Dan Pelletier consulted the tarot before heading from his home in Seattle to New York to train for a new job. The cards told him he would come home a changed man. On the second morning of training he got an overwhelming urge to go out for a cigarette. The training was on the 61st floor of Twin Tower 2 and it was 9/11. Dan watched others die while he inexplicably escaped the falling debris, beginning an odyssey that, soon after, led to his leaving the financial industry to follow his heart and do what makes him feel whole. Dan is now co-owner with Jeannette Roth of Tarot Garden, Inc., a shop and information site dedicated to helping you find the tarot decks that interest you. He’s been reading tarot for over thirty years and credits some kind of other-worldly sense with guiding and saving his life more than once. As Umbrae, he frequently posts on Aeclectic’s tarotforum.

One of the results of this change is Dan’s completely unique audio course, The Process: The Way of the Tarot Reader.” It was written out of his dedication to those things that make us, as humans, more fully ourselves. I consider it one of the best ways to learn tarot—with any deck. Dan sees his task as assisting you in finding and following your own tarot path. While, personally anti-metaphysical “mumbo-jumbo” and dogmatic tracts, Dan’s work emphasizes discovering your own purpose in reading the cards and evolving your own method of accomplishing this—and he’s pretty pushy about the importance of doing this.

The five-and-a-half hours of CD or MP3 book contains plenty of learning for both the beginning and advanced reader. It is obviously created by someone with a great deal of tarot experience (thirty years worth), who has thought deeply about what he does and doesn’t do, and what results from these choices. If you want a quick-and-easy approach to card reading, with meanings spelled out for you, this “process” is not for you. This is a special course for those who are willing to amble along at a relaxed pace and enjoy the scenery on the way, all the while picking up a life-time’s worth of wisdom.

Based on the idea of “observing the way” rather than simply memorizing spreads and meanings (though he offers several discerning spreads), Dan invites you into his home and garden, conversing directly with you as he rolls a cigarette or shoos along the cat. In fact, by the end, you may know almost as much about pruning roses as you do about tarot—almost, but not quite. And, if you think that roses have nothing to do with tarot, then think again! Everything is related and everything has a purpose, even if, at first, you have no idea what it is or where it’s going.

I was reminded, right from the start, of those ubiquitous Science Fiction/Fantasy/Adventure novels where a youngster finds him or herself arriving at a quirky cottage, castle or school and is apprenticed to an eccentric, rusticating mentor. The youngster is set to learning what seems, at first, simple-minded information and tasks, things that could have little to do with the “real” magic craved. This student is always anxious to gain and use power, and the teacher is always counseling him or her to learn to sweep the floor well. It’s only later, when that sweeping motion overcomes the enemy in battle, that the student discovers just how important it was. You now have the opportunity to be that student. You’ll first wander through a little history, the rose garden, the significance of numbers and suits, the rose garden, an overview of “cold” reading, a cup of tea, and then how to make your deck look and feel used, before you ever approach an actual reading. Relax and enjoy it.

Sure, there’s a little repetition (wisdom teachers of the oral tradition say you need to hear everything three times), and you may already know some of the facts. Like me, you may not agree with everything Dan says. But, I doubt if you’ll take part elsewhere in such a profound conversation on the practical methods and purpose of tarot reading.

This is your chance to study with one of the idiosyncratic greats in the field of tarot who, with seemingly innocuous digressions, will have you stumbling into the secrets of how to become a really good tarot reader before you know it. These are conversations you’ll remember long after you put away the CD or MP3 player. The buried treasures will be there when you need them most—when the cards are spread and the querent is waiting for your pronouncements.

Leisa ReFalo of The Tarot Connection (Dan’s intrepid editor and the producer of this work) interviews him about writing this audio book – here.

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