences, but Protestants and other Christians need not fear that the book might be inaccessible to them. Thus, while Muller talks about concepts such as the belief in a heaven or hell, she does so in a way that doesn’t push a certain agenda. (She seems to be rather open to a plurality of ways that one may approach and come to understand God.) Readers may also be interested in knowing that the images selected come from the Smith-Waite deck, but Muller notes that any deck can be used for the exercises based on her readers’ comfort level and familiarity with tarot.

All in all, I found The Contemplative Tarot to be a book that offers Christians a great deal of food for thought — or at least a new way to approach and look at the tarot deck from a religious as opposed to an occultist lens. Readers may be hungry to devour this seemingly new and novel approach to tarot, though, again, this is a book that requires a deal of patience to sift through. There’s quite a bit to unpack, and there are enough questions asked at the end of each chapter to stimulate a lot of personal reflection. This was, in the end, the kind of book that I wish I still had a tarot deck kicking around to more actively participate in the reflections that Muller draws us towards. The Contemplative Tarot is a deeply meditative read and one that represents a good investment for those who have an interest in the subject matter. I did find some of the explanations to be rather long-winded, but perhaps this is the point: tarot is something that the reader or practitioner (at least in a therapeutic sense) needs to think hard about, and any sort of divination about the self may not be easy to come by. So, if you need a little theological handholding and are new to certain Christian concepts and personalities, this would be the perfect book for you. I know that, for myself, I might need to give my parents a call and see if that tarot deck that I had as a youth might be still kicking around somewhere in the attic of their home. I sure hope so. I could use a deck to work through a stellar work such as this in the future.
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Very Interesting

Brittany Muller provides some very interesting information in this book, beginning with the history of how tarots was introduced in England. The author states that William Robert Woodman, William Wynn Westcott, and Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers founded the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn toward the end of the nineteenth century. She states that the founders, Freemasons, founded the Golden Dawn in response to a set of documents calledThe Cipher Manuscript, which gives an outline of a series of magical initiation rituals, contains information on magical theory, and offers a sort of magical curriculum that encompasses ideas relating to Kabbalism, astrology, alchemy, and tarot. She, further, states that the Golden Dawn’s teachings drew from these ideas, synthesizing many of the esoteric threads of the day, and as a result, the Golden Dawn became the crowning glory of England’s occult revival.

Additionally, the author states that it was the Golden Dawn that truly introduced tarot to England, and Mathers wrote the first guide to tarot in England, The Tarot: Its Occult Signification, Use in Fortune-Telling, and Method of Play, and he published it in 1888, the same year the Golden Dawn was founded. 

However, the author also states that this guide was really nothing more than a regurgitation of Éliphas Lévi’s ideas on tarot, but, all the same, it established tarot in England as a magical tool and primed England for further ideas on tarot.

How, fantastic to know the back story.

She discusses choosing a deck of tarots to pray with, ways to pray with tarots and using them in your daily prayer life. She discusses indepth each card of the Major and Minor Arcana decks of tarots, with ideas for reflections.

Brittany Muller states that being a first-time author is difficult and one with such an unusual book idea is doubly difficult. However, I admire her for taking such of leap, and doing such a great job in writing this book of valuable information. 

Thank you. Highly recommend.
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This was a fascinating way to experience the tarot. I will admit that I knew a couple of the facts from the history the author presented but the majority was entirely new to me. I particularly appreciated the in-depth look at each card as archetypal images for self-reflection and how those images reflect the Christian and, even more importantly, humanitarian values so many of us strive to model in our everyday lives. This book has given me a new way to view the tarot and its symbols; a how-to guide to use it as a tool of self-reflection in a personal “hero’s journey”. This is something I will be coming back to reference many times in the future.
I received a complimentary advanced copy of this book through NetGalley.
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This was really thoughtful and well-written. I loved all of the Christian insight into the tarot that Brittany Muller had to share. It definitely gives another layer of meaning for anyone learning to read tarot that has a Christian background.
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An informative book on tarot and some new tidbits of information I picked up . But overall it wasn’t for me
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The Contemplative Tarot by Brittany Muller is an insightful and thorough book on the topic of Tarot from a Christian P respective.
As a Christo-pagan reader and tarot lover it was incredibly refreshing to read an author engaging with and the cards and their imagery from this stand point. Some sections did feel slightly drawn out to me as a long term tarot user but serve to make the book more approachable for a beginning student.
The Contemplative Tarot has much to offer for both tarot beginners looking for a grounded approach to tarot history/application, and seasoned readers looking for a novel perspective on this divination tool.
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Very informative about the history of tarot and one could implement it into their own belief system, Christian or no. The writing was easy to follow, if a bit dragging at times, but overall a fairly informative read.
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I really appreciated this take on the Tarot. Many introductions to Tarot seem put off by the cards' Christian imagery, so it was lovely to see one that engages with this imagery with curiosity and love instead of suspicion and disgust. The author's presuppositions also allow her to tackle the history of the cards with greater honesty than many introductions. In terms of her interpretation of the cards, the Major Arcana and court cards felt particularly well-formed. (The association of each of the court cards with a Saint was a stroke of genius that I'll remember for a long time when trying to understand their energies!) My only quibble with the book's content is in the Minor Arcana, for which some of the interpretations felt a bit ad hoc and idiosyncratic to me; an overarching numerological schema to help understand them would have been helpful. But this is a minor complaint. Overall, it was a great book and one I will buy for my own reference and recommend for others.

[A highly favorable review will be posted on my blog August 31, 2022]
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I was so intrigued about the topic of this book having only started learning tarot. There is a stigma to this that many christians judge and this makes the background seem very accessible.
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I loved this! It’s a book I never dreamed would exist. Thank you to Brittany Muller for removing the stigma for Christian tarot readers. I can’t recommend this book enough.
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A Christian interpretation of the tarot? That sounds like a contradiction in terms. However, the author has integrated tarot seamlessly into her morning prayer practice, finding a connection between the images and Scriptures.  This book does an admirable job of explaining tarot as theological whole. Has a brief, but interesting history of tarot and meditations and reflections on each card of the Ryder Waite deck.
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This book provides a really unique take on Tarot and how Christians can use it in their daily devotions, even including bible verses. This is the first time I have seen a book like this and I just had to read it.

I am so tired of people claiming that Tarot is new age and who avoid it.  My Bible thumping friends will be getting a copy of this book for Christmas this year.  Christianity was based on many Pagan traditions, so this book is a most welcome read.  This is a great one and you need to read it too!
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Brittany Muller does a great job of detailing how Tarot cards can be used to enrich a persons' contemplative practice. She also presents reflective questions to use with cards, many which seemed creative and useful. Recommended for anyone interested in deepening their spiritual practice using Tarot cards. Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC!
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