In Their Own Words: the Major Arcana of the Tarot is a fascinating therapeutic concept wrapped in a mixed bag of execution. Author John Marani provides a series of creative writing essays written from the perspective of each of the Major Arcana - a prescription from Temperance, a snippet of a screenplay written by The Chariot and so on. He explains in his Note at the beginning that his goal is for you to walk away with more than a basic keyword definition of each card; rather, his hope is that you gain an overall sense, perhaps an emotional connection, with each of the Arcana.
The examples provided in this book are best as samples for you to use to produce your own explorations of the Arcana. His Valedictory address by The World makes a great launching off point for you to explore your own thoughts on the subject. Much like an actual Tarot reading, working examples like these could provide insights into both the Arcana and yourself. In this context, the book is a fascinating guide to a creative writing project that can yield significant insights.
It must be said that the actual essays provided in In Their Own Words are uneven. Some are interesting , while others are head scratchers. The first piece in the book, written from The Fool's perspective, is a rough dive (ahem) into surfer slang. The rejection letter from Strength, on the other hand, is a pretty clever view of Strength's concepts from an oblique angle. Taken all together, I can recommend this book more for the example it sets than in its overall execution, but that is actually enough to warrant picking it up.
~review by Patricia Mullen
Author: John Marani
pp. 56, $18