There are thousands of books about the tarot available, covering a wide range of aspects and offering many ways to learn to use this complicated and rich resource. Tarot Through the Witch's Eyeis one of the best available.
Most people think of the tarot as a means of telling the future, likely with a goal of changing it, but the cards are almost most useful for reflection and empowered decision-making. McAnna writes about the cards specifically in the context of working with energy and doing spellwork. Much of the book is derived from her own practices and workings. However, if the reader isn't familiar with the basics of working magick they might feel lost -- McAnna doesn't explain core concepts, presuming the reading already knows what she is discussing.
Over-sized and spiral bound, this is a wonderfully user-friendly book. McAnna does an excellent job of pointing out connections and patterns within the cards to help newcomers feel less put off by the sheer number of things to learn before being able to make useful interpretations. She also focuses a great deal on the personal connection between the reader and her deck: lore is useful, McAnna write, but one's intuited perceptions are far more valuable.
Opening with the (required) orientation to the tarot, the reader is then given a sense of the author's thoughts about using the cards in magick, spellwork, ritual and as a devotional tool. The Major Arcana are discussed, and we begin to get a sense of McAnna's value as she breaks the cards down into triads. Each triad revolves around a core focus (will, wisdom, life force, order, communing with the divine, transformation, and manifestation). The Minors are described through storytelling, with the court cards given their own chapter. Subsequent chapters go over readings, Tarot for the Wheel of the Year, Tarot Magic and the Goddess, and finally Tarot Magic for Self-Exploration. And appendix, list of resources, and index complete the book.
One unique aspect are the twelve card spreads that the author created for working with various Goddesses. From the Tepeyac: Our Lady of Guadalupe/Tonantzin spread to the Yggdrasil spread: The Norns the spreads are inspired by different cultures whose stories have fascinating images eliciting very effective spreads. As an example, the Phantom Queen: The Morrigan opens with a bit of information about the Morrigan and Her powers. Her spread consists of nine cards laid out like the wings of a crow with the first card at the bottom of the V:
1: The Phantom Queen: This is the card of the Morrigan and is always the first major Arcana card you turn over after shuffling. (Other cards are laid out face down after shuffling after drawing this one.) What does She show you? What attracts you? What challenges you?
2 & 3: Prophecy: These cards may show you something behind the story that needs to be told now. What is the truth you need to speak now? What are your choices? What is, and what shall be?
4 & 5: Sovereignty: Do these cards show you an aspect of yourself that has been in shadow, or which you have not claimed or acknowledged? What is a source of erotic energy for you? What is your place in your community, on this earth, the land on which you live?
6 & 7: Magic: These cards may show you what magic needs to be made in your life. What is your will, your desire? What shape must you adopt to manifest this?
8: Gates of Life and Death: What needs either to di, or to be born and live in your life now? Which task does the card show you? If death, how can you end or release it? If life, how can you nurture and sustain its growth?
9: The Pledge: this card may indicate what you must commit or pledge to the Morrigan in order to begin the task shown in card eight? What does She invite you to do? What does She ask you to promise? Are you willing?
The writing style is conversational without being 'breezy,' this is a writer clearly comfortable with teaching others. The emphasis on intuited understanding gives the reader the freedom to expand the general reading of the card with what their 'gut' tells them. It's empowering. The author's approach is clearly about looking inward and using the tarot to improve oneself on all levels.
Tarot Through the Witch's Eye is right up there with works by Greer and Pollack and will be useful to the newcomer to tarot long after they have progressed to expert level.
~review by Lisa Mc Sherry
Witch's Eye, 2016
182 pages, $26.60