Many authors of the how-to Tarot genre agree that advanced card reading requires initiation into esoteric knowledge. Yet there are many readers who have little or no interest in joining the ranks of the esoterically enlightened, especially if the path to that enlightenment means conforming to club rules and memorizing Tarot correspondences with the Hebrew alphabet. It is these individuals who will most appreciate Constantino's Tarot by the Moon, which is all about what the cards might be used for rather than showing how well they align with things they are not.

Constantino does not describe herself as a witch, but she does make occasional references to worship and the goddess, and many to rituals and spells. She also has considerable experience as an editor and writer and can write well, a skill that is not always apparent in Tarot how-to books. Organizational talent is not her strong suit, however, as much of her book appears to have been written in fragments that were arranged and rearranged until the parts all fit together or at least fit together as well as they were ever going to.

Tarot by the Moon begins with a concise introduction to Tarot reading, the days of the week, and the phases of the moon, all with attention to their symbolic associations. Each of the book's main chapters is named for a full moon, as in January and the Wolf Moon, February and the Snow Moon, and so forth. The table-of-contents provides a list of the spreads, spells and rituals (many of which include guided meditations), and tips in each chapter. The spreads precede the spells and rituals, but the tips are interspersed throughout. Some of the tips are identified by a graphic header and footer showing the book's signature motif of the full moon waning to dark and waxing back to the full, while others are marked by white type on a black page. At first, I assumed that the differing design treatments indicated tip subsets, but when I found the notes on cleansing crystals were on a black page (45) and those about cleansing Tarot (132) marked by the moon motif, and the notes about writing (61, 64) marked with the moon motif and those about writing a Tarot journal (134) on a black page, I decided they were random design features. The tips also expand the reader's repertoire to include crystals (45), numerology, and tasseomancy (141), as well as some finer points of Tarot reading, such as how to analyse repeating cards (164).

Generally, the activities in each chapter are intended to relate to a particular full moon. So, for example, January's Wolf Moon is a time to work with the metaphor of things trapped in ice, so the tips are about the importance of getting to the essence of the matter of concern and of the power of intention in accomplishing that goal, but they also include extras, like basic instructions on card shuffling. There are a few mis-steps here and there, such as the call for corn husks for a ritual performed in May. Where, exactly, would one find corn husks in the northern hemisphere in May?

The final chapter thirteen addresses the Blue Moon and there is an appendix with a grounding and protection meditation, another appendix with a full moon ritual to amplify intentions, and still another very short one about Feng Shui Ba Guas. The bibliography is interesting, partly because the only pre-2000 books on it are Eden Grey's Mastering the Tarot (1971) and Peter Machamer's Cambridge Companion to Galilieo (1998). There are also a number of non-Tarot and non-witch related websites and sources about manifesting intentions. The title of Ellen Dugan's book, Book of Witchery: Spells, Charms, and Correspondences for Every Day of the Week (Llewellyn 2009) stands out as one that may have been an inspiration for this volume, perhaps for both author and publisher.

This book is not for scholars, unless you happen to be a scholar interested in trends in Tarot card use. Weary esotericists may enjoy the view it offers from the path revealed by the light of the actual moon, rather than a symbolic one. Tarot by the Moon, in spite of the many introductory-style features and components that will appeal to beginners, is really for those in search of different ways to practice their Tarot-based reflections, meditations, and/or spellcraft. Constantino offers straightforward suggestions for integrating such practices with moon time, leaving the search for correspondences between cards and the moon to others.

-review by Emily E. Auger

Author: Victoria Constantino
Llewellyn, 2021
pp. 246, $19.99