A Pocket Guide To Tarot Card Archetypes by Abbi Clark

for When You Don’t Want to Carry Around a Library, as its subtitle suggests.

I ordered this handy little zine when I backed Gerta Oparaku Edy’s Divine Deco Tarot on Kickstarter. I loved how the deck was inspired by both Art Deco and by the author’s Albanian heritage, but was a little disappointed that there was no interpretation booklet included. Hence I decided to add this inexpensive guide, published by the same people as the Tarot deck, to my cart.

It’s certainly a pocket-sized volume, tho I think a stronger layout choice would have been to have it more closely adhere to the size of a Tarot deck instead of the 5″x6″ format it comes in. That’s a very small quibble tho, as it’s nicely lightweight and portable. Bonus: the paper has a lovely hand feel, inside and out.

What I most appreciate about the contents are the fast and easy groupings. Here, the card explanations go by Major Arcana and then Card Values (e.g. Aces, Twos etc) before finishing with the court cards, which really speeds up the process of finding what you need. It also helps that, devoid of the need to explain art or symbolism, the meaning of each card in its Upright or Reversed positions can be distilled to a single line each.

I did think it was weird, tho, that Swords were mischaracterized as suited to Fire and Wands to Air, when the traditional interpretation has it the other way around. I also disagreed with what I felt was a very basic error in interpreting The Lovers as a card of relationships instead of choices.

I was also a little confused by the otherwise good advice that came in the Choosing The Deck section. The book says, in two sentences that (at least to me) seemingly contradict one another:

[Y]our first deck should be a deck that is more than just aesthetically pleasing to you. You should look at it and know that that is the deck for you; it should draw you in in some way.

Perhaps I am misinterpreting this because I am a maximalist and, of course, am drawn in by aesthetics. I absolutely support the idea that your first deck should speak to you: my first was the (also maximalist) Kazanlar Tarot, an ornately decorated ecumenical Tarot based on four different world mythologies. It was not, admittedly, the best for learning the standard Rider-Waite-Smith imagery, but I definitely use that deck far more often than the closer to standard, cleaner-lined Aquarius deck I bought subsequently to learn on.

And in all honesty, I’m still learning, even as my collection grows. Abbi Clark’s pocket guide is undoubtedly useful, especially when decks come without their own interpretive booklets, tho the few but crucial mistakes make me leery of recommending this to any beginner. It is, however, a solid enough addition to the traveling Tarot library of anyone with a decent amount of experience reading the cards.

A Pocket Guide To Tarot Card Archetypes by Abbi Clark was published August 27 2022 by Microcosm Publishing and is available from Microcosm.Pub.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2023/09/19/a-pocket-guide-to-tarot-card-archetypes-by-abbi-clark/


    • Alex on December 10, 2023 at 11:49 pm
    • Reply

    Abbi’s suggestion for using the swords as fire and the wands as air stem from the Marseilles form of tarot. That practice of tarot states that swords are forged in fire while wands control the energy of the ether.

    However, it is poor form for Abbi to not mention her tarot style since the book is meant to be a pocket guide for general use and the Waite format is the most popular Tarot format. Not only that, the Marseilles format doesn’t use the same imagery for the minor arcana, so all of the minor arcana advice given wouldn’t apply to her own practice. She clearly utilizes a mixture of both styles, making it unlikely to be useful for most practitioners.

    I hope that helps you or anyone else who reads her guide. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    1. I did not know that about the Marseille Tarot, Alex, thank you for informing me! It’s actually pretty funny because I just acquired a Major Arcana Marseille and have been browsing more decks online. Tbh, the lack of imagery on the Minor Arcana sans court cards is what’s making me hesitate on actually getting any.

      Specifically to this guide, the author does mention the Smith-Waite-Rider deck (as I personally prefer to call it) but never the Marseille. I definitely agree that omitting the reference is very confusing, and am inclined to believe that she might not have even been aware of the difference. I’m just glad you could help clarify!

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