REVIEW: The Tarot Game

The Tarot Game, by Jude Alexander
Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 2010
ISBN #: 978-0-7643-3448-1 
A unique concept, The Tarot Game consists of a game board, 78 cards containing keywords for each tarot card, 3 dice, 8 polished stone game pieces, 90 blessing coins, and laminated reading sheets that players fill out during the game.  In order to play the game a traditional tarot deck must be used.  The game does not come with one. 
Unlike other games, the point of this game is not to win, but to end up with your own reading by game’s end.  The game ends once you have filled your reading card.  There are three types of reading cards:  Novice (little to no experience with tarot), Enthusiast (can read tarot for self, collects decks), and Adept (readers tarot fluently, professional reader).  I do recommend that should you purchase The Tarot Game that you copy the cards.  The cards come laminated and we had great difficulty in finding pens that would write on them.  We ended up using separate sheets of paper. 
Each time you play The Tarot Game you begin by writing an issue or question on your reading card.  This applies to all three levels of players.  Game play commences as players roll the dice to move their polished stone pieces along the body of a coiled snake toward the center of the board.  Spaces on the board are named for each of the 22 major arcana cards, beginning with The Fool and ending with The Universe.   When landing on a major arcana spot the player chooses a number from 1 – 5.  Another player then reads a question for the major arcana card upon which they landed that corresponds to the number chosen at random by the player.  The player then answers the question.  
There are four other types of spaces players can land on:  Star, Question Mark, Spiral, and Infinity symbol.  The Star, Question Mark, and Spiral all have cards to match them on which are written various tarot-related activities.  When landing on one of these spots the player chooses a card from the appropriate pile and does what the card suggests.  The Infinity spots on the board are “free play” – the player is allowed to do whatever they choose, including getting up and fixing themselves a snack while the other players wait to take their turn.  Play ends when the reading card is filled.  You then interpret the cards you received during play so the end result is that each player receives a reading.  They can read their own cards, or the Adept player can offer to interpret the tarot cards other players received.
The text on the back of the box reads, “Start the party …  Tea, wine, or margaritas:  you decide!  The Tarot Game encourages storytelling and laughter, providing a fun environment to address life’s issues.  … Through the Tarot wisdom, players realize lessons of the past, see the truth of present circumstances, and refine choices for the future.  Each play of the game creates a meaningful experience, and players attain a complete Tarot card reading at the game’s end.  Professional and experienced readers can organize and facilitate game parties, offering in-depth interpretations for the readings …”
 The Tarot Game is indeed a great game for like-minded adults to play at a party.  It’s a great way to get to know your friends better, but some may find a few of the questions a bit intimidating. It will be up to each player just how much information they wish to divulge while playing the game.  Will you keep your cards close to your vest or let it all hang out?  The decision is yours.
 The instructions say that The Tarot Game can also be used by an individual as a meditative tool, so this is how I first approached it.  I honestly did not think this would work out too well.  My 12-year-old daughter was having trouble in social studies and the teacher ended up being the real source of the problems.  My question revolved around asking for advice on how best to approach this issue so that I could obtain a satisfactory outcome for my child.  I chose the Adept reading sheet, which provides the player with six reading positions to fill out.  By the time I had my card filled out not only did The Tarot Game result in giving me an actual reading, but it was very pertinent and insightful concerning my issue.  I went on to use the insights gained to better handle the teacher, involve the principle, and get this problem straightened out for my daughter.  I must say I was VERY impressed with how well The Tarot Game worked as a meditative tool when used by an individual.   I will be definitely using it again in that manner for myself.
The next stage of using The Tarot Game consisted of involving my family as guinea pigs.  My husband was the Novice.  He has no experience with tarot, nor is he interested in it.  Our daughter was the Enthusiast.   A few months ago she asked for her first tarot deck, already owns two decks, and has been teaching herself to read the cards.  I played the role of the Adept as I am a professional reader with over 25 years of experience.
My husband, being totally unfamiliar with tarot, felt uncomfortable with some of the questions, but that also had to do with the company in which we were playing the game.  There are just some things a parent does not divulge in front of their child, so some questions were skipped and others read or a different card chosen.  Despite that, we enjoyed playing the game and by the end each of us had received a tarot reading, which I then interpreted for my husband and daughter.  They both found it to be a very interesting experience.   My husband, as the Novice, enjoyed it and was thankful there was an Adept playing along who could then interpret his cards for him as he was clueless.  Despite it all, he had fun and was a very good sport about the whole thing.  My daughter asked a question she had earlier asked of her tarot deck.  When the game ended she looked very perplexed.  When I asked her what was wrong she said that her deck had given her positive cards in response to her question, but that during the game she had received what she considered to be negative cards (6 of Swords, 5 of Cups, the Devil).  However, when I helped her interpret her cards she was amazed that she was still receiving the same message she had gotten when using her own deck.  This proved to me the validity of The Tarot Game as not just a game, but a divinatory tool.
 If you’re a reader and you are looking for a whole new way to give yourself a reading, The Tarot Game will help you accomplish that.  A roll of the dice determines the spaces you land on and the cards you receive for your reading.  You have no control whatsoever over which cards end up in your reading.  If you’re interested in tarot and have like-minded friends, this game is also for you.  It can be used to get a party going and many of the questions in the game serve to help break the ice between people who may not know each other very well.  I haven’t used The Tarot Game within a party context, but I would figure, based upon the type of questions it asks of the players, that by game’s end a sense of camaraderie between the players would be established. 
 For me personally, The Tarot Game will be a very powerful meditative tool that I look forward to using many times in the future.

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