Monday 3 February 2020

In Praise of the Little White Book


In most card reading systems, many decks come with a Little White Book (LWB). This accessory is legendary amongst readers, tutors and creators of decks. The inclusion, or exclusion, or indeed merit of the LWB provokes discussion across forums, social media and anywhere else where cartomancers gather. I love a LWB! It's a personal thing, but then you're looking at the girl who read every lyric on a rock album; every individual credited with lead vocals to hand claps. Which studio was used, and the names of any dogs who accompanied said rock idol (I'm looking at you Eric Clapton). I'm that person who loves to know why something was created, where it was created, and why, and how .... and so on.

The above is a selection from my stash - some LWBs are nestled with their decks, others are boxed up and away with my collection, and others such as these squeeze onto a shelf while their accompanying deck is cosseted in a separate bag.

Of course, some LWBs are simply a generic set of basic instructions or information relating to its deck. Others though, contain exquisite nuggets of genius, easily missed if a reader chooses to discard this oft-regarded insignificant booklet. Many of the above contain the thoughts of the artist and/or creator, and the inspiration behind the cards and the messages therein. I find that even if concepts and ideas don't always gel with me, I always, always, learn something.

Of course not all LWBs are little or white ...

The wonderful Steven Bright produced a heavenly book to accompany his Spirit Within Tarot - full colour depictions of the cards with succinct and profound insights and meanings. I honour the skill involved in capturing so much in a few sentences.

The Zombie Tarot is an excellent case in what I view as the importance of the LWB. A 'themed' deck may or may not come over as a 'novelty' deck, and the Zombie is themed to such a high standard with huge thanks to the brilliance of the accompanying book (and I'm really not into Zombies, but this deck is superb). The premise is that when you're up against an apocalypse, you'll turn to the Tarot. Bam! There and then you have a solid reason to ask the cards for assistance.

There is a wonderful example of a meaning for The Hierophant - not always the easiest archetype to get across. Here we have a news anchorman, struggling through static, power outages and destruction, to stay on the air in order to provide the population with assurances, information and advice. His is the voice of trust and security. This is a fabulous example of finding a real gem of an interpretation that can be applied to hundreds of decks. I love it!

Another favourite Little White Book is the one which accompanies the Tarot of Pagan Cats (Lo Scarabeo - Magdelina Messina, Lola Airaghi). In only 14 pages of English (it's a multi lingual deck and book) each short sentence has to try and convey enough information for the reader to comprehend what's going on. The writers do this beautifully. Here's just one example to finish this post with: The Lovers - Making a decision that makes your heart glad. 

Til next time,


All content and images © Margo Benson

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