Tag Archives: Alison Cross

Review: Tarot Court Card DNA – How to interpret the tarot’s court cards.

Author: Alison Cross

Illustrators: Alexander Daniloff, Sullivan Hismans, Will Worthington



Tarot Court Card DNA is a 331-page book dedicated to working with the court cards of the tarot (Page, Knight, Queen, King). The foundation for this book is set on stripping the cards of extemporaneous meaning and returning to their keywords and elemental DNA energy. The color illustrations in its book are by Alexander Daniloff, Sullivan Hismans, and Will Worthington and are used with their permission. Thank you, gentlemen!

In her forward, Caitlin Matthews notes that the court cards of the tarot come from the court cards of regular playing decks (with the exception of the Knight). I love her comment that meeting the Court Cards is like walking into a room full of strangers and being expected to make conversation. This is so true! Matthews also notes that Cross’s work provides both a valuable beginning for those who are new to working with the court cards and a great resource for those that want to deepen their knowledge.

Cross notes in her preface that the aim of this book is to literally unzip the DNA of the Pages, Knights, Queens, and Kings and explore their genetic components. What on earth is the genetic component of a Tarot card? It is all that makes them tick at their core.

Throughout this book you will find exercises to help you put the information being presented into real-time knowledge. This starts in the introduction, with the exercise “Who is helping me?”, and continues through the chapters for a total of 53 exercises. This is one of the reasons that I think of this book as a resource, as well as a stand-alone book. Readers will keep coming back to work with different concepts and exercises to expand their understanding of the Tarot and the Tarot Court Cards.

Most decks may be easily used when working with this book. One of the first things that the reader is shown how to do is to take the suits and ranks of the deck they are choosing to work with and compare their qualities to the standard Tarot. Then they will assign the suits and ranks in their deck to the suits and qualities of a standard Tarot deck. It will make it much easier to work with this book.

Image plays a large part with the court cards – the student/reader needs to be able to connect with the images on the cards. The Queen of Cups is not going to appear the same as the Queen of Wands, The Queen of Swords, or the Queen of Pentacles. Cross presents a method that she terms the 4H method to help the student/reader work through the cards. It is well worth taking a look at.

There is also a section on Keyword DNA where the keywords for each suit and rank are addressed. I loved the exercise on creating Pidgin Tarot phrases through the use of the keywords for the suits and ranks.

Elemental DNA uses the elemental qualities of each suit to help understand and work with them. Through using this method an Elemental Name is assigned to each of the court cards. From here, Cross moves on to discuss whether elemental relationships are friendly, unfriendly, or neutral.

To move deeper into how the Court Cards can be used, Cross presents their assignment on the Wheel of the Year. In doing this each of the seasons is also assigned an elemental quality. I find this quite intriguing!

Other things that Cross goes into are the assignment of Sun Signs to the court cards and using the court cards as birth cards. The Court Cards can also be used as a significator, as a guardian, as aspirational cards, and as a point of meditative focus. They may also be used as ancestral references and as timing.

Reversals have an important place in the Tarot – Cross has devoted an entire chapter to reversals and complements. It is interesting to note that Cross feels that a reversed court card takes on ALL the associations that its opposite number represents.

At the end of the book is a summary of information that was presented on each of the Court Cards.

This book addresses what can be a difficult area in the Tarot – that of Court Cards. The information presented is in-depth, and the exercises help the student/reader come to their own personal grasp of what each card means to them. The color card images add a great deal to this work – I deeply thank Alexander Daniloff, Sullivan Hismans, and Will Worthington for being willing to share their work. I also thank Alison Cross for presenting this book in large type – this was much appreciated by these aging eyes!

(c) December 2022 Bonnie Cehovet

Reproduction is prohibited without the approval of the author.

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Posted by on December 26, 2022 in Tarot


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Review: Tarot Kaizen

Tarot Kaizen

Author: Alison Cross

Tarot Kaizen cover

Kaizen is a Japanese term that derives from the business world.
“Kaizen” literally means “change for the better” and as a
business philosophy it has come to represent a philosophy based
on small changes that lead to overall continual improvement. Not
a bad philosophy or life, is it!

This is what we at Tarot Kaizen seek to do with our Tarot deck:
through small daily exercises we will work towards
incorporating the symbolism and meaning of a new deck into
our Tarot knowledge.
(from the book)

 In her introduction, Cross talks about decks that we as Tarot readers/aficionados tend to collect. We love our decks, but once we have them we may not, for whatever reason, work with them. She set up the Facebook group Tarot Kaizen to show people how to move their decks into the working deck category. The group itself has been running or about five years, but only runs once or twice a year. To that end, Cross collected all of the daily exercises used in the group into this e-book, so that individuals can begin this work any time they want to, whether a group is running or not.

This book contains over 100 daily exercises – it is suggested that the exercises be worked with on Monday – Friday, taking weekends off. On Monday – Thursday a new card will be worked with every day. On Friday Cross provides the reader with a 3-5 card spread so that they can work with the cards as they learn them, and that they have an opportunity to work with cards that they have not yet studied. Friday is also a review day, in that the reader determines which cards they like, which ones they are ambivalent about, and which ones they do not like. I love the advice that Cross gives he reader  at the end of their studies, if they do not like the deck they have been working with, they should set it aside (as opposed to selling it). In a few months time, take another look at the deck. You may find that it has grown on you!

What do you need you work with the Tarot Kaizen system? Time, this e-book, a Tarot deck, and a Tarot journal. (I will also add “the commitment to follow through”.)

I was pleasantly surprised to see that for some of the exercises the reader is required to write a Haiku! I have limited experience with Haiku’s, so I am really looking forward to this! Links are provided to show how this is done.

Okay – Here’s a concept that is completely new to me – Pidgin Tarot! What the heck? Pidgin is a combination of words, sounds, and body language from multiple languages and cultures. It is used to form a relationship between different pieces of information – in the case of the Tarot, it is usually associations made for numbers and Tarot suits. What Cross has done is thrown together keywords for the numbers and keywords for the suits. This allows the reader to apply the same principles to any deck. Yes!

I love how the exercises begin – with a “Flick Through” of the deck (come on – we all do this with a new/new to us deck!). An interesting thought presented here is that if the reader is not quite sure which deck they want to use in the exercise, to do the Flick Through with multiple decks, in order to see which one they really want to work with.

The exercises are short, with simple, easy to follow instructions. Divide you cards into three piles: attract, repel, and meh. Interview your deck. Establish the themes and systems within your deck for the Major Arcana. Establish the themes and quaternities (sets of four, such as the seasons). Determine your birth card. (I use the dual Birth Card system, which can be applied here.) Putting together the energy of a Court Card with the energy of the Suit. What does the Empress mean to you?  Write a Haiku.

Cross has a writing style that is very personable. You feel like she is in the room, egging you on (ummm Encouraging you!). You feel like you are in a very special space, doing magical work that is important to you, and getting to know yourself and your cards.

I am using this system to get to know my newest deck, the Third Edition of the Daniloff Tarot. It will be interesting, because this deck has extra cards, so I will be making up some of my own exercises!

Tarot Kaizen is a very special tool to add to your Tarot resources! How far you can go with it depends only on how far you are willing to go, how far you are willing to open your thinking about the Tarot, and your willingness to keep a commitment to doing the work.

© March 2017 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.

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Posted by on March 15, 2017 in Tarot


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Review – A Year In The Wildwood Tarot

A Year In The Wildwood:
Explore the Wildwood Tarot

Author: Alison Cross
Foreword: John Matthews

A Year In the Wildwood Tarot cover

I was absolutely thrilled to hear that Alison Cross had taken her work on the Wildwood Tarot and turned it into an e-book. A Year In The Wildwood contains all of the entries Alison wrote for the Wildwood Tarot’s Facebook page. With humor and style, she takes us through a  year-long journey through the cards.

I have to add a note here that I might not place in other reviews, and that is because these are names that are recognizable in the Tarot world. This book was edited by Sara Donaldson (many will recognize her as a member of TABI), and converted to epub and mobi formats by Gavin Pugh.

The Wildwood Tarot is the creation of Mark Ryan, John Matthews, and Will Worthington. It is a based on the seasons and the Wheel of the Year. In his foreword, Matthews talks about the magical place that the forests and woodlands that act as the background for this deck are. Matthews and his fellow author Mark Ryan had always intended to write a more complex workbook to accompany the original deck and companion book that came out in 2011 but to date have not had an opportunity to do so.  Matthews notes that Alison’s work is a splendid addition that acts to deepen the study and the use of the imagery for both personal use and the use of the cards for reading.

Cross gifts the reader by beginning the book with an explanation of what the Wheel of the Year is, and that, as defined by Mark Ryan and John Matthews, the Wheel consists of three concentric circles, with the hub representing the core energy of the year, and acting as the Heart of the Forest. Each quarter pivots upon one of the Wildwood guardians (Spring – The Shaman, Summer – The World Tree, Autumn – The Seer, Winter – The Wanderer). The second ring shows the eight major festivals, and the pairs of Major Arcana cards that rule over each festival. The third ring consists of the Minor Arcana suits – Ace through Ten.

There are notes on how to use this book, which consists of four chapters – one for each of the suits (The Time of Arrows, The Time of Bows, The Time of Vessels, and the Time of Stones). At the beginning of each chapter there is an outline of the Majors that will be encountered, the associated element and season, the names of the Court Card guardians, and key words about what this time represents. Each Wildwood card is then presented according to the date its energies begin on the Wheel of the Year.

The cards are presented text only, beginning with the cards associations. This is followed by a short text on the card, and questions that the character in the card asks of the reader. For example, the Shaman asks:

What stirs you to be close to nature?

What “magic” can you use to make changes in your life this season?

How can you apply magic to everyday life, today?

 What I really liked was the suggestion that the student could return to the Shaman at any time to work with him. This, combined with the questions, makes this book special, and will help to open up the perspective of anyone who works with it – whether new to the Wildwood Tarot, or a seasoned reader.

The technical information presented here, along with suggestions on how to use it, are invaluable. Those already working with this deck will appreciate it, and those who do not have this deck yet will more than likely want to purchase it to work with.

At the end of the book Appendix I lists each card in the deck, and the dates they are activated. Appendix II lists Moon and Sun cycle exercises, and is followed by a list of useful resources.

Alison Cross has a knack for writing, for looking into the heart of things. She also has an innate sense of humor that anyone who follows her blog will understand.  She has made this book a valuable resource that stands on its own feet.

© March 2016 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.


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Posted by on March 21, 2016 in Tarot


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